Monthly Archives: August 2010

Setting up a Home Network

If you have more than one computer and would like to be able to share an Internet connection, files, and printers between computers, perhaps you should consider setting up a home network. This blog post will cover how to set up a home network using Windows Vista. If you’re using another operating system, you can find networking tutorials by doing a simple Google search.

Overview

Setting up a home network doesn’t have to be difficult and can be done by anyone, as long as you have the right information and supplies. In order to set up a home network, some recommended supplies include an Internet connection, a wireless router or modem, Ethernet cable or wireless adapters, and a printer, if you plan on sharing a printer between multiple computers.

Setting up and Configuring the Hardware

Before you begin configuring your home network, you should first ensure that you have properly set up and installed the equipment that will enable you to connect your computers together. If you have a cable, FiOS, or DSL modem, you should ensure that it’s plugged in, turned on, and connected to a wireless (or wired, if you prefer) router, using an Ethernet cable. Some modem and router manufacturers may suggest that you install and configure your modem or router before setting it up or turning it on, so I would suggest that you look at the instructions that came with your hardware to be sure.

Once you have set up, installed, and configured your modem and router, you should then connect your computers to your modem or router, either using an Ethernet cable or using a wireless adapter. Some computers, such as many laptops, come with a preinstalled wireless adapter that doesn’t require much set up. However, if you purchased an external or internal wireless adapter for your computer, I would suggest that you read the instructions to see what the manufacturer of your wireless adapter recommends you do in order to install and configure the wireless adapter.

If you don’t have any of the supplies that you may need in order to set up and configure a home network, you may be able to purchase them at a store, such as Best Buy or RadioShack.

Creating a Home Network

Once you have both installed and configured the equipment necessary for networking your computers together, you should ensure that you are able to access your modem, router, and the Internet from all of the computers that you plan to network together. If your computers are connected to your router using an Ethernet cable, you should be able to access your modem, router, as well as the Internet, as long as you have properly installed and configured all of the hardware.

If you are using a wireless adapter to connect to your wireless modem or router, you may have to select a network to connect to, which you can do by clicking on the connection icon, which is located in the System Tray, which should say “Wireless networks are available.” and then selecting a network from the list.

After you have connected to your network, you may want to set up a new network by going to the Control Panel and clicking on “View network status and tasks”, which is located under the “Network and Internet” section of the Control Panel.

From there, you should select either “Manage wireless networks” or “Set up a connection or network”. Once you’ve chosen an option, you should be able to either manage an existing network or create a new network. Depending on your choice, you should follow any on screen instructions that you may be given, in order to set up a network.

Configuring File and Printer Sharing

If you already have already set up a network or are happy the way things are, but would like to be able to share files between computers, you should configure file sharing by going to the Control Panel and then clicking on “Set up file sharing”, which is located under the “Network and Internet” section of the Control Panel.

From there, you should be able to select which things on your network you would like to share. You can enable network discovery, file sharing, public folder sharing, printer sharing, password protect sharing, as well as media sharing, as long as your firewall is configured to allow these settings.

You can find out more information, as well as configure the settings for the above things from the “Network and Sharing Center” section of the Control Panel.

Troubleshooting

If you happen to run into trouble while creating or setting up your home network, there are a few things that you can do in order to figure out what is causing you problems, as well as fix those problems.

One way that you may be able to figure out what is causing problems with your home network or connection is to run the “Diagnose and repair” tool by going to the Control Panel and then clicking on “View network status and tasks”, which is located under the "Network and Internet” section of the Control Panel.

From there, you should click on the “Diagnose and repair” link, which you should find in the left sidebar of the Network and Sharing Center. If the “Diagnose and repair” tool finds out what is causing you to have problems with your network, it should also suggest ways to fix or repair these problems.

If you are having problems with your network or Internet connection, another thing that you may want to do is check to ensure that your computer or router’s firewall, as well as security settings are configured properly.

You can view and manage your computer’s security settings by going to the Control Panel and then clicking on “Check this computer’s security status”, which is located under the “Security” section of the Control Panel. From there, you should be able to view and manage your computer’s security settings, including the Windows Firewall, automatic updates, malware protection, as well as other security settings.

If you would like to view and configure the Windows Firewall’s settings, you can do so by going to the Control Panel and then clicking on “Allow a program through Windows Firewall”, which is located under the “Security” section.

After clicking on the link, you should be able to view the Windows Firewall’s general settings, exceptions list, as well as advanced settings.

Another thing that you may want to check if your having problems with your network or Internet connection would be your router or modem’s settings. If you would like to check your router or modem’s settings, you may be able to do so by going to 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 in a browser and then entering your username and password.

If you aren’t sure what your username and password are, perhaps you should try using a username and password combination, such as “admin” and “password” or “admin” and “admin”, which may be the default passwords for some modems and routers.

Once you’ve logged into your modem or router, you should be able to both view and manage it’s settings. However, I would suggest that you be careful not to change any settings that you’re unsure of, as they may end up doing more harm than good.

Network Security

If you have chosen to have a wireless network, other people may be able to access your Internet connection, as well as view your data and files without you even knowing that they were there. However, there are a few ways that you can secure your network.

One way that you can ensure that nobody has access to your Internet connection or data and files it to disable your modem or router’s wireless connection and simply connecting your computers to your modem or router using Ethernet cables. This will ensure that nobody can access your network unless they have physical access to it.

However, if you would prefer to have a wireless network, you may be able to encrypt your wireless connection. In order to do this, you may have to log into your modem or router and then entering your username and password.

From there, you should find the “Security” section or another similar section, where you should be able to view and mange your router’s security settings, including encryption. There are a few different types of encryption that you may be able to use, such as WEP or WPA, which you can learn more about by doing a search on the Internet. Also, there is a post on TechnicalCafe called “Securing Your Wireless Connection” that may be able to help you.

Hopefully after reading this post, you will be able to set up and configure a home network, whether it be wireless or not.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or corrections, please feel free to leave a comment below or use the Contact page to send me an e-mail!

GMail Contacts and Look Update

If you’re a GMail user, then you probably already noticed that GMail has slightly altered the look of it’s user interface, as well as updated it’s contacts feature recently, making it easier to use, as well as adding some new features.

While GMail didn’t really go through any major interface changes, they did make a few layout changes, which make it easier to access both your contacts and tasks lists.

When you log into GMail, you should notice that there are three buttons, located under the GMail logo, which are “Mail”, “Contacts”, and “Tasks”. If you click on either the “Mail” or “Contacts” buttons, you should be able to view various different options underneath the buttons. For example, if you click on the “Mail” button, you should see a “Compose Mail” button, as well as options to view your inbox, Google Buzz messages, sent e-mails, drafts, as well as other things.

When you click on the “Contacts” button, you should then be able to see a list of your contacts, as well as the option to add a new contact, as well as view your contacts by groups, including by friends, family, coworkers, the people you contact most, as well as your “other contacts”.

In addition to changing GMail’s mail and contacts interface and layout, there are also other new updates, including new keyboard shortcuts, the ability to sort contacts by last name, custom labels for phone numbers, as well as other fields. Also, there is the option to undo changes, automatic saving, structured name fields, which means that you can adjust people’s titles, suffixes, as well as other things. There is also a bigger and more prominent notes field for contacts.

If you would like to learn more about the recent changes to GMail, you can do so by checking out this blog post from the Official GMail Blog.

Dragon Dictation

Lets say you’re using your iPhone and would like to quickly respond to an e-mail or write a rather long text message or Tweet. Rather than typing it out, perhaps you should consider using the Dragon Dictation application, by Nuance Communications, which enables you to talk into your iPhone and then presents you with a text version of what you just said.

When you first launch the Dragon Dictation application, you will be presented with a EULA, which you have to accept in order to use the application. After accepting the terms of the EULA, you will then be prompted to allow Dragon Dictation to add the names of your contacts to their server, which better enables Dragon to recognize the names. However, you are not required to allow Dragon to do this.

After you have either allowed or disallowed Dragon to add the names of your contacts to their server, you should then be taken to a screen, where you should see a button, which allows you to dictate what you would like to be transcribed to text. Also, you should see a keyboard (which is disabled at first) in the bottom left hand corner of the screen, as well as a settings button in the bottom right hand corner.

The settings button allows you to add social networking websites, such as FaceBook and Twitter, so that you can post what you dictated to the application. You can also select which language you will be using, whether or not to recognize names, the option to detect the end of speech. You can also choose to reset your enrollment, which will reset your voice profile. However, doing this can cause a decrease in the performance of the application’s speech recognition. In addition, you can view the current build of the application.

When you are ready to dictate to the application, you can do so by going back to the Dragon Dictation application’s home screen and then tapping on the record button, located under the words “Tap and dictate”.

After you’ve tapped on the record button, you should begin dictating to the application what you would like to be transcribed to text. Once you’ve said what you would like to be transcribed to text, you should tap on the “Done” button. However, if you would rather stop dictating, you can tap on the “Cancel” button, which will return you to the application’s home screen.

Once you’ve tapped on the “Done” button, you should be able to view a text version of what you dictated to the application. You can then either edit the text, using the keyboard button, located at the bottom left side of the screen or dictate additional text by pressing the record button, located in the bottom center of the screen.

You can view additional options, such as the ability to send a text message or e-mail, using the text that you just dictated to the Dragon Dictation application, by tapping on the button that looks like a line with an arrow above it. There are also the options to copy the text that you dictated, as well as use it to update your FaceBook and Twitter accounts. You can also access the application’s settings from this menu. When you would like to close the additional options menu, you can do so by tapping on the button, which looks like a line with an arrow pointing down above it.

Having tried this application, I believe it can be useful for a variety of different things, whether it be sending a text message, e-mail, or for updating your social networking profiles. Also, Dragon Dictation’s speech recognition seems pretty good, as well.

If you would like to try using Dragon Dictation, you can download it for free from Apple’s iTunes App Store.

Multiple Google Accounts

If you’re a GMail user that has multiple GMail accounts, such as an account for work related purposes, as well as an account for personal e-mail, you will be glad to know that you can not access two GMail accounts in the same browser window at the same time.

Previously, in order to access two different Google Accounts at the same time, you would have to log out of one and then into another or you would have to open a separate browser window and then sign in to a different account. Some people may have considered this process to be troublesome, especially if they only needed to take a quick look at something in their other account.

However, it is now possible to log into two different Google Accounts at the same time, in the same browser window, by going to Google.com/accounts and enabling the “Multiple sign-in” feature.

The Multiple sign-in feature not only allows you to access multiple GMail accounts, but also multiple accounts on Google Calendar, Google Code, Google Reader, as well as Google Sites. You can not, however, currently use the “Multiple sign-in” feature to access multiple accounts on services, such as Blogger, as the first account you signed in with will be the account used.

Also, according to the Official GMail Blog, they are still working on making it possible to access multiple accounts in GMail and Google Calendar while in offline mode and suggest that you if you rely on accessing these services in offline mode, you probably should not enable it yet. Also, for now, “Multiple sign-in” is only supported on desktop browsers, so you will not be able to access multiple Google Accounts from a mobile phone at this time.

If you would like more information about accessing multiple Google Accounts at the time, you should check out this post on the Official GMail Blog.

Apple Magic Trackpad

As you may already know, Apple has recently released a new product, which is the Apple Magic Trackpad. You probably know that most laptop computers feature built in trackpads, which allow you to control the cursor on your screen. However, the Magic Trackpad is an external trackpad that you can use with both laptops and desktops alike!

If you enjoy using the built in trackpad on a laptop and wished that your desktop computer’s keyboard included one or were getting tired of using a mouse, the Magic Trackpad may be a device that you want to check out.

According to Apple’s website, the Magic Trackpad is the first multi-touch trackpad that is designed to work with a Mac desktop computer and uses the same multi-touch technology that is included in the MacBook Pro. The Magic Trackpad also supports a variety of different gestures, allowing you to change the way you use your desktop computer.

Apple’s Magic Trackpad connects to your Mac desktop computer using Bluetooth, allowing you to connect it to your computer from up to 33 feet away, and you can even use it with your Mac laptop, as well. The Magic Trackpad also shuts off if it’s not being used and also has an on and off switch, which enables you to conserve battery life. Both of these features allow you to use your Magic Trackpad for months without having to change or recharge the batteries.

The Magic Trackpad features a wear-resistant glass surface, where you can perform a variety of different multi-touch gestures, such as pinching to zoom in and out, as well as using your fingers to rotate things, such as pictures. Also, the entire surface of the Magic Trackpad is a button, which enables you to use the Magic Trackpad in the place of a standard mouse.

Apple’s Magic Trackpad is available for purchase for $69.

If you would like to find out more about Apple’s Magic Trackpad or if you would like to purchase one for $69, you can do so from the Apple website.

Welcome Back!

Hello everyone! If you tried to visit TechnicalCafe.com in the last few days,you may have been taken to a GoDaddy.com parked page, as the TechnicalCafe.com domain name expired and I did not renew it in time. However, I renewed it this morning, so hopefully everything is working normally again.

Also, July 30, 2010 was the second anniversary of TechnicalCafe.com! I registered the domain name on July 30, 2008, according to GoDaddy.com, as well as Whois.net. When I first started TechnicalCafe.com, I actually intended for the website to be message boards, where people could talk about technology, but since the message boards weren’t very active, I decided to write a technology blog instead.

I would like to thank everyone for visiting TechnicalCafe.com and apologize for the domain name issues. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the website, please feel free to use the Contact form to send me an e-mail.

Thank you,
Jamie