Single Status Update
Subtitled - "The mournful tale of an obscure driver bug that's rendered a set of 802.11b wireless cards useless"
Today started like most others - the neighbours cats fought for control of the back yard, the sun rose, the birds sang, I turned on my PC and . . . NETWORK UNAVAILABLE! No problem (I thought) - power-cycle the (near-new) wireless router and I'll be back in business, that sort of problem occurred on a regular basis with it's predecessor which didn't like warm weather. I wasn't worried about the new router dying - apart from the inconvenience - it has a lifetime warranty.
Power-cycling didn't fix the problem so I grabbed the laptop and an ethernet lead - didn't need the lead, the laptop had a solid wireless connection. Checked the router configuration - nothing appeared to have changed. Switched on the other wireless-connected desktop (which is closer to the router) and . . . NETWORK UNAVAILABLE!
What the <deleted expletive> is going on - I asked myself. Both desktops are using the same make and model of wireless cards but running different versions of Windows. On the off-chance they were both killed by a random act of God, I grabbed a spare card (same make - slightly older model) and did a quick substitution in one of the desktops - and . . . NETWORK UNAVAILABLE!
OK - don't panic (I told myself) - re-install the driver for the older card. By the way - why do wireless network cards have an ass-about-tit installation procedure? Un-install driver, remove card, install driver, insert card, finish installation, cross fingers, setup connection profile and . . . NETWORK UNAVAILABLE!
Why (I asked myself) is this <expletive deleted> card able to find the neighbours access point but not mine in the next <expletive deleted> room?
Time to try the solution of last resort - a wireless card from another manufacturer. Un-install driver, remove card, install driver, insert card, finish installation . . . two error messages pop-up on screen and the computer resets! After two more boot-reset cycles I pull the power cord, remove the card and flip out the CD during the next boot sequence. My strike rate for getting D-Link hardware to work out-of-the-box now stands at 25 <expletive deleted> percent!!!
"What do I do now? I haven't checked my e-mail!" The note of panic in my voice prompted a self-administered slap across the face. I needed a temporary solution while enquiring about the wireless card problem. The laptop worked and the router has a 4-port mini-hub - I could connect the nearest desktop with a Cat5 cable and investigate a USB wireless adapter for the other. Time to go shopping - that's almost a tale in itself.
What happens when a retailer overprices their stock and starts trading on their reputation? They lose customers! Readers from outside Australia probably aren't familiar with Dick Smith Electronics, they used to be the first port of call when they catered to the hobby electronics market but a change of ownership, a shift towards consumer electronics (everything but white goods and kitchen appliances - they even sell electric shavers), the introduction of a lot of overpriced (allegedly premium quality) 'house brand' product lines and the rapidly diminishing hobby electronics bits'n'pieces means I spend less time shopping there - but this was an emergency.
Having found the (Cat6) ethernet leads it took a conscious effort not to say what was on my mind when I saw a $39.95 price tag on a 10metre lead. A quick walk to Big W at the other end of the mall secured a 'brand-x' lead (probably from the same factory) for $10.98 and on a shelf close by a Wireless-G USB 2 adapter for $36.98 - my luck had turned around!
Shortly after returning home with my treasure trove I had one desktop wired to the router and on the web, the USB adapter had to wait until after dinner. Installation was straightforward until I forgot where I'd written down the WEP key - that hurdle overcome and the adapter plugged in I waited for it to find the router - and waited and waited and waited! Not getting a strong enough signal - what sort of lame excuse for antenna do they have inside them? Then I noticed the extension lead (plus a note in the instructions about using it to obtain better reception - I should have "STUPID" tattooed on my forehead) and spent a few minutes waving the now-tethered adapter about like a wand finding the best reception spots. Problem solved for now.
The now-useless wireless cards - like the router - are covered by a lifetime warranty. Whether that warranty extends to defective drivers that the manufacturer might be unwilling/unable to fix I'll soon be finding out.
This must be my longest (no copy'n'paste) post.
EDIT - altered thread title again
EDIT - changed "loose" to "lose" - thanks Fraggle.
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Here we go again - another tawdry tale of telecommunications trials and tribulations.
My landline decided to celebrate the new year (aided and abetted by near gale force winds) by detaching from its anchor ring on the side of the house and attempting to pull the lead out of the wall. I was able to re-anchor the line with some assistance from a neighbor and a borrowed ladder, but not before the wiring had been damaged. Depending on which way the lead was nudged you might be greeted by a dial tone, a loud buzz (which was most of the time) or dead silence. Suprisingly, so long as the line's buzzing there's still a good enough connection for ADSL - most of the time. Having reported the fault and arranged for a service call I wandered out at intervals over the next five days to nudge the line with a broom handle when the connection got a bit flakey.
The Telstra linesman turned up on the appointed day, confirmed the line was faulty and proceeded to do the ugliest patch-up repair I've seen in a long time, though it did seem to be working OK - until yesterday. I'm now 30+ hours into a six day wait for a linesman (preferably a more competent one) to complete the repairs. There's no longer a loop of slack in the line, so I'm not trying the broom handle trick again in case it does more harm than good.
Too add to my joy, the wireless router's plugpack decided that today was a good day to die, I'm hoping it hasn't also killed the router. A quick fossick through some cupboards turned up my old NetComm NB6W, which I hadn't got around to wiping the connection settings from (a bit of good luck for a change), so I'm using that for now and will troubleshoot the other router at my leisure.
There some good news, a day after the bodgie line repair another team of linesmen worked their way along the street connecting every house to the NBN optical fibre network, and I'm in the process of arranging a switchover with my ISP. I've already bought a router and expect it to turn up next week.
Wish me luck.