Tagged With home network

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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Windows only: User-friendly network monitoring utility [email protected] quickly displays information about your local network such as the percentage of machines online and the operating systems installed on them. With automatic network configuration detection and a quick start wizard, you can be up and running seconds after installing the program. [email protected] has audio notification of changes to the network and you can configure it to send email notifications about changes as well. [email protected] can limit scan ranges based on IP address, network adaptor, or port types; it comes with ping, traceroute, and a tree-based network viewer built in. Here's what some of [email protected]'s graphs look like.

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Tech site Ars Technica runs down the basics of securing your home wireless network with the most secure and up-to-date methods. The main takeaway is that when you enable encryption on your wireless router, use WPA encryption instead of WEP, because it's better and stronger.

Unlike WEP, WPA uses a 48-bit initialization vector and a 128-bit encryption key. More importantly, however, WPA uses what's called the Temporary Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP). Whereas WEP recycles the same key for encrypting all the packets flowing across the network, WPA's TKIP changes the encryption key every single time a packet is transmitted. This, combined with the use of longer keys, prevents a hacker from compromising a router simply by passively observing a large enough set of packet transmissions.

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Nothing sucks worse than getting to the office in the morning and realizing you left the most recent copy of an important file—whether it's your to-do list or a PowerPoint presentation—on your home computer. No matter where you are and what computer you're using, you always want the most updated set of documents and files you've got without having to carry 'em around on a thumb drive. Luckily, several free solutions can automatically sync folders between computers—even over the internet, through office firewalls—no matter what operating system you use. Whether you want work files edited at home to magically appear on your PC at the office, or the family room Mac to have a copy of the latest batch of digital photos downloaded onto the computer in the den, three free applications can help.

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More devices in your living room have Ethernet ports than ever before, but you can't plug them into the network if your router's in the other room. When your Wi-Fi access point is in the home office but your TiVo, Xbox, and media centre are screaming for network love under your TV in the living room, you want a wireless bridge (also known as an Ethernet converter). A wireless bridge catches your home network's Wi-Fi signal and provides ports where you can plug in wired devices near it. Let's take a look at how to wire up your living room using a wireless bridge.

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Free Windows utility PDFCreator is a great all-in-one PDF wrangler and paper-saving print option. If you've got more than one computer at home doing some regular printing, PDFCreator can also be deployed on a simple Windows home server box (like the kind you might built a home FTP server on) to help everyone in your household save paper. The Confessions of a Freeware Junkie blog has the lowdown on getting PDFCreator set up for creating and sharing PDFs, or securely locking away each users' printouts, if that's more your speed. Whether single-user or network-installed, PDFCreator is a free download for Windows systems only.

Create a shared PDF Printer using PDFCreator

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Mac OS X Leopard only: Back up your Mac with Time Machine not to a local hard drive but to a shared network disk with iTimeMachine. This simple two-button desktop utility makes your shared network drives show up in Time Machine's possible backup destination list. But it isn't as user friendly as it could be.

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Macworld has discovered that there's a lot more functionality hidden in Leopard's new Screen Sharing application (yes, it's actually just a normal application and not some obscure service), and unlocking it is just a matter of a couple of simple Terminal commands. First, you'll want to find the Screen Sharing app in /System/Library/CoreServices and drag it into your Dock or copy it to your Applications folder for easier access. Once you do that, fire up Terminal and enter the following (one-line) command, which will provide easy-to-read shortcuts for connecting to any local computer:

defaults write com.apple.ScreenSharing ShowBonjourBrowser_Debug 1

Now run the Screen Sharing app and you should see an interface similar to what you see in the screenshot above. But that's not all. The next Terminal tweak adds toolbar buttons to the Screen Sharing window to control the quality of your session, window control, and a few other useful tweaks.

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Windows only: Need to grab files from your home computer or quickly set up a friend's computer for file sharing? Leaf, a peer-to-peer application, creates quick and simple VPN connections between machines. Install and run the software, create a user account and click the "Share" tab to get started. As with most networking products that aren't SSH or similarly encrypted, one shouldn't share sensitive information over something like Leaf, but it could make for an easy way to share files, printers and even network drives. Leaf is a free download for Windows XP and Vista and requires Microsoft .NET framework.

Leaf Networks

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Linux only: The Ubuntu Unleashed blog has a great tutorial on remote controlling your Linux system—even through a Java-enabled browser. Here's the whole deal:

Install packages. Code: sudo apt-get install x11vnc vnc-java Set up a password for clients. Code: x11vnc -storepasswd Open up ports 5800 and 5900 on your firewall Run the terminal command: x11vnc -forever -usepw -httpdir /usr/share/vnc-java/ -httpport 5800 and add it for auto-starting in future sessions

That third step isn't quite so simple, but luckily we've covered that ground before. The same warnings and disclaimers about running a VNC server in that link above apply here. While the guide and code are written from an Ubuntu users' perspective, the packages and commands, possibly with a little tweaking, should be available in most distributions. Windows and Mac users can get help setting up their own VNC connections through this guide.

Setup VNC Server for Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon in 3 Easy Steps

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Mac OS X only: If you run any kind of server on your Mac with Leopard, you'll dig its revamped Sharing and Network System Preferences panels, which offer new features in a reorganised interface. One huge drawback in Tiger is that unless you install extra software, you can turn on Windows Sharing for your home folder only. No more. Using Leopard, share any folder on your Mac via FTP, Samba, or AFP (Apple Filing Protocol), from a single, easy interface. Take a closer look after the jump.

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Reader Brett writes in with an interesting observation about his shared iTunes library, which he plays from his laptop and his desktop:

Previous to the latest update of iTunes, I could only have one installation of Itunes running at a time, either the desktop would work or the laptop would work. The error message was something like iTunes library already in use.' However, with the latest release, I've found that I can have iTunes open on both.

A quick test between my MacBook and Powerbook confirmed Brett's findings. You can play music from a single shared library between two machines and edit ratings and playlists, which update on each computer—effectively removing the need to sync the iTunes library file manually. But it's not perfect.

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You're working on document on the laptop in the living room and you want to print—except the printer's in the home office. Sharing a printer connected to a PC on your home network and printing to it from any other computer, even over a wireless connection, is a breeze. Whether you want to print from a Mac or another PC, here's how to share a single printer for use by any computer on your home network.

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Recently we told you our Top 10 Wi-Fi Boosts, Tweaks and Apps. Reader Krusher_00 commented with a handy localisation tip for using NetStumbler for detecting networks:

"Make sure you've got the correct channel selected. In Australia the standard is to use either channel 1, 6 or 11 as these are the only 3 channels that don't interfere with each other.

If you see your neighbours have points on 1, 3 and 5 for example then your wireless is going to be affected if you decide to use channel six.

You can however have points on the same channel, this just decreases the maximum throughput that can be achieved (more noticeable if they're using their wireless all the time)."

Thanks for the tip, Krusher. :) 

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No doubt you've got a home wireless network or you've connected to hotspots at the local coffee shop or airport—but are you getting the most out of your Wi-Fi? Whether you want to strengthen, extend, bridge, secure, sniff, detect, or obscure your signal, today we've got our top 10 best Wi-Fi utilities and tweaks for the power wireless user. Photo by thms.nl.