Thursday, August 30, 2007

What Is WiFi - What Do I Need To Get Started?

Getting a WiFi home connection started is actually easier than you'd think - the set up being simpler than setting up a wired internet connection. This is because you don't have to mess around with a bunch of phone cables - or Ethernet cables if you're planning on creating a wireless network in your home. As your computer will be connecting to the internet via radio signals it is really easy to set up multiple connections within your house so that everyone with a computer can connect to the internet and/or each other. For now, though, we'll just go into what you need to get started at home with one computer.

The most important piece of equipment you will need for your home WiFi connection (other than your computer, of course) is a wireless router. The wireless router is used to convert the digital signals that come in from your Internet connection (via a broadband modem) into a radio signal that is then broadcast to your computer. It is the hub of your wireless connection, and any computer within it's signal, carrying the correct hardware, will be able to log-in to the network. The wireless router plugs into your existing DSL or ADSL modem, which in turn plugs into the phone socket in your wall. So the set up looks like this:

Routers are pretty easy to set up (basically plug it in and away you go) but it is always recommended that you go through the instructions that come with your router, to be sure you are getting the best from your wireless connection.

Note: Wireless Routers are often confused with Wireless Access Points - and while both have pretty much the same job, a Wireless Router has added security features and is recommended for home or small business wireless connections. Wireless Access Points are generally used for larger offices with a large number (several hundreds) of network connections.

Okay, so you have your router. Next you will need something for your computer to interpret the signals sent out by the wireless router. This comes in the shape of a wireless network adapter. Most new computers have this technology built in, in which case you don't need anything extra, but if your computer is a little older you may have to purchase an adapter to install. The easiest of these for a desktop computer is a USB adapter, which simply plugs into an existing available USB port on your computer. Adapters also come as PCI cards, which slot directly into your motherboard, and are a little more work to install. For Notebook computers you can pick up a PC card network adapter, which slots into the back or side of your laptop. Again, internal cards are available but are more work to install. Actually, you'd need to have a pretty old laptop for it not to have some sort of inbuilt wireless technology already.

Wireless Network Adapter For Desktop

Wireless Network Adapter For Notebook

Once you have your router and your adapter you can set up your internet connection. For home networks you need only sign up to an ISP (Internet Service Provider) of your choice. You may already have a broadband internet account with an ISP, in which case you need do nothing more than connect everything up, switch it on and follow the installation instructions on screen. Otherwise, shop around for the best ISP for you.

And that's it, the basics of what you need to get started with a home WiFi internet connection.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What is WiFi - What's The Beef With Beefing Up WiFi Security?

What is WiFi security I hear you ask? Well, in this age of identify theft and credit card fraud, its easy to understand the concerns regarding the secure transmission of data through a wireless (WiFi) network. Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to safeguard your wireless Internet connection from malicious intruders - to the point where it is just as safe as a wired one. These things generally only cost you a bit of time to set up and include:

* Using a personal firewall alongside good anti-virus software
* Turning off the file sharing feature on your computer
* Updating your operating system on a regular basis
* Password protecting your computer and any important files
* Only transmitting emails through secure Web based email sites (those that show https:// in the address bar)

There are also Encryption software programs that encode data sent across the WiFi network, such as login passwords and credit card details. Most sites these days that require you to enter this sort of information are secure anyway (web address starts with https://), but it's always better to be safe than sorry.

You can also set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is probably the best way to protect your data when using a public WiFi network, such as those found in Airports and Hotels, etc. There is numerous VPN software available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems, and what it does is provide a protective shield around the user and the site they are accessing, so that anyone in between is unable to access the data being passed along. Think of it as trying to get on a train that is in a tunnel, you can only get access to the train at the start or end on the tunnel - the users point or the web site.

Hope that helps

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What Is WiFi - What Are WiFi Hotspots?

WiFi hotspots are areas that a WiFi radio signal can be picked up by your computer, so that you can connect to the internet or a computer network without the need for phone cables and wall plugs.
A hotspot is created by using a wireless router, and these days there are plenty of hotspots around the globe for use with wireless internet connections. Try any airport, library or hotel in the western world for starters, with a growing number of cafes following along. Hotspots are covering a greater area worldwide as WiFi gets more and more popular due to the increased need for people to be connected while on the move.
Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router
These days with big business the way it is, executives need to have remote access to their head offices, and what better way to do that than with wireless technology? Like most things technological, what starts as a product for big business eventually becomes a tool for the everyman. It happened with Cell Phones, and it's slowly but surely happening with WiFi.

As time goes on and more hotspots appear, wireless internet connection will become more popular, as people like you and me will be able to access the internet from just about anywhere. In my opinion, it is only a matter of time before land line internet connection are a thing of the past.

Currently there are a number of sites that post WiFi hotspot locations, such as, and, to name a few.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What is WiFi - How Does WiFi Work

I'm often asked "What is Wifi and how does it work?". The simplest explanation of Wifi is that it is a high speed internet and network connection, all done without needing access to wires or phone plugs. How WiFi works can be summarized pretty easily as well.

Basically, WiFi uses radio waves, much the same as a Cell Phone does. When you are inside the range of a "hotspot" and have the necessary hardware in your computer, you can quite simply connect to the internet or your computer network, usually by the click of a button. The hardware in your computer turns the data to be sent to the internet into radio waves. These waves get sent to a wireless router which decodes them and sends them through to the internet. The same works the other way, with internet data being translated into radio waves, sent to your computer and decoded using the installed hardware.

The WiFi radio frequency, however, is much higher than that of Cell Phones (2.4GHz or 5GHz), and the higher frequency allows more data to be transferred. WiFi makes connecting to the internet extremely convenient, as airports, libraries, hotels and a growing number of cafes are now fitted as WiFi hotspots. WiFi also makes the use of home connections that much easier, as one wireless router can service an entire home that contains multiple computers and internet connections, making networking simpler, and there is no hassles with cords when moving your computer to a different location in the house.

What Is WiFi - Understanding The Basics

I recently had a friend ask me "What is Wifi?", and by the time I'd finished giving him my definition of it he was looking even more confused.

You see, I'm used to talking about WiFi with people who already know what it is, so definitions aren't required. When I thought about it, though, it was pretty easy to sum up.

In it's simplest form, WiFi (short for Wireless Fidelity) is high speed internet and network access without the use of wires (phone cables). It's very easy to use and is, in most cases, even cheaper than regular broadband connections. At this time the WiFi coverage isn't as global as it is for Cell Phones, and access is obtained through being in range of a "hotspot" or wireless router. WiFi offers people the freedom to access their information when out and about, without the need to plug into a phone line. You can therefore take your computer network and Internet almost anywhere you go. On top of that, WiFi is generally faster than a normal land line broadband connection. How cool is that?

With WiFi Hotspots on the rise it won't be long before almost everyone has this incredible freedom to roam the Internet from wherever they happen to be.

So that's 'What is WiFi' in a nutshell. I'll be using this blog to discuss all things WiFi, so be sure to check back regularly.