Brainstorms and Raves

Notes on Web Design, Development, Standards, Typography, Music, and More

Mon

18

MAR

2002

Adventures in Networking Computers

The past couple of weekends I’ve been on an adventure networking the computers in my home office, at long last. For over a year I gradually paid more attention to people talking about networking, and I began reading a bit about it. Networking several computers initially sounded rather daunting to me, even though I was also up for the task, knowing it was long overdue.

Deciding I’d finally take the plunge, I did some serious researching and finally asked a few questions of my colleagues and friends. One of Evolt.org’s discussion lists helped steer me in the right directions for the appropriate equipment. My thanks again to Joel Canfield, Jeff Howden, Hugh Blair, Andrew Forsberg, and Tony Crockford.

In addition to networking the computers, for ages I’ve also dreamed of being able to work outside with my laptop when the weather is nice while still being networked to access all my files, email, and the Internet. Joel Canfield recommended a wireless network approach by Linksys.

No more slots for a network card?

One of my computers didn’t have any more available slots to install a network card, so a USB network adapter was an incredibly painless approach. (Thanks to Hugh Blair for that tip!)

Painless installation - whew!

In fact, the entire setup was surprisingly painless (and no, I have no brilliance with working on computers—I’m a designer, developer, and musician). I installed the hardware, software, configured the settings on each computer, and was up and running in about 3 hours. I was amazed at how truly simple the entire process was to implement.

The key: do your homework first!

As Joel reminded me, I did my homework first, which in retrospect did indeed help immensely. So if you’re considering taking the plunge to networking your computers, do your homework first so you know exactly what you need, read the installation instructions thoroughly first, put on some good movies in the VCR or DVD player and go for it.

Resources

Here are some of the resources that have recently helped me (there is endless information out there!):

Networking Articles and Tutorials

  • Computer Networking Glossary
    What’s ADSL? What’s an Ethernet? What’s a firewall? What’s the difference between cable and DSL? About.com’s Computer Networking Glossary provides many definitions to networking terms.
    [by Bradley Mitchell, Guide to Computer Networking, About.com]
  • Internet Firewalls: Frequently Asked Questions
    Thorough FAQ all about firewalls, how they work, how they block intruders, working with DNS, FTP, SSL, Telnet, Finger, RealAudio, webservers, TCP and UDP ports, a good glossary of terms, and much more.
    [by Matt Curtin, Marcus J. Ranum, and others.]
  • Introduction to Ethernet
    Still the technology of choice for many types of networks

    Good introduction to this popular LAN technology. Also explains Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, Ethernet in Use, more.
    [by Bradley Mitchell, Guide to Computer Networking, About.com]
  • Networking 101
    Thorough, step by step tutorial on how to set up a network. Although written with Macs in mind, it’s also helpful for PC users, too. Defines terms, many step-by-step instructions throughout the entire process of setting up and troubleshooting a network, configuring your computers, file sharing, ethernet networking, serial connections, more.
  • Networking: For Next to Nothing
    Article at IDG with a variety of practical and workable approaches, both wired and wireless, for setting up a network without spending your life savings.
    [by Alan Stafford, IDG.net]
  • Troubleshooting Windows 95/98/98 Second Edition Network Connection Problems (Q192534)
    Microsoft’s troubleshooting help for Windows 95/98/98se networking.
    [microsoft.com]

Sites Devoted to Networking

  • HomeNetHelp.com
    An entire site devoted to home networking. Find a network installer near you, Internet connection sharing, networking computers, 802.11b wireless networking, VPN’s for the home user, product reviews, rebates available, articles, tutorials, links to more info.
    [HomeNetHelp.com]
  • How to Network
    Linksys provides an education section all about networking, including tutorials for newbies through advanced on a wide range of networking possibilities, including high speed Internet access, ethernet, wireless, phoneline, powerline, VPN (virtual private networking), security, future trends, a glossary, peer-to-peer vs. client/server networks, and more. Helpful information here.
    [Linksys.com]
  • Network Magazine
    Articles, tutorials, product reviews, buyers guides, lab tests, case studies, events, and more. Entire site and magazine devoted to everything about networking. Great resource.
    [networkmagazine.com]
  • World of Windows Networking
    Well organized and most helpful site around on networking. Tutorials with screenshots, step-by-step instructions packed with concise, helpful information for setting up networking and trouble shooting for Windows95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000 (and how to implement networking across various versions, too). This one is a must to visit for tutorials and help.
    [by J.Helmig]

Resources to More Articles, Tutorials, Info

  • Computer Networking
    About.com’s Guide to Computer networking provides a terrific resource for helpful tutorials, tips, and links to resources, hardware, and more information.
    [by Bradley Mitchell, Guide to Computer Networking, About.com]
  • Home Networking Tutorial Reference
    From newbies to advanced, this is a good list of annotated links to tutorials and tips all about networking—ADSL, cable modems, Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, DOCSIS, HomePlug, HomeRF, OpenCable, PacketCable, SIP protocol, testing and measurements, mixers, VCO design, more.
  • Networking
    Categorized resources links at Lycos and covers a multitude of areas on networking. Great resource here to tutorials, video tutorials, FAQs, and so much more.
    [Lycos.com]

Computer requirements

The best is to read the requirements for whatever kind of networking system and approach that you have in mind. (And if you send me a note and ask me, I don’t have a clue, as I’ve only just done my own and I’m new to all this!)

For my own setup, having Windows 2000 on two of the computers was a big help since they were already pre-configured for networking and had network cards already. The other computers, though, have Windows 98se and also no more slots to add network cards, so the USB adapter was a simple alternative that worked out beautifully.

Going wireless

Advantages: The wireless approach also means no ugly cables, no having to deal with running cables through the attic, under the carpet, or whatever else, and the portability of also taking my laptop outside (or anywhere within range) while remaining networked.

Disadvantages: The downside to wireless is that the transfer speed isn’t as high as its wired counterpart, but it’s nonetheless amazingly fast. One needs to also keep in mind security issues with wireless. While hackers can come through anywhere, it could be potentially easier with wireless. Best to make sure you’re protected with good encryption.

05:13 am, pst18 March, 2002 Comments, Trackbacks ·

Categories: Wireless

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