Thursday, December 23, 2010

Part 40: when wireless goes wrong

After a blissful summer away from the wide world of Windows, I have been forced to return. Rather than fight for my right to have cross-platform compatibility, I succumbed and had someone buy me a PC. Windows 7. It's sort of okay, although changing the menus in Office is really unnecessary (since "add a row" is now under the "home" menu, which makes no sense of course) and since the UI is still several years and iterations behind OS X. (For instance; in Mac OS I can use "pretzel"-tab to change programs and "pretzel"-` to change windows within a program. Windows 7: I can only change amongst all open windows. Although the nested window view is somewhat useful.)

Anyway, all was going somewhat well until, with no prior warning, my wireless connection today went completely kaput. It just ran dry. When I click on the little wireless icon, it tells me that it is not connected, and that "no connections are available."

Okay, well, I have a trusty-if-elderly (nearly four years old) Mac, and can turn to the Googles. If I search for the no connections phrase and windows 7, I get a Microsoft Help page. Oh, that's lovely. There must be a nice, easy fix for this, right? Wrong.

There are six steps, the first of which is power-cycling your computer, wireless router and modem. I haven't read the others yet. All I know is I first have to deal with the email I wrote and now have to save elsewhere (and hope the formatting doesn't get messed up) and then go through several annoying steps so my computer will, you know, connect to the internet.

It's amazing that in 2010 Microsoft has a product which will lose its internet connection and not easily get it back. Oh, and in case you were wondering, I'm writing this on my Mac. Connected to the internet.

(Oh, and when you try to connect to the internet, you click the "open network and sharing center"—at least they don't call them wizards anymore—and then click "connect to a network, which takes you back to the same window where you clicked open network and sharing center. Which circle of hell is this, again?)

Update 1: Power cycled the machine. It did nothing. Except give me a few glorious seconds when Windows was off.

Update 2: The ever-so-helpful Microsoft website tells me "Update the drivers for your wireless network adapter via Windows Update, or by using the website for either the company you bought your PC/Laptop from or the manufacturer of your networking device." And how the fuck am I supposed to do that without an internet connection?

Update 3: I hit troubleshoot. It tells me that wireless capability is turned off. Why? Lord only knows. Why it went off in the middle of using the computer? Lord only knows. Can I click on the little wireless icon and turn it on? That would be intuitive. Of course not. It won't tell me how, only that there is a switch on the front or side of my computer, or a function key.

Hello? Is it 2002? Is anyone there?

Update 4: Apparently, if you hit F2—which, as it happens, is located conveniently above the 2 key—it toggles on and of the wireless. Now, why on earth would I want to be able to turn on and off my wireless with an errant keystroke? Wouldn't it make a whole lot more sense to, say, have a drop-down menu with the option to turn off my wireless, so that an errant slip of the finger wouldn't do it? Yes. It would. That's why the good lord created OS 10. I believe that was a feature on Apple products, oh, 9 or 10 years ago.

If anyone knows how to disable F2 as the toggle key for wireless, please let me know. I'd like to be able to turn off wireless, I guess, but I'd like it to be a bit more of a barrier than hitting one key. Maybe function keys should be left for things like screen brightness and volume; you know, things I use more than once in a blue moon.


Ross Youngblood said...

Ahh sanity. I too HAVE to use Windows. This is a major reason I love Apple products so much. I have an iPhone, and iMac, an Ipad, and now iAttitude.

I use Cord and Windows"Remote Desktop Connection" to use my Laptop via RDP, and this has been wonderful for the past two years. I also run Parallels when I need, but generally I don't like doing that unless I have no other choice.

I am really starting to wonder if Microsoft isn't going to be in major trouble if they don't start fixing the user experiences in Windows. They will become irrelevant, and as much as I hate the OS, I would like to see them stay in business.

But at this point, they are doing such a bad job on the technology front (in OS land), I'm worried that they provide zero competition/incentive to drive their opposition to innovate.

Anonymous said...

OMG! I have to go through all this crap too. I hate windows computers so much. Like Ross said, its a big reason why I like apple products better than microsoft. All of my devices that I have are A MILLION times faster than my computer. Unfortanatley, I have to suffer with using a Windows Vista. For some odd reason, when I use my laptop for so long, it gets really, REALLY hot.

Just for the record, I own an iPod Tocuh (2nd and 4th Generation), iPod Nano (4th generation)and iPad 2 (White).

And like I was saying before, they are WAY faster than my laptop. And of course, iPads and iPod Touches aren't actually real computers, even though they resemble them in a lot of ways. Windows will probably never fix their problems that consumers have and just add new features that are slow. All they want is money.

Apple has the BEST support you could ever find. With Applecare, Online chat, Calling, and even email. And what do you get with windows? Oh right, the crappy Windows Help and Support. It doesn't even help anyone (I bet) at all. And most of the time the problem is no internet connection. They have a lot of articles about dealing with no internet. And you know what most of the answers to it is? GO ONLINE. But HOW??? IF YOU HAVE NO INTERNET!

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Trisha Ray said...

Oh god, this brings back bad memories. My wireless adapter (I have a Dell laptop) just randomly stopped working and yes, Windows gave the same sage advice it gave you. I just uninstalled the driver, ignored my laptop for a week and then did a system restore. It still hangs every now and then, but hey, that's Windows.

Rob Garneau said...

The "Home" menu is the dumbest invention ever! It is not at all intuitive and I find myself constantly searching for commands between the Home menu and another menu.

Unknown said...

Windows is shit come to linux