Tech Talk

You feel the sweat bead up. You’ve put off this decision for months. It will affect your life on a daily basis for years to come. Calm down, it’s just an internet connection. Your options: Cable or an asymmetrical digital subscriber line (ADSL).

Cable is normally faster than ADSL. In terms of pure speed , a cable line can deliver up to 30 Mbps while ADSL can only support up to 8 Mbps. The newest implementation, ADSL2+, can deliver 24 Mbps, but I won’t be holding my breath waiting for it to become available in the near future. Keep in mind though that cable’s 30 Mbps is shared between every user on the line, which could be hundreds, and the fact that most cable companies are still only offering maximum speeds of 6 Mbps. The main problem with cable is that during peak hours you might not be getting all that speed because your whole neighbourhood is sharing the same line. The other problem is that your choice of ISP is limited to cable companies.

While ADSL is slower than Cable, most companies offer a 5 Mbps connection and you don’t share its speed with the rest of the neighbourhood. ADSL speeds do start dropping if you are 2 km or father from your ISP’s equipment and ADSL may even be unavailable if you’re too far away. Another annoyance of ADSL is that you’ll have to install filters on your phone lines, otherwise you’ll have static drowning out your conversations.

So you’ve chosen the type of internet connection you want and you’ve got an ISP. How do you get 2 or more computers to use the same connection? What you need is a gateway, a device that serves to bridge the gap between your home network and the internet. The best solution is to buy a router, which will allow you to connect your broadband modem and your computers. A router will network all your computers so they can talk to each other and share resources, and most importantly so they can all access the internet. Some routers even function as modems too. Routers are relatively inexpensive and almost painless to configure, as long as you’re running Windows 2000 or XP. This also gives you the option to invest a little bit more money to set up a nifty wireless network. Just remember to turn encryption on; you don’t want your neighbours reading your email.

Your second option is turning one of your computers into a router with the Internet Connection Sharing software that has been available since Windows 98 SE. This option may be cost effective if you’ve already networked your computers or have some spare computer equipment lying around, but otherwise it can end up costing just as much as buying a router and can be much more complicated. The biggest disadvantage of turning one of your computers into a router is that it has to be on for the other computers to access the internet. This method is more painful than installing a router, but not all that bad if you have Windows 2000 or XP. If you’re using Windows 98 or ME make sure that you have some eye of newt and chicken’s blood on hand.

With the tips from this column and my last one you should be downloading porn faster than you can watch it…no seriously, like at least 5 times faster.

Link O’ the Week:
Reviews, tests, tools, FAQs and guides for all your networking and internet connection needs.

Webcomic O’ the Week: MegaTokyo by Fred Gallagher
If you could extract and concentrate all the emo from every Death Cab for Cutie album, then multiply that by 1000 and turn it into a webcomic, this would be the result.

Free Application O’ the Week:
My favourite way to download large files.


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