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Geeking on a Friday night...

So what did I do on my Friday? Did I do what any normal-ish 20-something would do and go out partying with friends etc...? Nope. Did I go out to the movies, or to dinner with some cute girl? Nope. I called up Dave and we hit CompUSA's 6 hour sale. I returned the 60 Gb hard drive that I bought earlier this week ($109.99) and picked up an 175 Gb HD that'll end up costing $99.99 after mail in rebates. One small catch though, it's POS (CompUSA speak for Product Out of Stock). Fortunately they have a nifty pre-pay option whereby you can buy the item in question during the sale and then get it when their next shipment comes in. Kinda cool. Also thanks to some perseverance and eavesdropping [*], we found the 22Mps Wireless router that CompUSA was selling for $29.99 (regularly prices $129.99). Suddenly I don't have to wire my house for network access. Very groovy. New toy to play with :). It's a tad pricey to front that cash while I wait for the rebates, but I just couldn't pass up those deals. I still remember when my first hard drive cost $400.00 for a 40 Megabyte unit. I remember wondering what I could possibly fill a 40Mb hard drive with. If I remember correctly with this new purchase, I should have something on the order of 500 Gb of drive space on all my machines. Now that's scary.

After geeking out at CompUSA for a while we came out here so that I could plot and scheme all the nifty things I could do with a wireless network in my house. Then it was Penn & Teller: Bullshit on Showtime followed by Bill Mahr's new HBO show (title of which eludes me), some headline news and VI. All in all a good evening. Now I'm going to crash and tomorrow I think I'll probably work on the backyard a bit. I'd like to try and make some progress in putting up the forms for the new driveway.... Fun fun fun.

Gah. I'm having much trouble staying awake now. Sheesh, I am getting old. It's not even 1:30 and it is sooooo past my bedtime. Must make time to ramble in the near future....



[*] - I almost didn't find this nifty toy. I asked at the help desk and the guy there claimed that it came up as POS on the computer. I was annoyed but I kept browsing the store (because hey, I actually like wandering around CompUSA ;). While browsing I heard another sales guy tell a customer that the box he was holding was one of the sale units. Dave and I did the quick glance and careful meandering towards the guy who was reading the box. He put it down and walked away and we were on it like a pair of starved Chihuahuas on a chicken wing. I waffled a bit about getting it, but it's just such a cool toy that I had to get it. So yeah, I was tempted to walk by and wave the router at the guy who told me they were sold out. I'm curious as to how his computer showed them as being sold out while there were two on the floor (at least) and mine came up just fine when I went to pay for it. Oh well. The new toy is here and in it's new home. Tomorrow evening I'll probably take a stab at making it work. Won't be able to totally set it up nicely until I get a wireless NIC for some of the machines. Heh, more toys to buy ;)

Comments

ooooh! HAVE FUN! If you have any questions- you know where to find me. I am a network admin after all... :) Of course I'm going to be at Dave's tonight.. so that might not help you....

I've had excellent luck with linksys wireless NIC's. The D-Links have some crappy range, but, that is just my opinion.

If you don't like your neighbors (or if they look sort of smart) make sure you do the 64 or 128 bit encription.

There is nothing like high speed shopping, wirelessly, in bed on a Sunday morning... :)
Ok, so the instructions on my router aren't helping and I have few random questions.

Should any NIC that's 802.11b compliant work with my router which is also 802.11b compliant? If so do you have any suggestions for good, cheap PCI and PCMCIA NICs that I might look into? Right now I really only need a PCI NIC for my downstairs MP3 server (the actual cause of my foray into wireless technology), but I'm probably going to take advantage of this new toy in order to use some of my old laptops in other rooms (basically I'm going to set them up as x-terminals in various useful locations (e.g. my bedroom, the kitchen, maybe basement, garage, etc... ;). I can handle the linux side of things but I'm still a little fuzzy about the hardware side of this.

Also, would it be reasonable to expect my old 12 port hub (by 3com) to play nice with the new router? I would like to have a few machines hardwired to the lan (and by extension to the wan) and I've found it useful to allow for a network connection when I need to fix people's computers. The router has 3 physical ports for non wireless machines, but I'd like to use one of them with the hub and expand that number by a bit ;). It'd also (theoretically) be useful during LAN parties (assuming I make more geek friends out here).

If I'm understanding all this correctly it looks like I can do what I want with the hardware I have, but I'm curious to know if you have any words of wisdom on hardware compatability. I've never really run into problems with wired networks so I'm hoping wireless is as straightforward, but I figure I'd rather pick your brain on this than learn by trial and error. Oh, btw is there some way to limit the range on your standard router? Is that even an option on any of them? Mine claims to be good up to 1155 ft and that would cover quite a bit more area than what I want it to. I'd be quite happy if it worked for something like 50ft or so (my house is big, but it's not that big ;)

Re:

FIrst piece of advice. Take that book, throw it into the fireplace, and ignite. Now take a deep breath. :)

Yeah... that feet claim is for uninterupted line of site. I have a Linksys that says it is good for 1200ft. I can get it atleast 50% anywhere in the house, so, I'm happy. Brick and cement kill the 2.4GHz frequency, so just keep that in mind. drywall and wood don't bother it much. For the geek project of the weekend, I'm going to put it in my bedroom window and roam aimlessly around the yard and woods. I'm thinking that it would just be the ultamite to be able to sit in a tree with my laptop and surf the web- the best of both worlds!

Your old hub should work fine, as long as you have an uplink port on it- connect that (usually port #1 or #12) to one of the 10/100 RJ 45's on the back of the router (RJ 45 is the cable size for CAT 5 incase you didn't know) If not, and it doesn't work (not sure how old this puppy is) you'll need to buy a crossover cable. It looks just like a regular CAT 5 cable, but it is wired backwards. either way, it will work. :)

Now- I can recomment the linksys PCI card. For PCMCIA- I haven't found one I like. Stay the hell away from D-Link... they are virtually useless. If you want to move more than 15 feet from the access point that is... I have a lucent technology's one at work that is just about as useless. So, good luck. Let me know if you find a good one.

Basically, getting all the wireless shit to talk to each other just requires some tinkering and a scrap piece of paper. You need the SSID (it will be a default one, but i recomend making it cool and you) and the channel. these you'll set up when you run the software with the router. once you have those, you should be able to configure each card to find it. Channels 6 & 10 are the defaults, but you have a range of 1- 11, don't be afraid to try them all. I had to switch to 5 because whenever I ran the microwave it cut my wi-fi in 1/2. I'd start with 6 and work from there. You can gain or lose about 10% of your power depending on the channel and the interferience in your house.

If you want to limit range, as in, you dont' want anyone driving by and using your wi-fi, i'd set up incription. You can set 64 or 128 bit encription. basically, you give the router a word, and it turns it into alpha numeric. you have to right down that long string of letters and numbers, and use them to set up your NIC's in the other machines. I use 64, because I have elderly neighbors and don't think that anyone is cracking into me. but, your in a city environment.....

finally, if your having like a whole problem with the range in your house, you can just buy a bridge (like $50, not another router) and plug it in somewhere else in the house to double your ummmph. But I think you'll be ok with your wi fi router. the higher it is, the further it goes- i don't know where your modem is, but, i'd shoot for upstairs. :)

*sings the body parts song* The modems connected to the WAN bone, the WAN bones connected to the wireless router, the wireless routers connected .....

Yeah, I've lost my mind. Gonna go find it now. See if that helps!

email- amanda5@mindspring.com