BOOT CAMP 228 (04/06/02)




Broadband or ADSL as it's known to its teccy friends is coming to a telephone exchange near you. It may already be available or you might be able to hook up to your local cable TV company's high-speed network, either way, if you use the Internet for more than a few hours a week put broadband at the top of your wish list!


The cost of broadband has fallen significantly in recent months and probably still has some way to go but even at the current rates of £80 or so for a modem and monthly subscription charges £25 to £30 it still looks like fair value - compared with 'unmetered' Internet dial-up access -- especially when you take into account the real cost of your time spent waiting for web pages and files to download via an ordinary 56k modem. If you use the Internet for gaming or business then argument for broadband becomes very compelling indeed.


In this week's Boot Camp we'll look at the day-to-day practicalities of living with a broadband connection, next week, how to share it with the other PCs in your home or office. We dealt with the installation basics a few months ago in Boot Camp 210. Nevertheless, it's worth reiterating that if you're interested in broadband you can check if it's available in your area - you should be within 5.5km of a broadband capable exchange - by carrying out a line-check at: If the phone line option isn't available investigate the possibility of broadband cable, otherwise you'll have to wait, or look into the more expensive satellite broadband services (


It takes a little while to get used to the fact that when you've got broadband you can continue to use your existing telephone line as normal. However, ADSL modems generate an annoying high-pitched buzz on your phone (but not the caller's phone). Most home installation kits come with one or two line 'filters'. These connect between the phone and the wall socket and cut out the noise but if you have more than a couple of extension you may need extra filters, in which case have a word with your ISP or they can be bought from PC accessory dealers for around £5.00.


A broadband connection is 'always on' and there is no longer any need to worry about call charges, or tying up the line for prolonged surfing sessions, so you will probably change the way you and others use your PC. Your virus scanner should be updated religiously and you must install some Firewall software on your computer. Attacks from hackers are much less of a threat on a normal dial-up connection, you are generally on line for shorter periods and the Internet 'address' assigned to your PC by your ISP changes every time you connect. With a broadband connection your address stays the same, inevitably you are more vulnerable to attack moreover visiting many more web sites and downloading software greatly increases the risk of catching something nasty. A Firewall program like ZoneAlarm ( will alert to any spyware, adware or Trojans that find their way onto your PC and warn you about any other programs that try to access the net without your knowledge or permission.


You will probably want to leave your PC running all day -- you may even decide to leave it switched on all the time - if so you should check the power management settings for the PC and monitor (Start > Settings > Control Panel). Keeping the PC permanently on does no harm but it is wasteful of power so it's sensible to set the monitor to go into standby and power down the disc drives after an hour or so of inactivity. If you do leave it on all of the time ensure that the case is well ventilated and it's worth re-booting every two or three days as a build up of files in temporary folders and caches can make Windows 9x sluggish.


You may want to make some changes to your Internet software so that it connects automatically. In Internet Explorer and Outlook Express the dial-up window normally appears as soon as they are opened, after you've made sure the user name and password details are correct tick the 'Connect Automatically' box. You should set Outlook Express to check for messages every few minutes (1 to 5 minutes), these settings can be found on the Tools menu, under Options (select the General tab).


Having a broadband connection means you and your family's surfing sessions will last much longer and it will make it harder to keep an eye what the kids are up to  - especially if you share the connections with other PCs  - so configure your browser's Content settings or better still, install some net monitoring software (Net Nanny, Safe Surf etc. and see this week's Top Tip). While you are at it you should organise your Favourites into sub folders otherwise it will quickly become cluttered, and get into the habit of clearing the Temporary Files cache and cookies (Tools > Internet Options, General tab), unless of course you want to keep them. 


Finally, make good use of that extra capacity and speed. You will find that you can have two or three large file downloads (music tracks, movies etc.) running simultaneously (you can do that on a dial-up connection but it will slow transfer speed to a crawl). It's also a good excuse to have another go at setting up a web cam (Boot Camps 135 and 136) and establish a videophone link with friends or relatives abroad, if they've got broadband as well the results can be really impressive.


Next week - Broadband 2 - sharing your connection





Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line -- high speed digital connection using existing telephone lines



Internet Service Provider -- a company providing Internet access, an E-mail address and a mailbox where messages sent to you are stored before they're downloaded on to your PC



Virus type program PC that allows hackers to access data on your PC



There are plenty of family-friendly web filtering programs on the market but before you rush out and buy a commercial package have a look at this excellent freeware offering called We-Blocker. It's highly configurable and allows concerned parents to monitor and control their children's surfing activities, and share filtering data with other users. The file is around 2.5Mb and it can be downloaded from:

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