Nearly beaten by a switch

There is a switch at the front of the Toshiba Satellite M70 laptop
Beware: there’s a switch on some laptops that disactivates the WiFi card. It can take some effort to discover it, however!

Last night while I was round at my parents-in-law I said that I’d help my father-in-law set up his new Toshiba Satellite M70 laptop. I’d already been around a few weeks before and set up their BT broadband.

“Is it connected to the broadband?” I asked.
“No.”
“Okay … do you have the information I left when I set up the broadband? We’ll need the router name (SSID) and the WEP key.”

They did, and I duely entered them. I then entered them again, this time spelling “duly” correctly.

“Right … that should connect now.”

Would it? No! In fact, it didn’t work for the next thirty to forty minutes. I tried everything that I could think of. I even installed the excellent NetStumbler to see if it could sniff out any local networks to determine whether it was just theirs that I couldn’t see.

It couldn’t see anything! Nothing at all. Which was weird because Jane’s Mum’s laptop could see two networks including their own. “Weird,” I thought, “it’s almost as though the WiFi card isn’t switched on … but it says here that it is activated.”

Turns out that these fancy new Toshiba laptops have a physical switch at the front of the case to physically switch on or off the WiFi card. It’s for use in hospitals and onboard aircraft.

When I flicked the switch then it connected! I think there’s a lesson there for us all.

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Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 47 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Scrum master at Vision Ltd, Dundee. Latterly, web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and former warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall. Enneagram type FOUR and introvert, I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, write, draw and laugh… a lot.

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