Arduino Wifi with 1.0.5

I've been looking around for a bit, and can't seem to find a definite answer about using the wifi shields with the 1.0.5 IDE and the new firmware.

I've been trying to get my project to work for a little while now; I need a few arduinos to be in sync and control some traffic signals in a few rooms in my school, the farthest being about 100 yards apart, so they will be communicating over wifi, with one arduino acting as a server, and the others as clients. I just need to send bytes, nothing huge. I've been using 1.0.4 and what I assume is the last version of the wifi shield firmware, on Uno R3s with wifi shields.

I've run into a few problems;
-My client disconnects from the server frequently; about once every few seconds, but it reconnects promptly.
-There is no config() function in 1.0.4 to set a static IP, which I need, as these arduinos need to be able to run year-round with zero maintenance, so the clients need to know which IP to connect to
-When my clients read() from the server, even if the server has/hasn't sent anything, it outputs a massive string of numbers that mean nothing to me; it connects to the server, read()s the same string of numbers every time, then disconnects, and repeats. The first time it does this, it always reads the huge string of numbers twice.

The string of numbers it outputs:

Where is this string coming from? It only read()s it when it's connected to the server, but the code for the servo is pretty much just copy/pasted from the arduino site. I made sure that it's NOT sending anything, and yet my client is receiving..

From what I've read, 1.0.5 has troubles with wifi. I tried using it for a little bit, but it didn't work at all. I found that to use 1.0.5, I need to upgrade my firmware as well, but I'm reluctant to do that. How risk-free is updating the firmware? Will 1.0.5 fix all these problems? Shouldn't staying with 1.0.4 be fine?

Is there a way to set a static IP in 1.0.4? Can I just put the function in myself?

Also, it it possible that arduino is not the best choice for this project? I read on one post on the forum that the wifi shields aren't reliable for weeks straight. Is there some other device that would be better equipped for this project?

I hope this isn't too many questions, but I feel like I'm losing control over this project!

Why do you not send will turner a PM?