BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2005

  

 

BOOT CAMP 389 (09/08/05)

Wireless Networking, part 3

 

This week we’re going to be looking at the nuts and bolts of installing and configuring a small home or small business wireless network using Windows XP computers. We’ll begin by connecting and setting up the Wi-Fi router and establishing the broadband Internet connection with the main PC; next week we’ll turn our attention to the Wi-Fi adaptors and securing the system.

 

As we saw in part two there are a number of possible scenarios so what follows will be fairly general in nature and mostly applies to a wireless network system using separate components. If you have opted to use a combined broadband modem/Wi-Fi router or a package system then I recommend that you skip this week’s Boot Camp and follow the manufacturers setup procedure.

 

The simplest arrangement is to use a combined broadband modem and Wi-Fi router (or a network/Ethernet broadband modem connected to a Wi-Fi router). This kind of setup provides an always-on Internet connection to the other PCs in the network plus of course file and printer sharing. The alternative is to buy a Wi-Fi router and use it with a PC that has an existing broadband connection, via a USB type modem. The only drawback with this method is that the PC will have to be left switched on all of the time in order to maintain the Internet connection to the other PCs.

 

The first step is to check the configuration of the ‘server’ PC that will connect to the router. This will be the one that has the resources that the other computers in the network want to share (printer, files, Internet connection etc.). Go to Start > Control Panel > Network Connections. Double-click the icon for your PC’s LAN or Ethernet adaptor and select Properties. Scroll down the list and highlight ‘Internet Protocol (TCP/IP)’ then click the Properties button. In the dialogue box that opens ‘Obtain an IP address automatically’ and ‘Obtain DNS Server address automatically’ should both be checked. If not and ‘Use the following IP address’ is ticked, make a note of the IP address, Subnet Mask and Default Gateway values. (You probably won’t need this information but it’s as well to keep a record of it, just in case…). Click OK, exit the dialogue boxes and reboot. If your Internet connection is via a USB modem ensure that everything is still working properly by opening your browser and accessing a couple of web pages.

 

If you are using a network modem instead of a USB type and it hasn’t been set up yet then you should do that now by connecting it directly to the PC’s LAN socket. You will need to refer to the instructions but the usual method is to access the configuration menu through a browser window on the PC by entering the modem’s IP address, which you find in the manual. You will then be asked for a Password and/or PIN after which the configuration menu should appear. Enter the Username and Password for your broadband connection supplied to you by your ISP. Exit the setup menu and make sure that it is working properly as before, by opening a few web pages. Switch off the PC and unplug the modem.

 

You can now plug the network modem into the Wi-Fi router, using a short network cable, and connect the router to the PC’s LAN socket. Switch on the PC and wait for Windows to finish booting up then power up the modem and router. All being well the modem will establish the broadband connection and the PC should be able to connect to the Internet as normal. If so, it’s job done and we’ll see you next week.

 

Wi-Fi routers are generally very reliable and work straight out of the box using the factory defaults but computer networks can be tricky customers and there is a small chance that the PC can’t communicate with the router or network modem. Sometimes just rebooting Windows and the router will get things working but if that doesn’t do the trick the first thing to do is read the instruction manual and run the router’s setup configuration program or ‘Wizard’. Routers are like network modems and the menu utility is accessed through a browser window by entering the router’s IP address (it will probably be something like http://192.168.0.1). You will then be asked for a Password and Pin number, after which the main menu page should appear. If not re-check the cables and power supply connection and make sure the modem is showing a stable connection. If all else fails consult the troubleshooting guides or contact the manufacturer’s helpline.

 

Next Week -- Wireless networking, part 4

 

JARGON FILTER

 

ETHERNET

The most widely used local area network (LAN) system used by PCs to exchange data

 

IP ADDRESS

Internet Protocol Address -- unique 32-bit code, represented by four groups of digits, used to identify Internet sites and PCs and devices connected to a network

 

WINDOWS 9x

Shorthand for pre XP versions of Windows, i.e. Windows 95, 98, SE and ME

 

 

TIP OF THE WEEK

If you’ve tried Skype (www.skype.com/), the free voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) program that lets you make and take ‘phone’ calls with other Skype users anywhere in the world then you are going to really like this free add-on. It’s called Pamela and it adds a number of useful features to a standard Skype setup, including automatic answering and voice greeting, a recording facility and text chat messaging. Pamela is highly configurable, it’s freeware (there is also a more sophisticated paid-for version) and it can be downloaded from: www.pamela-systems.com/products/

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