With wireless access points popping up in more and more places, it would be a mistake to buy a new notebook without built-in access. But with wireless access come glitches and problems. Here are some: I have a new notebook computer running Windows XP but have problems maintaining a wireless connection. It seems to come and go. It will connect to a base station, but I cannot access the internet or get mail. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, it will suddenly connect. Is this a hardware or software problem? I have an Apple Airport Base Station at home. It was really easy to set up my wife's PowerBook, but I am having trouble with my Windows notebook. It seems to recognise the existence of the base station, but it is not connecting. Do these things only work for Apple products? Names and addresses supplied Ever since the beginning of computers, there has been a battle between the hardware and software wizards. While the hardware is being developed, the software people are given bits of information so they can work on the software. Then changes are made and all hell breaks loose. The hardware people think what they do is more important than what the software people do, and vice versa. In truth, the one cannot live without the other. When problems arise, however, they often do blame each other. There is quite a bit of information about XP and wireless woes on the Net. The problem is usually caused by Microsoft's Wireless Zero Configuration. Microsoft told me: 'Some wireless network adapters are not fully compatible with Windows XP Wireless Zero Configuration'. It seems odd to say the hardware should be made to conform to the software, but Microsoft is in a position to do that. They referred me to the Microsoft Knowledge Base articles 821400, 313242 and 324024, which you can find at support.microsoft.com. To install a working driver, open Control Panel, click Performance and Maintenance, Administrative Tools, and Services. Double-click Wireless Zero Configuration. On the General tab, click Stop. In the Startup type list, click Disabled, and then click OK. You can now install the correct driver for your notebook or wireless adapter. Only those who are familiar with the inner workings of their computers should try this. As for accessing Apple's Airport Base Station (or Airport Extreme, the faster, 802.11g box), it is probably a question of the format of the password for the base station. If you open the Airport Admin Utility on the Mac, you will see a little lock under which is written 'password'. Click on that and get the Hex version of the password. It should look like this: BAC34DAAAB56B7CADA336B23DA. When you turn your XP machine on, you should be told that there are Networks available. If you right-click on the wireless icon at the bottom-right of the screen, you will be given the option to View Available Wireless Networks. Click on that and then go to Advanced setting. You should get a screen with the network there and a button labelled Configure. You must then enter the hex value you got above in the WEP (Wireless Equivalent Privacy) section of Configure. There are slight differences depending on what version of XP you are using. There is a simple guide at iFelix ( www.ifelix.co.uk/tech/1000.html ). I have actually done this myself and it did work. Will wonders never cease?