Chapter VII.4. Putting the Why in Wi-Fi

In This Chapter

  • Setting up a wireless network

  • Securing a wireless network

  • Troubleshooting without wires

I remember the first time I tried to install a wireless network in my home office.

It was an unmitigated disaster. I live in a three-story concrete town house. I put the wireless access point (the base station — the thing with rabbit ears on top) on the middle floor. It was one of the original Wi-Fi (pronounced "why-fie") base stations, which used the 802.11b protocol (more about that in the next section). As long as my laptop sat right next to the wireless access point, everything worked great. The minute I moved it downstairs or upstairs — or even walked into the stairwell — the connection died. Completely, totally, utterly gone. No amount of futzing with the rabbit ears helped. It's like the bunny turned belly up, and that's all she wrote.

That was a decade ago. Times change. The minute that the new, much-hyped 802.11g Wi-Fi equipment became available in my neck of the woods, I ran out and bought another wireless base station. And therein lies a story....

I bought an 802.11g wireless broadband router and a plug-in card for the laptop. I paid less than $150 for the whole shootin' match. Installation was a breeze. I shut down every PC on my network, unpacked the router, unplugged my (very) old hub, plugged in the new hardware, started up the PCs — running Windows XP Pro Service Pack 2, at the time — and all my hardwired network cable connections ...

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