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June 2013The monthly newsletter by Felgall Pty Ltd

My Word

Network Devices

Only a few years ago most people didn't have a network at home. Mostly they had one computer that was connected to the internet that was shared between family members. In some cases there might be a second separate computer without an internet connection.

Things are totally different now. Now a much larger number of homes have their own computer network with not only two or more computers connected up to have internet access but with other devices attached as well. Also in many cases the network is not completely hard wired with at least some devices connecting to the home network wirelessly.

There are two reasons for using wireless as a part of your home network. Firstly there are portable devices that you might use at home and also elsewhere. You don't really want to be plugging and unplugging these devices with different networks where a wireless setup allows the device to connect to whichever network you have access to at your current location. Secondly the devices you now want to connect together are not all in the same room but can now be found scattered through the house where connecting them together wirelessly is easier than having your entire house rewired for computer networking.

The biggest issue with using wireless rather than wired connections on your network is security. I remember a while ago many complaints because the Google vehicles used to take all the photos for their streetview option with their maps also listened in on wireless networks as they passed. Now they would only have been ale to listen in on open wireless networks that are configured to allow anyone to use them. With an open network not only could Google listen in on what you were doing at the time they passed but your neighbours can also connect all their devices to your network and make use of your internet connection for their own purposes. What you really need with your home wireless networking is a closed network where a code needs to be entered on each device so that they can connect to the network wirelessly and where that code is used to encrypt the data between the various devices. Google could not listen in on networks configured this way as hey don't have everyone's network code and your neighbours would only be able to connect to your network and use your internet connection if you gave them the code. So if you are using wireless networking make sure you have it configured correctly so that others can't use it without your permission.

There are all sorts of devices that can now be connected to your home network with more types of devices being released every year. Probably the most obvious are desktop computers, laptop computers, printers, tablet computers, network storage, and mobile phones. There are many other devices that you can connect though that you may not even think of as computers. Game machines such as Xbox and Playstation connect to your network both to allow games to be updated and also to allow multiplayer games with people from all over the world. Personal Video Recorders (PVRs) also require connection to the internet so that they can be programmed to record the shows that you told the PVR service web site that you like without your having to check the program guide to see what is on (which is the difference between a PVR and other devices for recording tv shows where you need to identify the individual shows to be recorded instead of being able to select entire genres). Even some televisions and bluray players can now be connected to your network allowing you to stream television shows from the internet to watch them when you want if for some reason your PVR didn't record them.

Other household appliances are also in the process of becoming computers. Internet refrigerators are now available that allow you to easily track their contents and which can place orders for you automatically when stocks run low. While I can't see people racing out to replace all their household appliances with versions that can connect to their home network in the near future I also wouldn't attempt to predict what applications to make use of that connection might be developed to make such a connection more desirable.

With all the devices around the home that can be connected to your network and the additional functionality that the devices provide if you supply a network connection it certainly makes sense to install a home network now if you haven't had one before.

On Site

Plenty of variety this month with updates to a couple of my PHP scripts, a couple of reviews and pages on HTML and JavaScript. I am not sure at this stage just what new topics I'll be covering in coming months as I have yet to decide on just what tutorial series to add next. If you have any preferences please let me know.

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