On useful front-panel LEDs
I moved up to ADSL recently and it's quite nice, but I miss one thing about my old Supra modem: I've been spoiled by its luxurious front panel display. The front panel of my ADSL modem is somewhat of a letdown and I've been missing information that I used to be able to get at a glance, in particular how saturated my link is.
The ADSL modem has four front-panel LEDs, all equally prominent:
Power ADSL DATA LAN
(DATA is on if the DSL line is active; LAN is on if the Ethernet has signal and then blinks off when the Ethernet is busy.)
This may look good, but in practice all the information I get is that something is going on with my link. LAN's blinking is redundant, since it only blinks when DATA does (and the DSL link will saturate long before the Ethernet). How much DATA blinks is almost completely opaque: does a nearly solid DATA mean that my down link is saturated, that my up link is saturated, or that both of them are alternately 50% busy?
To tell how saturated the link is, you need to split DATA into DOWN and UP (possibly killing off LAN in the process if you want to stay at four LEDs). This would keep the reassuring blinking when the DSL link was active, while giving people useful information about how busy things are.
(The Supra's front panel would report what line speed it was currently getting, but I'm not counting that as a strike against the ADSL modem since it has an internal web server that gives me the same information. Annoying, the internal web server does not seem to report current ADSL down/up utilization levels. Maybe it's hiding somewhere in the SNMP data.)