Glossary of terms
DSL - Digital Subscriber Line supplies a constant, high-speed Internet connection over phone lines without interrupting regular phone use.
Ethernet - The most widely-installed local area network (LAN) technology. Fast Ethernet, or 100BASE-T, provides transmission speeds up to 100 megabits per second and is used for LAN backbone systems, supporting workstations with 10BASE-T cards.
Firewall - A set of related programs, located at a network gateway server, that protects the resources of a private network from unauthorized users. (The term also implies the security policy that is used with the programs.)
Interface - With hardware equipment, to interface means making an appropriate hardware and software connection so that two pieces of equipment can work together effectively.
ISP - Internet Service Provider. The company that connects a user to the Internet.
LAN - Local area network - a group of computers and associated devices that are connected and share a common interface.
Network interface card (NIC) - A computer circuit board, or card, installed in a computer that enables it to connect to a network. Personal computers and workstations on a LAN typically contain a network interface card specifically designed for the LAN transmission technology, such as Ethernet. Network interface cards provide a dedicated, full-time connection to a network.
Platform - The underlying computer software on which application programs can run. Examples are Windows 98 and the Macintosh Operating System.
Router - On the Internet, a router is a device or, in some cases, software in a computer server, that determines the next network point to which a packet should be forwarded. The router is connected to at least two networks and decides which way to send each information packet. A router is located at any gateway (where one network meets another). A router is often included as part of a network switch.
Wireless LAN - One in which a mobile user can connect to a local area network through a wireless (radio) connection.
IP address - A 32-binary digit number that identifies each sender or receiver of information packets on the Internet. An IP address has two parts: the identifier of a particular network on the Internet and an identifier of the particular device within that network.
*** Tips from the Web
www.howstuffworks.com The name says it all. The site is a reservoir of information on home networking.
Computing.net An extremely straightforward and simple site that also offers a forum for questions.
Cnet.com A great place to research and compare prices and features of the latest models.
www.iec.org/tutorials Offers a step-by-step approach to home networking.
Intel's Anypoint Home Network www.intel.com/anypoint
3Com's HomePNA 2.0 and HomeConnect products www.3com.com
NETGEAR's Home PhoneLine system www.netgear.com
LinkSys Networking Starter Kit www.linksys.com
*** Live from Virginia, networked
Home users: Christopher Heath and Michelle Fortin-Heath.
Occupations: Network operations manager and marketing coordinator.
Location: Woodbridge, Va.
Connection: Cable, because in their area, it's cheaper than DSL.
Cost: Hardware $400. Cable $85 for 1,500 feet of Cat-5.
What would you do differently?
"Next time we build a home, I would pre-wire my entire house (three to four data ports per room)," writes Mr. Heath in an e-mail. "This would greatly increase resale value and give me more versatility. I did this for a friend recently before the drywall stage. This summer, he can sit on his deck in his swim trunks and track news with a laptop."
Is this a do-it-yourself project?
"Doing it myself cost me about $500. A friend here in Virginia had it done by an outside agency and they charged him $3,500 just to do the wiring. I still had to go in after and finish the job for him. He could have paid me with a pizza and soda and only spent $500 - a lesson learned, I guess. Anyone can do this if they just do a little research."
Heath found these sites helpful: www.netgear.com and www.3com.com.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor