Thursday, December 20, 2007

Limited or no wireless connectivity - it shouldn't be this difficult

Ok I've had enough. I've spent several hours today trying to connect a couple of Windows XP laptops to my home wireless smart access point and router.

Should be easy right? Get Windows to detect local access points, click connect, key in the network security key and you're off. Nope. That gives 'limited or no connectivity'. So the laptop is connected to the router but can't do anything else, as it doesn't get allocated an IP address automatically. I check Windows firewall and the settings are all as expected, with no gremlin blockers. I check the router network key, which accounts for this kind of problem in most circumstances but no it is fine too. Same problem with both machines. I do all the usual tricks, switching router off, re-booting etc., nothing works.

Ok let's take the simple route. Load the router client and use the AOSS connectivity exchange route, which conveniently and automatically exchanges all the appropriate settings between laptop and router without having to do it manually. Nope. AOSS light flashes on the router to say come and get me. Click the AOSS button on the newly loaded laptop client and it has a search, but despite being right beside the router, can't seem to find it. Ironically the windows scanner had picked up the router immediately but the windows scanner is disabled now
I've installed the router client. So I uninstall the router client and the machine can 'see' the router again just not connect to it.

I check accessible wireless networks and there are several around here. I check the settings, properties, authentication, security, data encryption etc. etc. on my router. Everything is as the manual, which I've now resorted to reading, suggests it should be.

I haven't got a whole lot of hope but then I load the router client on the other older laptop and try AOSS connect. Bingo! It finds the router, exchanges settings and I'm finally back on the Net. Except I'm only partly so. I need to do some stuff on iTunes. Opens fine as usual but won't connect to the Net. The error says "make sure your network settings are correct". Given I've just spent a lot of time doing precisely that, I'm not impressed. Ok so we're back to checking firewalls etc. No iTunes is not blocked - all as it should apparently be but it still won't connect. So I uninstall iTunes and via my partly enabled (one at least) laptop re-install it again. Yes I can get at the Apple site via a browser but not via iTunes. iTunes and Windows are not playing ball again. Doesn't that sound like a familiar story. In any case the newly re-loaded iTunes has no more success that the (same) version that was not working before I uninstalled it. So I re-boot for the umpteenth time today, with no more success than previous occasions.

Ok maybe I can do it via Windows Media player. Nope that doesn't want to connect to the Net either...

The point of the rambling rant is that I like computers (at least some of the time!) and, though I'm not a code jockey, have a one-eyed-man-in-the-kingdom-of-the-blind notion of where to start if things don't work as they should. But most people don't care about getting under the bonnet of a computer. They just want it to work out of the box. And it should! It is incredible what we just accept in terms of the lousy functionality of the computing kit we invest such vast sums in (remember it is the newer machine - which originally came with Vista but I couldn't put up with all the baggage on that and had it replaced with XP - which won't connect at all). Meanwhile I know I'm missing something patently obvious that's stopping me getting properly connected but no matter how patently obvious it might be, it should not have been a problem to begin with.

Enough said.

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