My research into the networking problems that I am having hasn’t been encouraging. I thought that I was approaching a solution – something in the software configuration of the computers, or maybe a missing protocol, etc. Eventually, I made my way to a Gateway support document that indicated that there is an issue regarding Windows ME computers running multiple network adaptors (in my case, wireless network card and 1394 network card) not being able to access resources on a Microsoft home network. Apparently, I can either disable my firewire card, or sit on the phone with Microsoft support in order to obtain their “hot fix” (I pay for the support, of course).
Considering that Windows ME was obsolete even before its’ release, and that Microsoft is abandoning support for the product soon (I believe June ’06), I thought that the simplest solution would be to upgrade to Windows XP. I thought that having two XP systems would make it easier for a networking neophyte like myself to set up the network. So I surfed over to MS to download their XP Upgrade Adviser. After downloading this utility (32MB – thank goodness for broadband) and running it, I discovered that my photolab computer had numerous upgrade issues with XP. That, along with numerous other issues regarding either Windows ME or the Gateway system (fails to boot or shut down properly, HDD is showing signs of eminent failure with intermittent squealing, among others), made me decide that the best, simplest, and probably cheapest solution in the long run was to buy a new computer with XP preloaded.
So yesterday I did some shopping – Thursday I’m expecting delivery of my new HP Slimline s7320n Media Center PC. It’s amazing to me what you get nowadays for $500 – 1GB RAM, 1MB L2 cache, 200GB SATA hard drive, LightScribe Dual-Layer DVD burner, comprehensive software suite, etc. It makes me think back to some of my past computer purchases; DEC Rainbow 100 computer – $3500, 10 MB HDD for my DEC Rainbow – $2500, 15″ monochrome monitor for Rainbow – $1500. Back then, you did not get software bundled with your new system. I recall spending over $500 alone on 3 pieces of software: Digital Research’s CP/M, Microsoft’s MSDOS, and a very early Microsoft attempt at a spreadsheet called Multiplan. Later on, for my IBM PC, I purchased a 2400 baud (yes, that’s 2400 bits per second) Hayes modem for $500 – imagine downloading a 32MB file with that! How about a dual-cartridge Bernoulli Box (20MB x 2) for $2000? I can’t even remember how much the 20MB cartridges cost, but I do remember that they were about the size of a textbook!
I am feeling very excited about getting my network going – I just hope I am not being overly confident about easily setting up the network. I’ll post my results soon.