Stupid, Stupid Computers

Here in Darkest Somerset I am working with two computers, a Dell laptop (running XP) and the new Acer netbook (running Windows 7). When I was using them in California they could see each other over the in-house network. Here they can’t. As far as I can make out, nothing has changed except the router. I can’t see anything in the settings that might block network communications, but I don’t understand routers well enough to know for sure and I don’t have time to randomly change settings to see if something works. If anyone does have good suggestions I would be very grateful. (And if you want diagnostics, I get the dreaded System Error 53, but the machines can ping each other.)

Oh, and anyone posting snide comments about how I should be using a Mac or Linux instead will get a gentle tap with Scalzi’s Loving Mallet of Correction, because I have to use the same O/S my clients use, otherwise I don’t get paid.

6 thoughts on “Stupid, Stupid Computers

  1. I know Scalzi has a number of income streams, but I hadn’t realized leasing out the Loving Mallet of Corruption was one of them. Interesting….

  2. Hi Cheryl,

    Since both machines can ping each other we know they can actually talk across the wire at a fundamental level. A quick net helpmsg 53 gives us a “network path not found” which implies the file sharing doesn’t work which is confirmed by your frustration with connecting the machines. I’ll assume for the moment you are using a wireless lan connection instead of a wired one.

    First things first, on the netbook: Go to Control Panel, under Network and Internet click on View Network Status and Tasks. On that screen you should see on the left side of the screen under Active connections
    an icon with your router’s id and a phrase of either Home Network,work network or public network or Domain if attached as a meber of a corporate network.

    Click whatever is there and change it to either Home or Work network. This turns on network discovery on the netbook which should make it visible to other windows machines on your local network and enable filesharing as before and all should be well.

    Unlike XP, Windows 7 is aware that there are different kinds of networks in the world that one might connect to, some friendlier and safer than others.

    Probably the network in California on the netbook had been marked as home or work. When you connected to the new network in Somerset, Windows treats it as potentially hostile (like any public network it doesn’t know, like an airport or cofeeshop hotspot).

    Once you tell it it is a safe network, it will fire up the full network services for you.

    If this doesn’t fix it, just post you experience and I’ll take another swing at it.

  3. Andy:

    That was my suspicion, and if I had been able to see anything in the router set-up screens that sounded like “access point isolation” I would have tried toggling it, but none of the settings appeared to apply inside the network.


    Nice try, but I had checked that. It is an entirely reasonable assumption that Windows 7 would change that setting without asking you, but actually it does ask, so Microsoft is not wrong *all* the time.

    However, you did give me a good idea. The firewall would also have reconfigured itself on finding a new router, and that may have caused the blockage, and it may have changed something without telling me. So I went looking at firewall configurations, eventually had to re-install AVG on the Dell because its configuration database was borked, and now I have two computers that can talk to each other again.


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