Q. After a power failure, my shared internet connection does not work. I have cable modem service (Motorola Surfboard cable modem) and a wireless LinkSys Cable Modem/DSL router/firewall. If I connect a Mac or a PC directly to the cable modem, my service works fine. If I connect a Mac and a PC to the router/firewall, they can see each other, and print to a wireless printer. However, neither of them can get to the internet. I have hit the reset button on the router/firewall, but that didnt help. What is wrong? And how do I fix it?
A. In all likelihood the problem is that the router/firewall lost its settings that are particular to your cable modem account. Some broadband services, yours included, make use of a protocol called Point to Point Protocol Over Ethernet (PPPoE). This protocol requires that you logon to your account. When you only have a single computer (PC or Mac) the installation software provided by the broadband service installs PPPoE and configures it. Part of the process is to provide the account logon and password. With many broadband router/firewalls (LinkSys included) the PPPoE logon is performed and the session is maintained by the firmware within the router. This firmware has settings established when you run the installation/configuration program that came with the router firewall. In many cases, it is done automatically by an installation wizard which examines the computer (Mac or PC) and determines the logon account and password and stores them in the router. Thats what probably got zapped. The fix is to run the installation software again. That you can connect to the internet when the router/firewall is not in the circuit indicates that your internet connection and cable modem are good. That the computers can see each other indicates that the LAN portion of the router/firewall is good. That the LAN side works implies that it is probable that the WAN side is OK, just not configured. By the way, in addition to logon and password, some services also require that a specific device be connected to the cable modem, i.e. that the device connected have the absolutely unique identification number of the network card in the Mac or PC. This is called the MAC address (no relation to Macintosh) - fortunately, the broadband routers provide a mechanism for spoofing this address, i.e. if the cable modem asks for the MAC address, they provide the one stored by the configuration utility.
Q. I have a DELL desktop machine, but I cant get at the CD drive. I get a message that the configuration entry is damaged. The device manager shows that the drive is present. I cant read data or audio CDs.
A. There are several possibilities. That the device manager sees the drive only means that it knows that there is a device at the other end of the cable, and enough of the electronics is active that it reports back to the device manager that it is a CD. However, there are 40 pins on the cable, and if the cable isnt seated properly, it might not be moving data. So the first thing to check is to make sure that the ribbon cable leading from the CD drive to the motherboard is well seated. Next, you could have dirt on the laser lens within the drive. Try a CD drive cleaner. This is a CD that has a small strategically-located soft bristle brush on its surface. When loaded the CD will spin up to speed and gently scrub the lens. The next thing to check is whether there is a software problem (most likely since it is complaining about a configuration setting.) To confirm that the CD drive is good, here are a few methods:
Method A: Find/borrow a Windows 98 SE (or Windows Me) Emergency Recovery Diskette (also known as an ERD). Put this into your floppy drive and boot. It will ask what kind of boot you wantrequest Command Prompt with CD support. The ERD has a generic CD driver by Oak Technologies that provides baseline functionality for almost all CD drives. When you boot, is should find the CD drive and assign it a letter. For discussion purposes lets say that it assigns drive letter D:. Once booted, you will get an DOS command window prompt from your A: drive. Put a data CD in the drive and type A:>DIR D: and enter. If you get a directory listing of the CD, then you know that the drive is good.
Method B: Boot the machine and during the power on self-test (POST) press the key that gets you into the systems ROM BIOS setup, also known as SETUP. On many machines this is done by pressing the DEL key. This has to be done before you see the Starting Windows or the Windows flagiif you get that far you have missed it. Once into the ROM BIOS setup, find the BOOT SEQUENCE setting and change it so that it will offer to boot from a CD. Now put a bootable CD in the machine. (Windows 2000 install, Windows XP install are two commonly available bootable CDs). Alternatively, get someone to create a bootable CD for you. If the machine boots from the CD, dont continue the installationbut if it offers to install, you know that the drive is good. Note: Newer Dell machines will boot from the CD if you press F12 during POST.
Method C: Move the drive to another machine and see if it works there. Be sure to record the drive jumpers on the CD when you take it outthere will be a jumper at positions that define the drive as being either a MASTER, SLAVE, or CABLE SELECT (usually abbreviated MA, SL, CS) Which jumper position is which will be either engraved/embossed on the body of the drive, or on the label of the drive somewhere. Which brings up this pointon any motherboard made within the last 8 years or so, there will be two IDE (drive) controllers, named a primary and a secondary. Each controller has a ribbon cable that has connectors for two devices. If there is only one device on the cable, it must have the jumper set to MASTER. If there are two devices, one must be MASTER and the other must be SLAVE. One some machines (rarely) both will have CS settings. If you move the questionable CD drive to another machine, you may have to adjust the jumper, and when you bring it back, be sure to restore it.
Assuming that the drive is good, then it
is a software issue. There are several things you might do to
try to resolve it
Did you recently install any CD-related software? For example, if you installed CD burning software you might have created a problem. In particular, there have been problems with software that lets you treat a CD-R/W drive as if it were a floppy driveletting you read/write to a CD-R/W media directly from any application as opposed to via specific CD burning software. An example of such a problem program is the older editions of Adaptec (now Roxio) Direct-CD which was part of EZ CD Creator. If, for example, you installed an older version of this you might have hammered the native CD burning software that comes in Windows XP.
Did you recently install any software that has active DRM (Digital Rights Management)? DRM is software that is designed to prevent the copying of some forms of data, such as commercially released music. The newer versions of Windows Media Player impose DRM.
Did you recently install any software that might have also installed some form of copy prevention? For example, a few years ago, Intuits Turbo Tax installed Macrovisions copy protection software which reputedly broke CD functionality on many machines. The tell-tale indicator that this software was installed was the presence of a folder named C-Dilla. There are very specific instructions as to how to remove this software just deleting the folder wont do it, and a specific sequence of uninstall steps had to be taken with Turbo Tax to remove it. Note: Intuit only did this for one year, the uproar was so great that they discontinued it but not before the damage was done.
Lastly, of all of the various hardware
devices that I have dealt with, it seems that CD drives are the
most prone to just plain quitting. Fortunately, CD readers and
Q. Is there an easy way to do a peer-to-peer connection between two computers using a USB connection?
A. Yes, there is such a device. One (of many) example is PC-Link - a double-ended cable with some electronics in the middle. See http://www.nti1.com/usb-link.html However it is also relatively easy to connect two PCs back-to-back using the built in ethernet ports that are found on just about all new computers. To do this, you need a Cat-5 Crossover cable. A regular Cat-5 Patch cable will not do. This will only work for two computers, if you have a third then by all means look into getting a hub or switch, or even a broadband router/firewall. (Face it, you are going to get broadbandyou might as well get it now.) The details for setting up a direct connect is a bit too much to put here, so we will try to get a separate article into this issue of DACS.DOC.
Correction/Elaboration: In a previous Random Access session, it was stated that the Windows XP firewall will alert the user to a connection attempt being initiated by software running on the PC. This is not fully the casethe default is that it silently blocks the request. You may enter trusted programs into an Exceptions list, and in the advanced tab of the properties page for the firewall you may specify that you want to be notified. For example, the Windows XP firewall will permit an ftp sessionwith a remote host to be established without question, but when the ftp session tries to establish a secondary channel for file transfer, it will alert if the alert option is set. Other firewall programs, such as the popular ZoneAlarm, will always alert you and give you the opportunity of permitting once, always, or never. Additionally, some may have gotten the impression that a firewall controls content. This is not the function of a firewall, it usually only controls whether a connection may be established or not. For controlling what content is passed, you need a security/privacy screen application.
|Bruce Preston is president of West Mountain Systems, a consultancy in Ridgefield, CT specializing in database applications. A DACS director, Bruce also leads the Access SIG. Members may send tech queries to Bruce at email@example.com.|