Do you have a volt meter or multimeter?
If so, you should measure the voltage present on your motherboard's pins. Most serial interfaces use 12 volts which is too much for a Netduino. Please be careful.
thank you both for your replies. i, too, believe that i will really enjoy using this thing once i get over this first bump.
i have considered buying another device for interfacing, but i seem to be predisposed to doing things the hard way.
on my motherboard there is a 'COM1' rectangular 10 pin (minus one) socket. 5 pins on top, 4 on bottom. like this:
i experimented today with pins D0 and D1 on the shield base connected to (what i think are) pins 2 and 3 of this socket. i got some lights and strange characters to come up on the program http://realterm.sourceforge.net/
but i do not know what the pinout is, nor which pins need to be connected, nor how to confirm the connectivity.
once all of that is done, i am confident i can trudge through the rest on my own.
your help is appreciated.