Friday, February 05, 2010

The Geek's Lament

Or, why are things so hard with Microsoft? (People whose eyes cross at the sound of geek can stop reading here; I just want to vent.)

I've been having a little trouble with my laptop - I decided to buy a faster wireless card, and in the process of installing it, I managed to turn off all wireless connectivity on my laptop.  The built-in card that came with the laptop, which has worked flawlessly for 2 1/2 years including through the upgrade to Windows 7, simply stopped detecting wireless networks.  Any wireless networks, including mine.

In case you want to avoid this nefarious product, it was a TrendNet TEW-642 EC, an N-class wireless express card adapter.  It came with a "wireless utility client" which TrendNet support swore would never leave my system broken like this after uninstall.  As a matter of fact, I think the TrendNet card I received was defective, and I've returned it for a refund; but I don't see how plugging in a defective adapter could shut down a working adapter.  I'm deeply suspicious of that utility software.  But what do I know? 

I've literally worked on this daily, or almost daily, since January 26 - since today is February 5, that's 10 days.  I've busted my brains, tried everything I could think of, researched arcane Windows system commands.  I was reasonably sure that I could get things working again if I could successfully do a system restore to Jan. 22 - the last restore point before I started messing with the new adapter.  System restore rolls your system back to an earlier configuration without touching your data.  I've tried this at least once a day; and every day (until today) the restore failed "because a file is in use."  I learned to turn off the stuff that loads at startup; I tried shutting down ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite; I tried shutting down ZA and telling it not to restart when the system restarts.  Every restore failed with the "file in use" error, and no wireless.  

I finally found, on an Internet bulletin board, a warning that I might have to uninstall ZA to make system restore work, so today I tried that.  And it worked.  The restore succeeded, and my wireless card leapt back to life.  Now, I like ZA because it tells me what it's doing.  But this one has me wondering if I should give Norton another try.


  1. But at least you had the option of doing all this stuff. So often at work when we had a problem with our Apple graphics systems, the only thing to do was box them up and send them out to an authorized Apple service center.

    I think Facebook is trying to make Microsoft look good in terms of usefulness and understandability of upgrades.

  2. That's why we have a Mac.

  3. I avoid Norton like the plague. On one previous computer of mine, it actually deleted (or disabled) the msconfig file. Try running your computer without that file!

  4. Oh, I once had to reinstall Windows XP from the CDs, because of what turned out to be a bug in one of the Norton editions. And it became clear during the reinstall process that the problem WAS Norton!

    I'm using the Norton install on my new desktop because it's paid for - HP didn't give me the option of buying a desktop without a security suite. It's much better than older versions (not such a system hog), but it assumes I don't need to know what it's doing - I get cryptic little notices. I like ZA, for all its faults (and it has plenty), because it TELLS me what it's doing.

  5. And you're right, D.B. Echo, Windows is the O/S for people who want to know what's going on and have a chance at fixing it themselves.