Thanks for the lucid explanation, Mike.
I am also starting to believe that the failures on my laptop were a coincidence. I have since reinstalled Windows XP and started rebuilding my laptop and I can't get any data through anything that operates as a COM port. Time to send in the real geeks, I guess.
David T. Stark
NF2G WQMY980 KYR7128
Wondering whether realpoo would be better than shampoo...