Advanced Windows Configuration Questions - Troubleshooting Wireless Networking and System Boot Sequences in Windows

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I’ve Got Questions - Do You Have Answers

The area of wireless networking seems unnecessarily opaque and devoid of acceptable tools. I continue to explore this area, but in the mean time, here are my big pet peeves / real issues.

1. How can wireless network configuration be easily and reliably switched, preferably automatically?

  • Here is the deal. Many people, myself included, have wireless networks that are accessed using a static IP address. But, like everyone else, when I go to the local coffee shop or other Wi-Fi hotspot, I need a DHCP assigned address to access the hotspot. I know how to go into the network configuration and change the settings back and forth, I even have the static settings memorized, but this isn’t the point. Should I really have to do that? Is there a way to setup wireless networking such that when I access certain networks, the system knows to use a specific configuration of static IP address, gateway, DNS and so on, but when attaching to a different wireless network, it automatically knows to use DHCP. – Don’t bother with telling me about the Alternate Configuration option. I know about it, but it is painfully slow and only semi-reliable.
  • Even more of an issue, how can such a thing be setup so that a non-technical issue (my wife, certain clients, etc…) can make the change, even if it isn’t automatic? That is, can an icon and/or batch file be created that would at least allow me to say, just double click this when you are at Starbucks, and then double click this to switch back to the office network.

2. Can security settings be automatically switched or setup via a batch file or utility such that they are quickly and easily changed for use at an unsecured wireless hotspot and back again for a secured home or office wireless network?

  • As far as I know, there is nowhere that my family members would try and go on the Internet that requires a username/password or sensitive information like credit card numbers that won’t be setup with HTTPS. But, that is like not wearing your seat belt because you think you probably won’t get into an accident. It is just trouble waiting to happen. So, how can I setup a reliable, easy way to do the standard wireless hotspot things like disabling File Sharing and forcing HTTPS connections when necessary? And, why in the world, doesn’t every anti-virus/firewall product available not have a system tray icon to switch over settings when moving from a secure wireless network to an unsecure one?

3. Can the ORDER of the startup/boot sequence be controlled in Windows XP and/or Vista?

  • I do my best to keep my startup sequence as lean as possible, and use several utilities to make sure that various software isn’t sneaking stuff into my startup. (I’m looking at you Adobe.) However, I have yet to find a way to control the sequence. For example, my anti-virus software both comes online and tries to check for updates before my network settings come online. This means that every single time I start my computer, the anti-virus software must register an error, display a tray pop-up, and then, notice that the network is online, and then re-check for updates. Likewise, Live Mesh comes on before DHCP client comes on. How dumb is this? I probably run an extra 6 or 7 unnecessary processes on each boot just because the services won’t wait long enough for the network to come online. If the system wasn’t so busy running the error code, maybe it could get the network online faster!

So, what do you think? Got solutions? I want to hear them! I’ll write them up here and link back to you with a thanks. Go here to send me a message.

This post is part of the series: Ask The Readers

What kinds of issues does one of the technical experts at Bright Hub chew on when he isn’t writing brilliant articles and dispensing advice. Well, one issue is his hubris. The others are here, followed by their answers.

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