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Configuring Your Mobile Computer

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This chapter is from the book

In This Chapter

  • Working with the Control Panel

  • New Connection Wizard

  • Network Setup Wizard

  • Network Connections window

  • Network Wireless Connections Properties

  • Wireless Network Security Settings

  • Enabling a personal firewall

  • Choosing and enabling an SSID

  • Bridging wireless connections

This chapter explains how to use Windows XP to set your notebook computer based on the Intel Centrino mobile technology to work with wireless networks. Your mobile computer might possibly work with a wireless network without you having to do anything. However, it is also possible that you will need to tweak some simple settings, such as telling your mobile computer which wireless signal to connect to (if your computer detects more than one).

Some other things might need to be set. For example, if your wireless network is running with encryption turned on (as I advise in Part IV, "Your Own Wireless Network"), and you don’t have a server to supply the encryption key automatically (as most small office or home networks don’t), you’ll need to know how to enter an encryption key for the wireless network. Also, you might need to know how to choose between different wireless signals to pick the right one.

This chapter explains everything you need to know to use Wi-Fi to connect your laptop based on Intel Centrino mobile technology to a home or small office network.

Working with the Control Panel

"All roads lead to Rome," as they used to say, and in Windows XP, there are many ways to get to the wizards and dialogs that are used to set networking and wireless connectivity options. So don’t get confused just because there is more than one way to access these dialogs. It’s okay whichever way you get to them. In this chapter, I’ll show you how to always navigate to these dialogs—but don’t worry if you open them another way on your particular Centrino laptop.

Depending on your mobile computer, it’s quite likely that you can open these dialogs by double-clicking an icon on the Windows XP task tray that stands for your wireless connection. The appearance of this icon will vary depending on the make of your computer.

But whatever the make of your computer, you can access the wizards and dialogs that are used to configure networking and access to wireless networks via the Windows Control Panel. So it’s a good idea to learn how to set these things using the Control Panel in the first place.

Sure, you might learn how to open the Wireless Network Connection Properties window using the wireless configuration utility that shipped with your computer, and it might be easier to access this window from the icon on the Windows taskbar than using the Control Panel.

After you’ve opened the Wireless Network Connection Properties window, the functionality the window provides works the same no matter what route you took to open it.

But to back up for a minute, let me show you how to get help with some common networking tasks.

A foolproof way to get to the dialogs that manage networking—and wireless networking—is to use the Windows Control Panel. You can open the Control Panel by clicking the Windows XP Start button and then selecting Control Panel from the right side of the Windows Start menu.

When the Control Panel opens, it will show you a list of Control Panel items that can be used to configure your computer. This list is shown in Figure 3.1 in so-called Details Classic mode.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 The Control Panel provides access to the utilities that help with network connections and configuration.

Don’t let the various possible view modes in the Control Panel throw you. Similar to most windows that you see in Windows Explorer, the way you view the configuration utilities shown in the Control Panel can be configured. For example, instead of the Classic view shown in Figure 3.1, items can be categorized. And, in Classic view, the utilities can be shown as thumbnails or icons. (The view setting is customized using the View menu in the Control Panel.) So the first time you open the Control Panel, the items listed might differ in appearance and layout from those shown in Figure 3.1. Also, the precise items you see will depend on your computer (although some items are common to all computers).

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