Home, Sweet (Networked) Home

Whether you're a tech pro or just a beginner, connecting your home pcs is an easy way to achieve domestic tranquility

it sounded like the easiest solution. After purchasing an additional 50 feet of Category 5 (Cat 5) cable, Jones connected the computers to the Netgear router and then connected the router to the DSL modem.

“I was amazed at how easy it was to set up the network,” says Jones. “The router is very small and light, so space is not a problem. I have the Netgear router connected to two PCs and one laptop computer. Michael and Malcolm use the router to surf, download games, research topics for school projects, and send video e-mails and photos.”

The biggest improvement the wireless network has brought the family is in the area of productivity. The couple can use their computers at the same time and have access to the Internet 24 hours a day. They can both work in peace–for a while at least. Michael and Malcolm are now preparing to lead air combat missions over the Internet with their flight simulator.

Like Jones and Hegeman, Alonzo Ellis, 28, who resides in Tracey, California (about 45 minutes east of San Francisco), decided to go with a wireless solution. Ellis, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Imperito Networks, was introduced to the benefits of home networking while in the IT division at CitiCorp, where he concentrated on information security. Ellis uses his wireless setup with his DSL connection supplied by Pacific Bell. The house, which is only a year old, is wired for Cat 5 cabling. “My PC at home can sit on the corporate LAN and have access to the Internet, and it’s all done securely. Anything that I would normally be able to do inside the corporate environment, I can do right here at home,” says Ellis.

Ellis and his fiancée, Kalena Alston-Griffin, 25, use one desktop machine that acts as a server, and two laptops. Each laptop has a wireless Ethernet connection to communicate with the wireless access point at the server, which is wired for high-speed Internet access. For Ellis, security was a serious concern
. “Although the wireless solution does have its own security, it’s very easy to break and has a lot of flaws in it. I run Imperito VPN [virtual private network] software on top of it. I also use a personal firewall because once you connect to the Internet, someone who’s listening can connect to your computer. You’re a sitting duck if you’re on the Internet without VPN software and a personal firewall,” warns Ellis.

Ellis says that he chose the Netgear wireless solution, even though it wasn’t the cheapest, because he didn’t want to have to worry about connecting any cables to the wall. Although the system has been dependable, there were some problems in setting it up, he admits. “The DSL signals will sometimes conflict with the phone signals, and then you won’t get the best performance. Sometimes the lines will drop,” he explains.

Overall, because of the networking solution, Ellis finds himself being more productive. “Before I installed the networking devices, if I

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