Interfacing Arduino to internet without Eth sheild

Hello Arduino community!

I've built a fairly sophisticated telemetry robot out of junk, however I'm using labview to control it and well, it's massively overkill for what I need to do.

For those unfamiliar with labview, it's a heavyweight graphical programming environment. The reason I want to nix it is because i'm using an old eeepc 701 (one of the first ones ever made!) as the brains of the robot.

Basically I'm using labview's web server functionality combined with a program I wrote to write values to a serial port to control the pan/tilt mechanism based on what buttons I click.

I know there has got to be an better way to do this using javascript / php or some such thing and a web server running on the eeepc to write values to the serial ports from a web page, but so far everything I have come across either requires an ethernet shield or would (i think) require the page to reload every time something is clicked.

Any and all help is appreciated! and if all goes well, then maybe you could all log in to my telemetry robot and drive it around or something.

What's the problem with the web page reloading? It needs to if it's script based.

If you use PHP, you can have persistency, so the serial connection does not have to be closed and opened every time the page refreshes.

If the page reloaded every time someone issued a command to the robot, that wouldn't exactly lend itself to robust / smooth control (not to mention the webcam feed would have to reload every time) of the robot and would make for an overall poor user experience.

I realize this is pretty advanced, but would there be any way to achieve this using ajax? Write a javascript control panel to asynchronously communicate with some php running on the eee?