Computing Wirelessly at Home
By Michael Bodine
Last issue, we were almost ready to configure your router when space constraints so rudely interrupted! This time, we’ll wrap it up.
First, start your browser – that’s Internet Explorer for most of you, Apple’s Safari for some, and Mozilla Firefox for a few more. If you’re using Google Chrome, you probably do NOT need this little article to help you! When the browser starts, you will type the following into the address bar: http://192.168.1.254. Some routers use 192.168.1.1, some use 192.168.2.1. Your quick start guide or user manual should have this information.
The address bar? That’s NOT the search box – it’s got a left and right arrow over on the left, and usually has a “go” or little green arrow on the right, and somewhere on that line, two arrows forming a circle (which you click to refresh the web page you’re looking at.)
When you’ve typed the right address in, you will get some nice, clean looking menus that describe how you’re setting up your router. You may be prompted to login – there are just a few default logins that the router manufacturers use. Again, refer to your card. (Hint: login is either blank or “admin”, and password is one of blank, “admin”, “password”, or “passwd”.)
You will want to change the following properties: Your “SSID”, which is the name of the router which will appear on your wireless control panel. Don’t use the default, because then you won’t be able to tell the difference between your router and your neighbor’s. People often use their name or address; anything is fine as long as it isn’t the same as anyone else is using near you.
Security: the choices are “Disabled”, WEP, and WPA – there may be several types of WEP and WPA listed. Choose the first WPA if you can, second choice will be WEP. If you have older laptops with wireless, you may be forced to choose WEP, as they may not support WPA. If you can pick WPA, security is better and you can use a word for your security key that you can tell other people. They type it into their laptop and then they can use your wireless. If you must choose WEP, you’ll be given a long hexadecimal string – hexadecimal uses the characters 0-9 and A-F. You’ll need to write it down and carefully type it in to get wireless access.
Connection type: For DSL, you’ll want PPOE, and you’ll then need to type in your AT&T user name and password. For cable, the connection type is called “dynamic”.
Each of the above settings is likely on a different page or tab in the router menus. If so, before you change from one tab to the next, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “SAVE” before you go to a different tab or page. If you forget, your changes will be lost, and you’ll likely have to start over to make everything right!
There are literally dozens of other settings that can be used to give yourself added security, play faster games, run your own web site on your home computer. Don’t try to change any of these unless you understand what you are doing and why!
I will post more details and pictures on the web version of this article at www.rammb.com. Feel free to email or call me if you need assistance. You can also call the AT&T/Bellsouth (1-888-321-2DSL) or Comcast (1-800-COMCAST) technical assistance folks. They’ll tell you that they can’t support you in attaching another router to their company’s equipment, and then they’ll go ahead and try to help you anyway!
The really good news is, once you have set up your modem and router, you shouldn’t have to go in and touch it except in very rare cases. Even Tybee’s unreliable power usually will not prevent your equipment from continuing to work once power is restored.
Michael spends his nights and weekends running around on Tybee helping folks get the most out of their computers, whether that’s fixing a problem, getting a new computer, or just learning how to use what you’ve got!