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Fix-it #1: LAN kills WiFi internet?

Ever had this really weird problem that when running off WiFi, all is great, but as soon as you plug in your LAN (which is not internet-connected), the internet keels over and dies? Is it not possible for XP to handle the concept of talking to a LAN and talking to the internet over WiFi simultaneously?

Yes... and no.

It does work, I've done it for almost a year, but certain things - when connected - can mess things up. I suspect plugging in the WAG200G router may have sent some sort of uPnP data to tell Windows the LAN was internettable.

Fine, so the LAN can reach the internet, when on that router. But what about when running happily off WiFi?

Well, Windows unfortunately tends to prefer a wired connection over a radio one which in an all-the-world-is-wired context does make sense. Unfortunately it approaches this with blind devotion so it will happily switch to the more reliable wired connection at the expense of completely losing touch with the Internet. DUH!

Thankfully it isn't too difficult to remedy:
You will need to be an administrator to do this - limited account users cannot...

  • Right-click on the (now dead?) WiFi icon on the system tray.
    When the menu appears, choose Network connections.
  • When the list of network devices appears, right-click on whichever one is your WiFi card - it will usually have a picture of a stick with green emissions, like a sort of freaky lollipop.
    When the menu appears, choose Properties.
  • The middle of the window that appears will say "This connection uses the following items" and should list a number of things, such asClient for Microsoft Networks and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
    Click once on Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and then click the Properties button below. If this button is not available, you are using a limited user account. Log in as an administrator, or contact the person who can...
  • Yet another window will appear. Down at the bottom will be a button saying Advanced. Click this.
  • And yet another window! We're finally here. Down the bottom will be a ticked option marked Automatic metric. Click this option to untick it. The text box labelled Interface metric will now be active. Enter into this box the value 10 (that's one zero).
  • Now click three OK buttons to accept this change and close all those windows. You can also close the Network connections window.

Changes are immediate. Hit refresh (usually F5) in your browser...


Fix-it #2: Missing system tray icons

Ever had Windows boot with icons you know should be in the system tray, but aren't? Most notably the volume control and the battery monitor? If you log off and log back on again, all is fine... but start from cold and they're history?

It is real. It is a bug. And in the decade or so that XP's been around, Microsoft have not fixed what would appear to be a fairly simple problem (it is basically to do with systray timing out at 4 seconds, which is far too short for computers with high loading and/or waiting for events from disconnected networks).

  • Right-click on the network icon (either LAN or WiFi, doesn't matter) on the system tray.
    When the menu appears, choose Network connections.
  • When the window appears, look on the left-hand panel for My Network Places. When you find it, click it.
  • The window will change. Look on the left again for the option marked Hide icons for networked UPnP devices. Click it.
  • A complicated-looking message will appear. Click Yes.
  • Windows XP setup will do a bunch of stuff, and, oh my God, you won't need to reboot! ☺
That's it. Close My Network Places.


Fix-it #3: Killing Google Update Service

When you use a Google product (not sure which installed this, but I use Google Earth and did once try Chrome) you may find Google has snuck in an update mechanism as a system service. I should be rightfully annoyed at this potential breach in privacy, but given I quite enjoy roaming around Streetview (especially Japan which has turned somewhat anti-streetview, shame!) I guess the concept of privacy is give and take.
While people trot out crap like if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, I think the better advice is, quite simply, don't do anything you will later feel ashamed of. Then it doesn't matter so much if the world sees. That said, there is so much on the internet that the world doesn't have time or inclination to eyeball it all. Like those people who are oh my God my house is on streetview - unless I actually know you or your house is specifically weird, if I happen to be looking on streetview then it'll just be yet another house on another street. Look at the house by the freaky electrics (third picture down). Somebody's house, as are all the others. I'm not interested in who or where, and given the population of Tōkyō, it could have been any of a thousand other street corners with freaky electric wiring. Maybe freakier. Give you an example, this b.log. Hot hot topics, so much of my time taken to research and write like I have a clue what I'm talking about. Takes a whole server farm to deal with the millions of hits I get each day. All this an zero advertising!

Back in reality, Thursday is often a quiet day. Here's the access log up until 6pm CET:

  2010/09/16 01:16:02  ?=20100912  xx.xx.xx.xx
  2010/09/16 05:32:57  ?=20100331  xx.xx.xx.xx
  2010/09/16 10:20:41  ?=20100915  xx.xx.xx.xx
  2010/09/16 10:22:03  ?=20100912  xx.xx.xx.xx [from ?=20100915]
  2010/09/16 10:22:12  ?=20100907  xx.xx.xx.xx [from ?=20100912]
  2010/09/16 11:01:00  ?=20080724  xx.xx.xx.xx
  2010/09/16 13:19:50  ?=20080807  xx.xx.xx.xx
  2010/09/16 16:49:08  ?=20100403  xx.xx.xx.xx [from search]
Five people (that last one was me). Oh yeah, so busy around here.

Back to the topic in hand. Google's updater. If you use a Google product, it is best if you do not remove this, in case it gets put back. There is, however, another option!

  • Press Windows logo key and R to call up the Run dialogue.
  • Enter services.msc and click OK (yes, that's a real program, not everything has a .exe extension!)
  • A window will appear saying Services (Local) in the left panel, and a long list of things on the right.
  • Scroll down to find Google Update Service (may have some junk like "(gupdate1ca1ca2ca3ca4ca5c)" after the title).
    Double-click it.
  • If the service is running, click on the Stop button, and wait for it to stop.
  • Open the list beside Startup type and choose Disabled.
  • Click OK.
Now it will be there, but disabled...


Your comments:

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Rob, 17th September 2010, 13:16
Windows should be able to handle a local-only-LAN and internet via WiFi without problem. It's all to do with routing. Check that your playing with the router didn't issue your wired ethernet connection a gateway address via DHCP. If it did, and your normal router doesn't, just do an ipconfig /release followed by ipconfig /renew to sort that out. If you are using static IP addresses, double check in the same advanced IP settings. Finally, you can always force the default gateway down a particular connection with judicious use of the ROUTE commands! 
Rick, 18th September 2010, 18:44
Windows can do both, certainly, but should I have to do an ipconfig twiddle every time I play with the router and find it has issued a "use me for everything" to Windows? 
My method is, I will admit, a sledgehammer/nut solution, but if it works... ;-)
Rob, 19th September 2010, 15:18
To be fair, and I hate myself for saying this, it's not really Windows' fault; The problem is that most home routers are set up to be used by dummies^Wconsumers as the only such device on a simple network and therefore, by default, run a simple DHCP server that issues IP addresses and a default gateway of themselves.  
You need, therefore, to be careful when connecting such things to an existing LAN, especially if you are using DHCP already. The best approach is to connect a single machine to it to disable the DCHP via the config (at least they mostly allow this) and give it it's own static address, before connecting it to the rest of the network. Then you can set your machines, or the existing gateway device, to use ROUTE/etc to access it as you specifically require. 
Rob, 19th September 2010, 15:30
Of course the problem in this case is the router issuing a gateway address via DHCP when there was no outgoing connection available.. again, simple consumer electronics assuming there will only ever be the one route out, themselves. The solution there would be for a router's DHCP server to issue very short leases, and give or rescind the gateway address each time the client asked to renew it, depending on if the ongoing connection was available.  
This would, though, increase network traffic, increase the load on the routers CPU, and run into the Windows problem (don't know if they fixed it in later versions) that they actually ignore notified changes to gateway settings on a renew! All for the occasional geek^Wpower user.. 
Rick, 19th September 2010, 17:04
To be honest, it has all the signs of "I am your router" written all over it. 
I would like to try to see if I can use it as my bedroom router (intranet) with the WiFi permitting (heavily firewalled) access to the internet via the Livebox. The question is, is the device capable of acting as a WiFi slave or will it just assume it is the WiFi host? 
If it is any help - I am running OpenWAG so I can get access to the Linuxy internals to fiddle with options and settings. There's some tweak to make a tiny partition for holding a startup script? Details at [just a shame it isn't an ARM!]

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