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Wireless Home Networking for Dummies - Danny Briere, Walter R.Bruce, ....pdf
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204 Part IV: Using a Wireless Network

from Wiley Publishing, Inc.), include some details about networking. These are all good books. In fact, some smart bookstore should bundle these together with Wireless Home Networking For Dummies because they’re very complementary. In this chapter, we expose you to the network and what’s inside it (and there’s probably a free prize among those Cracker Jacks somewhere, too!), and that should get you started. But if you want to know more, we urge you to grab one of these more detailed books.

It’s one thing to attach a device to the network — either directly or as an attachment — but it’s another to share it with others. Sharing your computer and devices is a big step. Not only do you open yourself up to a lot of potential unwanted visitors (like bad folks sneaking in over your Internet connection), but you also make it easier for friendly folks (like your kids) to erase stuff and use things in unnatural ways. That’s why you can (and should!) control access by using passwords or by allowing users to only read (open and copy) files on your devices (instead of changing them). In Windows 2000 and XP, security is paramount, and you must plan how, what, and with whom you share. Definitely take the extra time to configure your system for these extra security layers. We tell you in this chapter about some of these mechanisms (see the later section “Setting permissions”); the books that we mention previously go into these topics in more detail.

A Networking Review

Before we go too far into the concept of file sharing, we should review basic networking concepts a bit (that we touch upon in earlier chapters of this book): that is, what a network is and how it works.

Basic networking terminology

Simply defined, a network is something that links computers, printers, and other devices together. These days, the standard protocol used for most networking is Ethernet. A protocol is the language that devices use to communicate to each other on a network.

For one device to communicate with another under the Ethernet protocol, the transmitting device needs to accomplish a few things. First, it must announce itself on the network and declare what device it’s trying to talk to. Then it must authenticate itself with that destination device — confirming that the sending device is who it says it is. This is done by sending a proper name, such as a domain or workgroup name, and also a password that the receiving device will accept.

Chapter 11: Putting Your Wireless Home Network to Work 205

For our purposes here, when we talk about networking, we’re talking about sharing devices on a Windows-based network. Windows 95/98/Me start the network tour with Network Neighborhood. In Windows XP (both Professional and Home) and Windows 2000 Professional, this is called My Network Places. Although both show the same information and serve the same function, My Network Places has more layers. In Network Neighborhood, you see all the computers and other network devices that are currently on your network. Your computer knows this because it has been monitoring your Ethernet network and has seen each device announce itself and what it has to offer to the entire network when each one first powered up.

With the release of Windows XP Professional and Home, Microsoft introduced a new look and feel to the desktop. The differences in the new look were drastic enough that during the beta testing of XP, Microsoft decided to offer people a choice as to which look and feel they would like by implementing themes. When we reference the XP desktop in this chapter, we are referencing what’s known as the Windows Classic Theme in XP. If, at any point, you’re having trouble following any of our steps, do this:

1.Right-click the desktop and then choose Properties from the pop-up menu that appears.

2.On the Themes tab of the Display Properties dialog box, choose Windows Classic from the Themes pull-down menu.

You can always change the theme back without doing any damage to any personal preferences that you set up for yourself.

Setting up a workgroup

To set up networking on any Windows-based computer, you need to decide on a few basic networking options. A lot of these will be decided for you, based on the equipment that you happen to be using on your network. As an example, if you have a server on your wireless network, you have many more options as to the type of network that you might create. With a server on your network, you gain the ability to centralize your security policies and to use domains to control devices. In Windows, a domain is a set of network resources (applications, printers, and so on) for a group of users. The user only has to log on to the domain to gain access to the resources, which might be located on one or a number of different servers in the network.

If you don’t have a server (which most of us don’t on our home networks), you’ll end up using the most common type of network: a workgroup.