Everyone loves to blame Windows for, well, just about everything that goes wrong with their PC. Although I have seven PCs in my office and six in my home, I actually have few problems with Windows and seldom blame my Microsoft co-workers for my PC troubles. Just this week however I had two problems that I was cursing Windows XP for. In the end, well, it wasnt anything to do with Windows.

#1: Transmitting a file via Infrared

I downloaded a skin for Tracker to one of my home laptops (an ancient IBM Thinkpad 600) and needed to get it into my P800 smartphone, and Infra-red seemed the simplest way to do this. I had done it before, how hard could it be? Well first I noticed the IR port was banged-out in Device Manager due to “hardware conflicts”. Somehow I remembered that the IR port cant work if both PCMCIA ports are in use, and I had added a card since last time I tried this. Removing the 2nd card made the IR port claim it was working (not Windows fault, but IBMs), but still no desktop icon would appear for IR, and the “irftp” cmd failed with a mystery error. I could send a file from my phone to the PC no problem, but not the other way. I was really cursing Windows by this point, until I played with the phone a bit and realized the IR port on that was set to “Off“. When I changed it to “On for 10 mins”, hey presto, the file could be transferred with ease. (Not Windows fault, user error in the phone config).

#2: Syncing Outlook from my PC to my P800 over Bluetooth

I will spare you my rant about Bluetooth support from Microsoft for another day. However using the TDK adaptor and their BT software, I have got BT working between XP to my phone, although I have to retry 2-5 times to get a connection. It does eventually work and I can sync my Contacts and Calendar between the two, which is just awesome. On Monday though it all went horribly wrong. No matter how many times I tried, the PC would not connect to the phone, or even see it on the BT network. I rebooted. I cursed Windows, Outlook, Sony Ericsson and TDK. Nothing helped. Finally I went to my phone to see if it could see my PC on the BT network. My phone hung at the BT config dialog, so I rebooted it. When it came back it could see the PC, and better yet the PC could see it, and sync perfectly. (Not Windows fault, the BT stack had hung on my phone).

Moral: Modern versions of Windows (ie 2000 & XP) really are pretty amazing pieces of software. When something is up with your PC, it really isnt always Windows fault. However working out whose fault it is can be time consuming and require a good deal of technical knowledge. Even “experts” like me get it wrong sometimes.