I really don’t know an awful lot about computers and stuff.
Yes, I have built my own website, I write a blog, keep a Flickr account, and come out in a mild panic when I don’t know where my laptop, iPod, digital camera and mobile phone are.
But I’m not that much of a techie. I know a bit of HTML, but still don’t know what HTML actually stands for. I don’t know any programming languages. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do if I unscrewed my laptop and looked at the scary, flashing bits inside. I don’t really understand LAN, WAP, ISP, ISBN, PAYE, BYOB and all the other technological acronyms you seem to come across so often.
Sure, I know that “wireless” no longer means the thing you sit knitting next to while waiting for news from Dunkirk, but I do still think that Java is an island in Indonesia.
I use technology a lot, I admit, but I genuinely don’t understand it. Rather like God – I’m all in favour, and I’ll do what I can to make the most of it and sing its praises, but it still mystifies me sometimes.
Just a couple of months back, for example, when the wireless internet in my previous flat broke, I had to cry plaintatively down the phone to a friend in Edinburgh and bribe him with a train fare and dinner to get him to come through and help me identify the problem.
And recently, I have been angsting about two major problems. Maybe you can help.
The first is wireless internet. In my new flat, it’s all set up and ready to rumble, and my flatmate can use it fine, but I can only access it on my laptop if I am sitting just a couple of feet away from the router, which is in my flatmate’s room (the router is the antenna-like thing that plugs into your phone line, wirelessly and invisibly projecting your internet connection like a magic radio wave. Or something).
Thanks to a helpful friend I chatted to online yesterday, this seems to suggest that the wireless card in my laptop is somewhat buggered. The wireless card, I believe, is the bit of my laptop that acts as a sort of receiver or “crow’s nest” by searching for wireless networks in the area. Put simply, the closer the wireless card needs to be to “see” the wireless network connection emitting from the router, the rubbisher the wireless card is.
I could buy a new wireless card (an MSI CardBus CB11B2, if that means anything to anyone… it certainly means nothing to me), but are they easy to buy? And how can I be absolutely sure that this is the problem and I won’t be wasting money by buying one? And is it a problem that my laptop is made by Tiny, a company that has gone bust? And is this another of those “if I had a Mac, all would be right with the world” moments?
Oh, and the second problem is a slightly more long-running one – wireless speakers. I used to have some wee speakers that plugged into my laptop so I could play music, videos and so on. However they died a natural death a few weeks ago, and I figured it would be nice to get some wireless ones, which would minimise the risk of me tripping and breaking my neck.
And for the technophobes among you, wireless speakers would mean ones that would not be physically connected to my laptop – meaning I could move my laptop (or indeed my speakers) to anywhere in the flat and still listen to whatever music I was playing. So I asked around a few nearby shops. All said “no sorry, try PC World”.
So I did, just last week, during my mid-holiday break. PC World said they’d given up selling them because “the technology is not quite there yet” to get over things like interference from mobile phones, taxis and thick walls. I find that hard to believe. Though I confess my disbelief is down more to naïve optimism than any knowledge of wireless technology.
There are one or two for sale on various sites like Amazon, but I don’t know which one to go for, but I’ve generally only bought techie stuff after advice from trusted friends who know about these sorts of things.
So I thought I would cast the net wider to readers of this blog to solve my current problems.
Is it really too much to ask in life that I can spend a lazy Bank Holiday Monday, the final day of my two weeks’ holiday, lying in bed surfing the net and listening to music, rather than camping on my flatmate’s floor for a few minutes while I upload a rant written the night before?
Specifically, dear readers, your starters for ten are:
- Does it sound to you like my wireless card is really broken? Despite working fine barely a month ago? Any suggestions?
- Wireless speakers – let’s have your informed suggestions and recommendations.
And because I am so hapless without expert help, there’ll be an as-yet undetermined prize for any advice which turns out to be the full solution.