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Setting Up, Continued

The documentation of the Advanced settings was very sparse and evidently written by non-native English speakers with phrases such as "Parental Control provides more control your network". But the larger weaknesses are that the documentation is just a mirror of the settings pages with little description of what should go in the fields and that the information often seemed to be wrong.

For example, the Parental Control section of the documentation talked about entering "a URL website" into a field. But an attempt to enter www.abc.com into the field resulted in a error of "File Name is two types of extension" (Figure 3). I discovered that I was allowed to enter abc.com into the field, but also found that I was not prevented from visiting the site!

Parental Control Configuration Error
Figure 3: Parental Control Configuration Error

Note that only 15 characters are allowed to be entered, so if it really is looking for a URL, it must be a very short one. Note also that none of the configuration menus had Help buttons. At a minimum, the Advanced features need better documentation, and in some cases, bugfixing.

One very disturbing bug I noticed was in the Remote Administration feature. A port scan revealed that port 80 is open by default to the WAN (Internet) side of the WMG! This means that when the device is used as the main Internet gateway to the house, anyone in the world can reach your administration page!

This is not only a huge security risk, but the problem is compounded by the fact that the WMG doesn't prompt the user to change the default password upon first access. It also buries the password change function in the "Advanced" admin section, where a typical user may be afraid to venture. There's also the propensity to change the password back to "admin" if the settings are not specifically saved under "Advanced Utilities". And finally the control to disable remote admin in the "Advanced" section doesn't work! Viewsonic needs to fix this ASAP, and while they're at it should add the ability to change the remote admin port number and limit access to clients with certain MAC or IP addresses

I noticed a couple of other issues when connecting to the WMG wirelessly over the time that I worked with it. On a number of occasions, the wireless signal would just disappear. I would then either have to reboot the router to get it back or I could go into the configuration web page where making any change to the wireless settings would cause it to start back up.

The router also sometimes didn't seem to properly negotiate connectivity with my cable modem. I'm not sure where the problem was, but several times after powering up the WMG, I would have to reboot before I could access the Internet. The behavior was almost like the WMG didn't acquire the DNS server properly. Note that this was only a problem when first starting the router up. Although I didn't debug this conclusively, I've never had this issue with any of my other routers and my cable modem.

Another thing I noticed that might cause some confusion was the SSID of the router. As I powered the unit on, I monitored the broadcast SSID. First the SSID would be "uAP" with a very high signal strength and then the SSID changed briefly to "viewsonic". It finally settle down broadcasting the SSID that I had set up for it. Although this all occurred only over the period of a few second, anyone trying to connect during this period might get confused.

Finally, I did not see anything in any of the configuration menus referencing either the hard-drive or the print server. So from just using the web administration feature, you would never tell that the WMG was anything other than a standard router and access point! But I knew those features lay somewhere inside the WMG and it was time to check them out.

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