I got a tech support call from James last night. His Linksys router may be flaky, and it wasn't connecting him to the Internet. After about 15 minutes we figured out that the cable modem was fine and that the router was most likely the problem, so I gave him a few suggestions and we got off the phone. I don't know yet how everything worked out.
The bigger issue was that James was relaying to me what his Vista laptop was telling him about his network connections. One status message was "local only," he couldn't find the menu box where he could get to a command prompt, and he couldn't even tell me his IP address. I don't have Vista on my PC at home, and I bought the Macbook Pro so I wouldn't have to deal with Vista at all. So when he was telling me about these various error messages, I couldn't help him with them. I realized that I'm going to have to learn Vista eventually if my friends and family are going to continue calling me for computer help. And that's not likely to change. But I don't want to upgrade my home PC to Vista. Maybe this is where I get a copy of Vista and install it on my MBP with Parallels (a virtual machine manager) so I can just find my way around. I don't think I can get everyone to switch to Macs.