Fixing My Father-in-Law’s Computer… Or Not

Today at 11AM, my wife arranged for my father in law to call with an Outlook Express problem. So Phil sat down in a local coffee shop with a wireless network and gave me a call. I was all set on my end, with my computer set up as much like has as I could make it and the Windows XP Remote Assistance ready to go. Unfortunately, his computer wouldn't even connect to the wireless network in the coffee shop. It should have -- it could see the network, it could attempt to get an IP address from the DHCP server, but it would just time out. I went through every setting on the box I could think of on the phone -- several of them twice. We had the coffee shop owner reboot the wireless hub/router. But it just wouldn't work. Forty-five minutes later, I had to admit defeat and give Phil the number for Microsoft support along with a special Quick Assistance number so he would get the support call for free.

I haven't been that frustrated since I tried to fix my wife's computer that wouldn't recognize that there was a hard drive installed and I spent 30 minutes trying to fix that.

I'm hoping he calls back and tells me what the heck was wrong.

Comments (8)
  1. DiaAzul says:

    I have a lot of these problems with Windows XP not getting an IP address over a wireless network. The only ‘fix’ I can suggest is to give the client computer a fixed IP address. If you find out why XP has trouble with getting dynamic IP addresses over a wireless network I would be interested in a post to your blog as to what needs to be tweaked to make it work.

  2. My experience is that Remote Assistance doesn’t work behind NAT.

  3. I haven’t had that problem.

  4. Matt says:

    I can beat you all. I have trouble with Windows XP SP2 getting a DHCP address on a wireless network even though it’s configured to use a static address. It just doesn’t care and tries to get a DHCP address anyway. It normally doesn’t happen at startup but after standby, hibernate or trying to reconnect to the network after the connection is lost.

  5. Matt says:

    Perhaps your subconscience was preventing you from successfully fixing it, knowing that if you did, you could expect plenty more calls from your father-in-law in regards to SMTP settings, firewall issues, etc.. I think you are more clever than you realize 😉

  6. John's wife says:

    Nice psychological insight, Matt, but no go. After 12 years the Son-In-Law Technical Support Center is well established.

  7. We haven’t heard back from him. Oh, and my wife’s computer went kablooey as well — seems to be something with either the motherboard or BIOS.

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