Wireless Networking, Part 1: Capabilities and Hardware

Wireless Networking, Part 1: Capabilities and Hardware

These days it isn’t uncommon for a home to have multiple personal computers, and as such, it just makes sense for them to be able to share files, as well as to share one Internet connection. Wired networking is an option, but it is one that may require the installation and management of a great deal of wiring in order to get even a modestly sized home set up. With wireless networking equipment becoming extremely affordable and easy to install, it may be worth considering by those looking to build a home network, as well as by those looking to expand on an existing wired network.

The first installment in this two-part series of Tech Tips will provide an introduction to the basic capabilities and hardware involved in wireless networking. Once that foundation has been established, we’ll take a look at a few setup and security related considerations that should be addressed once the physical installation is complete.

Capabilities

The basic standard that covers wireless networking is the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11, which is close kin to the wired Ethernet standard, 802.3. Many people will recognize 802.11 more readily when accompanied by one of three suffixes (a, b, or g), used to specify the exact protocol of wireless networking.

The 802.11a protocol first hit the scene in 2001, and despite a small surge in recent popularity, it is definitely the least common of the three at this time. The signals are transmitted on a 5 GHz radio frequency, while “b” and “g” travel on 2.4 GHz. The higher frequency means that the signal can travel less distance in free space and has a harder time penetrating walls, thus making the practical application of an 802.11a network a bit limited. The maximum transfer rate, however, is roughly 54 Mbps, so it makes up for its limited range with respectable speed.

As mentioned, 802.11b and 802.11g networks operate on a 2.4 GHz radio band, which gives a much greater range as compared to 802.11a. One downside to being on the 2.4 GHz band is that many devices share it, and interference is bound to be an issue. Cordless phones and Bluetooth devices are two of many items that operate at this frequency. The range of these two protocols is about 300 feet in free air, and the difference between the two comes down to speed. 802.11b came first, released back in 1999, and offers speeds up to 11 Mbps. 802.11g first appeared in 2002 and it is a backwards compatible improvement over 802.11b and offers speeds up to 54 Mbps.

On top of these protocols, some manufacturers have improved upon the 802.11g standard and can provide speeds of up to 108 Mbps. This doesn’t involve a separate protocol, but just a bit of tweaking in areas like better data compression, more efficient data packet bursting, and by using two radio channels simultaneously. Typically, stock 802.11g equipment is not capable of these speeds, and those interested need to shop for matched components that specify 108 Mbps support. I say “matched components” as this is not a standard protocol and the various manufacturers may take different approaches to achieving these speeds. In order to ensure the best results when trying to achieve these elevated speeds, components from the same manufacturer should be used together. For instance, only Netgear brand network adaptors rated for 108 Mbps data transfer should be used with something like the Netgear WG624 wireless router (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=WGT624NAR).

Considering your typical broadband Internet connection is going to offer data transfer rates of 10 Mbps or less, it can be seen that even 802.11b would be more than adequate if you just want to surf the web. Sharing files on your LAN (Local Area Network) is where the faster protocols will really make a difference, and comparing the prices of 802.11b and 802.11g components may show that there is little to no difference in selecting a “g” capable device over a comparable “b” capable device.

Hardware

Access Point – Wireless Access Point (WAP) is the central device that manages the transmission of wireless signals on a network. A base access point may be capable of handling up to 10 connections, and more robust APs may be able to manage up to 255 connections simultaneously. The D-Link DWL-1000AP+ (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=37) is an example of a wireless access point capable of 802.11b transmissions.

Router – In somewhat technical terms, a router is a network device that forwards data packets. It is generally the connection between at least two networks, such as two LANs, or a LAN and ISP’s (Internet Service Provider’s) network. For our purposes, and for the sake of simplicity, a wireless router is basically an access point with the added feature of having a port for sharing a broadband Internet connection. The D-Link AirPlus G (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=DI524-R&cat=NET) is an 802.11g capable router that provides access for numerous wireless connections and four hard-wired connections to one WAN (Wide Area Network Internet) connection. A typical router for home use will generally cost less than an access point, and via settings within the firmware, can be used as just an access point anyway. Wired or wireless, all the computers using the router can share files over the network, as well as sharing a broadband internet connection. Communication between wireless computers (or a wireless computer and a wired computer) will max out at 54 Mbps, while communication between wired computers will take full advantage of the 100 Mbps provided via the 802.3 protocol.

Network Adaptor – A network adaptor is required for every computer that you would like to be connected to the wireless network. Many laptops, such as this Sony Centrino 1.5 GHz (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=PCGZ1RA-R&cat=NBB) now include a wireless adaptor built in, so no extra hardware is needed. For those with systems that don’t have wireless capabilities built in, adding them is fairly simple, and can be done using a variety of connections. Desktop computers can go wireless by adding a PCI slot network adaptor such as the 802.11g capable D-Link DWL-G510 (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=308). Notebook users can easily add wireless connectivity by using a PCMCIA adaptor, such as this 802.11g capable device (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=PBW006-N&cat=NET). And for truly convenient plug-n-play connectivity to wireless networks, USB adaptors such as this 802.11g capable dongle (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=80211GWUD&cat=NET) are available.

Antenna/Extender – These items are not essential, but given the specifics of a wireless environment, they may be helpful. Devices such as the Hawking Hi-Gain Antenna (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=HAI6SIP-N&cat=NET) or the Super Cantenna (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=SCB10&cat=NET) serve the purpose of increasing the wireless signal strength, and therefore extend the range of a given wireless network. Not only can a large area of open space be covered, but the signal quality may be improved in structures with walls and floors that obstruct the signal transmission.

Final Words

In this Tech Tip, we took a look at the basics of wireless networking as it relates to capabilities and hardware. In the second part of this two-part series, we will look at some of the basic setup and security considerations that should be addressed. The physical installation of a wireless network may be exponentially easier than a wired network, but the more difficult part is setting up the software and security to make sure everything stays up and running without incident.

A Guide to Help You Pick Your Next Piece of Furniture

Buying furniture does not have to be a stressful or painful activity. In fact, it can actually be a bit fun when you know how to distinguish the quality pieces from those destined for the dumpster. The following guide will hopefully demystify the inner workings and construction of furniture so you can focus on picking out the perfect color, print, and texture for your home.

Upholstered Furniture

Your furniture sets the mood, tone, and overall feel of your home just as your wardrobe conveys these same exercises about you. Upholstered furniture is perhaps the most telling sign of these characteristics as the use of color, design, and texture come into play more here than with any other type of furniture. Pieces that generally fall into the 'upholstered' category include chairs, sofas, love seats, sectionals, and sofa beds. This guide is designed to make your decision less daunting by eliminating some technical terms and giving you some insight into what lies benefit the cloths and cushions.

Woven Fabric Covers

Woven fabric means simply that the fabric is woven by a machine that interlaces two yarns running at right angles to each other. The most widely used group of decorative upholsteries sold in the United States consist of woven fabrics. These woven fabrics can be natural, such as linen and cotton, or man-made fibers like polyester and olefin. In most cases, fabrics are blends of various fibers like the popular cotton-polyester blend. The most popular types of weaves are as follows:

O Jacquard weaves are fabrics with differently colored yarns or fibers woven into highly decorative designs. These weaves are most often found in traditional furniture styles.

O Pile fabrics have loops or cut fibers standing up densely from the surface to form a three-dimensional texture. Depending on color and design, pile fabrics can be suitable for traditional or contemporary furniture.

O Textured fabrics are woven from yarns that have been processed to give them more bulk, crimp, stretch, or otherwise altered. Chenille is an example of a very popular textured weave. Textured fabrics are often woven to resembble antique, homespun cloth.

O Plain-woven fabrics consist of one color with their character resulting from the type of yarn or fiber used. Depending on the texture, plain weaves can be used on formal or informal furniture and with a variety of styles.

O Printed fabrics are first woven and then printed with a decorative design. Chintz and polished cotton are examples of fabrics that are often used for prints, although textured fabrics with blends of nylon, rayon, cotton, and polyester fibers are also often printed.

Non-Woven Fabric Covers

Non-woven fabrics are produced by the bonding and or interlocking of fibers. These fabrics can be made by mechanical, chemical, thermal, or solvent means, or with an adhesive, or any combination of these. Examples of non-woven fabrics include:

O Vinyl , which may or may not be laminated to a fabric backing. Vinyls are preferred on furniture that is subject to hard usage. Also called Naugahyde®, vinyl is often thought of as a substitute for leather, and can be printed in a variety of patterns.

O Flocked fabrics are made by gluing pieces of cut fibers onto a flat woven cloth base. These fibers form a three-dimensional surface much like pile. Flocked velvet is an example of this kind of fabric.

O Knitted fabrics are made by interlooping one or more sets of yarns. This is a reliably inexpensive way of manufacturing fabric.

O Suede-like fabrics , such as Ultrasuede® are often used in decorative upholstered furniture covers to give the look and feel of genuine suede, without using animal hides and usually at less cost.

Inner Construction

The construction and inner workings of an upholstered piece of furniture can be as mysterious as an episode of Murder, She Wrote (ask your Grandma). But hidden under the decorative fabric or cover lies the secret to the piece's overall function, comfort, and longevity. No need to call Angela Lansbury in order to solve this case, read on as we forget what makes your chair or sofa tick.

The frame is the single most important component in determining whether or not a piece of furniture is going to stand the test of time. You probably figured wood as being the most commonly used frame material, and this, of course, is true. But any old hunk of tree will not due if you plan on passing this wonderful chair, sofa, love seat, or whatever on to your children or grandchildren (they'll probably just put it in storage or sell it at a yard sale anyway ). Hardwoods, such as oak, alder, ash, beech and birch are what you're looking for in a frame. These hardwoods have a tighter grain and allow for screws, pegs, and nails to be set securely. Also, the best-made frames use wood that has been kiln-dried . This process consist of heating the wood in an industrial oven to remove excess sap and moisture. The process also makes the wood resistant to absorbing any outside moisture. If you're wondering what the problem is with moisture, I'll tell you. If you already know the answer to this, then skip to the next paragraph Mr. Egypt Smarty-Pants. Moisture can cause warping and swelling, can lead to loose joints and fastenings, and in severe cases can cause mildew or rotting, other than that, it's great.

The quality of the frame depends not only on the materials used, but how they're joined and held together. To create a strong, rigid frame, a variety of woods and laminates can be used in joints and for blocking and doweling.

O Joints are places where one piece of the frame meets another. These points of intersection need to be secured and reinforced with blocks and dowels to allow the frame to hold up over time.

O Blocking reiter to placing additional 'blocks' of wood behind or diagonal to joints and corners to help relieve the stress these areas encounter. Blocks also provide lateral support and create a larger area for screws and fasteners to set wood elements securely.

O Doweling is the process of drilling into both pieces of the joint and then placing a pin, or dowel into the hole, so further connecting the two pieces and adding extra support.

A quality chair or sofa will employ some type of inner spring system, usually in the back as well as the seat area. These systems add comfort, as you might expect, but they also work to take some of the stress off the joints of the frame. Here are some of the spring systems being used:

O The coil or cone spring system uses eight-way, hand-tied double cone springs to provide extra comfort and support. This technique involves fastening the cone springs tightly to the base and expertly tying their tops together with a strong cord. This is the only system that allows for side-to-side movement in addition to up and down movement. Hand-crafted quality comes at a price, though, and while this is widely considered the best spring system, it is also the most expensive.

O The sinuous wire spring is made in a continuous zigzag or "S" shape. These wires run parallel to each other and are quickly directly to the frame and to each other. Similar to this system is the formed wire spring, where the continuous wire is formed into rectangular bends and angles instead of the zigzag pattern.

O The grid suspension system is composed of a wire grid, sometimes covered with paper or plastic-coated wire, which has one side fastened directly to the frame. The other side is connected to the frame by helical springs.

O Some manufacturers use elastic webbing instead of wire springs. The strips of elastic usually intersect and weave together and are fastened directly to the frame. It is best to avoid furniture that uses this technique.

Arm yourself with this knowledge and make a more informed choice the next time you purchase furniture.

All About Your 3G Internet Service

In the technology circle, there is much hue and cry about 3G internet services. It is a known fact to everyone that 3G stands for "3rd Generation", but very few are aware of this technology from its core. Basically, it's an initiative taken by the International Telecommunication Union to create a global wireless standard for mobile internet access. However, it requires a minimum mobile internet access speed which is comparable to DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) internet speed. To meet the technology standards, there needs to be high-volume voice services.

Unlike its predecessor 2G (2nd Generation) technology, which was discovered around voice applications including talking, call-waiting and voicemail, 3G technology emphasizes on internet and multimedia based applications that facilitate web browsing, music downloads, video conferencing etc. However, to access 3G network, your device need to support an information transfer rate of at least 200 Kbit / s. With the increased demand for high-speed internet services, the popularity of 3G is also surmounting. The technology has multiple benefits to offer, some of which are discussed below:

High-speed Internet on the Go: Before the advent of this technology, it was almost a dream to get access to high-speed internet on the go. Modern developments in mobile technology coupled with 3G has created great opportunities for users to surf internet at a blazing fast speed, even while they are traveling.

Reaches Remotest Corners: It's easy to find 3G access at places where wired connectivity is difficult to install. This helps minimize the gap in internet access in rural areas or areas with limited connectivity. The speed sometimes exceeds the speed of dial-up internet services.

Affordability: 3G standards benefited the rural people to a great extent. While it's expensive to set up wired connections at homes, the wireless internet costs less and offer better speed to the users. With the development of this telecommunication technology, users can now get high-speed connectivity even on their mobile devices.

Multimedia Usage: Both corporate and personal consumers benefit from the service as it facilitates the use of diverse multimedia applications and enhancements the wireless internet experience. It enables real-time video conferencing, music download at a faster speed, uploading and downloading files at a speed that equals to wired broadband services.

Stay Entertainment: Internet offers multiple ways to keep the users entertained. For lightning fast internet speed and seamless network availability, users can enjoy online gaming, listen to their favorite music or watch movies online with their 3G internet connection.

Although, 3G internet technology is getting momentum both in urban and rural areas, there are still some places where this technology is not as effective as metropolitan cities like New York and San Diego. While telecommunication experts are hopeful to enhance the reach of both 3G and 4G (4th Generation) networks and make the services more affordable for the users, the increased traffic and the usage of mobile devices are the two main issues of concern for the tech experts. Moreover, to sustain a balance in the environment, there needs to take more precautions, as wireless rays often cause harmful radiation, which have adverse impact on the environment.

Financial Spread Trading For Beginners

In this article, I want to show what factors to take into account when making a spread trading strategy in the financial markets. Such a strategy should be custom-designed for each person! After all, would you wear clothes made for another person? So it is with trading strategies.

Profit potential in the financial markets is huge – this is its main attraction! As an example, if you had sold the FTSE short in April 2010 and taken profits 1,000 points lower in June, a £ 5 down bet would have produced a profit of £ 5,000 on a margin (deposit) of only £ 500 or so – a 10: 1 home run.

But first, why do we trade the financial markets and what is actually traded? We are all familiar with the Stock Markets, Gold, Crude Oil, Currencies. Take just the Stock Markets – there are many types of participants. There are the big institutions, such as pension funds, mutual funds / unit trusts, hedge funds, and there are private investors, some with long-term horizons, and some with short-term capital-gain interests. We are concerned with the latter here, as these are called traders (that's us).

WHAT IS TRADED IN THE FINANCIAL MARKETS?

What is actually traded and what or who decides on market prices? My interest is in trading the main stock indices, such as the FTSE, the Dow Jones Industrials, the S & P 500, and the NASDAQ. These are all indexes of a basket of company shares averaged in some way. They reflect the general trends in the market, up or down. They are all derivatives.

As a trader, who is someone interested in buying and selling for a profit, and not at all interested in taking possession for any other reason, we want to discover methods which can identify when to buy and when to sell. That is where a simple, semi-mechanical method using technical analysis is necessary, together with a sound money-management scheme.

WHAT OR WHO DETERMINES MARKET PRICES?

What does move market prices? All public markets are what we call 'auction' markets where prices are set by the buying bids and selling offers of the various participants. Have you ever been to a live auction at an auction house? Sometimes, when an object comes up, there is a group of two bidders, both desperate to own that object. The bids ratchet up and up – and up to reach what many would say is a very high price. Now imagine the auction if those two bidders had played golf instead. Of course, the price achieved would have been far lower – and for the very same object!

So what was the true market price for that object? Of course, the concept is meaningless. The market is what the market is. This shows that market prices are determined by emotion, rather than rationality. This explains the various bubbles in financial markets we have seen recently. As traders, we can take advantage of this! Traders love bubbles both in the inflating and the deflating phases.

WHAT STRATEGY FOR YOU?

If you are reliably starting out as a spread trader, you need to determine what type of personality you are (I have explained this in a companion article). You need to match your chosen trading time-frame with your personality type.

If you like staying with a well thought-out trade for weeks and months, then you will be looking primarily at weekly and daily charts and using Elliott Wave and Fibonacci analysis methods (again, described in a companion article). For your money-management plan, you will be placing protective stops somewhat far away from your entry price, but always well within your estimated maximum loss.

If you like short-term trading, you will be looking at daily and 60-min, 30-min, and even 10-min charts in real time. It is almost a full-time commitment. But with expert advice at hand, it can be very profitable