Sunday, October 10, 2010

Home Network Killers Don't Care How Sweetly You Sing

I'd like to know why it is there are never any single-point failures when it comes to home networking.

Our latest fiasco came to a point Friday night when as my wife and daughter left the house for a girls' night out with a scrabooking friend, I agreed to figure out how to make my wife's iPod Touch and iPod Nano talk to her computer using only one iTunes account. We'd had it set up with individual music and video libraries, but the system seemed to be breaking down and unable to put the files where we wanted them to go.

So after I uninstalled and reinstalled iTunes twice, I had that problem fixed. Of course, I had to restore her iPod Touch due to a glitch, and could only do that through my computer. Things seem to be working fine now. Until today when she tried to go to the App Store from her iPod Touch and couldn't, because I'd forgotten to reestablish her wifi connection. I tried to do that simply by getting our encryption key from our network -- but the software said, uh, what network? We'd been running for who know how long with an unsecured network. I quickly fixed that, got her iPod Touch working again, and then thought:

Uh-oh. I'll bet she's lost her connection to our networked printer now. Sure enough, it was gone. I'm not sure I want to wrestle with that right now. I may wait until next weekend.

Honestly, though, I ran into several points this weekend when I considered taking our network apart connection by connection and cable by cable and then starting over again. That seems to solve about 95 percent of the software problems I encounter, and I'm sure the problems we're running into are software related. Comes from trying to get two Windows XP systems, a Windows Vista system and a Windows 7 system to communicate with each other while at the same time communicating with the router, two shared printers, four Apple devices and one Sony mp3 player. In this argument of OSs, I have to congratulate Sony in devising a way to make its device communicate without fussing what kind of OS is attached; it's all run like a USB drive in that I can connect it, dump into it what I want, then extract what I want later. It doesn't seem to care how sweetly (or sourly) everything else is singing together.

This is one of the reasons (one of the many reasons) I'd like to get a better education than I've got in computers, networking and such. I'd like to know how to do this properly, rather than in the accidental, haphazard way I've done it up through now -- and likely will continue doing until I figure out how or where to go to fix the knowledge I've got.

Making an appeal to the Internet for help seems particularly useless, as help comes typically in two forms:

1) The forum. Whenever Google brings up the suggestion that I go into a forum for help, I want to scream. The very help I need may be indeed buried somewhere within its depths, but finding it requires a lot of reading and a lot more patience than I'm likely willing to pony up.

2) The how-two article. These are typically oversimplistic and make me want to scream even more loudly than when I'm recommended a forum.

I'd talk with the IT guys at work, but they're terribly busy. Maybe the glitches I encountered this weekend explain why.


carl g said...

Clearly you're now the credentialed computer guy in the family. We just ended up buying a new wireless printer because I couldn't get mixed OSes all talking to our wired one. I'm be up late tonight trying to sort out another problem Tani has to have fixed by tomorrow. Clearly I'm crossing over into old age. I can't be bothered to figure out every new technology that sweeps thought my life.

Mister Fweem said...

Problem is I've fixed this problem a few times before, but different iterations of the same or similar problem keep arising. It's a frustration.