Wi-Fi McTroubles

Last year I became the short-lived proud owner of a Dell Inspiron laptop. The pride was short-lived because, after little more than a month, my brand spanking new Windows 7 system froze fatally. All attempts at recovery failed and Dell support eventually sent me a Windows 7 installation disk with which I did a swift “format C” of the hard drive and re-installed a vanilla W7 system without any of those irritating additional goodies that suppliers seem intent on giving you – the Dell dock stuff, for example – that appears to be trying to emulate an Apple system. Unfortunately, I’d also lost the few useful applications that they also give you but that’s another story.

The computer went to France with me so I could blog while I was away and so I could process my digital images. Quite soon, the laptop began seizing up on a reasonably frequent basis, particularly when I was trying to process digital images – 12Mb files. Tiring of its temperamental misbehaving, I began referring to it as a craptop. I used McDonald’s McWiFi in Castelnaudary to post blogs successfully but, when I tried to use the McWiFi in Millau, my craptop steadfastly refused even to see their network. It also failed at the McWiFi in Neufchâtel-en-Bray. Curious.

Back chez nous after yet more system freezing and vanilla re-installations of Windows 7, and after a little Internet research (on a reliable desktop computer), I came to the conclusion that my craptop’s woes were most probably the result of a dodgy hard drive. I installed a new, smaller (250Gb) and supposedly more reliable hard drive and re-installed yet again. Since that time, my Dell craptop has performed without a glitch and became a laptop once more. Joy!

Fast forward to 2012. My seemingly reliable laptop went to France again and I began storing up blog posts using Microsoft’s finest piece of software, Windows Live Writer. Our first opportunity to post came in Limoux. I switched on while Carol bought our cups of expresso. [For some reason the French call espresso expresso.] My laptop couldn’t see their network once again. Carol’s Sony machine behaved perfectly. I searched for some hair to tear out.

Later we tried Castelnaudary where I had previously had some success. I could still see that McWiFi network. Clever ol’ Carol searched the Internet for similar wi-fi connection problems and resolutions and come up with making sure that the correct wi-fi card driver was being used. Ah! Now, as a result of doing a W7 vanilla install my machine was using a generic Windows wi-fi driver and not the Dell-supplied driver. I went on to the Dell support site and downloaded the latest version of their driver. During a rain shower, I installed it and tested it, once the rain had stopped, on our campsite’s network. (The wi-fi table is in the front garden, hence having to wait for the rain to stop.) It still worked there so I apparently hadn’t broken anything.

I returned to Limoux to try the failing McWiFi again. Bingo, I could see the network! Not only that, but I connected and posted blog entries.

Laptop had come dangerously close to reverting to craptop status once more but all appears to be well, now – until the next time, that is. 😀

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