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Another evening wasted

Yeah, thanks Microsoft.

Tonight my laptop has decided that to show "Network Connection Unavailable". It then finds an available network, I select it, press Connect.... and ..... Nothing. A few seconds later a helpful little balloon pops up to tell me that a network is available should I wish to connect to it... So I do it again... and nothing. This repeats ad infinitum. Well until I nearly sling the bastard across the room.

Laptop and wireless used to work fine but I changed the access point for a (newer and supposedly better!) model. Then the wireless coverage wasn't as good and XP Home used to drop out. Always had difficulty reconnecting drives etc. so I upgraded to Professional expecting it to be better.

So, here I am having spent yet another evening wasting my time trying to work out why XP has got its knickers in a twist.

When are you Microsoft clowns gonna pull their finger out of your arse and deliver some QUALITY????? When I press the "connect" button I do not want everything to just go quiet, I want you to connect or fail to connect and give me some sort of fucking error message. And you'd better make it a useful one too.

So now I figure I'll reinstall XP. That's the usual solution isn't it? Some strange shit happens, you reinstall the operating system. Used to do it all the time with MVS. Did we bollocks!

gwyn
Sunday, June 06, 2004

Just reinstalled bits of XP. Now when I try to explore the network I get the really useful message box:

"Unable to browse the network"
"The requested resource is in use".

What the flying testicles is that all about? What resource? The network? I should hope it IS in use. Sadly not by me!

gwyn
Sunday, June 06, 2004

I'm curious as to why you thought XP Pro would be better able to connect to your access point than XP Home...  The manufacturer-provided drivers for your wlan card are the same either way ;)

Try right-clicking on your connection and choosing "View Available Networks."  If you've configured your network for WEP security you'll have to give it an encryption key before it can connect.  If not, you'll need to check the box "allow me to connect to this network even though it's not secure."

If you're getting poor coverage from your access point, you can put together a home-made signal booster.  It's basically a piece of tin foil wrapped around some styrofoam or cardboard, crafted in a specific arc to bounce more signal back towards wherever you want it.  There are directions on the net somewhere if you google for it.

Joe
Sunday, June 06, 2004

If you hate it so much, switch to something else.

Pavel Levin
Sunday, June 06, 2004

I didn't think XP Pro would improve the connectivity but more that it would manage to keep a better track of what it's got, being as it's much more network oriented (e.g. you can log on to a domain)

With XP Home I had a drive mapped to a share on a domain but of course whenever you start XP Home at some point it has to ask you for your credentials on the domain... but actually a lot of the time it would just say that the network share could not be found (this is whilst the wireless connection was working!) so I had to unmap and then remap the drive to EXACTLY the same location.. and that would fool XP and it would let me access it. Weird shit also happened whenever the wireless connection would break and then remake.

I presumed XP Pro would better handle the network breaks and at least make some sort of effort to remember what it was doing before.. It seems to... but there are just other problems. It's all shit, it just comes in different flavours.

gwyn
Sunday, June 06, 2004

Switch to what exactly??? Unfortunately Windows is the most suitable platform for me so I have little choice

Yes I hate it and yes I loathe Microsoft for their pathetic approach to quality. These guys have got a few billion dollars in the bank... I mean, exactly how may people would you have to employ to make sure that when something goes wrong you get a complete and accurate error message? It's not exactly rocket science.

On the other hand I love .NET (but visual studio is a bit, well, shit) so it's not just a blanket dislike. It's appropriate.

gwyn
Sunday, June 06, 2004

"Laptop and wireless used to work fine but I changed the access point for a (newer and supposedly better!) model. Then the wireless coverage wasn't as good and XP Home used to drop out. Always had difficulty reconnecting drives etc. so I upgraded to Professional expecting it to be better."

So you changed the access point, and when connectivity degrades, you blame your OS?

Greg Hurlman
Sunday, June 06, 2004

There are some differences in networking features supported by XP Home and Pro, but from a connectivity standpoint, they are the same.

I've always found Windows File Sharing (aka SMB protocol) to be a bit futzy (or "wonky" if you speak the queen's english).  I don't even used mapped drives.  If they are giving you a headache, just put a shortcut to \\server\share on your desktop instead.

Honestly though, it's all relative.  MS products in general are pretty usable.  No one can be expected to write 100% bug free code 100% of the time.  Just try firing up a linux box and configuring you're WLAN, then come back and compare that to how hard XP made it for you ;-)

Joe
Sunday, June 06, 2004

More TCO, eh?

Mike
Sunday, June 06, 2004

If you have the option of using the drivers/config software that came with your WLAN card, use them instead of the XP native config. I was having problems with my NetGear MA111 until I switched to using the NetGear software...now I've got a little NetGear icon in my system tray and it doesn't disconnect from the AP every two minutes.

Craig Thrall
Sunday, June 06, 2004

Sounds like you have the iee.. whatever security turned on but your router doesn't support it. The symptoms to that are the constant dropping of the connection every five minutes or so. Google it and you'll find all kinds of info.

Hope that helps,

  --Josh

JWA
Sunday, June 06, 2004

try out this fix

http://arstechnica.com/news/posts/1080251780.html

hope it will solve your problem

new_one
Monday, June 07, 2004

The latest Netgear Wifi cards come with a warning "install software before installing hardware".  The reason is that they want you using their drivers AND config programs and not Microsoft's.

That seems to be an important factor in getting things working.

On another Xp Pro/Home note...

Does XP home not allow you to export a shared drive?  All the sharing options on a friend's XP "home" laptop seem to be grayed out.

Anyone know?

hoser
Monday, June 07, 2004

Until you ship your own commercial OS you have no right to say "Oooh, how hard can it be with all the billions of dollars and staff they have". That's blasphemy.

Pavel Levin
Monday, June 07, 2004

A frequent problem with wireless networking is when the install program for the drivers tells Windows that it's going to manage the network selection itself, but then the utility install fails or is cancelled. Now Windows will not show you available wireless networks because it's been told not to manage this, but you can't change it back because the GUI to do so is disabled.

Supposedly XP SP2 fixes most of the objectionable wireless networking gremlins.

My experience is that it depends to a large extent on whose hardware you use and how good their software is; Netgear is not near the top of the list in that respect, in my experience. I've had much better luck with D-Link stuff.

Neil Hewitt
Monday, June 07, 2004

You haven't answered Greg's question.  Why do you think XP is the problem?

Caffeinated
Monday, June 07, 2004

Perhaps because of articles like this one - Windows XP Bedevils Wi-Fi Users 

http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,63705,00.html

Bruce Perry
Monday, June 07, 2004

"You haven't answered Greg's question.  Why do you think XP is the problem? "

You're talking to me right?

You need to read my posts. I don't blame XP for the loss of connectivity. I blame it for not handling it very well (hence the change from Home to Pro to see if that made any difference). And I really get miffed with it because when it tells me the network is available and I press "Connect" it gives the impression of having done so (no "I couldn't connect and here's a really useful message") and yet 3 seconds later it tells me the networj's available and do I want to connect? Arrrrgh!

If I look in Control Panel/Network Connections the wireless connection never shows as having connected (so what exactly happened when I pressed the button??????!) and yet the icon in the notify area of the task bar shows it as connected the whole time!

Reinstalled the driver many times but didn't change this behaviour. reinstalled XP (selected the upgrade path - which of course installing XP Pro over XP PRo isn't!) and now it's working again.

Interestingly when I upgraded from Home to Pro, or even from Pro to Pro last night, both times it screwed the screen up and said it didn't have a suitable driver DESPITE the fact that there was already one sitting on the bloody system! It then gave me a manky 640x480 with about 3 colours. (Note that it didn't lose any other drivers, 3com wireless LAN, Synaptec mouse pad etc)

When I installed clean (from the same PX disk) it managed to find a graphics driver that was better!

Arrgggh! Don't you just love beta testing?

gwyn
Monday, June 07, 2004

Maybe I spent too many hours doing tech support, but when someone says:

"Laptop and wireless used to work fine but I changed the access point...Then the wireless coverage wasn't as good and XP Home used to drop out. Always had difficulty reconnecting drives etc..."

I would generally suspect a problem with the access point, not the OS.

Granted, Windows XP has driven me to edge of sanity with its network connection settings ("unable to browse the network"), but I would have experimented with the old and new access points first before reinstalling an operating system.  If there is something broken in the netowkring environment, neither reinstalling XP nor upgrading to XP Pro will get you better error messages.  You'll just cloud the issue.

Caffeinated
Monday, June 07, 2004

Caffeinated - read the link given above. It explains exaclty what Gwyn is talking about, and the fault is with XP.

The fact that you, and most other people, would presume the fault is with the card, is why the matter is not better known.

Stephen Jones
Monday, June 07, 2004

Stephen-

Sorry.  I thought an "access point" was an external device used to connect a PC to a network.  Not a Wi-Fi network card as described in the article.

I don't dispute the facts of the article.  I question gwyn's assumption that replacing/reinstalling the OS will make any difference.

Perhaps you have a better take on the situation than I do.


Gwyn-

You were referring to installing a new Wi-Fi card, not an access point?  If that is the case I will retract my earlier statement.  Since the drivers for the card are contained in the OS.

Caffeinated
Monday, June 07, 2004

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