QI can't get my Windows XP computer to see the other machine on my home network, which runs Win 98 SE.

AThis is an issue of mistaken identity. For computers in Windows networks to talk to each other, they need to identify each other and by a common workgroup name.

XP defaults to calling its workgroup "MSHOME," but 98 SE uses "WORKGROUP" instead. You need to switch both computers to the same workgroup identity.

In Windows 98, right-click on the Network Neighborhood icon, select Properties and then click on the Identity tab in the window that opens. In XP, click on the View System Information link in the My Computer window, then select the Computer Name tab.

Once the two machines can see each other, you still need to decide which files to share. The controls for setting this should be found in the same parts of Windows as the workgroup-identity settings you just adjusted. Last month on the radio, you referred to surveillance software in Windows XP's media-playback software. Is there anything I can do about it?

We were discussing Windows Media Player -- and reviewing my comments, it looks as if I was too critical of the way Microsoft handles player identification.

This is an issue any media player program has to deal with: Sites that broadcast streaming audio or video usually need to identify your computer by some sort of player ID, both to track their audience and to measure how well their webcast is working.

This can cause problems if this ID is then used to snoop on your listening habits, and so heated debate has ensued about how media players such as Microsoft's and RealNetworks' address this situation.

The new Windows Media Player 9 generates this ID randomly to prevent it from being traced to you in particular. It also includes more privacy options and guidance than earlier versions. That doesn't make Windows Media Player perfect -- but none of these programs is.

-- John Gilroy

John Gilroy of Item Inc. is heard on WAMU's "The Computer Guys" at noon on the first Tuesday of the month. Send your questions to him in care of The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or via e-mail to jgilroy@iteminc.com.