Have you ever thought about networking your computers at home? If you have a small collection of computers around the house (and a small collection of computer users), you can connect each one of those computers to one another and share data, software, and hardware including a single Internet connection. There are many creative uses for home networking, however it’s an ideal situation when upgrading each computer to the same capability is financially out of the question. On a home network, each computer has access to the equipment of the better machine in the group as if that equipment were their own.
Connecting computers with either an Ethernet cable or a Wireless connection can create a home network. The easiest and cheapest method uses an Ethernet connection, which requires a series of network cards, a cable for each computer, and a router. The network card is similar to the old modems we used in the past to connect to the Internet, however in a home network, it’s used to communicate with every computer that’s connected to it.
You’ll want to first, select the computers that will connect to each other and then install the network cards inside each of them. Then you’ll connect a cable to each computer that will communicate with the server. These cables won’t connect to the server directly. Instead, they’ll connect to the router. To enable Internet access for each computer, this router will need to connect with a modem of the host machine.
Once the hardware is set up correctly (you’ll need to read the instruction manual of your equipment for details), you can then setup the network from Windows on each machine. Within Windows, you can set up a home network similar to the way that you set up an Internet connection. Only this time, you’ll set up a LAN (Local Area Network) connection.
Windows should walk you through setting up a LAN after starting the computer and once complete, you can begin to connect one of your machines to the network. You can do this through Internet Explorer by typing in the address and password required to access the router (the address and password required to access the router will be in the router manual).
Connected to the network, each computer can send files back and forth, open programs on a remote computer, play the sound files and videos located on another computer, and share a single Internet account to browse the web, download files, or chat with someone in an entirely different country. If a single printer is available on only one computer in the network, every connected PC can send documents to it and print them out. Kids will enjoy the ability to play multi-player games and adults will enjoy the ability to blast a single message to everyone at once or maintain a group schedule.
Since we’re describing a home network that will connect to the Internet, you’re strongly advised to install a protective firewall program to thwart Internet viruses, worms, or other damaging spyware code. Firewalls prevent – but they don’t repair. Only anti-virus and anti-spyware programs can reverse damage. So you should install a firewall on the computer that grants access to the computer, and then install an anti-virus and anti-spyware program on each of the remaining computers in the network.
If you have files that shouldn’t be shared (bank statements, credit card information, etc.), you can restrict their access in one of several ways. You can put them in a new folder and then remove the “read” permissions for that folder. Or you can specify who can (and who cannot) access specific files with a password from within Windows Control Panel.
Open Source Software
If you’ve spent any lengthy amount of time on the Internet, you’ve probably heard of open source software but might not have fully understood what it is and why it even exists. This article will describe this recent phenomenon and describe some of its benefits for the software using community.
In a nutshell, open source software is software made by everyone – for everyone. The hopes behind its development is that through its open access, it will evolve into something that represents the true desires of computer users. Through a wide network of user involvement, the software in question is enhanced and debugged without costs or administrative politics.
Traditionally, software is developed behind closed doors. A team of professional coders build it but the community at large isn’t part of its conception. It’s costly to produce and as you can probably guess, that cost is passed on to the end user: the consumer. Open source software on the other hand is free. Free to download, free to install, free to use, free to modify, and free to share.
Started over twenty years ago, it’s a phenomenon that is gaining in both popularity and exposure. In its first conception, open source gave birth to the World Wide Web as we know it today. The Internet as a whole is the result of free permission to access the web, use the web, contribute to the web, and share the web with others. But it certainly hasn’t stopped there. In the not too distant past, Netscape converted its once commercial version of its Navigator web browser to open source. And today, open source is venturing into the commercial realm as well.
At first thought, the idea of open source may sound just plain crazy to those who earn a living from software development. But the facts point to a different prediction. Open source software puts companies in a terrific position to re-brand and re-position themselves in a market that they may have not been able to reach before. In the business world, open source is all about image and when consumers witness corporations contributing (instead of selling) to the buying public, they gain big favor in the eyes of their users (plus tremendous opportunities to sell other items).
Inviting the public inside a product’s development builds community and trust. It also sets the platform for increased reliability. Fans of open source programs are adamant about reliable software and highly criticize commercialized versions for being buggy and error-prone. Avid fans even proclaim commercialism is the cause of shoddy software.
Another benefit that open source brings to light is the speed at which its products are developed, enhanced, supported and distributed. This is because the people who regularly contribute to an open source product do so for unmotivated reasons (other than perhaps to feed the ego.) They’re highly talented, they’re available, and they care. Bringing money into any project can almost mean instant death. It can kill motivation, desire, and a true willingness to create a good product. In a commercial setting, participants work for a paycheck rather than for the product. And this is what puts open source projects far ahead of its monetized competition.
As a software user, this means you can contribute to an open source project as well, and help to develop it into a product that reflects your direct preferences. You aren’t “stuck” using open source software the way you would be stuck using an expensive word processor or database. You have the same access to open source software as its programmers have and in essence, you are your own customer!
Perhaps at this point you’re wondering where you can get in on this wonderful opportunity. There are plenty of open source opportunities sprinkled across the Internet and they can be easily found though any search engine. Google “open source project” and you’ll be sure to find more resources than you can shake a stick at!
Protecting Children Online
Steps Toward Making Your Computer “Weirdo-Proof”
It’s an unfortunate fact of reality, but children are the most victimized computer users on the Internet today. The good news is that there are some practical steps you can take to protect your children from sexual predators, hackers, and other seedy individuals who want to cause harm. This article will describe a few of them.
The first step in protecting your children at the computer is to prevent their access to passwords. This will keep them from sharing passwords with others and inadvertently enabling hacking into your system. If you think about it, there’s no reason why a five, seven, or even twelve year old needs to know the passwords to sensitive areas on the computer unless you’ve given them permission! In fact, children don’t need to know the password used to access the Internet either. It may be a hassle to type it in each time they want to get online, but it’s better to know the times that they connect than to have them sneak online without your permission and knowledge of their activities.
The second step towards protecting your children online is using the computer together. Siting next to your child while he or she peruses the Internet, you can guide him or her to make safe and intelligent decisions. You can approve websites and bookmark them together. You can monitor the conversations your children have with their friends and teach them appropriate online behavior at the same time. You can make recommendations and create a private time for quality time as well.
The third step involves blocking access to inappropriate areas altogether. You and your children may not always agree about what’s appropriate, but as a guardian, you’re in control and you’re ultimately responsible for their safety. Take the time to investigate software tools that put you in control and allow you to block access to certain websites. If you use an online service like AOL (America Online), you can use its internal Parental Control settings to block access to various chatrooms and websites. You could even block instant messaging and email from anyone who isn’t a fellow AOL user.
Other tools available online operate similar to the way that AOL’s Parental Control settings work, however no collection of tools could replace the reinforcement of mom and dad. Never let your children speak with strangers and never leave them alone at the computer unattended. Children just don’t have the experience that adults have and they don’t have the skills required to handle inappropriate conversations, emails, or images found online.
NOTE: Some of these tools include kid-specific web browsers that will visit pre-approved websites. Others include browser plug-ins that won’t allow access to online areas that contain forbidden keywords.
Another step requires teaching your children to never ever volunteer personal information. Under no circumstances, should children give their personal names, home addresses, phone numbers, or school information to anyone over the Internet regardless of the situation. In the even this information is required to enter a contest of some sort, be sure that you’re the one who makes the decision to supply it and that you’re the one who does it.
Performing all of these steps won’t be easy. However you can help minimize resistance to your monitoring efforts by explaining why you’re taking these precautions. Smaller children will probably enjoy the time you spend together at the computer, but older children and pre-teens may resent it. To help build a case for your concern, you might want to show your older children a few news stories that exemplify the dangers that unsupervised children are exposed to. The newspaper is unfortunately full of examples but with your help, we can reduce them world-wide.
Computer Training And The United States Military
The US Armed Forces has not always been as accessible as it is today in terms of information. Prior to the internet era, computer training was more of a luxury than the accepted norm. Manuals and directives were kept in paper form and was dependent on timely submission of changes and modifications. Service records were kept in the same manner. This system of record keeping was often tedious and even counter-productive. The military recognized this as a problem, but were not technologically advanced enough to solve this problem. Eventually, force reductions and other factors created an even bigger problem: records management without trained personnel.
Another problem began to surface as it relates to educating personnel. As anyone who served in the US Armed Forces, pre-internet era, knows it can be very difficult to obtain a formal college education. Considerations had to be made for duty schedules, missions, deployments and other things. The typical method of obtaining non-traditional education was through correspondence courses. While this was relatively inexpensive to the student, it was also very dependent upon the US Mail. Lost certificates, or course materials was a major problem. All of this often cost members points toward promotions. Eventually, top military leaders determined that online computer training was the way to go.
Online computer training would be another step towards taking the military training program from the 20th Century right into the 21st Century. Taking the military online would not only alleviate this problem, but would help prepare the military for other advances in technology.
In order to accomplish this task, the military had to recognize shortfalls and make steps towards alleviating them. Realizing that the military had members who were computer savvy, and trainable aided in the transition, however there were not enough personnel available. Often, members who had obtained computer training while in the military were leaving for higher paying jobs in the civilian sector.
The first step the military took to move forward with technology was to establish a military occupational specialty (MOS) for computer programmers. The military actively recruited from technical colleges, often offering monetary incentives to prospects. Incentives included: traditional tuition assistance and bonuses. These members were provided with computer training; hardware, software, networking and more. In addition to programming, members with that MOS were charged with maintaining computer networks. Individual commands created their own Information Services Management Offices (ISMO) composed of computer trained members. Through ISMO’s local commands were connected via local area networks (LAN) and wide area networks (WAN). This proved to be a very intelligent move on the part of the military.
Once established, members holding this MOS were offered incentives to remain in the military service; bonuses, guaranteed duty station assignments, among others.
Having computer trained personnel in the military has provided the military with the ability to keep pace with technology. With the advent of the internet, and the subsequent technology explosion came several more advances. These advances have allowed the military to create online environments. Through these online endeavors, the military has stream-lined record keeping practices and made online computer training available to it’s members across the globe.
With all of these advances, the US Armed Forces has become a military force of the future.