Thanks; I have been using Driver Genius to get the drivers, and had not checked since July. I had been going to http://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support/detect/wireless
, which tells me that my Intel® WiFi Link 5100 is up to date, but tells me that the installed version is 184.108.40.206. Running the Wireless_15.2.0_Ds64.exe ends up installing the identical WiFi driver, and even uninstalling it, and then running the Ds64.exe still results in 220.127.116.11 being installed. I know it really uninstalled it because when I did so, I told it to delete the software so it couldn't decide to reinstall the old driver if it realized that the hardware was there without a driver. So apparently Wireless_15.2.0_Ds64.exe is more than just the WiFi driver, but the WiFi driver alone has not changed. It does behave peculiarly in trying to install the driver: the installer gui seems to stop, but the properties tab shows the new driver installed, but the yellow ! is there in the notification area; I'm not going to give it more than 15 minutes to install a simple driver, so I just reboot, and when I reboot, the driver will be there and functioning. It has been more than a year since the driver installer has ever finished of its own accord: it just sits there with little dots going around in a circle. Once or twice I've let it go for more than an hour, but I'm not going to give it all day and all night.
Since I got hyper-annoyed the other day at Windows and my 2Wire and Netgear (I switch the Netgear and 2Wire out on occasion) and AT&T, and I happened to have an old enet modem on hand, I started using just enet for a while, and discovered the identical problem with the enet driver: it keeps disabling itself. Everything is exactly the same when this happens--no driver is installed on one tab, but the driver is installed, but "enable" is not greyed out. Clicking enable has no effect; it starts doing something and never stops. The network troubleshooter will inevitably reset the local area connection, which, when it actually does it, will fix the problem, as will rebooting. But sometimes the network troubleshooter goes off into la-la land also. Uninstalling and reinstalling the driver fixes it. I tried changing the settings on the power management tab, unchecking turn this device off to save power to see if that helped. I was thinking that because I used to have huge amounts of trouble on this pc when I had Vista on it with sfc being unable to fix corrupt files, which I have yet to find an actual cause of, and which only rarely occurs with Windows 7, but some people have speculated this was due to the computer hibernating or sleeping. Since I don't use either, I don't believe it, but I couldn't help but wonder if whatever it was doing that might be emulating sleeping or hibernating and causing this issue also: however, changing the power setting does not reduce the occurrence of the issue. I've just found a more recent enet driver on the Marvell site, 18.104.22.168, but that has had no effect. I'm keeping the device manage open all the time so that when the internet suddenly slows down I will try to see if the suddenly disabled driver appears before the yellow triangle or not.
I can smell a Mac in my future. I'm beginning to think that going from my Amiga 1000 to a Windows pc long ago was a horrible mistake. It has eaten up months of my life over the years. Could a Mac be worse? At a certain point, one begins to wonder how that consistent a level of malfunctioning could be accidental.