Intermittent IR sync'ing, Palm Vx with laptop

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I recently started using IR sync'ing with a 2nd laptop because the 1st
laptop with the serial port died.  It worked flawlessly for about 1.5
weeks. Yesterday, it started to be come extremely intermittent (almost
always fails).  Sometimes, the icon shows up on the system tray to let
me know that an IR device is within range, but the Palm simply can't
connect.  It times out after about 2-3 minutes and presents a message
saying that it can't establish a connection.

Yesterday, the problem went away when I closed and restarted the
HotSync Manager.  Today, that didn't work.  Rebooting the laptop
didn't work.  I would get the audio notification that indicates IR
activity, but nothing else.  After countless attempts, I got signs of
life when it tried to identify the user.  It even got as far as trying
to sync the first things (I think it was Address Book), but failed.

On the PDA, I switched back and forth from Serial Port to IR (I might
have also mussed with Local vs. Modem).  All of a sudden, the IR
started working, everything got synchronized.

How common is such flakiness?  What might be complicating factors?

I am using an HP Compaq nc8230.

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