Thursday, March 29, 2007


So, they got a new Dell Inspiring (Windows Vista)1 and a Netgear WNR834B at the office. I'm to downgrade to XP, and set up the new Netgear router.

My expectations:
* Downgrading can be a pain. Vista prevents such things somehow. Like, the XP CD has a forward-compatible check for newer versions of Windows or something. So I brought a Knapp Live CD in order to wipe the hard disk if necessary.
* Installing a router is trivial: you just plug it in, and then do some configuring if you want encryption.

Turns out they forgot to provide an XP CD, so all I have to do today is install the router. I don't mind. I wanted to do that before downgrading to XP, anyway. This way I go home early. (Wrong.)

Anyway, their original setup was:

 Five ethernetted computers
Linksys Switch
Sprint 645 DSL modem.
I'm not replacing the Linksys switch. Sadly, the Netgear software /really/ wants me to. I hate software that thinks it knows anything. So I just go ahead without their lame software.

Netgear WNR834B has five plugs: four ethernet plugs and one last ethernet plug labelled 'Internet'. I believe what I did initially was:
 Netgear's Internet plug
Linksys Switch ---- Sprint 645 DSL modem
Five ethernetted computers
Now the laptop can detect and connect to the wifi network, but no Internet. works for the web configuration on Netgear. I do this and that and so on. Eventually, with Martin's help, I get Internet access via wifi, I believe mostly thanks to changing LAN IP Setup->LAN TCP/IP Setup>IP Address from (which is also the default gateway used by the Linksys switch) to (which is unused). I also changed from the Internet ethernet port to just an ordinary one.

So! Now the laptop has a very slow, port 80-only wifi connection. But it can no longer connect to the web configuration for Netgear. I tried (what it should be), (what it used to be), (what my home Linksys router uses), (combine first and third), (I needed for stuff to try), (I tried everything else already). Nothing works. I can ping, but that's set as the Default Gateway, so of course I can. Probably not the Netgear router I've just pinged, but the Linksys switch.

Botheration. So you know what I go ahead and do? Slow Internet access is all very nice, but I want configurability, so I go in there and reset the router. Stick a pin in that little red hole.

Takes the entire network down. Sorry, guys, were you using that? I mess around with the cords and it gets back up pretty quickly.

But this did fix the problem somewhat for a few seconds. I connected to the Netgear web configuration thing over wifi (but could not connect to the Internet over wifi, unless I'm misremembering) and it's all 'Wanna check for firmware updates?' I say 'Sure.' Then my wifi connection drops. (Oh, yeah, it says not to do that over wifi.) Cannot even /find/ the wifi network. The router has power. It has blinkenlights. But Vista can't see any such network. So I reset the stupid thing again. Taking down the network again, this time in part thanks to my bumping a power cord.

Once the network is back up, I try around for the wifi. Vista can't find it. Not even when I hold the laptop right next to the Netgear router. So I plug the laptop into the Netgear ethernet, and I can connect. I can check the status (and be told that the wifi has such and such uptime (not much yet, but climbing about five seconds per five seconds). So why can't I detect this fabulous network? This is not a problem with Vista. There are other networks around. They're secure, faint, and vanish all together by 5pm, but I saw them. They were around for longer than our Netgear's.

I try messing around with cords. Plug the laptop directly into the Linksys switch. Plug the Netgear router into the Linksys Switch and into the laptop. Two problems: 1. it's not helping and 2. doing things like this tends to take down the entire network.

FINAL STATUS: Unresolved.

I'm stumped for now. Your mission is to reply to this with a simple, effective solution. Simple, effective, /cheap/ solution. Next time I go (when the XP CD arrives from the main office), I'll probably go ahead and bring my laptop (a second opinion on wifi detection), and possibly my Linksys router.

There are only five computers in addition to the laptop, so if I have to switch around the Netgear router and the Linksys switch so the router is the one connected to the modem, that could be feasible, but I think my main issue is:
* Linksys and Netgear both want and changing that caused problems.
* Netgear has decided to stop broadcasting.
(Using JUST the Netgear router seems infeasible, since it only has five plugs total, and we have five ethernetted computers. One plug needs to go to the modem.)

1 By the way, the Dell Inspiron:
* Monitor seems kind of meh.
* Battery life looks to be under three hours, as I recall. It wasn't great, anyway.
* Quiet. Very quiet. Dead silent, most of the time. My old Compaq Presario has been known to wake me up at night with its crummy fan (though it was pretty good when new). This Dell, though...if my laptop became this quiet, I'd go into a panic whenever I entered the room because 'OH, NO! It's off! What happened?'
* Close lid=hibernate/suspend. Open lid=nothing. Press power button=nothing. Unplug and remove battery, put battery back in, and then press power button=ah, good. Later discovering holding down the power button for several seconds is the way to unhibernate/unsuspend=engineers are vile abominations who should never have a thing to do with UIs. or maybe the UI designers did this. Anyway, whoever came up with the idea of my having to hold down the power button to turn the computer back ON is the devil.

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