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This may be dependent upon how you are accessing the internet from the laptop (i.e. if you are using a different connection to that of your home PC). If it is a different connection, think in terms of the router firewall, or it could be a software firewall on your laptop.
having ENORMOUS issues...isn't this suppose to be easy.
I either can't connect and get the error "Contribute could not connect because the server is down or not accepting connections. Contact your administrator" I am administering this site...ugh.
Or I make changes, publish them and when I go to the site to look at it...its a blank page...no code.
Where you get the blank page, this is likely to be a firewall issue. Are you using your computer on a local network that has a main firewall for its connection to the internet?
FTP protocol uses two connections in parallel — one for command and control, and a second channel for data transport.
Whilst your command and control channel might get through, your data transport channel gets blocked, so the file can't get replaced and you get a blank page.
Also consider the difference between passive and active FTP.
It's the firewall and the FTP protocols it allows that are likely to be the problem.