Networking For Dummies
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A wireless network is a network that uses radio signals rather than direct cable connections to exchange information. A computer with a wireless network connection is like a cell phone. Just as you don’t have to be connected to a phone line to use a cell phone, you don’t have to be connected to a network cable to use a wireless networked computer.

The following paragraphs summarize some of the key concepts and terms that you need to understand in order to set up and use a basic wireless network:

  • A wireless network is often referred to as a WLAN, for wireless local area network. Some people prefer to switch the acronym around to local area wireless network, or LAWN. The term Wi-Fi is often used to describe wireless networks, although it technically refers to just one form of wireless networks: the 802.11b standard.

  • A wireless network has a name, known as a SSID. SSID stands for service set identifier — wouldn’t that make a great Jeopardy! question? Each of the computers that belong to a single wireless network must have the same SSID.

  • Wireless networks can transmit over any of several channels. In order for computers to talk to each other, they must be configured to transmit on the same channel.

  • The simplest type of wireless network consists of two or more computers with wireless network adapters. This type of network is called an ad-hoc mode network.

  • A more complex type of network is an infrastructure mode network. All this really means is that a group of wireless computers can be connected not only to each other, but also to an existing cabled network via a device called a wireless access point, or WAP.

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Doug Lowe still has the electronics experimenter's kit his dad gave him when he was 10. He became an IT director, programmer, and author of books on various programming languages, Microsoft Office, web programming, and PCs. But Lowe never forgot his first love: electronics.

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