Netgear WNDR3700: This Is The Wireless Router You Want

For years, I’ve been complaining about the sorry state of consumer-grade wireless equipment.  It never works properly.  Every product I’ve ever used – and believe me, I’ve used a lot of them – is slow, buggy, and lacking in even the most basic of features.  Originally, this was to be expected.  Wireless was new, it was complicated, and it was expensive.  Consumers wanted it, but they didn’t want to pay hundreds for it.  Shortcuts had to be made.  These days, though, when wireless chipsets are practically free and we’ve had years to refine the technology, there’s really no excuse for it.

Well, enter the Netgear WNDR 3700 Wireless Router.  This little beast sits very nicely between the crappy consumer-grade hardware and the ridiculously overpriced and complex enterprise-grade hardware.  It’s not cheap – at $160 to $200, this is one of the priciest routers you’ll ever see in a retail store.  But let’s face it: you get what you pay for.  If cost is your primary concern, you might as well quit reading this now and go buy that $30 Linksys model you found on Craigslist.

So, what do you get for your money?  Well, three things, really: you get features, you get performance, and you get reliability.


Reliability is a huge deal for me.  You know how nice it is to work with a system that has a good, old fashioned Ethernet connection?  You don’t have to worry about drop-outs, slow downs, or other grief.  You just get your work done.  Well, that’s what this router brings, except now you can get your work done on the couch without tripping over wires.  Through all my testing, this router didn't even hiccup.  It works flawlessly, ceaselessly.  There's not much more to say about this, but it's a really, really big deal.

And it's fast.  Very fast.  This is something that's often overlooked, because most consumers don't really push much data over home networks.  But when you're copying ISO images, watching movies, using VOIP, working through RDP, opening big files, and doing all the other stuff us technical people do with networks, it really starts to matter.  Perhaps the best way of summing up the performance of this router is by comparing a couple of quotes from  Here are some (conveniently trimmed) excerpts from their preview article:

…the claim of "350 Mbps real-world maximum wireless throughput" definitely smells like "creative" marketing to me.

…the highest speed I have measured from any wireless router is 111 Mbps…

…it's highly unlikely that you'll see anywhere near 350 Mbps of "real world" TCP/IP wireless throughput from the WNDR3700, or any dual-stream draft 11n router, for that matter.

And then, their thoughts after reviewing the unit:

…it turns out that the WNDR3700 actually manages to deliver the goods and will get NETGEAR seriously back into the N router game…

…routing speed well above what most of us can use, plenty of simultaneous sessions and steady throughput…

Yes, the WNDR3700 really can deliver 250 - 300 Mbps…

Sure, there’s a bit more to the story than that, but the point is: this router is fast.  Very fast.  Oh, and did I mention the gigabit Ethernet ports?  And not only is this router fast, it offers very impressive range on the 2.4 GHz radio – and remains fast at long distances.  In fact, this router allows me to get great performance in places where other routers wouldn’t even connect (or would constantly drop the connection).

But perhaps the most interesting difference between this router and the rest of the crowd is the long list of well-implemented features it offers.  All of the basic stuff is there, of course – and well implemented.  DHCP reservation, static routing, a detailed log, great status reporting, good port forwarding and triggering, support for dynamic DNS services, and all the other stuff you hope to find (but often don’t) is right where you’d expect it to be.  There are a few other nice touches, as well: automatic notification of new firmware (with one click to download and install right from Netgear’s server, if you want), very customizable tools to block certain sites or protocols (always, or according to a schedule), the ability to have the routers log e-mailed to you on a regular basis (or immediate notification of blocking activity), SPI firewall, great QOS support (by MAC address, port number, or physical LAN port), and a traffic meter.

But there are a few things that really set this router apart.  Each of the two radios (one for 2.4 GHz and one for 5.0 GHz) can be configured separately, and each radio also supports a separate guest SSID that allows clients access to only the Internet while (optionally) preventing access to the local network or restricting access to the current SSID.  Each of these connections can be configured with different SSIDs and security settings.  This means this router can actually expose up to four different SSIDs and up to three isolated networks.  Wireless repeating is supported, and can again be configured independently for each radio.  And, there’s a USB port on the back for rudimentary NAS support.  This is a very nice way of adding storage to your network, and while it might not be powerful enough to use as a primary storage device, it’s ideal for storing movies and music.  It even runs a DLNA media server.

There are a few problems: the web GUI could be better (the router only lets you connect to the administration site from one IP address at a time), the NAS performance isn’t stellar, and the 5 GHz radio’s range could be better.  But I haven’t come across anything really significant.

All in all, this is one fantastic device, so whenever you can possibly justify replacing your router, I highly recommend you invest in Netgear’s new baby.  Finally, we have a ‘prosumer’ grade wireless router.

Go ahead.  Treat yourself.  Your network deserves it.

GPO Drive Mapping Issues


Apparently, mapping a drive using group policy and applied to a Windows Vista machine can result in users actually not being able to see their drives properly. While I won’t get into the reasons behind this too deeply, it is inherent in the security model that UAC relies on to function.

UAC breaks each successful logon into a split token with half of that being a standard user token and the other half being an elevated administrator token. When group policy maps drives, these are mapped under the elevated administrator token which results in the lower standard user token user being unable to see these drives as they have been theoretically mapped in a different session. 

Obviously, a simple fix would be to disable UAC, but anyone that is a loyal Slick IT reader knows our feelings on that.

The other solution is not entirely acceptable to me either as it could theoretically allow malware to redirect drive mappings, but for the time being it is the best fix we have.

Simply open regedit from the run line and modify the following registry key:

EnableLinkedConnections =(dword)1

I am not sure whether this problem affects Windows 7 clients, but I would guess that it does given the closeness in the UAC architecture of both Vista and Windows 7. If anyone can confirm this issue exists, please comment below!

Hope this helps!

10 Great Windows 7 Tips

The faster you you get your hands on Windows 7, wean yourself off of XP, or rid yourself of Vista, the faster you will be able to get in on the great new productivity tools that Windows 7 offers. It has been a long time since the reasons to switch to a new Microsoft OS were compelling, but that time is here.

Here are 10 things that are going to make your computing experience in Windows 7 a lot better and I encourage you to give them a try!

1. Try out Windows XP mode.  We all have our favourite “old” programs that we don’t want to part with. It might be that great little utility that tracks your fitness routine or that neat little bridge building game. Honestly, most of these will work on Windows 7 using some form of the compatibility mode, but if they don’t – just install it in  virtual XP mode and it will be available from your Windows 7 start menu just as any installed program is. Check out Paul’s guide to setting this up here.

2. Open Command Prompt Here.  This used to be only available as a Windows XP Power Toy, but has been built-in to Windows 7.  Simply hold the the shift key and right click within a folder to get the option to open a command prompt at that location, shift and right click to add it to the properties menu, or type start into the command prompt window to open Explorer at that exact location – Slick!!!

3. Present Yourself!  Pushing the Windows key and P will bring up presentation mode, that will allow you to choose your screen setup and projector modes. This eliminates all of the vendor specific, inconsistent interfaces that we are all used to in Vista and Windows XP. Windows and the X key will open the mobility centre giving you further options.

4. Aero Snap Windows 7 offers a great way to quickly get windows out of the way. Selecting a window, pushing the Windows key and one of the four directional arrow keys will quickly snap the window to one side or the other to the top and bottom of the screen.

5. Burn ISOs.  I was sure that I would witness the parting of the dead sea before Windows actually included this feature, but I am now pleasantly surprised. Simply right clicking on an ISO file will give you the option to burn it to a cd with a simple, reliable interface. Gone are the days of having to hunt down a spyware-infected third party tool to work with ISO images.

6. Use search connectors. We have a great article on this feature here. This feature will allow you to search non-network resources from within your Windows 7 search box. Twitter, YouTube and many other sites are open search compatible and will allow you to do this.

7. Try the new calculator and paint.  These have been revamped in a big way and are now extremely versatile modern tools. One of the great features in the calculator is the ability to figure out the difference between two dates. Paint now saves files as a .png file by default which, for obvious reason, makes a lot of sense.

8. Make your VPN useful again. As documents such as PDFs started growing in size, the usefulness of the venerable VPN connection started to wane. While it is still the defacto tool of choice, no one can deny how slow and clogged up these connections inevitably become. The new BrancheCache feature should reduce the amount of WAN traffic significantly  through the use of intelligent caching of frequently used documents.  

9. Pin items to the taskbar.  Most items in Windows 7, including the control panel can be easily pinned to the taskbar. Simply open the control panel so that it’s icon sits in the taskbar and then right click on that icon and select pin to task bar to make this stick.

10. Record your problem and email it.  System administrators everywhere are going to love this feature. If a user is having trouble explaining an issue, and a screen shot just isn’t doing it any justice, simply fire up the Problem Steps Recorder.  This will allow the system administrator to see the steps that are needed to reproduce the problem and will allow for better analysis of software or hardware issues.  Simply search for PSR in the start menu to find this great little utility.

So there you have it folks… 10 ways to better leverage your computing experience into a productive experience.  Additional comments would be greatly appreciated.

Windows 7 Ready for Primetime.

Windows 7 has been creating a real stir in the consumer market. As I have insisted all along in this blog, Microsoft seems to have finally come to the realization that they only had one more chance – and seize this chance they did!

Windows 7, after using if for months now, is absolutely the best OS I have ever used hands down. If I had to give the OS some cheesy genus and species it would definitely be Panthera Leo. Seriously, this cat is making one little snow leopard mighty nervous.

In fact, even users that I have presumed to have very little interest in computing in general and equally little knowledge, have approached me eagerly asking my opinions of Windows 7. The excitement is definitely here – but that, unfortunately, also left me with a bit of a dilemma.

These users are corporate users and any questions regarding Windows 7 were obviously in reference to integrating the new OS into their current corporate IT infrastructure. While I have had a lot of experience with the OS on a personal level, I was very apprehensive of the notion of joining this to the domain and expecting it to play well with others. There were a lot of unanswered questions for me.

Well, these fears are starting to subside. Recently Intel just finished its own trial test of the shiny new OS, and its testers gave an astounding 97 per cent approval rating of the OS and fully recommend that Intel proceed with upgrading their current fleet of XP machines. The upgrade, however, won’t come until next year sometime and only with the roll out of Intel’s vPro technology.

The numbers cited by Intel were impressive – over $11 million dollars in three years could be saved with the increased productivity, ease of deployment, reduced costs and enhanced security the the new platform brings.

Intel’s vote of confidence, along with Ford, Continental Airlines, Convergent Computing, Baker Tilly, and the city of Miami has now put me into a position of confidence in recommending the OS to enterprise. Moreover, the availabilty of Windows XP mode seals the deal as that effectively means that there will not be any applications that cannot be run in some form on Windows 7. 

Look forward to Windows 7 pouncing into a company near you with a ferocious roar and don’t be surprised if you see a few spotted leopards quietly slipping out the door.

Congratulations Microsoft!

Federated Search in Windows 7

One new feature in Windows 7 (Ultimate or Enterprise) that hasn’t had much coverage is federated search.  This is, essentially, a way to allow searching of damn near any resource from within Windows.  Here’s how a search on TechNet looks:


Because the results are represented as files (shortcuts, actually), you can now work with your search results just like any other set of files.  You can copy them into a folder, right-click them and click Print, drop them on the Start button to pin them to your Start menu, or view your results in any of the usual Windows Explorer views.  For example, here are the results of a YouTube search:


And how do you get at all this magic?  Well, this is a case where Microsoft actually got things right.  First, everything is based on the simple standards-based OpenSearch format.  Basically, this means your data source has to support RSS, and you need a simple XML file telling Windows how to access the data.  These files (usually going with an .osdx extension) are pretty simple, and opening one on Windows 7 will automatically set everything up for you.

Want to try?  Here are some good examples:

Some of these come from, where you can find a wealth of other information on federated search.

Notice anything missing here?  There is a search engine called Google that still fulfills a small niche among certain people that isn’t really easy to use.  This is because Google doesn’t support OpenSearch, and as far as I know, doesn’t intend on doing it any time soon.  There are ways around this, of course, but none are particularly elegant.

Curious as to how this all works?  Well, just have a look at an example .osdx file.  Here’s the YouTube one:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<OpenSearchDescription xmlns="" xmlns:ms-ose="">
<Description>OpenSearch Youtube via Windows 7 Search.</Description>
<Url type="application/rss+xml" template="{searchTerms}.rss&amp;num=10&amp;output=rss"/>
<Url type="text/html" template="{searchTerms}"/>

As you can see, there’s really not much here beyond a bit of meta information and a reference to the web-based RSS service.  Pretty simple, yes?  This means implementing this search ability in your own applications shouldn’t be all that hard, either.  This makes for a really easy way to integrate your application into Windows.

For more details, check out

Copyright © 2010 Paul Guenette and Matthew Sleno.