Sunday, April 20, 2008

Wi-fi Wireless Internet Made Simple

by: Maxwell Z. Rubin

Just what is all this Wi-Fi wireless internet stuff they are trying to confuse and torment me with?

It is actually quite simple, useful and most of all convenient.

All you probably want to do is to share your internet connection throughout your home whether it be to other computers or so that you can sit in your bedroom and wirelessly surf the internet or send email. Perhaps as well you wish to share files such as songs throughout the computers in your house, apartment or condo.

Don’t let them confuse with all this alphabet soup - b , g , a , 11 megabytes , 54 , 108.

To begin with most any of the systems are beyond overkill. All will go faster than the even high speed broadband internet. Most use the same frequency as the standard cordless phones (2.4 GHz). . Be reassured the phones and the wireless internet in most cases will co- exist and work well with each other.

The most common wireless setups wireless b and g use the frequency most cordless phone use. G wireless internet is sort of a faster b standard. What is important to know is that it is all standardized. B will work with G and G products will work with B. G is said to up to 5 times faster than B that is assuming that you are relatively close. G wireless is very useful primarily if you are sharing large files between computers. For ordinary browsing b wireless is still overkill speed, faster as said than most broadband internet connections. The usual stated range of these wireless products is 300 feet indoors range and 1000 feet outside. The range is basically line of sight. Heavy dense objects – primarily metal, metal doors, metal foil insulation, heavy bricks and pipes and objects such as furnaces, metal filing cabinets will block reception to some degree. As well if the manufacturer makes some ultra high speed claims remember that both the router and wireless network adapters will have to be that brand and that special computer networking hardware feature to work at those high speeds and transmission rates. Remember to that wireless internet transmission speeds fall rapidly with distance.

Wireless internet is basically a radio setup with a transmitter and receivers. The transmitter is a box that plugs into the internet to share your internet connection. This is called a “Router “. . Wireless routers are made by a number of manufactures and the most widely known are the Linksys and D-Link brands. All routers are fairly good now. Tech support may be something to consider for setup ease. Routers are often sold on sale at big box stores as a means of drawing customers who already have at least one computer into their stores. It is reasoned that if a customer wants to buy a router the odds are good that he or she has more than one computer and once in the store will make additional purchases .Perhaps they will be even so fed up with the older computer as the kids have taken use of the newer faster model that the customer will even buy a additional new computer from the store.. The routers that you will find on sale will most likely be the newer g standard routers which will work with your B or G wireless network adapters in your computers.

Secondly you will need a receiver to receive the wireless internet signal at the computer end. You will have several options depending on your setup. If your laptop is a newer model then you may have a wireless “network adapter:” already built into your laptop. If you have an older laptop you can install a PCMCIA wireless network adapter into the credit card sized slot on your laptop. If you have a desktop computer you will have several options. If you have the abilities and are allowed by your warranty to open your computer case then you can install a standard PCI wireless card. The advantage of the PCI cards is that they almost always work, are screwed in so that they cannot be dislodged to stop working. The disadvantage is that the antenna of the card is hidden behind the metal of the computer case limiting reception. Another option is USB wireless adapters. Not only can the USB wireless adapter be installed without opening the case but as well with a USB extension cord the YSB network adapter can be lifted away from the computer to a higher more open place.

Several points on setup to make your life easier. After all networking is often called “Voodoo Science “. First if you are buying both the wireless adapters as well as the router try to buy the same brand, There will be easier setup , perhaps faster speed and tech support will not be able to blame the other vendor’s product for setup issues. You can tell tech support even after the return period of the store: “I guess the products are defective and have to be replaced “. There will be no issue of blaming the other vendor’s product. Case closed. Secondly most of the routers are setup by a “web based interface “. Some will come with an install disc as wizard. With others you will enter a web address usually 192.168.x.x and a password. To enter this setup interface. The instructions and passwords should be in either your instructional manual or disc that came in the box with your router. If you have a standard cable broadband account then just follow instructions if you have a DSL type of broadband internet connection then you will need the paper the phone company gave you with your internet account name and setup password. The type of connection that you set up in the router for DSL connections is called “POPE” The connection internet connection password is most likely different than your email password. This internet connection password is of very little value to anyone else. If you do not have this information phone your DSL provider tech support.

Next install the wireless adapters. Windows XP has its own wireless utility program installed. With previous versions of windows (Windows 98, 2000 and ME) you will have to install the utility program that the manufacturer provided on the install disk.

Most of his install manuals have 2 different sets of instructions – one for Windows XP, the other for the remaining operating systems.

When you setup the router you will be given a choice of whether to turn on the security features so that other people can drive up in front of your house and freeload your internet signals. It is anyone’s choice whether they wish to use this feature or not.

Believe me there will be no shortage of wireless internet connections for those freeloaders – estimate is 60 %. You can say to yourself if someone wants to waste gas to sit in front of my home to download songs or whatever good for them . If you wish to turn on the scrambling to sign onto your internet it will be in the advanced wireless or wireless security section of your router control panel. There are a number of choices. Most common is a setup called “WEP” (Web Enabled Protection)... This is available in a standard 64 bit or more secure 128 bit WEP settings. 64 bit setup is easier. 128 bit has you enter a long string of characters twice. Lots of fun with mistakes on entering those digits correctly. The easier to use security setup routines will allow an easy to use phrase code generator. For example in the phrase code generator you enter the word

Badgerlinux. The number / character code will then be generated that you must enter both the router and wireless adapter ends of your system. WEP is considered by purists not as secure as a newer system called WPA. Not all of the older hardware supports WPA. You may look at it as – if someone in my area can break into my WEP protected wireless system then that is the least of my troubles.

Lastly the biggest problem with wireless internet networks in neighbors. That is right neighbors. It is estimated that 40 % of wireless products are returned to big box stores. There are 12 available channels available in the wireless router settings. For convenience and to aid setup most brands of routers place the default channel of their routers as channel 6 right in the middle of the 12 channels available. It does not take much a signal at all to confuse your wireless adapter. You will see signal strength of your wireless route signal but you will unable to get a solid internet connection.

Worse yet this phenomenon of no internet connection may be sporadic. In many cases you will not be able to even spot the culprit in your wireless configuration software.

Remarkably wireless internet signals can travel a fair distance and may even appear to come out of nowhere. Worse yet the interference may be on sporadic. And as said it does not take much of a signal at all to leave you with no internet connection.

The answer is simplicity itself. “Change the Channel “. There are 12 available channels in your router setup control panel. The next 2 choices for wireless channel selection are at the 2 ends of the spectrum – channels 1 and 11. However it may simply be a matter of trial and error.

Wireless internet is rather amazing, you can surf the world, download songs, send email and transfer files conveniently at high speed and at some distance away from your internet connection. In addition you do not have to call or pay electrician to string the internet network wiring in your home. And if you wish to move the computers or even move just pickup and make the move.

If in the end you are having troubles on setup do not feel afraid to call tech support. Someone in India or the Philippines will be more than happy to assist you. Remember in the end you have the ultimate threat of all , that is to take your new Wi-Fi wireless products back to your store of purchase.