Most people connect their computers using one of two connection systems: Ethernet or WiFi.
Until OS X Lion came along, Apple had its own name for WiFi: AirPort. That’s what it said in System Preferences→Network, for example, and that’s what the menulet was called.
AirPort was a lot cleverer, wordplay-wise, than the meaningless “WiFi.” Unfortunately, not many people realized that AirPort was the same thing as what the rest of the world called WiFi. So at least in the onscreen references, these days, Apple gives AirPort a new name: WiFi.
Every Mac (except the MacBook Air) and every network-ready laser printer has an Ethernet jack (Figure 14-1). If you connect all the Macs and Ethernet printers in your small office to a central Ethernet hub, switch, or router—a compact, inexpensive box with jacks for five, 10, or even more computers and printers—you’ve got yourself a very fast, very reliable network. (Most people wind up hiding the hub in a closet and running the wiring either along the edges of the room or inside the walls.) You can buy Ethernet cables, plus the hub, at any computer store or, less expensively, from an Internet-based mail-order house; none of this stuff is Mac-specific.
If you want to connect only two Macs—say, your laptop and your desktop machine—you don’t need an Ethernet hub. Instead, you just need a standard Ethernet cable. ...