Networking 101: Served Right


In the last few years networking has turned into a more attractive market for the average end-user, sharing files or broadband over a network is nothing new, however accessibility to these has improved considerably, indeed, an even more drastic change has been seen with the wide adoption of wireless technologies.

Over the course of the weeks and months to come, we will attempt to explain and educate you about what the great world of networking is all about. At the same time we are glad to welcome Curtis MacAulay who will be joining TSí editorial staff as our new Networking specialist.

This first article is meant to be served right as an introduction to networking.

We will go through the common wording, the different protocols, teach you in a few steps what is needed to set up a home network. We are hoping after reading this article you will be able to decide which type of network would suit your needs better, either Ethernet or Wireless (802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g). Then, in follow-up articles we plan to cover step by step procedures and give guidance for achieving more specific tasks. Our mailbox is open for any suggestions you may have for future content, too.


The Salad

So you want to learn about networking? If not, you wouldnít have read this far.

Letís go over your choices. The different categories to consider are:

  • Ethernet

  • Wireless

  • Phone-line

  • Power-line

  • Bluetooth

  • And Firewire, if you want.

Ethernet and Wireless are the obvious mainstream choices so thatís what we will cover in detail but hereís a brief explanation of the others so you can have a better idea.

Phone-line uses your existing phone line wires in your house, and yes, you can use your phone at the same time. Power-line is much the same by using your existing 110 volt power lines that run through your house. Each of these require special hardware for your computer. Power-line is also very dangerous because of blackouts or brownouts caused mainly by storms and power fluctuations.

Bluetooth is a wireless protocol and requires only a Bluetooth adapter for your computer. Bluetooth does not need an access point but the drawback is its short range of only about 30 ft and a much slower transfer rate. Bluetooth is expected to take over infrared ports but not quite replace other wireless technologies that offer a larger range.

Firewire is a wired connection which has some impressive features, namely its speed for such an easy connection. The problem with it for now, it isnít an accepted standard and there is a lack of decent hardware.

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