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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wicked Wireless Networks

By Sandy Cosser

People spend most of their working hours on computers, then go home to their pcs and spend more time mucking around on them. Laptops have become more affordable to the average Joe. It's not unusual to see people in coffee shops, sipping a latte' and typing furiously away. As our lives become more hectic, we constantly seek convenience, which, ironically, tends to increase the pace. With the birth of wireless networks we finally have the means to work everywhere, and no one has an excuse for being out of the loop. Good news for workaholics; bad news for all those who work for them.

Wireless networks, or WiFi, function in much the same way as two-way radios. A wireless adapter converts data into radio signals, which are transmitted via an antenna to a wireless router. The router decodes the signal and uses a wired Ethernet connection to send the data to the Internet. The process is simply reversed when data is sent back to the computer.

Having wireless adapters on your pcs and laptops is all good and well, but they're useless without WiFi hotspots. When you're in a hotspot your computer just needs to be switched on with the wireless connection enabled, for it to locate a network, which you can then connect to. Some cities are working to create hotspots that span the entire municipality, so that residents can have easy, reliable and inexpensive Internet access wherever they go. Hotspots are completely inconspicuous; the only way you'll know that you're in one is if you spot the signs advertising their presence.

Hybrid wireless networks offer the best of both worlds. Hybrid networks make it possible to connect your pc to a wired network and establish a second, wireless connection to your laptop. The process is a little more complicated than establishing a purely wireless network, especially if you use an old operating system such as Windows 95 or 98. But the potential benefits far outweigh the potential problems.

A step further along the road of convenience is the Apple iPhone. Instead of lugging a laptop around with you, all you need to stay connected is your phone. Apple's iPhone enables you to keep up to date with news from Digg and follow your favourite blogs. You can browse through an assortment of web apps and can store one on each of your nine home screen pages. The iPhone even has capacity to show movies and TV programmes. If you don't have the time to read, simply download an audio book and work your way through the most current best sellers.

Rumours of a Gphone, Google's answer to the iPhone, have been around for over a year. The Gphone will allegedly allow users access to Google search maps, gmail, and Blogger, and that's just the beginning. Concrete information about the Google Phone is virtually impossible to come by, and Google remains curiously tight-lipped about the whole matter. This suits gossip mongers just fine as they continue to speculate about the phone's release, competition between Google and Apple, and the myriad of features that the Gphone is bound to have.

Wireless networks are not the way of the future; they are firmly established in the here and now. Science fiction writers of long ago dreamt of a future where technological devices communicated with each other and effortlessly exchanged information. We live in an age where that dream is a reality. Bluetooth, wireless networks and computer/phone hybrids such as the iPhone have made our lives significantly easier and that, in the words of Ron Weasely, is "wicked".

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Sandra wrote this article for the online marketers Star Business Internet internet service provider and website hosting one of the leading Internet service companies specialising in business website hosting in the UK


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