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Presented in a clear, easy going style, the authors show you how to set up a network to share an Internet connection, play multi-player games, and share files, folders and printers amongst all your home computers. Learn how to set up networks with Ethernet and wireless technology. Or, if you don't want to add any new ...
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Presented in a clear, easy going style, the authors show you how to set up a network to share an Internet connection, play multi-player games, and share files, folders and printers amongst all your home computers. Learn how to set up networks with Ethernet and wireless technology. Or, if you don't want to add any new wires, learn how to connect devices using your existing phone lines and power lines.
Step by step instructions for playing multi-player games will have you shooting at foes and racing curves with friends in no time. Coverage of MP3s, Real Player and Microsoft Media Player will astound you with the advances in Internet multimedia, as well as how easy it is to use. Also contains coverage of cost-effective home security and automation; home office software and hardware selection; as well as simple steps for securing your home network.
I. INTRODUCTION TO HOME AREA NETWORKING.1. Beginning at the Beginning: What Is a Home Network?
II. NETWORKING YOUR HOME COMPUTERS.
III. GETTING THE HAN UP AND RUNNING.
IV. MISSION CONTROL: THE ROLE OF THE PC.
V. ENHANCING THE DIGITAL HOME.
[Figures are not included in this sample chapter]
The most popular type of network in existence today is ethernet, whichis a standard way of connecting two or more computers. Because it is the prevailingstandard for computer networking, ethernet products are interoperable. (Thisis just a geeky way of saying that ethernet products you buy from one manufacturertend to play nicely with ones that you buy from another manufacturer.)
Because you are setting up a new home network, this isn't such a big deal. Asa rule, people starting something from scratch tend to buy everything from the samemanufacturer. But, like the hula-hoop and the Rubik's cube, networking manufacturerscome and go. That ethernet card you buy today may not be available in a few years--worseyet, neither will the company that manufactured it!
Another big benefit of ethernet is its scalability, or the measure of itscapacity to cont inue to meet your needs as the network grows. Ethernet is a highlyscalable network technology in terms of both the size and speed of networks thatit can support. For example, networks with 100 ethernet-attached computers are common.
Probably the single largest drawback to ethernet--particularly in a home network--isthe fact that every device on the network must have a cable that plugs into it. Forthe semi-serious home network enthusiast, this usually means a basement office thatends up looking like the snake pit scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Youcan overcome this downside with some planning and, depending on the size of yournetwork, a few strategically placed holes in your walls.
Like all shopping trips, the best place to start is with a good grocery list.Take a look at the following list for a rough overview of the pieces that you needto buy to get started with your home network:
The two most common types of ethernet cables are Category 5 Unshielded Twisted Pair and 10BASE-T coaxial cable. These are more commonly referred to as Cat 5 and coax. Cat 5 cable is used to create star networks with an ethernet hub (see the following figure). Coaxial cable, on the other hand, does not require a hub.
Because Cat 5 networks are easier to install and maintain, most network kits use Cat 5 cables and ethernet hubs. For a simple network, such as one that has two computers connected in the same room, coax is a cheap and easy solution.
Buying a Hub
Count up how many ethernet cables you are going to have in your network and make sure that the hub you buy has at least as many connectors as you have cables. Better yet, make sure that you have a few left over in case you add more computers next year. That idea might make you laugh now, but if somebody had told you five years ago you'd be reading a book on how to network your house, you probably would've told him or her to have another drink.
Ethernet hubs are compact and easy to use.
Check This Out
We'll talk more about cable and ADSL modems in Chapter 7, "You've Got the Whole World in Your HAN: Connecting to the Internet."
With a gazillion network cards on the market, it's sometimes difficult to figureout which one is right for you. Here are a few things to consider:
As networking has grown in popularity, many computer manufacturers have startedshipping models with ethernet capability already installed. Although manufacturersmight not include an actual ethernet card in the computer, they may have one builtin as a part of the computer's motherboard. Talk to a representative at your computerstore, or check your computer's documentation if you're not sure.
If you are considering buying a new computer and you know for sure that you wantto use it on a network, a sk your computer store about its options for built-in ethernet.You may find that it saves you a few dollars (and a few fiddly moments with a screwdriver)over buying and installing a card yourself.
Save Some Cash: The Home Network Kit
If you want to save a few bucks, check out the all-in-one network starter kits. The most basic models typically include two ethernet cards and a four-port ethernet hub. These will run you $120 to $150. If you need a little more room to grow, an eight-port hub with three ethernet cards will set you back about $225.
You knew it was going to come to this. Sooner or later, you were going to haveto roll up your sleeves and crack the box on your computer. Every computer is a littledifferent, but the general idea is the same. Here's what you do:
2. Take a look at the screws on the back (or, depending on what type of computer you have, on the side or the front) and pick an appropriate screwdriver from your collec tion for the task. The most common screw used to hold computers together is a Phillips, otherwise known as "that funky star-shaped one."
3. After you get the screws out, the cover should slide off slick as a whistle. Of course, pigs fly, chickens have lips, and Bill Gates still balances his own checkbook. If you're still having trouble breaking in, make sure to check your computer manual. It'll help you identify that one nasty screw hiding beneath the Intel Inside sticker on the front of the case.
4. After you manage to wrestle the cover off the case, take a look around inside for empty slots that look like they match your card. If you're not sure, close your eyes and let The Force guide you. Alternatively, you could use the cards already installed in your computer as a guide.
5. Before trying to insert your ethernet card into the slot, make sure that you remove the little protective plate that's screwed into the computer behind it. The plate looks like an aluminum tongue depressor with a screw hole in it.
6. Being careful not to accidentally unplug any of the cables snaking around inside your computer, gently insert the ethernet card into the slot until you are sure that it's lined up right. Then, push a little harder until you feel a reassuring sshhunk!! as the card slides into place.
7. Don't forget to screw the ethernet card's back plate on, because cards have a tendency to work themselves out of the slot over time if you forget.
8. Firmly close your eye s and try to picture the place where you left the screws for the computer's case (that place where you told yourself you surely wouldn't forget). Got it? Good! Go get the screws and put the case back together.
9. Turn your computer back on.
Plug and Play is a feature of Windows 95/98 (and soon to be Windows 2000) thathelps you install new hardware into your computer with minimal pain and aggravation.Although it occasionally makes mistakes, Plug and Play can be your best friend whenyou first start adding new cards to your computer.
If you used a plug-and-play ethernet card and everything goes the way it should,your computer will detect that the new hardware has been added to the computer whenyou turn it on. After detection, the computer will install the appropriate driverfor your ethernet card and return you to the Windows desktop. If this happens, you'reready to move on; if not...Plug and Play isn't playing nice. There are a few thingsthat could be wrong:
If Pl ug and Play lets you down, meaning that you have to configure your networkcard yourself, do the following:
2. Read the instructions on the screen and click Next.
3. Read some more instructions and click Next. Windows searches through all available hardware to see whether any new plug-and-play devices can be detected. As per the instructions, you should let Windows see whether it can find your new ethernet card, even though it's not Plug and Play.
4. Windows should find your new ethernet card and allow you to install a driver.
5. Use the disk that came with your ethernet card if you have one; this is because the driver that came with your ethernet card is most likely more current than the driver that came with Windows.
Device Not Found
If for some reason your computer does not select your ethernet card, consult your ethernet card manual for instructions specific to your card.
IRQ is an acronym that strikes fear into the hearts of many computer users,novice and professional alike. The confusion starts with the name itself. IRQ isan acronym for Interrupt ReQuest line; the way the acronym is derived shouldconvince you that this particular computer concept was thought up at a time whendrug use was rampant in the computer industry.
IRQs are like little traffic cops in your computer. They give the right to eachof 16 different d evices in your computer to hold up their hand and say to the CPU,"Hey, it's my turn to talk." Each device is assigned its own IRQ, whichyour CPU uses to refer to it. Things go haywire when two devices in your computerboth try to use the same IRQ to interrupt the CPU. The CPU doesn't know which oneto listen to, and it keels over. At best, the two devices will stop working; at worst,your computer decides to take a siesta until you resolve the conflict.
Resolving the conflict means figuring out which devices in your computer aren'tplaying nice. The easiest way to see which devices are using which IRQ is to clickStart, Settings, Control Panel, System, and thenselect the Devices tab. Finally, double-click the Computer icon inthe upper-left corner.
Make sure that the IRQ button is selected; you should see a list of allthe IRQs from 00 to 15. (Don't you just love computer geeks! Who would have thoughtthat you could count to 16 by going from 00 to 15?)
If you find yourself in a position where you have to change IRQs or other settingson existing equipment to get your ethernet card to work, congratulations. You haveofficially exceeded the scope of this book. Although not extremely difficult to do,this is one place where you may want to call in your nephew Phil, the computer geek,to come and give you a hand. This is because incorrectly configured IRQs can keepyour computer from rebooting, making it difficult to troubleshoot problems that youaccidentally generate while trying to fix your problem. If you don't have a Philat your disposal, the store where you bought the ethernet card may be able to helpyou with the installation.</ P>
As discussed in detail in Chapter 2, "From the Bottom Up: The Foundationof Your Networked Home," there are several different possible network layouts.Point-to-point and star networks are the two that you will find most useful for thehome. Either one can be used, but one will be better than the other, depending onthe size of your network.
A point-to-point network is useful if you plan to have only two computers on yournetwork. This type of connection requires a special ethernet cable that you can pickup from your local computer store called a crossover cable. The crossovercable allows you to connect your two computers from the ethernet port on one computerdirectly to the ethernet port on the other. Cheap? Yes. Easy? Yes. Limited? Absolutely!
By going from ethernet card to ethernet card, you have created a hublessnetwork. It will be difficult--if not impossible--to add a third computerto the network. If you think you'll ever grow beyond two computers, consider addinga hub to the center of your network.
Every ethernet cable on your network should plug into the hub. Positioned at thecenter of the network, the hub's job is to pass information from every networkeddevice to every other networked device.
KISS: Keep it Simple, Silly
Although it is possible to mix different-speed ethernet cards on the same network, it is easier (and cheaper) if yo u choose which speed you want and purchase the hub and ethernet cards to match.Although it is possible to mix different-speed ethernet cards on the same network, it is easier (and cheaper) if you choose which speed you want and purchase the hub and ethernet cards to match.
The Wiring Closet
The place where you choose to put your ethernet hub should be easy to get at and relatively free of clutter. In your closet underneath the clothes hamper is not recommended.
The most important thing to remember about selecting a hub is that it must matchthe speed of the ethernet cards you want to use. There are several different typesof ethernet, ranging in speed from 10Mbps to 1000Mbps:
If you decide at a later date to connect to the Internet with another type of connection (such as a cable modem, ISDN, and so on), you're not going to be able to do it with the modem built into your new hub. If you use one of these alternative methods to connect to the Internet, you should forego the built-in modem and stick with a plain ethernet hub.
Recently, ethernet hubs have begun to appear with modems built right in. Thisfrees the modem from being connected to a specific computer--in effect, putting themodem directly on the network. Although there are other ways to do it (hint: checkout Chapter 7), these devices offer a quick and painless solution for connectingevery PC in the house to the Internet with a single modem.
Although it is possible to mix different-speed ethernet cards on the same network,it is easier (and cheaper) if you choose which speed you want and purchase the huband ethernet cards to match.