How I spent a wasted evening

So much for the borrowed laptop running Windows XP. When I first got it, it was configured for dial-up networking only. I managed to get the built-in Ethernet adapter working on my home network, and was able to do some compatability testing.

Then I turned it off for a while.

Now, it refuses to recognize the wired network. (Yes, I've turned it back on.) Every time I try to access a site on the Internet in IE, I'm presented with the dial-up connection dialog. If I close that, IE switches to offline mode. When I turn that off, I'm presented with the dial-up connection dialog again.

I've been working with computers professionally for something like 18 years, and recreationally for some years before that. If I can't figure this out, how is the average user supposed to be able to do it?

Is it too much to ask?

I think this is a telling point; of what I'm not entirely sure. If you Google on "ie6 css", the first ten hits you get have to do with bugs in IE's handling of CSS. Note that I didn't search for "ie6 css bug", as was my first inclination.

For my current project at work, I decided to bring my HTML skills into the twenty-first century and start using the CSS box model for positioning elements on the screen instead of nesting tables. It took some getting used to at first, but before long I had it working the way I wanted.

Then I demoed it to one of our beta testers, who is running IE6. She couldn't see some of the elements, and others were presented with no formatting. (I should note that I develop against Mozilla Firebird, and spot-test with Opera 7 and Camino/OS X. I don't test IE6, because the only Windows machine I normally have access to only has IE5.) Naturally, the demo didn't go so well.

I was able to borrow a laptop with Windows XP and IE6, so I'm currently figuring out the problems IE6 has with standard CSS, and workarounds for them. Still, it's almost enough to drive me back to nested tables.

Things to do with a new laptop

Ad hoc supercomputing (how long before PowerBook users figure out they can do this with Xgrid?)