Little computer help

Dave · March 21, 2005 at 1:29 pm · Filed Under Off-topic ranting 

I’m having some more issues with my computer and our wireless network. If you feel like lending a hand, specifics after the jump;

Okay, so my PC has apparently not been picking up my wireless signal, but instead connecting to my neighbor’s connection. My PC out and out refuses to even acknowledge that my wireless connection exists, though it clearly does and is functioning, as I’m using it to type this post on my work laptop using our connection.

My network is encrypted at 128 bit WEP. I’ve tried manually adding the network, but XP still doesn’t think it exists.

Suggestions welcome.


23 Responses to “Little computer help”

  1. Andrew on March 21st, 2005 1:35 pm

    If you turn off the encryption and unhide the network, can you connect? I’ve had tons of problems when I turn on WEP and hide the network. It’s become so bad I simply leave everything open and do mac address filtering to keep the badies out.

  2. Dave on March 21st, 2005 1:45 pm

    Without getting into a long story, I can’t try that, because the network is run through my roomate’s laptop, which he has with him, and he doesn’t come home on Mondays. Also, I’m moving very shortly, so asking him to reconfigure the network probably isn’t going to receive the warmest of responses.

    Basically, I’m hoping there’s some way to get into the network without toying with it on his end.

  3. Joshua Buergel on March 21st, 2005 1:58 pm

    I’ve had that happen on some combinations of adapters and access points. On at least one occasion, upgrading the drivers for the adapter has fixed the problem. It might be worth seeing if there is an updated driver out there.

  4. Metz on March 21st, 2005 1:58 pm

    What do you mean the network is “run through your roomates laptop?” Only he has the admin password to the access point or something more obscure?

  5. Dave on March 21st, 2005 2:05 pm

    The hub is in his room, so directly hooking my PC to the modem to change the settings is a physical impossibility. And, no, I don’t have the admin password to get into the modem either.

  6. Metz on March 21st, 2005 2:13 pm

    A couple of more questions. Has it ever worked? DO you know if the access point is broadcasting the SSID?

  7. Dave on March 21st, 2005 2:24 pm

    Yea, it worked a while ago. I’m not sure when it ceased to work, since I didn’t realize my computer was hacking into my neighbor’s unsecure connection until yesterday.

    At one point in time, the SSID was being broadcast, because I use to be able to select it from “view available wireless networks”. Not sure if it is now or not.

  8. Andrew on March 21st, 2005 2:44 pm

    I’ve run into problems every time I’ve tried to not broadcast the SSID and turn on WEP. I doubt there’s much you can do. Of course, you can always just use your neighbors connection if they keep it open. I ran mine wide open for a while and the whole neighborhood used it. It didn’t bother me any.

  9. Dave on March 21st, 2005 3:06 pm

    Well, my neighbor’s connection isn’t working anymore, which is how I discovered all this in the first place.

    I think I may have narrowed down the problem; we’re using 128-bit WEP and a 26 key passcode. When I manually try to add the network in XP, I type in the passcode, click okay, and then when I go back to view the properties, only 8 keys were saved, leading me to believe that its in 64-bit WEP mode. Of course, I have no idea how to change it to 128-bit…

  10. jackson argo on March 21st, 2005 3:16 pm

    If you have a Linksys router I had all kinds of problems (none acknowledgement and all kinds of wierd things, like seeing it but not connecting, etc.) but they have a nifty connection device program (Active X)on their website that worked wonderfully.

  11. David J Corcoran on March 21st, 2005 3:31 pm

    OK. This happened to me once, and I was able to fix it by tweaking some DHCP stuff on the router, which for some reason made my computer recognize the network. I can explain it better if I know what kind of router you are using.

  12. Metz on March 21st, 2005 3:49 pm

    Without access to the router you’re pretty much screwed.

  13. PositivePaul on March 21st, 2005 3:59 pm

    Of course, I have no idea how to change it to 128-bit…

    Router brand, WiFi card brand (on your laptop) all would be helpful. I’m sure there’s a hardware setting in the Control Panel for the WiFi program and card that needs to be tweaked.

    You need to make sure the SSID is indeed the same; Domain must be the same; IP Address must be the same; WEP must be the same. It sounds like you’ve got a pretty good handle on all of that, but it may indeed be a WEP setting on your hardware or software. You’ll have to go to the manufacturer’s web site for help on that one.

    If your roommate is jacking you, then you may not be able to do anything? You sure you’re up-to-date on rent, or have you been sending Derek too much Anchor Steam on the side?

  14. Shoeless Jose on March 21st, 2005 4:09 pm

    It sounds like you might need an updated driver for the WiFi card in your PC; a lot of the early ones did 64bit only (what brand/model is it, and the router?). Of course you really should be using WPA but you’re at the mercy of your router (and your roommate) in that regard…

  15. Satori on March 21st, 2005 4:13 pm

    Entering in the full 26-characters will set your computer to 128-bit WEP. The 8-dots you’re seeing after you go back in is just Window’s way of keeping your wireless setup secret from someone using your system.

    1. Are you 100% sure your roommate didn’t just turn it off?
    2. Even if the AP is set to non-broadcasting, you could try one of these apps:

  16. Dave on March 21st, 2005 4:14 pm

    Its all MS stuff; router and card. Unfortunately, the MS site has a walkthrough that contains screens that just don’t exist on my machine. Their wireless properties tab has these neat little boxes about “network key type” that I would love to change, but they just aren’t there.

  17. joebob on March 21st, 2005 4:29 pm

    Are you sure you’re logged in as an adminsitrator on your computer? If not, make sure you are and then check the settings screen again to see if the missing options are available.

  18. Shaun on March 21st, 2005 6:31 pm

    Even if you had an improper WEP key, you should be able to see the network through the wireless network manager. Chances are, your wireless access point is set to not broadcast, which means you just need to know the SSID and the WEP key (64 or 128bit).

    Not sure if you have Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or not, but if you do (or it might be similar for SP1) you can go into the XP Wireless manager, and click on “Set up a wireless network for a home or small office”; this should run you through a wizard which asks for the SSID and presents the options for the WEP key.

    Re #19: You’d still have this problem on a Mac if you were using an access point that’s no longer broadcasting and you lost the previous config. It’s a 802.11a/b/g thing, not a PC vs. Mac thing.

  19. Dave on March 21st, 2005 6:34 pm

    Thanks for everyone’s help. The roomate came home, I beat him with a wet noodle and got him to rebroadcast the SSID, and we’re all fixed. You guys rock, seriously.

  20. DMZ on March 21st, 2005 7:07 pm

    Deleted unhelpful Mac advocacy comments for being unhelpful and particularly grating. I don’t want to get into the Mac/PC flamewar here, and that kind of thing is uncalled for.

  21. David Upham on March 22nd, 2005 7:02 am

    Did you get a new wireless phone recently? Various wireless phones and routers share the same bands and they can interfer with each other.


  22. Adam S on March 22nd, 2005 12:54 pm

    Dave, since I know I’ll run into the same thing eventually with my wireless network, can you clarify the problem and solution. Had your roommate made a change to the router config which caused problems which he then reversed. Or did he simply reboot/reset the router and all was then OK.

    Either way seems strange that one computer would work and one wouldn’t, though I’m glad it’s fixed.

  23. Dave on March 22nd, 2005 1:18 pm

    He stopped broadcasting the SSID, and so my computer stopped connecting to the “hidden” network. I’m not sure why his continued to work without problem, though he is using XP Pro, which is a huge upgrade in networking capability from XP home. So maybe that had to do with it.

    The eventual solution was just to keep broadcasting the SSID. We have a 26 key passcode, after all. If someone can crack that, they can probably crack a hidden broadcast too.