Wireless All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies

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8 books in 1—your key to success with wireless!

Your one-stop guide to a wireless world, including digital media, PDAs, and more

Discover a world with no strings attached! Here's your guide to all the things you need to know to choose the right hardware, build a network, and join together your desktop computer, laptop, PDA, and even home entertainment devices — all without those pesky wires. Secure your system, get on the move, and a whole lot more.

Discover how to

• Set up routers and hardware

• Create bridges and configure printers

• Troubleshoot your network

• Find Wi-Fi hotspots

• Use a Microsoft® SmartWatch

• Share multimedia files

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Now that Wi-Fi wireless networks have gotten dirt cheap, they’re powerfully tempting for practically anyone, anywhere, with more than one computer. If only wireless was easier to choose, configure, and secure. The Wireless All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies takes care of all that, and more. It’s your single source for plain-English help with choosing and setting up equipment, troubleshooting problems, hiding your wireless network from the world, using Windows XP’s wireless features, and a whole lot more.

A “whole lot more” includes everything from connecting your home entertainment system to finding public Wi-Fi hotspots to setting up secure VPN connections. This book even covers other wireless technologies -- from cellphones to GPS, TiVo home media to satellite radio. When we said “single source,” we meant it. Bill Camarda, from the May 2005 Read Only

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764574962
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Series: For Dummies Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 648
  • Product dimensions: 7.38 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

When not transmitting Wi-Fi signals from his Cubs hat, Todd W. Carter likes to stare out the window, contemplate world travel he’ll likely avoid because of pesky shoe inspections, and dream of selling 100,000 copies of this book. He’s single, lives in west Michigan, and hopes this bio leads to a date with a female reader. (E-mail him at date@toddcarter.com.) Due to advances in the medical sciences, the 39-year-old Carter is postponing his midlife crisis until 2014. This and much, much more on his web site at toddcarter.com.
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Read an Excerpt

Wireless All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies

By Todd W. Carter

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-7645-7496-5

Chapter One

Living Without Wires

In This Chapter

  • Goodbye, wired life
  • Connecting to the world on the go
  • Dealing with the downside

In many ways, gadgets can be very handy. Just one little problem exists with most of your gadgets, however, and that's all of those darn wires that you need to run them. That's why it's so exciting that so many new gadgets come in wireless varieties. By getting rid of the wires, life is just so much more convenient. This chapter describes some of the basics of going wireless. As you see, the wireless life will have you wondering how you ever put up with that tangle of wires. But, as you also see, going wireless does have some downsides.

Bidding Adieu to Wired Life

When you think about it, wires can be a real hassle. They really limit your ability to move freely and to place things where you want them. A very good example of this? Your ordinary, everyday telephone. If you use a wired telephone, you have to sit at your desk or stand next to the wall phone to have a conversation. If the doorbell rings, you have to tell the person on the other end of the line to hold on while you go see who's at the door. If you're using a cordless phone, you can simply continue your conversation while you walk to the door.

A whole world of wireless possibilities

Now multiply the convenience provided by your cordless phone to include the whole multitude of gadgets that fill your home. Just imagine how these additional examples might apply to your situation:

* You're stuck with a slow dial-up connection to the Internet. You might find that a high-speed wireless connection, either through a satellite connection or a fixed wireless connection, enables you to finally have that broadband connection you've always dreamed of - even if a DSL or cable connection is not available in your area. With the broadband Internet connection you can enjoy all sorts of streaming content that simply isn't practical over a dial-up connection.

* You're pretty much solo at your computer. By adding a wireless network to your home, you can share files, printers, your Internet connection, music you've downloaded, and multiplayer games without the hassle of running wires. If you want to move a PC from one place to another, you can do it and not worry whether a handy network outlet is nearby. Why, you can even take your wireless laptop out into the backyard and surf the Internet in a lawn chair under your favorite tree.

* You're stuck at home waiting on messages and phone calls. With a wireless PDA, you are within reach of e-mail at your favorite coffee shop - you don't have to worry about missing that important message from a potential new client. You may even listen to an Internet radio station so you don't have to listen to the rants from a fanatical talk radio show host. Figure 1-1 shows an example of a text message using a Pocket PC. Book V talks more about PDAs.

* You're sans cell phone. It's hard to imagine another device that can help you keep in touch nearly as well as a cell phone. With it, you can quickly check to see what someone's scribbled notes on your shopping list really mean. Don't take a chance that what looks like sour cream in someone's poor handwriting is actually whipping cream!

* You've experienced the wonders of trying to keep track of your whole family at the shopping mall or amusement park. You're going to love the new Family Radio Service (FRS) two-way radios. Imagine how much more convenient it is getting everyone back to the car when all you need to do is call them on your radio.

* You're sick of the wiry clutter at your desk. Cutting the wires to your keyboard and mouse sounds like a sure way to kill your computer, but wireless peripherals are simply so much more convenient than their wired counterparts - especially if your desk is such a mess that you haven't seen the top of it in years.

* You're a home-entertainment technology junkie. For example, you can set up one computer to hold all of your music from your CDs or from Internet downloads, and then play that music on your home entertainment system without putting an ugly PC in the living room and without running another tangled mess of wires.

* Your cup of tea is Howard Stern. Wireless is the way to go now that he's moved to satellite radio. Plus, no commercials!

* Your family vacations seem more like battles over who can or cannot read a map. You're going to love how GPS technology can keep you from ever having to ask directions again. Figure 1-2 shows my GPS receiver as it determines my exact position.

I guess if that list doesn't have you thinking about the possibilities for a wireless life, nothing will - but even this list only scratches the surface.

Cutting the cords

Now that you've seen some of the ways that you can go wireless, what's next? Actually, that depends. You probably have to do some shopping, either to replace existing wired equipment or to add wireless equipment. In either case, it helps to plan ahead because so many different types of wireless equipment exist and you want to make sure the things you buy work together. That's where this book helps.

Consider the example of the wireless home computer network. As you discover in Book III, home computer networks adhere to a couple different standards, and it's important to make sure that all the equipment you buy for your home computer network works with the same standard. As you discover in Book VII, the type of equipment you choose for your home computer network can have a great impact on how useful your network is in supplying entertainment options.


When buying wireless equipment, go for higher performance rather than lower price. That way you won't close off your future options because the equipment you bought can't handle the demands of the need to process more data.

Keeping your options open

Once you get the wireless bug, it can be awfully tempting to want to get rid of every cord. As tempting as that may be, just remember that you probably want to keep your options open. You might, for example, want to make sure that you have at least one wired phone in your home because cordless phones typically won't work if there is a power failure - unlike wired phones, which generally don't need a separate power supply. (Even though the handset on a cordless telephone runs off rechargeable batteries, the base station that it uses to connect to the phone line must be plugged into a power outlet to function.)

Remember, too, that just because some of your old, existing equipment is wired, doesn't mean that it no longer serves any purpose. Sure, you probably prefer the convenience of playing music through your home entertainment system, which is connected to your computer, but that won't do you much good if you want to listen to some old, vinyl records. (I've never seen a PC with a built-in turntable.)


Don't forget to stock up on batteries when you go wireless. Some wireless devices run through batteries at an amazing rate; consider buying a battery charger and rechargeable batteries for your devices. They help you save money in the long run. You may want to check out iGo (igo.com) to find just the battery you need.

Connecting to the World on the Go

Wireless devices really do open up a whole new world for you, and not just when you're at home, either. Sure, it's pretty obvious that a cell phone enables you to connect to the world when you're on the go, but other wireless devices offer plenty of on-the-go options, too.

Connecting your PC on the go

To successfully communicate with someone, you generally have to both be using the same language. It doesn't really matter what language that happens to be as long as you both understand it.

Likewise, computers need to use a common language to communicate. Modern wireless home networking equipment uses one of several standardized methods of communication that were developed to enable different brands of computers and networking equipment to successfully interact. You may have heard of these standards - especially if you've tried wading into the sometimes confusing world of wireless networking. These standards go by names like 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11a, but they also are known by the slightly less precise Wi-Fi label.


Even though the Wi-Fi label is applied to all three wireless networking standards doesn't mean those standards are identical. Of the three, 802.11b is the slowest but also the least expensive when you're buying hardware. 802.11g and 802.11a are rated for similar speeds (about five times as fast as 802.11b), but are incompatible with each other because they operate on different radio frequencies. 802.11b and 802.11g are generally compatible with each other, but can only communicate at the slower 802.11b speed. Just how fast are these different standards? That's impossible to say because your results vary greatly depending on dozens of factors (which you discover in Books II and III).

What does all of this have to do with connecting your PC on the go? I'm glad you asked. Wi-Fi isn't limited to use on home networks. Wi-Fi is also for wireless office networks and is becoming widely available other places, too. Want some Internet along with your coffee? Every Starbucks coffee shop now offers customers a Wi-Fi connection. (This type of connection is often called a hotspot.) If you'd rather have a Big Mac and fries while you surf, head on over to McDonald's - most of their stores have free Wi-Fi connections, too.


Head on over to the Wi-Fi-FreeSpot Directory (wififreespot.com) to find free high-speed Internet access hotspots.

Wi-Fi hotspots generally have a very limited range. In most cases you need to be within the building to get a reliable connection (and some hotspots are specifically designed to limit the range so that you can only connect if you're inside, where you are expected to be patronizing the store). Even those hotspots specifically set up to cover a broader area typically only spread their signal a few hundred feet from the hotspot's antenna, though, so Wi-Fi isn't a good option if you can't settle in one place close to the hotspot.

What can you do if you want a wireless Internet connection but aren't always within range of a Wi-Fi hotspot? One option is an AirCard from Sierra Wireless (sierrawireless.com). The AirCard comes in several models - each one designed for a specific type of service. Some models connect via the Sprint PCS Network, some with the AT&T Wireless Network, and some with other flavors of cellular service, too. Generally you should do your homework, choose the service plan that's right for you, and then buy the AirCard that works with that service. Sometimes cellular service providers even offer special pricing on the AirCard because they know that once you're hooked you're probably going to spend a lot of money on your monthly service plan.

Connecting for Voice and Messages

Even though most people think of computers when they think about connecting on the go, sometimes a PC is overkill. Sometimes all you need is simply the ability to send and receive text messages. A couple of different types of wireless devices easily handle this duty:

* Wireless PDAs, including some models of the Palm and the Pocket PC, can easily send and receive text messages.

* The BlackBerry is a wireless device specifically designed for text messaging. It has a small, but serviceable, keyboard for entering messages.

* Most cell phones now support short messaging service (SMS) so you can send and receive text messages.

You read more about connecting on the go in Book V.

Addressing the Downside: You're Always On

If the wireless world has one big problem, it's that always being connected means that people can contact you at any time. Sure, it's convenient to flip open your cell phone to quickly ask someone a question, but don't forget that it is just as convenient for someone to dial your cell phone number and interrupt whatever you're doing.

But once again, you shouldn't limit your concerns simply to the fact that anyone can call your cell phone at any time.

Your wireless network is always on

Wireless home networks are awfully convenient because you can simply fire up your PC anywhere within range and connect. This convenience has its dark side, too. As long as your wireless network is working, a neighbor or a stranger driving by can conveniently try to connect to your home network. Remember, the fact that your wireless network doesn't require someone to connect using a physical network cable means it's much easier for someone you don't want on your network to gain access.

You can, of course, apply some security measures to make it harder for people to break into your wireless home network. In fact, it's not only possible, but it's also essential that you enable your wireless network's security features if you don't want to run into serious problems. See Book IV for more information on this very important topic.

Your wireless gadgets are probably open, too

Imagine how difficult it would be to keep your automobile safe if the manufacturers were in the habit of delivering cars without locks because they felt that locks were too complicated for the average driver. In most major cities you'd probably be able to measure in minutes (or hours, at the most) the time before your car was stolen.

Unfortunately, the manufacturers of many wireless devices do something similar to building cars without locks. Rather than building in advanced security features (or, as is the case with wireless home networking gear - leaving the security features turned off by default), manufacturers often opt for dumbing down their products so they work as soon as you take them out of the box. Bluetooth-equipped cell phones present an easy target for snoopers for this reason. (See Book VI for more information on Bluetooth technology and the security risks that are involved.)

In reality, the manufacturers probably are correct; so few people bother to read the technical sections of their product manuals that enabling features that increase security would result in many calls for help from new users. Or, even worse from the manufacturer's perspective, it could result in products being returned to the stores because "it doesn't work."

You can go a long way toward protecting your wireless world by taking a few minutes to understand (and use) whatever security measures are offered by your wireless devices. Remember, the harder you make it for a thief or a snoop, the more likely he'll move on and find an easier target.

Taking back control

Yes, going wireless does make life more convenient, and often a lot more fun, too. Keeping things in perspective is important, as well as making sure that the convenience isn't overshadowed by letting the wireless devices control your life rather than the other way around. You do have the ultimate weapon if you're willing to use it, and that's the on/off switch.


Excerpted from Wireless All-In-One Desk Reference For Dummies by Todd W. Carter Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Bk. I Pulling the plug 7
Ch. 1 Living without wires 9
Ch. 2 Choosing Internet access 17
Bk. II Planning your network 23
Ch. 1 Putting together a wireless network 25
Ch. 2 Choosing hardware made easy 35
Ch. 3 Setting up routers 47
Ch. 4 Setting up other hardware 61
Ch. 5 Decoding DHCP 73
Ch. 6 Installing an adapter on your PC 85
Ch. 7 Adapter-ing 103
Ch. 8 Troubleshooting network hardware 127
Bk. III Configuring networks 143
Ch. 1 Exploring Windows XP networking 145
Ch. 2 Managing available networks 149
Ch. 3 Creating bridges 159
Ch. 4 Configuring printers 165
Ch. 5 Confirming your network works 171
Bk. IV Security and troubleshooting 181
Ch. 1 Using a safety net 183
Ch. 2 Managing user accounts 205
Ch. 3 Solving network problems 221
Bk. V On the road 247
Ch. 1 Putting a network in your lap(top) 249
Ch. 2 Connecting PDAs to networks 261
Ch. 3 Synchronizing PDAs over a network 273
Ch. 4 Picking a BlackBerry 287
Ch. 5 Finding Wi-Fi hotspots 303
Ch. 6 Setting up a VPN connection 315
Ch. 7 Strapping on Microsoft SmartWatch 325
Bk. VI Networking technologies 339
Ch. 1 Roaming into cell phone territory 341
Ch. 2 Choosing and using cordless phones 351
Ch. 3 Gathering around the Family Radio Service 359
Ch. 4 Picking peripherals 363
Ch. 5 Cutting your Bluetooth 371
Bk. VII Home technology 395
Ch. 1 Your entertainment center 397
Ch. 2 Setting up gadgets 409
Ch. 3 Chatting with Motorola's IMfree 419
Ch. 4 Sharing multimedia files with Windows XP 437
Ch. 5 Using TiVo's home media features 447
Ch. 6 Exploring digital TV and satellite radio 461
Ch. 7 Forecasting the weather from your patio 469
Ch. 8 Security in the air via motorola 483
Bk. VIII Global positioning systems 493
Ch. 1 Getting Uncle Sam to ante up 495
Ch. 2 Finding your way in the world 507
Ch. 3 Exploring with the rest of GPS 519
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