June 12, 2012

How to Safely Share Media Files from your Vista Computer

If you have an old Vista computer that is lying unused, you can make good use of it by setting it up as a media file server for your home. As Windows is not known for being a secure desktop, you want to implement a secure sharing using a strong password. You don't want your neighbors to be playing or copying your own music and video files in their computer.

To be able to implement this project, we need three things to be taken care of. First, we need to setup a manually configured IP address for the server computer. Second, we need to use a new regular account that nobody uses except for the sharing of media files. Thirdly, we need to gather all the media files of the family and put them in the proper folders of the regular computer account that will be used for sharing. The server computer should not be used by anyone else except for file sharing so all former accounts in this computer should be deleted.

What is the advantage of sharing media files? First, we want to save money by not having duplicate media files in the family. If one member of the family has already a copy of a certain media file, another member should not be getting his or her own copy. However, not all media file of each family member can be shared. Each member is to submit to the designated server administrator the files that he or she wants to share. The designated server administrator should then copy the media files on the folders of the account that will be used for file sharing.

Secondly, media files consume a lot of hard disk space and by storing these files on an unused computer, we can free up more storage space on the disk drives of each individual computer. Everyone is thus afforded the opportunity to enjoy the media that each family member has. Alternatively, one family member can be assigned the task of procuring media for the whole family. Each family member makes known the media that she wants and if there are a good number of requests for this media, he acquires the file and places is on the media server.

You can start the work by logging in on the Vista computer with an Administrator account and setup a manually configured IP address for this computer. How to do this is a fairly complex undertaking that cannot be fully discussed here. There is an article in this website that can guide you on how to perform this task correctly. Messing this activity up can result in network errors that can negatively impact the effectiveness of your network. The IP address that should be assigned to this computer must not be included in the range of IP addresses distributed by your DHCP server. If you see an error message saying there is duplicate address in the network, then this activity has not been done correctly.

While logged on Administrator, create a new regular user and name it Share. This is the account that will be used for file sharing. We cannot use an account that is being used by another person for then all the files that this person is working on will be exposed to everyone in the network. This account is not going to be used except for the sharing of media files. Make sure that you make up a very strong password for this account. I suggest that you make a password that is not shorter than 10 characters and should include big and small letters as well as numbers and special characters.

Once the account is created, the server administrator can copy the initial set of media files to the respective folders in the Share account. He can create the folder structure that he thinks is best fitted for the media collection that the family has. Music files should be placed on the Music folder and video files on the Video folder. Other folders may be created based on other classifications like podcasts for example.

Now we can create the network environment that can enable file sharing to be implemented. This would be the simplest of all the tasks that needs to be done. Open your Vista computer's control panel, click on Network and Internet, and then click on Network and Sharing Center. On the Sharing and Discovery portion of the panel, turn on Network discovery by clicking on the downward pointing arrow and then clicking the Apply button. Do the same fot File sharing. Lastly, make sure that Password protected sharing is turned on and if not turn it on using the same procedure as in Network discovery and File sharing.

Now your old Vista computer is ready to serve media files for the whole family. Check if the shares are working by logging on another Windows computer and on Windows Explorer, click on Network or Network Neighborhood and then look for the name of the Vista computer and double click it until the sample media files are displayed. Double click on a file to play it. If the shares are working, then you can let everyone in the family know the password for accessing the media files on the server. This password should be kept as a family secret.



June 10, 2012

How to Perform Network Related Tasks in Windows Vista

Network tasks are essential components of any computer's operating system. When you need to share files or connect to the Internet, you need to setup the network components that would support such activities. However, the different tools that you can use to facilitate efficient networking are scattered in various places in Windows Vista.

You should make it a point to know what tool you can use and at the same time know where to find the tools that you need. Here are a few how to's on how you can perform network related tasks in Windows vista. Most of these task will require that you logon to your computer using an Administrator account.

Find What the MAC Address of your Wireless Adapter is

Open a command prompt and type the command ipconfig /all. On the results, look for the wireless LAN adapter and follow the line that says Physical Address. Those six sets of letters and numbers is the MAC address or the machine address of your computer's wireless adapter.

Find Out your Computer's Hostname and its IP Address

Open a command prompt and type ipconfig /all. The name opposite Host Name is your computer's hostname or the name it uses to identify itself in the network. Go down to the Wireless LAN adapter portion and look for a series of four decimal numbers separated by dots opposite the label IPv4 Address. This is the IP address that your computer is using to communicate with other computers in the network.

Where to Manually Setup your Computer's IP Address

Open your computer's control panel, then click on Network and Internet, then Network and Sharing Center. On the left panel, click on Manage network connections and on the window that will come up, highlight Wireless Network Connection, right click it, and then click on Properties. On the next window, click on Internet Protocol version 4 and then click on Properties.

How to Make you Computer Use an Alternate DNS Server

Follow the above procedure for setting up your computer's IP address manually. Note that Obtain an IP address automatically is selected and at the lower part of the panel, click on Use the following DNS server addresses to select it. Enter the two IP addresses that you want your computer to use in looking up the IP addresses of the websites that you want to visit.

How to Setup your Computer for Windows File Sharing

Open your control panel, click on Network and Internet, and then click on Network and Sharing Center. Under the Sharing and Discovery portion, turn on both Network discovery and File sharing by clicking on the downward pointing arrow opposite each. This would be enough if you just want to share your folder for read access only. If you want to be able to create and delete files on the folder that you're sharing, you need to turn on also Password protected sharing.

Where to Go to Find What's Wrong with your Network Connection

Open your control panel, click on Network and Internet, and then click on Network and Sharing Center. On the diagram shown, click on the problem indicators to find out more information on how the connection problem can be resolved. You would be given several options on how the problem could be solved. Choose the one that you think would lead you toward the resolution of the problem. If nothing works, try restarting your computer.

Tell your Computer to Use a Preferred Wireless Network

Open your control panel, click on Network and Internet, and then click on Network and Sharing Center. On the left panel, click on Manage wireless networks and on the window that comes up next, move the network that you want to use to the topmost part of the list. While here, you can also remove networks that you don't want to use by deleting them from the list.

Find Out What Wireless Network Adapter your Computer is Using

Open your control panel, then click on Hardware and Sound, then click on Device Manager. Click on the plus sign to the left of Network adapters and you can check what wireless adapter your computer is using.

Turn your Wireless Adapter On or Off

Open your control panel, click on Mobile PC, and then click on Windows Mobility Center. Look for Wireless Network and click on the button that says Turn wireless on or off. Close all control panel windows when finished.

Setup your Firewall to allow an Application to Access your Computer

Open your control panel, click on Security, and then click on Windows Firewall. Click on the Change settings link and on the panel that will come up, click on the Exceptions button. If your application is shown on the list, put a check mark opposite it and click on the OK button. If not, click on the Add program or Add port whichever is preferable to you based on what information you have. This can potentially put your computer at risk from attacks from the Internet so care should be taken in changing the settings of your firewall.



June 9, 2012

Understanding Wireless Connection Problems in your Home Network

Wireless connection problems will generally fall within three broad areas of operation in your home network: the computer, the wireless router, and the Internet Service Provider. This article describes the things that could go wrong in each of these major areas of failure. Consequently, your troubleshooting effort should start with the computer you're using, then proceed to your wireless router, and lastly the networking equipment in your Internet Service Provider.

If you're using a computer that runs on a Windows operating system. you'll be more likely to experience connection problems than if you're using one that is based on Linux or the Unix operating system. I have used both Windows Vista and different Linux distributions on my laptop and connection troubles occur mostly when I'm using Vista rather than a Linux distribution.

In most cases, home computers running in a wireless network are setup to get Internet Protocol (IP) addresses from a Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) server running on the wireless router. In Vista, the computer attempts to get IP addresses from the router and after several failed attempts, it gives up and uses an IP address that may not work on your network. Forcing the Vista computer to request again for network addresses on a few times will work but most of the time, a restart of the computer is necessary to succeed in getting the needed IP addresses.

The Linux platform it seems is better designed to navigate the different situations that can occur in a network setting and is more aggressive in getting the needed IP addresses. In my Android tablet, for example, Android is not going to stop trying to get an IP address until it gets one. When the tablet sleeps, it gives up its IP address and when it wakes up, it again will continuously attempt to get those addresses from the DHCP server until it succeeds in getting the required addresses.

I'm currently using Linux Mint as replacement for my Vista operating system in my laptop and I have never experienced the lost connections that I frequently get when using Windows Vista. I'm not intimately familiar with the programs that are running the network connections between my laptop and my wireless router but it appears that Linux Mint is able to play better with the programs in my wireless router which for all I know may be running a stripped down Linux system. What I did with my Windows Vista is set it up with manually configured IP addresses by getting one address from the address space that is not being distributed by my wireless router.

On the wireless router's side, the most common cause of loss of connection is similar to that of the computer running on the home network. Somehow after several failed attempts, the router simply gives up trying to get a valid IP address and subnet mask for it to be able to communicate with the rest of the Internet. Here, the solution is very simple. You just need to access your router using your laptop and check if it was able to get a valid IP address that can be routed in the Internet.

When your computer and your wireless router are connected but you can't access the Internet, check that your wireless router has a valid Internet address. If the address shown are all zeros, then it was not able to get one so you have to manually tell your router to get one. You can do this by clicking on the renew button or connect button whichever is present in your router's web interface page. After a while, you'll notice that your router was able to get the needed addresses and the blanks for addresses are filled with those it got from the router at your Internet Service Provider. You should be able to surf the Internet now from the browser in your laptop.

If there is still a problem, the fault may now lie on the equipment at the office of your Internet Service Provider. At this point, you can't do much except to wait until the people there are able to resolve their connectivity problem. You can call the service numbers of your Internet Service Provider and inquire if they are experiencing connectivity problems. The fact that your laptop is able to connect with the router tells you that there is no connection problem between your laptop and your wireless router. The fact that your router was able to get an IP address from your Internet Service Provider tells you that your connection with your provider is okay. The most probable reason at this point is trouble at your Internet Service Provider's end. You just have to wait until they are able to resolve the connection problem at their end.



June 6, 2012

Share Files Between your Vista Laptop and your Android Tablet

You may be one of those who have purchased an Android tablet in order to complement your Vista laptop on Internet research and downloading or to perform other tasks that could be more easily performed using a tablet computer. In such a case, you may want to be able to access files in your Vista laptop from your tablet or the other way around. You may also want to transfer files between the two computers.

During the olden days of computing and before networks became ubiquitous, there came a phenomenon called the sneaker net wherein people (supposedly wearing sneakers on their feet) go from one computer to another carrying a diskette by which files are copied from one computer to another. Those bygone days are gone forever but you can still appreciate the sneaker net's usefulness when it comes to moving large files as you will note later.

There is an Android app that you can install in your tablet and use to connect to your folders and files in your Vista laptop. It is called AndSMB and you can download, install and use it freely on your Android tablet. To setup file sharing between your Vista laptop and your Android tablet, you have to install AndSMB on your tablet, setup your Vista laptop for file sharing, and create a connection in your AndSMB tablet app. From here, you can freely transfer files to and from the two computers with ease.

First go to your Android tablet and open Google Play. Search for the AndSMB app and install it in your tablet. Turn on your Vista laptop and login using the Administrator account. Open your Vista's control panel and click on Network and Internet. Click on Network and Sharing Center and near the bottom of the window, click on the downward arrow opposite network discovery. Click on Turn on network discovery and then click on the Apply button. Do the same for File sharing. While on this window, check that Password protected sharing is turned on and if not, turn it on also. Close all your Vista's control panel windows.

To make a safer file transfer to work, you need to have a regular account in your Vista laptop that uses a password to logon. If your account has no password, go to the Control Panel and set up a password for the computer account that you're using. Always use a regular account for file sharing. Never use a folder that belongs to the Administrator for file sharing purposes. Once all of these requirements are met, then your Vista laptop is ready for file sharing with your Android tablet.

In you Android tablet, run the AndSMB app and tap on the Add button. Go back to your Vista laptop and open again its control panel. Click on System and Maintenance and then click on System. Find out from here your Vista laptop's computer name and copy it exactly as it appears here to the blank opposite Hostname in your Android tablet. On the blanks opposite Username and Password, type in your Vista logon user name and password exactly as you're using them on your Vista laptop. On the Local dir portion of your tablet's panel tap on the browse button and navigate to the Download folder in your sdcard device.

Tap the OK button and on the blank space opposite Remote dir, tap the browse button. Tap the Users folder and then tap on your Vista laptop's logon name. Tap Downloads from the folders that will be shown and when the Downloads folder is selected, tap on the OK button. Tap the Save button and type a good name for the connection and tap on the Ok button twice. Now whenever you want to transfer files from the two folders on your Vista laptop and your Android tablet, turn on your Vista laptop and login to it and then turn on your Android tablet and open the AndSMB app. On your Android tablet, select the connection that you want and tap on the Connect button.

Tap on the Device file browser or the SMB file browser depending on what type of file transfer you want to make. To copy from your Android tablet to your Vista laptop, tap on the file you want to move and then click on the Upload button. To do the reverse, tap the SMB file browser, tap on the file you want to copy to your Android tablet, then tap on the Download button.

This will work fairly well on small files. However, when transferring large files, the transfer speed is a little slow since it's using the network to move the files from one location to another. When copying large files, I advise you to go back to the sneaker net method but this time using your USB pen drive for this purpose. It would be a lot quicker to move large files this way than to use your file sharing connection.

If something goes wrong, check that your Vista laptop's name. your user name, and your password are all correctly entered on the connection panel in your Android tablet. Sometimes, it takes a while for the network to ready itself for file sharing so give it a little more time to set itself up.



May 25, 2012

How to Manually Setup the IP Address of your Vista Laptop

By default, your Vista laptop is setup to request IP address from a DHCP server in your network. However, this automatic IP address assignment sometimes does not work correctly resulting in lost connection to your network and thereby not having connection to the Internet. Manually setting up your IP address gives your Vista laptop a correct IP address to be able to communicate effectively with the rest of the computers in your network. However, it requires some knowledge of the operation of the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). That your Vista laptop failed to receive an IP address from your router is represented with a yellow triangle with an exclamation point between your computer and your router in your control panel's Network and Sharing diagram.

If you're using a wired or wireless router in your home, then what you have is a local area network and you need to use an addressing scheme that uses the private network address range established under TCP/IP. You define an address range of consecutive IP addresses that starts with the address of your network and ends with the broadcast address of your network. Except the first and the last address in the range, any of the included addresses can be assigned to computers in your network. The valid IP addresses that may be used in your network is determined by your network's subnet mask. Routers perform a mathematical operation on the computer's IP address and its subnet mask to determine as to which network that computer belongs.

To find out what IP address to assign to your Vista laptop, it is of utmost importance that you know the IP address range that your network is using. If you did not use a customized address scheme for your network, then you would most probably be using the default network address range provided by your router. This range typically includes more than 250 consecutive addresses that starts with zero and ends with 255. By using a customized IP address scheme, you can limit the number of computers that can participate in your network by using a unique subnet mask. By doing this, you can have more networks with fewer computers in each network rather than having one big network.

To know what IP address range your network is using, you have to check what the IP address and subnet mask your router is using in your local area network (LAN). If your router is using the default IP address and subnet mask provided by its manufacturer, then probably your subnet mask ends in 0 which means that the range of IP address your network is using consists of 255 consecutive network addresses that starts with 0 and ends with 255 of which the first and the last ones are not normally assigned to any computer.

The IP addresses are constructed with the same first three numbers and varying only with the last number starting from 1 to 254 which are considered the valid IP addresses for your network. You router is typically assigned the first available IP address. So for example if your network's IP address range is 192.168.0.1 through 192.168.0.254 with a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0, then 192.168.0.1 is assigned to your router and the rest are assigned to the other computers in the network. If such is your situation, you can choose one address high above the range, say 192.168.0.251 with a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 as the IP address that you will set manually for your Vista laptop.

Before you manually setup your Vista laptop's IP address, you need to make sure that your laptop is not being reserved a particular IP address by the router in your network. If your laptop is using a reserved IP address, you need to access your router and remove the MAC address of your laptop from the reservation list of the DHCP server in your router. You can simply disable the line where your laptop's MAC address is given rather than deleting the whole line.

Next, you should free a few addresses high above your IP address range for assigning manually to a few computers. To do this, you have to access your router and modify the address range that your router is set to distribute among the computers in your network. Following on the above example, you should subtract a few numbers from the high end of the range, say you can specify that the address range that your router should assign to computers in your network should be from 192.168.0.2 up to 192.168.0.250. Don't forget to save the changes that you have made to your router's settings.

Logon to your Vista laptop as Administrator, open your Vista control panel, and click on Network and Internet. Click on Network and Sharing Center and on the left panel, click on Manage network connections. Right click the network adapter that you're using to connect to your network, then click on Internet Protocol Version 4. Click on the Properties button then click the small circle that says Use the following IP address. Enter the IP address that you have chosen to use for your Vista laptop and enter the same subnet mask that your router is using. In the Default gateway and the Preferred DNS server, enter the IP address of your router. Click on the OK button then close all open control panel windows.

Your Vista laptop will then reconnect with your network using the new IP address and every time that you turn on your laptop, it won't request for an IP address anymore since it has one already manually set for it. Now when you go to another place where IP addresses are assigned by the router, you have to revert back to your laptop's original setup by repeating the procedure outlined above and by clicking on Obtain an IP address automatically and then clicking the OK button.



May 22, 2012

What To Do with your Old Vista Home Computer

Times have changed. It used to be that your Vista laptop was top of the line. It did serve you well, yes it did. But now, it has grown old and sluggish. It has become bloated with large and sometimes unnecessary software. There were too many corrections on the original version of the operating system. It seemed that it was shipped with too many vulnerabilities that were not addressed during the development process. Perhaps there were some fatal flaw in its basic design, we don't know.

It takes too long to boot and it makes too much use of your laptop's hard disk. With Vista in your laptop, your hard disk may soon give up and break down. Its network connection leaves so much to be desired. It breaks down so easily even if you have a router that uses its firewall to flag undesirable connections. You can't stay long in the Internet without something happening to your connection. Now, you're thinking of replacing your Vista laptop with something better, something that boots faster, more agile, takes care of the hard disk, and provides a more stable network connection.

But don't throw out your Vista laptop yet. Because it is possible to breathe new life on it. You can revive your aging laptop with a new and better operating system. And guess what: that new operating system is Linux.

Yes times have changed. Game changing major developments have occurred in the Linux community recently. Internet's search behemoth Google has supported the development of a Linux derivative in the form of Android, a powerful and versatile operating system for mobile devices. There was a blossoming of Linux distributions that cater to anyone's unique and particular taste, from the tiny ones that run from a floppy disk to the full blown types that are capable of slogging it out with the much maligned Windows operating system.

Ubuntu was one of the first distributions that have won acceptance in the business community and gained wide following among computer enthusiasts.  Then came Puppy Linux and Parted Magic but the most outstanding and very much suited for use in home computers is Linux Mint. It's hard to believe that a group of committed and passionate open source developers supported only with donations could come up with such an excellent output. Linux Mint is to say the least simply phenomenal.

With Linux Mint you can say goodbye to the long time that you have to wait before your Vista laptop can boot up and is ready for use. Say hello to a clean and attractive Mac like desktop that can work as fast as you can. Bid adieu to the valuable time you have wasted finding out why you lost your Internet connection. Welcome to the ease of use and flawless design that wouldn't send you calling technical support for the rest of your working life. But most of all, feel the excitement of having extra cash in your pocket and why so? Because Linux Mint is totally and absolutely free.

Switching from Windows Vista to Linux Mint won't take a leap of faith on your part for as your children would say it's very much Windows like. You wouldn't miss a thing from your old Windows environment because what you did have in Windows are amply provided for with a more thought of and better alternative. Home computers are meant to do just simple things and don't need to have a software environment full of things that are nice to have but are never used. Linux Mint is the best alternative for the Windows Vista that is now installed in your laptop.

And so my recommendation is for you to download the latest Linux Mint installation file and burn it to a blank DVD disc using the BurnCDCC software. Reboot your laptop and setup your BIOS to boot from your DVD drive. Linux Mint will run as a live DVD installation. Test drive it and if you like it, you can dual boot your Vista laptop with Linux Mint. Then if you think you're ready to part ways with  your Vista, remove Vista and replace it entirely with Linux Mint.



May 21, 2012

Give your Old Vista Laptop a New Lease of Life with Linux Mint

You have been using your old Vista laptop for several years already and for a while you notice that it is exhibiting symptoms of old age. No longer does it look classy and grand but it has gotten more difficult to work with. It takes some time to boot and you notice that it has become more and more sluggish. It uses your laptop's hard disk too much that you worry of again suffering from a broken hard disk. You wait until your hard disk is no longer busy before starting any work, fearing that your hard disk may break down again.

Worry no more for there's a solution to your problem. Software developers from the Linux community has come up with a new operating system that can pose a big challenge to the Windows dominance in the market for home computers. It is known as Linux Mint and you can use it to replace your aging Vista and breathe new life to your  old laptop.

Home computers do not need expensive and full featured operating systems similar to those found in government and business offices. They have no need for sophisticated software programs for the service that they render are simple and straightforward. Linux Mint happens to provide this exact fit for the software requirements of a home computer. It is undoubtedly more superior to your aging Vista in more ways than one but its most astonishing feature is that it won't cost you a penny to use it. Yes, the operating system is free an you can simply download it from the Internet and install it in your laptop.

But before you can use it, you need to make a bootable DVD first. For this, you have to do a relatively large file download. I suggest that you use a Torrent client to download the Linux Mint installation image. To create the Linux Mint boot disc, download the BurnCDCC software and use it to make a boot DVD disc with the Linux Mint installation file as the input. Then you can restart your laptop and during the startup set your BIOS to boot from the DVD ROM drive.

You can test drive first how it will work with your old laptop by running it live from the DVD drive of your laptop. Once convinced of its usefulness and  its fitness to respond to your home computing needs, you can either dual boot Linux Mint with your Windows Vista on your laptop or replace your old Vista totally with Linux Mint. Dual booting allows you to run two operating systems on your laptop by giving you a choice as to which operating system to start when you turn on your laptop. It allows you to accomplish tasks that can only be done on Vista and at the same time gives you a chance to experience a new way of home computing with Linux Mint.

You won't find it difficult to switch from Windows Vista to Linux Mint because the Linux Mint desktop works just like how it is done in Vista with windows representing running applications in your laptop. However, you will certainly feel a taste of Mac like elegance in the way how windows are drawn and the crispness in the way text is displayed on the desktop. You don't need to buy additional software since it comes to you complete and ready to go. You can install additional software from the Linux Mint software repository if you want to include a specific functionality that suits your particular needs.

You also save much needed cash firstly since you may decide not to buy a new laptop and then you get to extend the useful life of your old laptop. And if you really need to buy a new one for your home, you can buy one that has no operating system installed and install Linux Mint on it. You thus generate cash savings that you can use for other important purposes. The savings could be substantial if you think of additional software that you need to buy if you go with a new Windows laptop.

We are grateful to the committed and passionate software developers in the Linux community for giving us an outstanding product that enables us to perform our home computing tasks more easily and more effectively and at the same time enabling us to save some cash that can greatly help us in these times of serious financial crisis. Once you have experience using Linux Mint in your old Vista laptop, perhaps you'll agree with me that Linux Mint is not only astonishing. In one word, it's phenomenal.



March 18, 2012

Turn your Old Vista Computer into a Wireless Print Server

If you have a lot of laptops that are using your printer at home, chances are that members of your family are finding it inconvenient for having to physically connect to your home printer whenever they want to print something. If you have an old Vista computer that is no longer being used, you can turn it into a wireless print server so that your family members can use the printer whenever they please and wherever they may be using their laptop.

Please note that this will only work if your Vista is at least the home premium version. I don't know if this will work in the home basic version but you can check if the options mentioned here are present in the Vista version that you have in your house. The first thing that you need to do is to change the settings in your wireless router to have a static IP address assigned to the Vista computer that will serve as a wireless print server. Somewhere in this website are instructions on how to do this.

The next thing that should be done is to install the printer on the computer that will serve as the print server. You will need to physically connect the printer to this computer through a USB connection. Make sure that the computer is able to print a test page at the end of the installation. Log on to the Vista computer as an administrator and open its control panel. Click on Network and Internet and then click on Network and Sharing Center. At the lower part of the window click the arrow opposite Password protected sharing, click on the Turn off password protected sharing and then click on the Apply button.

Click on the downward arrow opposite Printer sharing, click on the Turn on printer sharing, and then click the Apply button. Notice that the file sharing option has been automatically turned on also. Go back tot he Control Panel home and click on Printer below the Hardware and sound heading. Select the printer that you want to share, right click it, and then click on Sharing. Click on Change sharing options button on the Properties window. Notice that the printer has been already shared. Just click on the OK button and then close all Control Panel windows.

Turn on and log on to a laptop that will be using the wireless print server. Open the Control Panel and click on Printer under the Hardware and Sound heading. Click on Add a printer at the top portion of the window. Click on Add a network, wireless or Bluetooth printer. Highlight the printer to which the printer server is connected and then click the Next button. Click on the Next button and then click on the Print a test page button. Make sure that a printer test page is printed on the wireless shared printer. Close the Printer Test Page window and then click on the Finish button.

Before using the printer, the Vista computer that serves as the print server needs to be turned on. The printer needs to be physically connected through a USB cable to the printer that is being shared. If the computer being used to share the printer is a laptop, you would need to change its power options so that it will stay running for a long time and not to sleep when not being used. The laptop should likewise be plugged in to an electric outlet to ensure that its batteries receive continuous electric power. To use the printer in a wireless mode, advise your family members to choose the network printer instead of a local printer when printing in the application that they are using.

If client computers cannot find the printer that is shared, the most probable reason is that password protected sharing is turned on in the Vista computer that is sharing the printer. Make sure that password protected sharing is turned off in the computer that serves as the wireless print server. Now your family members need not connect physically with your home printer in order to be able to print their documents. Thanks to your old Vista computer that you have found a new use for.



January 23, 2012

Use DHCP Reservation to Minimize Unauthorized Connections to your DLink DIR-300 Wireless Router

If you're living in a condo or an apartment building, it's so easy for your neighbors to make use of your wireless Internet connection especially if you did not configure any security settings in your wireless router. If you're experiencing slow Internet speed when you're surfing, then it could be that a few of your neighbors may be availing themselves of free Internet connection from your wireless router.

There are various ways of minimizing unauthorized access to your wireless router like for example setting up access control and using strong encryption in your security settings. But there is  yet another way by which you can control the number of computers that may access your wireless home network and this is through Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) reservation. I am using the DLink DIR-300 wireless router as an example but this scheme can also be implemented in other brands of wireless routers.

The scheme works by using a customized Internet Protocol (IP) addressing plan that includes few enough addresses but is able to accommodate all the computers that you expect to be connecting with your network. What you will do is to give your DLink DIR-300 DHCP server only one IP address to assign to anyone wishing to connect with your network. You will then assign the first few addresses statically to existing computers in your house and put these in the DHCP Reservation list of your DLink DIR-300 wireless router. If anyone you know wishes to use your Internet connection, then you just use the next available address and enter it together with the machine address of the wireless adapter of her computer in your router's DHCP Reservation list.

Say you have decided to use the IP address range 10.20.30.48 to 10.20.30.63 with a subnet mask of 255.255.255.240 giving you 14 usable addresses for computers in your network. You can then give the highest valid IP address (10.20.30.62) to your DHCP server for giving to anyone that wishes to connect with your network. Then you can assign the first few lower addresses to actual computers in your network and then enter them in the DHCP Reservation list of your DLink DIR-300 wireless router. You cannot use 10.20.30.48 and 10.20.30.63 because they are your network address and broadcast address respectively.

Gather first all the machine addresses of the wireless adapters of all computers in your house. Assign the first available address (10.20.30.49) to your wireless router and the next few addresses to the rest of computers in your network. If you have four computers that will actually use the network, then you would be using up the first five IP addresses in your IP address range.

Open and logon to your DLink DIR-300 web based configuration program. Click on Maintenance at the top portion of the window and then click on Save and Restore on the top left hand side. Click on the Save button and save the configuration file to your hard disk. Click on Setup at the top of the window and then on LAN Setup on the top left hand side of the configuration page. Type 10.20.30.49 on the blank opposite Router IP Address. Type 255.255.255.240 on the blank opposite Default Subnet Mask. Put a check mark on Enable DHCP Server. Type 62 on both of the two boxes opposite DHCP IP Address Range.

Go down to the DHCP Reservation and fill out four random computer names on the Computer Name column, for example computer1, computer2 and so forth. Type the next four IP addresses after the router's address on the blanks under the IP Address column. On the first four blanks under the MAC Address column, enter the machine addresses of the actual computers that are to connect to the network. In Windows computers, you can find the machine address of the computer's wireless adapter by typing ipconfig /all in a command prompt window on your desktop. Put a check mark on the left hand side of the four rows of data that you have entered. Click on the Save Settings button at the bottom of the page.

Restart all computers in your network and check that they are receiving the static IP address reserved for them. Use the ipconfig /all command in a command prompt on Windows computers to find out what IP address and subnet mask had been assigned by your router's DHCP server. If something went wrong and your laptop did not receive the correct IP address, temporarily assign it with the correct IP address using your Windows control panel and restart it so you can access your router again to make the needed corrections. You will have to use the new router's address (http://10.20.30.49) to access the configuration page of your router again. If by any chance you got confused and want to go back to the original setting, you can re-upload the original settings that you have saved in your hard disk. But you have to manually assign a temporary valid IP address, subnet mask, and gateway address (your router's IP address) to your laptop if you want to do this.

If you were able to successfully changed your settings, only one other external computer that is setup to obtain IP address automatically will be able to connect to your network. To connect a friend's laptop to your network, get the machine address of its wireless adapter and enter it together with the next available IP address on the next blank row on the DLink DIR-300 DHCP Reservation list. Put a check mark on the left side of the row and click on the Save Settings button. Now you have more control on which computers to allow access to your network. However, external computers can still connect to your network if they are manually assigned one of the unused IP addresses in your IP address range. Hopefully, not everyone knows how to do this and thus the threat of too many unauthorized external connections is at least minimized.

Read my other article on a simple IP addressing scheme for using DHCP on your wireless home network at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2011/12/simple-ip-addressing-scheme-for-using.html.

Read my other article on how to setup DHCP in your DLink DIR-300 wireless router at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-to-setup-dhcp-in-your-dlink-dir-300.html.

Read my other article on how to maintain connectivity with your wireless router when changing its IP address at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-to-maintain-connectivity-with-your.html.



January 18, 2012

Troubleshooting Vista Connection Problems in a Wireless Home Environment

The key to resolving Vista network connection problem in a wireless home environment is to familiarize yourself with how the network works when you are not experiencing problems. Thus, you would more likely be able to easily identify what is not working if you know how the network should work when you are not experiencing connection problems. In addition, the Vista operating system provides for a diagnostic tool that can guide you as to where the connection problem is and suggests actions that may resolve the problem. You can open your control panel, click on Network and Internet, then click on Network and Sharing Center to view how your computer is connecting to the Internet.

When your network is working normally, you will see three elements on the diagram that is shown on the Network and Sharing window: your computer, the name of your wireless network, and the globe that symbolizes the Internet. You may conceptually remind yourself that the globe essentially represents the network equipments in your Internet service provider. More particularly, your wireless router talks to another router in the premises of your Internet service provider. When nothing is wrong with your wireless home network, the diagram is clean and you don't see any red or yellow symbol that depicts that there is a connection problem. Your wireless network name will also be displayed if you are not experiencing any problem with your Internet connection.

The connection from your computer to your wireless router is an area that is within your control and therefore you can pretty much do whatever is necessary there to resolve your problem. The other half of the connection between your router and your Internet service provider is a shared area that you don't have absolute control of and thus what you can do there is much more limited. In addition, the closer the problem is to your computer, the more serious the problem is, meaning that if the connection between your computer and your wireless router is lost, there is no way that you can connect to the outside world.

Two things must happen for you to be able to access the Internet: your computer must be connected to your wireless router, and your wireless router must be connected to the router in the premises of your Internet service provider. The more common problem that you would be experiencing would be between your wireless router and your Internet service provider's router.

The most common way by which connection is achieved between these two routers is for your wireless router to be able to get valid Internet Protocol (IP) addresses for its use and for use in determining where information packets are to be delivered. Typically, your wireless router asks and receives an IP address that it can use for a specified length of time only and needs to renew the lease before it lapses. This renewal process can take a while to accomplish and you will experience a temporary loss of connection to the Internet. But once the process is complete, connection is quickly re-established.

You can easily find out if such is the case by looking at the log of your wireless router. When you see a series of exchanges between your wireless router's Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) client and the DHCP server of your Internet service provider's router, then a renewal process is happening and you pretty much can't do anything but to wait until the process has been completed. A more common situation is that your wireless router is unable to connect to its Domain Name Service (DNS) server. You can find out if such is the case when you see a red letter X on the line between your wireless router and the globe in the Vista Network and Sharing Center diagram. You can click on the red letter X mark and Vista will inform you that there is something wrong with the DNS operation in your wireless router. This can typically be resolved by opening your router's web interface and renewing the DHCP lease on your router's IP address.

When DHCP is enabled in your wireless router a similar situation can arise when for one reason or another, your computer fails to get a new IP address or fail to renew its IP address from your wireless router. You will know that such is the case when you see a yellow triangle on the line between your computer and your wireless router in the Network and Sharing window of your Vista control panel. Your wireless router will be shown as unidentified and you won't be able to access the Internet at this point. You can click on the yellow triangle to diagnose the problem and one of the actions suggested is to automatically get the required IP addresses from your router. You can click this option to resolve the problem, then wait as the diagram changes to normal as the problem is being solved.

If you want a more technical solution, you can open a command prompt in your Vista computer and run it as an administrator. Type ipconfig /all and check what IP address the wireless adapter of your computer is using. If it belongs to the 169 series of numbers, then your computer automatically assigned that address for itself, failing to find a DHCP server where it can get one that is valid for your network. Enter the ipconfig /renew command and wait for the command's results. You should see that your computer has acquired a valid IP address for your network. Check again your Vista's Network and Sharing Center diagram to confirm that your network is back to its normal operation.

It would be a good idea to wait for a few minutes and let Vista resolve the connection problem by itself before doing any troubleshooting activity. Sometimes, the problem only needs a few more time before being resolved. Try logging off and logging on again or rebooting your Vista computer first and see if the problem goes away. If nothing happens, then it is time to find out where the problem lies and then renew the DHCP lease on your router or on your computer as you determine by looking at the Network and Sharing Center on your Vista control panel.

Read my other article on working quickly while taking care of your Vista computer at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2011/12/working-quickly-while-taking-care-of.html.

Read my other article on shielding your Vista laptop from attacks with a wireless DLink router at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2011/06/shield-your-vista-laptop-from-attacks.html.

Read my other article on why microphone is not heard on the speakers of Vista laptop at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-cant-my-voice-be-heard-on-speakers.html.

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January 9, 2012

How to Maintain Connectivity with your Wireless Router when Changing its IP Address

The fundamental rule for local network connectivity is that computers must be in the same network, meaning they belong in the same Internet Protocol (IP) address range as defined by the network address and its subnet mask. When you change your wireless router's IP address and subnet mask, your wireless Vista laptop loses connectivity with the router.

If you disabled DHCP in your wireless router, and your Vista laptop is configured to obtain IP address automatically, then your Vista laptop cannot connect to your router when you restart it. Your Vista laptop will automatically assign one of unused IP address from 169.254.0.0 to 169.254.255.255 which is the range of automatic private IP addresses established by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).

If you want to connect with your wireless router again, you need to manually assign your Vista laptop with a valid and unused IP address together with your network's subnet mask and the router's IP address as gateway address. You can do this by logging on as Administrator, opening your Vista laptop's control panel, and clicking on Network and Internet.

Click on the Network and Sharing Center and on the left hand portion of the window, click on Manage network connections. Left click Wireless Network Connection, right click it, and click on Properties. Click on Internet Protocol Version 4 and then click the Properties button. Check the Use the following IP address button and enter a valid IP address, your network's subnet mask, and the IP address of your wireless router for Default Gateway. Click on OK, close your Vista control panel and restart your laptop. To continue with configuring your wireless router, open your Internet browser and type the router's IP address on the address bar of your Internet browser.

If your wireless router is setup with Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) enabled and your Vista laptop is configured to obtain IP address automatically, restart your Vista laptop and check if the router has given  your laptop the correct IP address. Open a command prompt in your Vista laptop and enter the command ipconfig /all. Look for your laptop's wireless adapter and make sure that its IP address is as what you expect it to be. If not, then there may be something wrong in your router's DHCP settings.

If the IP address obtained by your laptop is within the valid range of your network's IP address range, then you can just type the router's IP address on your Internet browser and open the router's web based configuration program. If not, then you can temporarily assign it with valid network addresses as described in the preceding paragraphs and restart it. Now, you can once again connect with your wireless router and correct its faulty DHCP settings.

To check if your Vista laptop is getting the correct IP address from the router, manually setup your laptop's IP address by following the steps in the preceding paragraphs and checking on the button labeled Obtain an IP address automatically and clicking the OK button. Close your Vista control panel and then restart your laptop. Perform the IP address checking procedure as described earlier using the command prompt to make sure that your laptop is receiving the correct IP address.

The IANA has set aside several blocks of IP addresses that cannot be used in the Internet and designed for use only in private networks. You can choose from any of these private IP address ranges and customize an IP addressing scheme for your network which will accommodate only a small number of computers using a suitable subnet mask. You can look for IP address tables for these IP address blocks in the Internet and select an IP address range that you can use in your home network. You can then use the lower numbers of this range for static assignment by your router's DHCP server and the higher numbers for dynamic assignment to the rest of computers in your network.

If you find it difficult to work in wireless mode, you can directly connect your laptop to your wireless router using the LAN cable supplied when you bought your wireless router. Connect one end of the cable to the RJ-45 slot in your laptop and the other end to any one of the LAN ports of your wireless router. Now all you have to worry about is that the IP address your router is using and the IP address of your Vista laptop are within the same valid IP address range as determined by your network's subnet mask. Once you have determined that your router's settings are in order, you can disconnect the LAN cable and work in wireless mode again.

The important thing to remember is that computers in a network must share the same network address for them to be able to communicate locally. Routers find out the network address by performing a mathematical operation on the binary equivalents of the IP address numbers and their subnet mask. The resulting product is the network address to which the computer belongs to which is the lowest number in the range that appears in the IP address table when using a particular subnet mask. In performing their function, routers are not really interested in particular IP addresses of computers but only concerned with the network address and the IP address of the routers that belong to that network.

Read my other article on a simple IP addressing scheme for setting up DHCP on your wireless home network at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2011/12/simple-ip-addressing-scheme-for-using.html.

Read an article on how you can recover seamlessly from your laptop's hard disk crash at: http://laptopwriting.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-you-can-recover-seamlessly-from.html.



January 2, 2012

How to Setup DHCP in your DLink DIR-300 Wireless Router

The DLink DIR-300 wireless router has the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server enabled by default. The router is configured to use the 192.168.0.0 network address with the router having 192.168.0.1 as Internet Protocol (IP) address using 255.255.255.0 as the subnet mask. This means that there are 254 available IP addresses that can be used to enable computers to participate in the network.

To limit the number of devices that can join the network, you can use a customized network address range from any of the private address blocks defined by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Using an appropriate subnet mask, you can create a small network that can accommodate the maximum number of computers that you estimate will be joining your network simultaneously. You can use an IP address table that can be found in the Internet to specify a small range of IP addresses with its corresponding subnet mask that you can use for your network.

Once you have determined the correct range of IP addresses to use, you can then divide the IP address numbers into two parts: one part for computers that are to be assigned static addresses and another part for computers that will be assigned dynamic addresses. The last step is the setting up of the DHCP service in your router to reflect the decisions that you have made regarding IP address assignment in your network.

Assigning static IP address means that a computer will receive the same IP address every time that it requests an IP address from the DHCP server. This is implemented in the router by making IP address reservations on the spaces provided on the appropriate configuration page in the router's settings. Computers determined to receive static IP addresses will not suffer from the problem of having all IP addresses being used up by computers seeking network connection.

Computers receiving dynamic IP addresses may suffer from the problem of not being able to join the network because of lack of available IP address that can be assigned to them. Their IP address may change as they are given the next available address once they ask for one from the router. Dynamic IP address assignment is implemented in the router by supplying the router with a range of IP addresses that can be allocated to computers seeking connection to the network. This is implemented by filling the required blanks on the Local Area Network (LAN) setup page on the router configuration web based interface.

Computers that should be assigned static IP addresses are the critical computers in the house like Dad's and Mom's computer as well as any computer that provides services to everyone like a multimedia server or a LAN printer. Also to be given static IP address assignments are computers that are strongly secured whose operating system and security protection are updated. MAC computers, Linux systems, and Windows computers from the Vista version and above may be included in the computers that may be given static IP addresses.

Those that are to be provided with dynamic IP addresses are those Windows computers that are older than the Vista operating system or Vista systems that are not securely protected. Computers belonging to children, grandpa and grandma, and teenagers should be included in the list that should receive dynamic IP addresses. Of course computers belonging to house guests are to be assigned dynamic IP addresses.

The first part of the job is to gather the physical addresses of the wireless adapters of all computers that are to be assigned with static IP addresses. The next step is to allocate the lower numbered addresses to the wireless physical addresses of computers that need to be given static IP addresses. The remaining IP adddresses in the range will then be allocated for distribution as dynamic addresses.

The important data that should be in order are the following: the IP address and the subnet mask to be assigned to the wireless router which should be the lowest IP address in the range or the network address plus one; the wireless physical address of all computers to be assigned static addresses with their corresponding IP address allocation; the range of IP addresses to be distributed as dynamic IP addresses.

Open your DLink DIR-300 configuration web based interface in your Internet browser. Before changing any setting on your DLink DIR wireless router, be sure to save first the current router's settings on your laptop using the Maintenance Save and Restore page of the router's configuration settings. Click on Setup and then LAN Setup and enter the IP address and subnet mask to be assigned to the router. Make sure that the Enable DHCP Server is checked and then enter the range of the last numbers of IP address to be assigned dynamically by the router. This is the range of the IP address numbers that are left after some computers have been allocated the lower numbered IP addresses.

On the DHCP Reservation portion, enter the computer name, IP address, and the wireless physical address of each computer that are to be assigned static IP addresses. Put a tick mark on each line of the blanks that you have filled out. The computer name field is for reference purposes only and need not be the same as the actual computer name, You can use any name that will uniquely identify the computer that you are assigning IP address to. Click on the Save Settings button and wait for the configuration page to come back.

Restart all computers in your network and check if the IP addresses assigned to them are what you expect them to be. Computers that are to receive static addresses should reflect the correct address when you check them in the command prompt using the ipconfig /all command. Those computers that are to be assigned dynamic address should receive one in the range of addresses you have given the DHCP server to distribute.

You have to use the new router's IP address to access again the router's configuration page. If something goes wrong and your laptop did not receive a valid IP address, you can manually assign it the IP address and subnet mask using your Vista laptop's control panel and access the router again for making settings corrections. Correct all configuration errors until all computers are receiving the correct IP address that they should receive.

Read my other article on Internet Protocol addressing for setting up DHCP on your DLink DIR-300 wireless router at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2011/12/internet-protocol-addressing-for.html.

Read my other article on simple IP addressing scheme for using DHCP on your home wireless network at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2011/12/simple-ip-addressing-scheme-for-using.html.

Read my other article on how to maintain connectivity with your wireless router when changing its IP address at: http://publishtoweb.blogspot.com/2012/01/how-to-maintain-connectivity-with-your.html.