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to install inside the case of the computer, turn off the computer and
install the PCI or ISA adapter.
2. Log on to Windows XP as a user with administrator rights.
If you installed Windows XP, you probably have administrator rights. To
check, choose Start➪Settings➪Control Panel➪User Accounts to display
the User Accounts screen that shows the accounts on your computer. If
you™re not listed as Computer Administrator, you need to find out who is
the administrator and get that person to change your account.
3. Insert the PC Card or attach the USB adapter.
Windows XP displays a message that your new hardware is installed and
ready to use.
Because your computer is within range of your network™s wireless AP
(they have to be close enough to talk to each other), Windows XP
announces that one (or more) wireless network is available and suggests
that you click the Network icon to see a list of available networks.
4. Click the Network icon in the notification area of the task bar at the
bottom-right of the screen.
Windows XP displays the Wireless Network Connection dialog box, as
shown in Figure 7-6.
130 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

Figure 7-6:
dialog box.

5. In the Network Key text box, type the WEP key that you used in the
AP configuration, enter the key again in the Confirm Network Key text
box, and then click the Connect button.
The dialog box disappears, and Windows XP displays a balloon message
that announces a wireless network connection and indicates the connec-
tion™s speed and signal strength (poor, good, or excellent). The Network
icon in the status bar flashes green occasionally to indicate network traf-
fic on the wireless connection.

In a matter of minutes, you have installed and configured a wireless network
connection. If you have trouble connecting, you can access more configura-
tion information by clicking the Advanced button in the Wireless Network
Connection dialog box (refer to Figure 7-6) to display the Wireless Network
Connection Properties dialog box (shown in Figure 7-7).

Automatic network connections
Easy installation and configuration is only half of the Windows XP wireless
networking story. If you know that you will use your computer to connect to
several different wireless networks ” perhaps one at home and another at
work ” Windows XP enables you to configure the wireless adapter to auto-
matically detect and connect to each network on the fly, without further

To configure one or more wireless networks for automatic connection, follow
these steps:

1. In the notification area of the status bar at the bottom of the screen,
click the Network icon to display the Wireless Network Connection
dialog box and then click the Properties button.
Chapter 7: Setting Up Your Windows PCs for Wireless Networking

2. In the Wireless Network Connection Properties dialog box (see
Figure 7-7) that appears, click the Wireless Networks tab.
Notice that your home wireless network is already listed. If your com-
puter is in range of the second wireless network, its SSID will also be

Figure 7-7:
dialog box.

3. To add another network to the list, click the Add button on the
Wireless Networks tab.
4. In the Wireless Network Properties dialog box that appears, type the
network name (SSID) of the other wireless network to which you will
be connecting your computer in the Network Name text box.
You™d want to enter the network name (SSID) for the wireless network at
your office, for example.
5. If you™re connecting to a wireless network at your office, make sure
that you have appropriate authorization and check with the network
administrator for encryption keys and authorization procedures that
he or she has implemented.
If the network administrator has implemented a system for automati-
cally providing users with WEP keys, click OK.
If the wireless network to which you plan to connect doesn™t have an
automatic key distribution system in place, do this:
a. Deselect the The Key Is Provided for Me Automatically check box.
b. Enter the WEP key.
c. Click OK to save this network SSID.
132 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

6. Move on to the next network (if any) that you want to configure.
Notice the Key Index scroll box near the bottom of the dialog box. By
default, the key index is set to 1. Your office network administrator will
know whether you need to use the key index. This feature is used if the
system administrator has implemented a rotating key system, which is a
security system used in some office settings. You won™t need to mess
with this unless you™re setting up your computer to use at work ” it™s
not something that you™ll be using in your home wireless network.
7. After adding all the necessary wireless networks, click OK on the
Wireless Networks tab of the Wireless Network Connection Properties
dialog box.
Windows XP now has the information that it needs to automatically con-
nect the computer to each wireless network whenever the wireless sta-
tion comes into range.

Tracking Your Network™s Performance
After you have your network adapters and APs installed and up and running,
you might think that you™ve reached the end of the game ” wireless network
Nirvana! And in some ways, you have, at least after you go through the
steps in Chapter 9 and get your network and all its devices connected to the
Internet. But part of the nature of wireless networks is the fact that they rely
upon the transmission of radio waves throughout your home. And if you™ve
ever tried to tune in a station on your radio or TV but had a hard time getting
a signal (who hasn™t had this problem ” besides kids who™ve grown up on
cable TV and Internet radio, we suppose), you probably realize that radio
waves can run into interference or just plain peter out at longer distances.

Obviously, the transmitters used in Wi-Fi systems use very low power levels ”
at least compared with commercial radio and television transmitters ” so the
issues of interference and range that are inherent to any radio-based system
are even more important for a wireless home network.

Luckily, the client software that comes with just about any wireless network
adapter includes a tool that enables you to take a look at the performance of
your network ” usually in the form of a signal strength meter and perhaps a
link test program. With most systems (and client software), you™ll be able to
view this performance monitoring equipment in two places:

In your system tray: Most wireless network adapters will install a small
signal strength meter in the Windows system tray (usually found on the
bottom-right corner of your screen, although you might have moved it
elsewhere on your screen). This signal strength meter will usually have a
Chapter 7: Setting Up Your Windows PCs for Wireless Networking

series of bars that light up in response to the strength of your wireless
network™s radio signal. It™s different with each manufacturer, but most
that we™ve seen light up the bars in green to indicate signal strength. The
more bars that light up, the stronger your signal.
Within the client software itself: The client software that you installed
along with your network adapter will usually have some more elaborate
signal strength system that graphically (or using a numerical readout)
displays several measures of the quality of your radio signal. This is
often called a link test function, although different manufacturers call it
different things. (Look in your manual or in the online help system to
find this in your network adapter™s client software.) The link test usually
measures several things:
• Signal strength: Also called signal level in some systems, this is a
measure of the signal™s strength in dBm. The higher this number is,
the better, and the more likely that you™ll be getting a full speed
connection from your access point to your PC.
• Noise level: This is a measure of the interference that is affecting
the wireless network in your home. Remember that electronics in
your home (such as cordless phones and microwaves) can put out
their own radio waves that interfere with the radio waves used by
your home network. Noise level is also measured in dBm, but in
this case, lower is better.
• Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR): This is really the key determinant to
how good the performance of your wireless network is. This ratio
is a comparison of the signal (the good radio waves) with the noise
(the bad ones). SNR is measured in dB, and a higher number is

Many link test programs provide not only an instantaneous snapshot of your
network performance but also give you a moving graph of your performance
over time. This can be really helpful in two ways. First, if you have a laptop
PC, you can move it around the house to see how your network performance
looks in different parts of the house . . . or even just in different parts of the
house. Second, it can let you watch the performance while you turn various
devices on and off. For example, if you suspect that a 2.4 GHz cordless phone
is killing your wireless LAN, turn on your link test and keep an eye on it while
you make a phone call.

When you grow more comfortable with your wireless LAN ” and start using
it more and more ” you can leverage these tools to really tweak your net-
work. For example, you can have your spouse or a friend sit in the living
room watching the link test results while you move the access point to differ-
ent spots in the home office. Or you could use the link test with a laptop to
find portions of the house that have really weak signals and then use these
results to decide where to install a second access point.
134 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network
Chapter 8
Setting Up a Wireless
Mac Network
In This Chapter
Installing and configuring the Apple AirPort Card under OS 9 and OS X
Installing and configuring the Apple AirPort Base Station under OS 9 and OS X
Adding a computer to an existing wireless network

I f you™re an Apple Macintosh user and you™ve just decided to try wireless
networking, this chapter is for you. This chapter covers installing and
setting up the AirPort Card in an Apple computer as well as setting up an
AirPort Base Station. Because both Mac OS 9.2 and Mac OS X (v. 10.2) are the
most current versions of the Mac operating system at the time of this writing,
the chapter covers setting up the AirPort Card and Base Station for each of
these operating systems.

Note: Apple is beginning to phase out OS 9 support in its new computers.
Over time, it™s possible that fewer AirPort features will be available for com-
puters running this OS.

Apple AirPort Hardware
On July 21, 1999, Steve Jobs, then the interim CEO of Apple, introduced wire-
less networking to mainstream computing in a speech at the Macworld trade
show in New York. In this speech, Jobs launched Apple™s new iBook laptop
computer for consumers. One of the innovative features of the iBook was a
wireless networking card developed by Apple and Lucent: the AirPort Card.
This device, when used in conjunction with the AirPort Base Station, enabled
consumers to wirelessly connect their iBook to a network from as far away as
150 feet. The audience that viewed Jobs™ speech was fascinated by the tech-
nology. The iBook quickly became one of Apple™s most popular computer
models. Apple now offers the AirPort Card as an option that can be installed
inside any of its computers.
136 Part III: Installing a Wireless Network

Apple™s AirPort products use the same Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) IEEE 802.11b
technology that has become the most popular wireless networking standard.
Apple computers equipped with AirPort Cards can connect to any Wi-Fi“com-
patible 2.4 GHz wireless network ” regardless of whether the network uses
Apple equipment ” including Windows wireless networks.

At the Macworld tradeshow in January 2003, Apple announced a new AirPort
Extreme Card and Base Station that uses the draft IEEE 802.11g technology
that can transfer data up to 54 Mbps and can handle up to 50 Mac and
Windows users simultaneously. These new products are backward compati-
ble with the older AirPort equipment; however, the new AirPort Extreme Card
will install only in Apple computers that have a mini-PCI (Peripheral
Component Interconnect) slot inside.

Pick an AirPort Card, any card
Apple computer models were the first on the market to feature a special wire-
less adapter ” the AirPort Card ” as an option. The AirPort Card, with a
retail price of $99, is very similar to a PC Card (a Personal Computer Memory
Card International Association [PCMCIA] Card) but is designed to be installed
in a special AirPort slot inside an Apple computer. You should not try to use
it in a PC Card slot found on most laptop computers.

The AirPort Extreme Card is a mini-PCI card. It is designed to fit inside an
Apple computer, such as several of the newest PowerBook G4s, but will not
fit in the original AirPort slot. Likewise, an AirPort Card will not fit in a mini-
PCI slot. The AirPort Extreme card also has a retail price of $99. It will con-
nect to the original AirPort Base Stations but will also connect to the new
AirPort Extreme Base Station that can transmit data up to 54 Mbps, almost


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