BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2002

  

 

BOOT CAMP 231 (25/06/02)

 

LIVING WITH BROADBAND, part 4

 

CONNECTION SHARING

 

We’re on the home straight now! If you’ve been following this short series you should now have your local area network (LAN) up and running, allowing you to share files on your PCs.

 

If you are still struggling to get your network working then now is a good time to run through some basic troubleshooting steps for Windows 9x (Windows XP has its own troubleshooting routines and help wizards). Nine times out of ten, when you click on Network Neighbourhood and you can’t see shared disc drives, file folders or resources on other PCs in the network it’s due to a software problem.

 

Double check that you have enabled File and Printer Sharing (see part 2 and this week’s Jargon Filter) and make sure that you have uninstalled any firewall software running on the server and client PCs.  It’s no good just exiting or disabling the program it must be completely removed! You should also remove any other Internet monitoring or blocking programs, including virus scanners, (you can put them back later when the network is operating).

 

If you are still having difficulty try ‘pinging’ each of the PCs in the network. Ping is a simple test utility included with all versions of Windows 9x  (ping is a reference to sonar detection) that checks to see if PCs in the network are connected and able to communicate with one. It works by sending a ‘packet’ of data, which the other PC returns. In order to ping a computer (and this can be client to server or server to client) you need to know the other machine’s IP Address (see part 2).

 

It’s a good idea to make a note of the IP addresses of the PCs in your network; you can do this by typing ‘winipcfg’ (without the quotes) in Run on the Start menu on each machine. Select your Ethernet adaptor from the drop down menu. In most cases it will have been set automatically to special networking address that won’t be recognised by the Internet and usually looks something like 192.168.0.1 (the last digit or digits must be different on each PC). This is also a useful indicator that the Ethernet adaptor on each PC is functioning.

 

Next, open a DOS window (Start > Programs > MSDOS) and type ‘ping 192.168.0.1’ (or whatever the IP address is of the PC you are trying to contact), you should get a fairly immediate response from the other PC, with four lines of text showing how long it took to send and receive 32 bytes of data plus some general statistics.

 

If you get a ‘timed out’ or ‘host unreachable’ reply then you will have to go back and check through everything methodically. Assuming that the Ethernet adaptors are working ensure that the TCP/IP protocol has been properly installed. Go to Network in Control Panel, select the Configuration tab and look down the list for a TCP/IP entry, followed by an arrow and then the name of your Ethernet adaptor. The arrow shows that the protocol is ‘bound’ to the adaptor and that they are working properly. If not try removing and reinstalling the adaptors and the protocol. Finally, check that the physical links (cable etc.) or wireless links are okay. If the adaptors and cable get clean bill of health there’s probably still some software running that messing up the link so press Ctrl + Alt + Del just once to bring up the Close Program box and work your way down the list by End Tasking running programs (all except Systray and Explorer).

 

Once you are able connect to the other PC in your network you are ready to share your Internet connection. We’ll be focusing on the software or ‘proxy’ method, which is easiest if you already have a working broadband or dial-up connection on your server PC. It’s also the cheapest way as there are several very good freeware and shareware programs available.

 

If you’re feeling brave you might want to try your luck with a Windows utility, called Internet Connection Sharing (ICS), which is included with all versions of Windows from 98SE onwards. Apparently ICS does work (I’ve never had much luck with it…) and I would advise novices to steer clear but in any case before you try it visit www.annoyances.org/exec/show/ics first for some useful advice.

 

My personal favourite is a program called CCProxy, a shareware (free for up to 5 users), which can be downloaded from: www.youngzsoft.com/en/index.html. Once you get past the jargon and sparse Help files it should prove reliable and easy to use. Other programs worth investigating are WinGate (http://wingate.deerfield.com/), and SolidShare (www.solidshare.com). Time limited trial versions of both programs are available from the respective web sites.

 

Programs like CCProxy and WinGate only have to be installed on the sever PC (the one connected to the Internet) and more or less configure themselves. CCProxy requires some simple adjustments to the client PC’s browser and email settings – this is where the Help files could be better presented -- and for these you will need to know the IP Address of your server PC and some basic email settings but it shouldn’t take you more than about five minutes for each machine on the network.

 

It really is that simple but you may well find that the whole thing comes crashing down as soon as you re-install your firewall and Internet monitoring programs and I have found that our old friend ZoneAlarm can be a real pain when it comes to networking. Fortunately there is an excellent alternative, called Agnitum Outpost and it seems to work happily with most Internet sharing programs. Outpost also has the facility to monitor Internet activity on the client PCs, which might prove useful for concerned parents. The home version is freeware and it can be downloaded from: http://www.agnitum.com/products/outpost/.

 

Next week – Home Page Hijacking

 

JARGON FILTER

 

FILE & PRINTER SHARING

Allows PCs in a network to access files and resources on other computers, clicking the Network icon in Control Panel enables it

 

PROTOCOL

A set of rules for controlling the way data is sent over PC networks and the Internet

 

PROXY

A program that acts as a go-between, allowing PCs connected to a network to send and receive data from the Internet

 

TOP TIP

Pop-up ads are incredibly irritating and they flash up even quicker with broadband! To date there have been several valiant attempts to devise software to get rid of them. Here’s another one, called EMS Free Surfer that, so far seems to defeat 99% of pop-ups but if you’re really determined you can set it to ‘Strict’ mode, so that only one browser window can be open at a time, and there’s a ‘Panic’ button that closes all browser windows instantly. EMS Free Surfer is freeware, it works with all versions of Windows and it can be downloaded from http://www.free.surfer.tc/.

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