AirPort Software 3.4: Not getting any better

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
April 26th, 2004 • 11:35 pm

Apple’s latest software update for AirPort networking has been out for a week or so, but so far, in spite of my numerous on-going problems with AirPort connectivity, I have refrained from installing the update either on my desktop G4 or on my PowerBook G4.

Based on what I have been reading about the update so far, this has been a wise decision. First of all, there is no mention in the release notes of any improvements in my areas of concern (roaming networks and unpredictable AirPort reception on PowerBook).

Then there are numerous reports of significant new problems introduced with AirPort 3.4, both at and at

It really is very frustrating that Apple seem to be utterly unable to get their act together when it comes to AirPort networking. After all, they are the ones who introduced the technology to the masses. And that was half a decade ago. You’d think that, by now, the technology would be sufficiently fine-tuned that only minor problems would occur. But no… We are still dealing with lost connections, poor signal reception, etc. In other words, the basics still don’t work right.

I don’t think I need to remind Apple that the key words in wireless networking are wireless and networking. If you can’t maintain a connection to a network or have a reliable wireless signal, the technology is pretty much useless. It’s like asking people to drive a car that stalls constantly and unpredictably. Or like providing calendar software that doesn’t notify you of your appointments reliably. Ahem.

PS: As I was writing this and retrieving the appropriate links on the web, I noticed that the AirPort Update 3.4 had been pulled and replaced with AirPort Update 3.4.1. In typical fashion, however, Apple does not say why 3.4 has been pulled, and what has been fixed or not fixed in 3.4.1. In fact, the Read Me note for AirPort Update 3.4.1 still starts with:

Read Before You Install AirPort 3.4

So obviously they haven’t even bothered to update the release notes… No, I’m afraid it’s not really getting any better… I don’t think I’ll be installing this update any time soon. And it makes me mad because for the past six months Apple have failed to fix the wireless networking problems that they introduced in Panther.

4 Responses to “AirPort Software 3.4: Not getting any better”

  1. peter says:

    i think you should update.
    on my PB17 the 3.4.1 solved all problems that came with 3.4.0
    the signal strength and reception is much more
    better, it seems they got the balance
    between the external/internal antenna right now.

    i have similar problems with losing signal
    without moving out of the Airport range.
    Since 3.4.0 this problem did not happen any
    more. now with 3.4.1 the performance is right.

    to be honest, i don’t like your opinion on
    apple’s “typical fashion” when handling such things.
    I think such a big company has other
    strategic directions and public relation directives
    when handling this kind of problems.
    have you ever had to handle
    a similar situation ? i have. (a large customer base)
    this is some kind “art of war” against
    the possibility of of bad word about your product.
    everyone of us makes sometimes mistakes.
    so does apple. :-)

    I’m feeling fine with Apple.
    Most of their stuff is excellent,
    and most of their customer relations is too.

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Thanks for your comments. I certainly do not blame Apple for making mistakes. It’s probably impossible to avoid. The problem is the track record. I can live with a mistake if it’s fixed within a reasonable time frame (as appears to have been the case with 3.4/3.4.1). It’s harder to stomach when you’ve been waiting for several months for a fix, and nothing appears to be coming. (And yes, I have spent hours trying to isolate the problem, its causes, sending extensive bug reports to Apple, etc. I am still waiting.)

  3. Tom says:

    Yes, you can install 3.4.1. It seems to be safe. One bug is still in the kitchen:
    If you wan’t the Airport to set it’s internal time from a ntp source, you are running into the problem of losing you internet connection (every 24 hours exactly). Apple did not comment this till now (afaik).

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Tom: Thanks for the advice. I have since installed 3.4.1 on my desktop G4, and haven’t experienced any problems. Then again, the G4 is in the same room as the Base Station. The next big test will be to install 3.4.1 on the PowerBook, and see 1) whether things work fine with this Base Station; 2) whether I can use the other Base Station (connected via Ethernet to the first one) as a relay, which doesn’t work with 3.3.x. Haven’t had time to test this yet…

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