Wireless Network in a Snap

Susan’s new office gave her a laptop as her primary computer. So she was wanting a way to hook it up to her high speed internet service when she “works from home”. I told her she would need a router and they would be $20-40. But I recommended she spend a little more and get a router that would support wireless for her laptop. Since a wireless router (802.11g) was $60 (after rebates) and the wired router was $40 and the wireless router still had 4 wired ports she agreed to get it and then possibly get a wireless card for the laptop later on. “But you could watch TV and be on the internet at the same time if you had wireless,” I said. She said “That may be a dream of yours, but not me.” But before we checked out she decided it would be nice to work while in bed, so she bought the card for $40 (after rebates; each item had two $10 rebates so the cash register printed out nearly a whole roll of receipts).

When we got home I checked the Service Tag number on her laptop and went to Dell’s website to see what it came loaded with. It turns out it already had a wireless card!

Before hooking anything up I ran the Linksys setup software and it inspected the system and told me to put the router between the cable modem and the computer (as suspected), set the TCP/IP setting to automaticaly detect, and restart. So far so good. I did this and when it restarted it told me to set the TCP/IP setting to automatically detect, and restart. I tried a few different ways and just stayed stuck in the loop. Then I got the printed instructions which told me how to access the web configuration for the router. I did this, but it didn’t work. Uh-oh. I have heard too many horror stories of people spending days on technical support trying to get their networks configured. It seemed like it needed host and domain names. So I called Comcast to get that and they said I wouldn’t need it and to call the equipment provider. So I called Linksys with a sense of foreboding, afraid they would say the problem was with the provider. They told me to take the setup disk out of the computer and after about 15 minutes got me in business, at least on the desktop that had worked fine before anyway. The solution involved clicking a “Clone MACS” button and then turning off the cable modem and router and then turning them back on.

We started up the laptop and told it to detect the network and after a minute or so got that to work. Susan was able to get on the internet and look up Five Forks and Find Him Frog, then logged on to some computer programs for work from across the room. Done!

Despite the stupid setup software not working right, this was relatively simple and now Susan can return the wireless card since we never opened it. Sixty bucks and a couple of hours of work for a high speed wireless network. Not bad. But the tech support call as a result of the bad software probably cost Linksys all the profit they would have made on this sale.

2 thoughts on “Wireless Network in a Snap

  1. My experiences have been similar with Windows laptops. It seems like it is simpler than something that gets in the way. Our Apple iBook was an exception. It detected the wireless network right away and just worked.

    I felt compelled to comment because I’m typing on an “extra” old Dell laptop that is sitting on top of a trashcan as a temp-o-desk. I’m considering making it an Apache web server running Fedora Linux. However for now, it is running wireless on top of the trashcan using FireFox 1.0 (fast!) on Win98.

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