after reporting on the iPhone 1.0.1 Wi-Fi Problem (where, after the 1.0.1 software update, the iphone would no longer be able to join Wi-Fi networks using a hex WEP key), i was surprised by the small number of people experiencing the same problem. thanks to doug, there now is a workaround for the problem. and now it is also clear why there were only relatively few people affected by this problem, it seems to be caused by some decidedly semi-smart
improvement of the iphone's Wi-Fi configuration in the 1.0.1 software update.
apple decided to remove the password/hex checkbox in its never ending quest to remove user options. unfortunately, it is impossible to look at a string that is a legal hex number and say whether this indeed is a hex number, or a password that just happens to look like a hex number. so if you remove the user option to select what it really is that the user meant, you have to choose one alternative, and at the same time disable Wi-Fi access for all users who were actually using the other alternative. because apple was the one coming up with the idea of
WEP passwords (technically, there is no such thing) in the first place, they decided to support this concept, deciding that WEP users with a hex key cannot use Wi-Fi anymore.
it is hard to believe that apple really is so utterly clueless that this kind of thing happens by accident. but it is also hard to imagine that the Wi-Fi team has a group meeting and at the end decides that
yes, we know this will disable Wi-Fi access for all hex WEP key users, but so what? anyway, at least apple seems to have realized there is a problem, and hopefully they will simply rollback this part of the code to the 1.0.0 version, which worked just fine. no good news so far, though, 1.0.2 is as broken as 1.0.1, but maybe 1.0.3 will make things work again...
doug reported that apple added some (undocumented) hack, so that as a hex WEP key user, you can enter
$4242424242 for your hex key
4242424242, and because of the leading dollar sign, the iphone should then recognize this as a hex key. while this seems to have worked for him, it did not do the trick for me (i have a hex key which uses only digits).
so any reports about success or failure when using the
$ hack would be very welcome, i am really wondering why it worked for some networks, but not for mine. please specify whether your hex key contained letter or was digits only. thanks!