Creating a Wireless Local Area Network
Creating a wireless network can be an incredibly handy way to get your work done more quickly. If you're still walking files around your office (a.k.a. SneakerNet), let me bend your ear about the benefits of working wirelessly.
The 802.11b standard (also called Wi-Fi) is currently the most popular way to create a wireless local area network. The technology allows you to use equipment from different manufacturers to connect computers together. It's not hard to set up 802.11b equipment, which has made devices using the standard very popular among home and office users.
Traditional wired networks typically take quite a while to construct, because you need to install cards (sometimes called network adapters or network interface cards) in each computer and connect all of them with cables.
With a wireless network, you see two obvious advantages:
No unsightly wires
The ability to move computers at will, even take them outside, and still stay connected
Although the maximum range of wireless networks is typically 300 feet (outdoors), most provide good results up to about 150 feet indoors, depending on the number of obstructions, in-cluding walls, concrete, steel, and possible interference from other household electronics that use the same radio frequency.
As in life, there's usually some bad news with the good. Wireless networks are expensive. Expect to spend quite a bit more per computer you want to connect wirelessly.
Also, you need to use passwords on your network (the good kind, not ones found in the dictionary) because anybody with an 802.11b card walking by your office on a laptop can hop right onto your network if it's not password protected. There are other security issues, which we'll address in Chapter 14, "Maintaining Wireless Networks."
Okay, with that warning issued, let's keep in mind that wireless networks are really handy and secure if you take precautions.