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I'm networked!

Marilyn has been pushing me for two years to network our two PCs so that she can send and receive e-mail on her own PC. Frankly, she was tired of waiting to use my PC connection to the Internet but more than likely, she was tired of reading the off-color humor that many of my friends e-mail me daily.

Why have I procrastinated? Well, like most of you, I felt a little intimidated about the prospect of actually setting up a network — not the installation of the ethernet cards and hooking up the CAT 5+ cable — but the software part of setting up the network, which I’ve always understood to be tricky. Reading previous Comm Corner articles about setting up a home network always left me with a glazed look in my eyes and a further resolve to procrastinate as long as Marilyn would let me.

Finally, this past Christmas, one of my gifts to Marilyn under the tree was a Linksys Cable/DSL 4-port router and 30 feet of CAT 5+ cable. I was finally committed to link our two PCs together.

The week after Christmas, I installed two D-Link Ethernet cards on each of our PCs. After a quick trip back to CompUSA to exchange the 30 foot length of CAT 5+ cable I had estimated I would need for a 50 foot length (strong hint, measure the length around your room where you plan to string the cable before actually buying your “best guess” length).

I hooked up the cable from each PC’s Ethernet card to the Linksys self-powered router, hooked up the cable modem to the Linksys router using a 3 foot length of CAT 5+ cable and then used the Setup Wizard on the Linksys CD-ROM provided in the router box. Also included was a 4-color foldout pamphlet showing a schematic, step by step setup instructions and color photos of where the cables attached.

The Linksys router now showed little green lights indicating both PCs were connected and another green light flashed rapidly mimicking the light on the cable modem showing data transmission. This was going to be a piece of cake.

Immediately upon initiating the Setup Wizard, I got an error message saying, “My computer is not connected to the Internet. Please check my Internet connection.” See, I knew this network stuff would be fraught with huge technical hurdles to jump.

I rechecked each cable connection with the router. All looked OK. I reran the Setup Wizard. Not OK. I got the same error message that the darn thing wasn’t finding the Internet. If it wasn’t finding the Internet, why was that router green light flashing rapidly in sync with my modem light?

Since my computer guru Vade Forrester has always said setting up a network was easy, I decided to invite him over to help jump the technical hurdles that had suddenly presented themselves.

Vade tried the Lynksys Setup Wizard and quickly observed the same error message. He said, “Well, we’ll just use WindowsXP Setup Wizard”. Looking over Vade’s shoulder, he went to Control Panel, clicked on Network Setup Wizard and WindowsXP did its thing.

I had overlooked installing the Ethernet card driver on Marilyn’s PC but that was resolved quickly. 

It was looking like we were networked. I brought Marilyn in and asked her to click on the Internet icon on her PC. She absolutely beamed as she connected to the Internet.

What did this cost me to save my marriage? The Lynksys 4-port Cable/DSL cost $49.99 at CompUSA. 50 feet of CAT 5+ cable was $15.20 and a 3 foot section was $3.82. 

Later that evening, Marilyn looked over at me, smiled and said, “Thank you for getting me on the Internet.” That was worth 70 bucks any day of the week.

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