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Setting up a home network used to be a task that only the (very) computer savvy would attempt. How things have changed. There's no reason anyone with multiple computers should go without a network, preferably a wireless one.

Until recently, networking your computers meant stringing something called category 5 Ethernet cable throughout your house. And, in a home situation, few people really needed a network to transfer files from one computer to another. Then along came the Internet, and with it, busy phone lines.

The introduction of broadband, with its very fast digital Internet connections, is helping many home users get more fun and use out of their computers. And, in the home, these broadband connections provide more than enough speed for the whole family to be online at once, sans a tied-up phone line. You just need a network to share this speedy Internet access.

It's no wonder that wireless networking is the fastest growing home networking technology today. Wireless networks let you set up an entire local area network (LAN) in the time it takes to drill a hole in your wall. Or hit the stud instead of empty drywall, and then drill another hole. Or run out of power on your cordless drill, and take the time to recharge it. Or get frustrated and throw the drill out the window. You get the picture.

With today's wireless networks, you can even take the whole thing with you if you move. Just pack your wireless hardware with all the rest of your computer equipment, and plug it in when you get to your new home or workspace.

One caveat: If your home is very large, you might need to consider that wireless network equipment has a limited range, about 150 feet indoors. A potential workaround for this problem is mixing “no-new-wires” hardware, which uses the existing wiring in your home to network your computers. Generally wireless networking is more convenient than any other technology, but these no-new-wires technologies work very well, and can be a big help. We cover them briefly as well.

So, who is this book for?

  • Anyone who could use a simple guide to buying and installing a wireless network

  • Those who are setting up their first network of any kind

  • People with some computer training but very little network experience

  • Folks who have had some experience with a network at the office and would like to see some of the benefits of a network at home

If you're interested in a wireless networking bible, with lots of schematics and lingo, this isn't the book for you. This book will, however, get you up to speed on wireless networks, quickly. You'll be up and running in no time.

After reading this book, you should be able to accomplish the following tasks from any room, out by the pool, or sitting in front of the fireplace in your home:

  • Surf the web on your laptop

  • Print a document on a printer in another room

  • Listen to MP3 audio or Web-based video over your network

  • Stop burning CDs or using floppies to move files from one computer to another

The premise of this book is to offer simple explanations of wireless technology with a focus on installing, setting up, configuring, and troubleshooting your equipment. The emphasis is on a conversational tone that points out the best way to avoid problems before you run into them. You'll find lots of step-by-step instructions that will help guide you, even if you haven't yet purchased your equipment. Where appropriate, screenshots illustrate where to point, click, and generally wrestle your wireless network into submission.

Again, if this is your first time installing a network, don't worry. You'll find that it's (nearly) painless, and the book will guide you through the troublesome areas. Now let's get to work!

Paul Heltzel

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