davidd (davidd) wrote,

Mac vs. PC: You Guys Know About This Stuff

I tried, I really did.

I can't get the Lenovo (running Windows XP Professional) to connect wirelessly to the internet.

It wouldn't connect at school, even though the eMac on the desk connects to the weak wireless signal seeping in from another building. I talked to the computer tech guy, and he said he wasn't able to get it to connect wirelessly either. I asked him about all the other Lenovo laptops. He said some of them worked, some didn't, and some were sporadic. He wasn't sure what to do about it.

I asked one of the other teachers about her computer. She said she could connect wirelessly at home, but not at school.

I sat here tonight at home for nearly two hours fussing with it, trying to get it to work.

My home wireless signal is unsecured, but "hidden." On the Mac PowerBook, as you know, connecting is a simple matter of clicking on the little wireless signal icon, then typing in the name of the hidden signal. Ker-ZAP! Connected! Or, you can just pick any other non-secured signal that shows up in the list and nab that one. Usually it will pick the strongest signal all by itself.

The PC, however... first off, it has a button to push to bring up a menu where it's necessary to "turn on" the "wireless radio" option. Once turned on, the "wireless radio" seems to have a propensity for turning itself off.

After some fussing, I finally found a screen where it was possible to view detected signals. Most of them are secured. There's a weak signal coming in that's not secured. Briefly I was able to establish an internet connection with the very weak signal, but it was too slow and weak to load any pages beyond the Google home page.

Eventually I found some kind of menu to "add" my hidden network. I added my network name as the "preferred" connection. It showed up in the "detected signals" pane as a very strong signal. But when I clicked the "connect" button, I just got the little bouncy "connecting" icon for ages, until it decided it couldn't connect. I tried various things, like disabling firewalls and toggling the encryption option on and off. I could not get the PC to connect.

Several months ago one of my neighbors, using a PC, tried to connect to my wireless signal. He was able to detect the signal once I gave him the name, but his PC also would not connect.

I'm using a Belkin wireless router, if that makes a difference.

There are so many menus to fiddle through on the PC; there are icons at the bottom of the screen, icons in the start menu, icons in the control panel... help menus everywhere, Wizards and set-up screens and... and it's just not worth the effort! The ThinkPad has a small screen that's not very bright, the trackpad is small... and what's with those three buttons above the trackpad, what are they for? Why doesn't this thing come with an instruction book? (Maybe it did -- the computer tech took the computer away last week, new in box, to "install some things," and brought back just the computer and the power supply cord.)

I was at a training on the new school district computerized system for creating IEP plans for students the past two days. They told us the new system doesn't work very well on Macs. And they said something about us having PC laptops anyway. Well, if the PC won't connect to the internet, what's the point?

(For the record, it worked okay when I plugged an ethernet cable in directly. But that kind of runs counter to the concept of "portable computing," doesn't it?)

Any ideas on how to make this PC a bit more internet- and user-friendly?

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