Wireless Routing - oh, my


SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Founding Member
Jul 30, 1997
Leawood, Kansas USA
I'm so, so very tired. The wireless router worked just great...for about one week. Powered up this morning, got an error message about some MCF something or other not connected. who knows. Linksys says there is no access point between the network card on the laptop and the router...or at least that's what the graphic is showing. There is no way I can figure this out, nor how to connect the fax line to the laptop through the printer....and on and on.

Why is this so complicated and why doesn't it stay working? I know: why am I asking. It's my own fault for buying all this.

I'm putting the arm on my son's employee and neither of us feels very good about it.

crud and some other choice words
It is quirky enough making the corded stuff work, and you go for wireless??

These things just happen out of the blue.

Last weekend my DSL was suddenly down. It turned out (after like 2 hours of sleuthing) that my network icon / connection just decided to go AWOL....
and I have no network at home, but that's the one that connects the DSL modem to my PC.
And it isn't just you and I, Paul. I talked to three people today with Thud problems (the little icon says it all) Is it something about new stuff? Or it's moons. Every order I placed was problematic, every measurement had to be done thrice, even PayPal wouldn't take my credit card. (They don't tell you to run all the numbers together.)

I'll figure it out or pay for the effort, but it rather takes out the fun. And it is so very capricious, just as you said. tiring
Wireless is a real pain in the @ss as far as I'm concerned.

Did you try power cycling the router? Sometimes when our wireless network at home goes south inexplicably but the wired portion of the network seems happy, "bouncing" the wireless access point does the trick. If your wireless access point is integrated into the router (aka a wireless router), power cycle that.
Most wireless problems can be solved by shutting down the router and computer. Then fire up the router and about 30 seconds later restart the computer.

I was in the states recently and found "linksy" a bit hit and miss with my laptop using public access points.

Why is there an access point between your laptop and router unless your laptop is a long way from the router. Most wireless networks will work laptop card to wireless router up to about 300yards, an access point is only needed above this distance.

You may have your network set up wrong.
If you give us the exact error message, it might be easier to help diagnose the issue. It's likely something in the pc.

Are you able to call up a list of available wireless networks that it sees? You'll likely see other networks in the neighborhood.

I know I probably sound like a broken record, but this is important. One very important thing about wireless networks is to make sure they're secured. (passkey w/wpa or wpa2 or wep, changed SSID, changed router password, mac address filtering on, etc) Otherwise, anyone can use your internet feed for whatever (legal or not) purposes they wish. Often they can grab your shared data, too.

( from the recent Grumble Geek Survey )
-14% of us are using wireless networks in our shops. Of those, only 50% appear to be protecting their network from snoopers. The other 50% are potentially liable to have their data stolen or their networks abused.
Wireless networks transmit a few blocks, so it's a good idea to assign an access password - at the least. There's a bit of info here about this: http://www.thegrumble.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=4;t=000725
If your wireless router is configured with its default settings, anyone nearby can snag your customer database, documents, pricing, or use your connection for less than legal purposes. If anyone is concerned about this, email me and i'll help you to secure it.

We use wireless at home and at the shop, but only for laptops and for the xbox 360. Desktops are all hardwired. We're using Cisco/Linksys WRT54G routers in both places, and I highly recommend them.

Could I possibly solve this myself with your help?? Problem is, I'm brain-fried at the moment from all the stuff I've tried to absorb.

I don't remember the exact error message when first noticing a difficulty: I clicked out of it. It contained letters like MFC? When floating the cursor over the little icon on the taskbar, it just says Wireless Network Not Connected. Options are:

1. Change Windows Firewall Settings: I left it Firewalled.

2. Open Network Connection: window then shows my old dial-up as Disconnected but Firewalled. LAN as cable unplugged but Firewalled. Wireless Network Connection not connected.

3. Repair: Windows can't connect to wireless connection. Contact the person who manages your network. (Who's that??)

4. View Available Wireless Networks. None there and it says Windows cannot configure this wireless connection. "If you have enabled another program to manage this wireless connection, use that software. If you want Windows to configure this, start the Wireless Zero Configuration. See Knowledge Base." (I recently had to install/uninstall/install the All-In-One HP 6210. I tried to connect fax afterwards but nothing worked. Did I enable the HP to do something to the wireless? doesn't seem reasonable.

The mention of the access point is mine because a Linksys screen shows several icons in this order: CPU - Network Card - blinking ** indicating the "broken" spot (access point?) - router - then a question mark - then Internet.

I powered off the CPU, unplugged the cable modem, unplugged the router, replugged and started everything again. All devices say they're working properly. The laptop is in basement, router second floor; but it all worked fine for a week. My son set me up as a protected network (I guess) because I needed a password to get in initially, though not now. I have my named network show up when floating the cursor over the taskbar icon. Or did when it worked. Only other issue would be that the circuit breaker tripped in the room where the cable modem and router are connected because my husband plugged in a space heater and me the iron. We just retripped to On: did this bugger something?

My son is out of town for a week. If I can do this with a little prodding from here, I'd be most grateful. I will understand if it cannot be.

Thanx in advance.
It's difficult to diagnose this remotely (though I successfully did just that last week.)

A couple of questions to get us started:

1) Do you have a wireless access point AND a wired router, or a wireless router? What are the model numbers of the various devices?

2) Is your wireless NIC integrated into your laptop or do you have a little PCMCIA card that sticks out the side?

Let's at least figure out the network topology, then we can test a few things to find out exactly where the broken part is.
I am absolutely unbelieving of this. I replugged everything all over again: not a thing changed.

I'm always pretty aware of all the icons in the lower righthand taskbar. There was a green box with semicircular arcs. Floated the cursor, it just said "Disconnect", no mention of what it was. I figured I had nothing to lose so I clicked it.

Bam! My wireless network turned on. Now what the h e l l is the green box?? What did I dis-connect from and how did I connect to it in the first place.
We have wireless at home, and ours will not work with the firewalls up...unless you go in and tell it specifics on what is allowed through. Just to see if this is the problem, disable your firewall, then try again (you may need to go through the whole annoying turn-it-all-off-then-back-on thing).
I am absolutely NOT the wireless guru, I just know this was a problem at our house.

Well, Leslie, since it came back up with the firewall enabled, I think I'll just sneak out quietly and let it think it won. It actually did because I have simply no idea how the episode began or what ended it.

Thanx for all your help. It's surely nice to have a knowledgable and sympathetic shoulder.

I'm always pretty aware of all the icons in the lower righthand taskbar. There was a green box with semicircular arcs. Floated the cursor, it just said "Disconnect", no mention of what it was. I figured I had nothing to lose so I clicked it.

Bam! My wireless network turned on. Now what the h e l l is the green box?? What did I dis-connect from and how did I connect to it in the first place.

That "little green box" is the icon for the Linksys driver task (possibly an incorrect technical term). If you double click on that box, you'll see where your son set up your network parameters, plus any available wireless networks that the NIC can see. It's supposed to be easier than using windows to control the NIC, but I find just the opposite. It's an annoyance, plus it's more difficult for other people to help you because it's specific to Linksys. I'm glad you managed to get it back up again. Wired networks are 10 times easier (after the cables have been run, of course).
Originally posted by MerpsMom:
How is the average dodo bird to navigate?
They couldn't navigate - that's why they became extinct.
Sorry! I should not have told you to reboot the thing...had to go through this again this morning. On the computer in my kitchen we are running McAfee, which re-enables the firewall every time I reboot it. Arrggg. Try turning off the firewall, then see you can see anything else on the network (view workgroup computers). Also, you may have more than one firewall running...windows and McAfee, for example. You can email or call me directly if you want, I have had wireless for a long time and run into lots of issues...I don't know if I can help or not but I'm willing to try....

I believe she had the wireless connection disabled on the taskbar, and since toggled it back on.

Turning off the firewall for any amount of time, if you aren't protected by a router, is dangerous. That third party firewall likely needs some fine tuning. The windows one should work just fine with networking.

Are you all set now, Cathie?

Yes! Mike, and thank you. BUT...how did I disable the wireless connection in the first place? What could I have possibly done--assuming that it took an actual effort to do it. Ya know, ya can't avoid the sin if you don't know you committed it.

Dave is right, and clever as well. (I think we've identified the problem.)

Head still hurts.

Many laptops have a button to "turn off the radio", which can easily be pushed in error. Others have it with a certain function key combination.

Likely, this was a one time thing. If it happens again, I bet you'll know what to check.

It happened again and I don't know what to check. sigh :confused:

BUT...again, I now know that I just hit the silly green box and it pops me back into the wireless mode. It will drive me crazy until I figure how why it's doing this. (I know it's personal, I just know it.)
Down in the the green box area, right click or double click to get to the configuration screen. If there's a "Preferred networks" list, make sure yours is selected as the default/top of the list. It's possible that you're connecting to weaker signals in the neighborhood, instead of yours.

Are there any cordless telephones in the house or shop? I have often found that these conflict with wireless networks. (You can confirm this by putting the phone on its BASE, which should shut off its radio)

If you think there may be a conflict with your cordless phone, you can go into the router via it's web browser based interface and change the channel from say "channel 4" to "channel 9". We had this issue both at the shop and at home with our Panasonic cordless phones that used the same frequency.

If you have a linksys brand router, you should first have a working connection. Load the web browser and go to This is the web page/configuration section of your router. You can try the default password of "admin" (no quotes - and your son may have changed this password) From there, click on the "Wireless" tab. The "Wireless Channel" option should be listed on this screen, for most Linksys models. Try a channel in the 7-11 range, and click "Save Settings" to finalize your selection. (most likely it came set to channel 4)

If your router is a different brand, the instructions will be almost the same. You may have to use an alternate address of for some other brands.

One more thing-

Lately we've been having performance issues on our wireless network. I just went to the website of the manufacturer and obtained the latest firmware for the device, and upgraded the firmware (aka "flashing" the equipment.) I'm pleased to say that there's been a substantial improvement in performance. When your son gets back, tell him to check for firmware (image) updates for your hardware.