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.