Labs Voices Concerns

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2006-09-11 Print this article Print
VOIP may seem like a slam-dunk for small businesses, but IT administrators at these organizations will need lots of hand-holding as they are introduced to the technologys terms and components.

Im currently testing D-Links small-business line voice-over-IP products for an upcoming eWEEK Labs feature. Im looking at a D-Link IP PBX, an analog trunk gateway and IP phones. So far, Im finding that the phones and IP PBX are easy to set up and use and that the products are well-documented. Thats more than I can say for the analog trunk gateway—the manual for which could be the single worst piece of documentation Ive ever encountered.

Obviously translated directly from Chinese to English with no regard for actual meaning, the manual features such helpful wisdom as, "There are too many advanced commands for the advanced user. The following chapters are based on the application layer. Please get the info what you need."

My personal favorites, though, are the screen shots intended to walk administrators through initial network configuration. As you can see from the example above, these screens look a lot like Microsoft Internet Explorer error messages.

The more painful shortcoming is the documentations lack of context: Readers are expected to know exactly what each term means and what each technology does. This is a shameful omission for a product geared toward the uninitiated.

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at

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