As LSA junior Katherine Musbach prepared for her history lecture in Angell Hall, she turned on her Toshiba laptop. Before she could start typing, an error message appeared on the computer screen. Her laptop immediately shut down.
Musbach’s problem has become a common one. A compatibility problem with the University’s wireless system has prevented many students and faculty from accessing the internet.
“As soon as the computer turns on and detects the wireless system, it shuts off,” Musbach said. “It won’t turn back on unless you disconnect the wireless adapter.”
Musbach said the blue screen appeared on her computer only for a moment – barely long enough for her to read the content of the error message.
Students have reported problems with the wireless network in Angell Hall, the Undergraduate Library, the Graduate Library and East Hall – and the issue could be more widespread than that.
The University doesn’t appear to be changing its network to accommodate these computers. Rather, students have to remedy the problem themselves.
The trouble is caused by a conflict between the University’s wireless network and the drivers used by the popular Intel 2200bg wireless card. For the card to work with the University’s wireless system, computer owners must upgrade their drivers – software that allows the operating system to utilize its hardware.
Students can fix this problem themselves, said Engineering junior Eric Vander Weele, an employee at the University Computer Showcase in the basement of the Michigan Union. He outlined a series of steps that include visiting the Intel website and downloading a new driver for the laptop. There’s no need to uninstall the old driver, he said.
LSA junior Josh Tishhouse, another Showcase employee, said the problem isn’t consistent with a certain brand of personal computer. It depends solely on what driver was preinstalled on the computer.
The problem isn’t unusual, Tishhouse said, adding that many students bring their afflicted computers to the showcase to be fixed.
“We’ve been dealing with it for at least a year,” he said. “That’s one of the things the Computer Showcase is for.”
Fortunately for Apple owners, the technological malfunction doesn’t affect Macintosh computers. Tishhouse said Intel had already corrected the problem by the time Apple started using Intel processors in its computers last summer.
Musbach’s dilemma was never completely resolved. After visiting the showcase twice and installing two different drivers, her laptop still won’t work. Computer Showcase employees said her computer might not be compatible with the University’s wireless network, Musbach said.
Musbach said she thought the University should bear some responsibility for the compatibility problem.
“Can’t this be cut two ways?” she asked.
Some computer owners have had more success than Musbach, though. Other students have enjoyed improvements after upgrading their drivers.
Kinesiology junior Monica Silvian experienced problems with the wireless network in the Undergraduate Library and the Graduate Library, so she decided to take her Dell laptop to the Computer Showcase.
After installing the new drivers, she was able to use the wireless network.
“It was fixed, and they gave me instructions about what to do from there on,” she said.
AN INTEL-LIGENT SOLUTION
How to fix your computer’s problem with the University’s wireless:
– Go to www.intel.com.
– Click on “Support & Downloads” and then click on “Download Center.”
– Select “Wireless” from thebar on the left.
– Select “Wireless LAN Products.”
– Choose the driver that applies to your wireless card.
– Download and install the driver.