Ok, here is the gist of my problem: whenever i try to upload, i either get the error
avrdude: ser_send(): write error: sorry no info avail
available, or most of the time, its an error that tells me that COM3 is already in use. :-?
What i have tried is setting the 'RTS on close' option in the settings for the usb serial converter in device manager. I have also downloaded the driver from the ftdi website and windows told me the current driver was fine. presumably it meant it was the same version.
I can upload to the board once. Then i have to disconnect it fromt eh computer, unplug my protoshield, plug the arty back in and then i can upload one more time. then i have to repeat this step. every. single. time.
so there is my problem. After one upload, com3 is said to be in use, until i unplug the arduino and plug it back in.