Thursday, March 18, 2004

MrGadgets has been semi-offline the last few days. As mentioned in the last post, my T20 from work (ancient in computer years) gave up the ghost on Sunday night. I used the magic of Knoppix to lift some data off the HD and turned it over to the macinations of the Windows Server folks to re-build. Will not go for a full demo-capable load, just 2000, Office and Notes for work e-mail. That will keep me up and running until a new ThinkPad of some sort gets ordered by perhaps May.

The difficulty being what to do with the deluge of personal e-mail (mostly spam) and surfing. Luckily, Megan brought home her new laptop over Spring Break. Unluckily, it runs XP and has been driving me NUTS trying to work out it's WiFi access problems.

For those who do not know, XP has a service dedicated to wireless connections that ditects and displays available networks and gives you signal strength and wireless options in the network connection dialog box. This all sounds very good, and it is, as long as you are connecting to the type of environment andf in the way MicroStuff thinks you should. Like the government, MS is here to HELP you. With the unintended consequences one usually only finds when talking about Government initiatives.

Near as I can tell, from various searches and practical tests, XP does not want to maintain a connection to the tired old Airport.
Connection to the network at the Carleton's was fine, over an extended period.

At home, the card will report an excellent signal and work fine for about one minute. After which the signal report diminish slightly, the connection will still be present, but no return packets are received. Can't even ping the gateway, let alone anything out in the world.

So, time to purchase a new wireless router. I will go G, of course. Probably D-Link, although the LinkSys router running Linux is pretty cool...

One of the things that would make it a bit of a pain, no matter what, is that XP is dis-inclined to connect to a non-encrypted network, requiring your manual intervention. The AirPort can't run WEP when PC's are trying to connect, since the WaveLan Silver card that is the internal radio only supports 40bit encryption. Not compatible with the PC world...

I finally got tired of the insert-card, wait for connection, navigate one link, remove card cycle and booted up the Alice (Meg's Toshiba) in Knoppix. The WaveLan cards work fine with a included driver.

Set up the master computer @ Casa Carleton on Tues. and will go over tomorrow and get the wireless network going in the girl's rooms. Hope the XP experience will make that go smoother!