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Monday, September 18, 2000
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Networking to make the Net work

Networking to make the Net work 

For individuals, networking means sharing of information with another computer, sharing of the Internet with another PC and remote-controlling another PC, says Roli

THE whole world today is a complex network. Almost everything is a network of its very own constituents. Telecommunication, electricity, railways or for that matter, airways. Every infrastructural conglomerate has a network of its own.

This applies equally well to the world of computers. One may not feel it at an individual level, but computers have a lot to do with networking. After all, a single computer in itself is a network of various components. However, in computing parlance, the word network referred to the linking of two or more computers with each other or to a common base called server. Ever since personal computers or PCs became popular, networking also gained prominence and today, networking has become as important as PCs themselves.

The world of networking is extensive and it covers local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN). However, this kind of networking is important for corporates, big business establishments and industry, where experts are available to tackle networking issues. For individuals, networking means sharing of information with another computer, sharing of the Internet with another PC, and remote-controlling another PC. Such issues would be discussed here.


Connecting PCs locally: Basically, the term networking is subjective for individuals. One person might be interested in remote-controlling his PC through networking while another might be interested in simply sharing an Internet connection with another computer, using the same modem, telephone line and Internet connection. In both cases, networking requirements are different. All major issues related to networking for individuals need to be evaluated separately as there is no common solution

Thus if someone is interested in sharing the work between two computers then the most basic form of network, i.e. direct cable networking, could be a good solution. For direct cable networking, no additional hardware is required, so in order to connect two computers one just needs a parallel port to parallel port cable or serial port to serial port cable. Once two PCs are connected with the cable, a direct cable connection from the accessories menu of programme function on both computers can be initiated. However, despite the powerful and cost-effective features, this program suffers from some limitations. Since this feature works in similar environment, thus two computers with different environment cannot be connected. Moreover, only two PCs can be connected using this facility. If you have three or more PCs and wish to connect these with each other, you would require LAN cards, which would be installed in all computers to be networked. Using the LAN card you can actually connect as many computers you want. All that is required is configuring these LAN cards under network.

If you prefer to install the LAN cards, then you can also share the Internet on computers locally by using the same modem, telephone line and the Internet connection. Thus, in a way one can divide a single Internet connection between many users. To share a connection, all you need to do is make a proxy server, through which the Internet access to other computers could be routed. Moreover, a hub, which will connect other PCs with the server, would also be required. Monetarily, neither the LAN cards nor hub is expensive. They facilitate data transfer at a good speed and are a perfect solution for both local area networking and also local sharing of the Internet. However, this sharing has some limitations. Since the bandwidth accessed from the dial-up is limited and slow, upon sharing it becomes slower still. In case of an ISDN connection or a good speed dial-up connection, this alternative would work better. Although there are additional hardware products to solve the low bandwidth problem, yet looking at the cost associated with them, it becomes commercially unviable for individuals while it could be an excellent solution for the corporates.

Connecting PCs through telephone lines: This is a popular form of networking. The Internet is basically networking with the largest network of computers in the world. Thus, networking through telephone lines is an effective way to connect two or more computers. To initiate dial-up networking with other computers, programmes like Hyper terminal, ProComm Plus and Cute FTP, are required. In this form of networking no extra hardware is required, except for the modem. Using the HyperTerminal or ProComm one can directly call the other computer and get connected. Thus files, folders and any other information between the two computers can be shared. Dial up networking is, in fact, one of the most effective yet an "often ignored" concept, which normally finds its use and relevance in case of the Internet only.

By using the dial-up networking, a computer can be called up directly to get connected and access the entire resources of the shared computer. This works just like having a LAN on the system. However computers have to be configured at both ends. You can also join a LAN network, using dial-up networking. Even if away from office, you can simply make a call and get hooked.

Remote-controlling the other PC: Networking has uses, which may even go beyond the wildest of imagination. By remote networking, you can work in your office without actually being there. It enables you to operate the computer from any remote corner of the earth. Not only that. You can also open any programme and work on it and can actually see the screen of the remote PC on your computer. This is possible by using software like Symantec Corporationís PC Anywhere, Remotely Anywhere, and Reach Out, besides some other software. However, the best is PC Anywhere. This software can be bought from www.symantec.com. It has easy and a user-friendly interface with many options to initiate a network. You can use normal dial, LAN or direct cable connection as modes of initiating a network with the other computer. Through this software, you can also transfer files between two computers, either manually or automatically. There could be several other imaginative ways of using the software, which would prove valuable. One such use could be watching the office activity from a remote place. If you have a digital camera installed on the remote PC, then you can actually see whatís happening in the office in your absence? All that would be required is getting connected to the office using PC Anywhere and activating digital camera on the remote PC. Since you will able to see the screen of the remote PC on computer monitor, thus you can also watch the activity of the office on your PCís screen. However, due to low bandwidth connection the images may not be very clear and video may be jerky.

Simila- rly you can also get connected to any part of your organisation using this software. This is a definitive value-addition to the close-circuit TV as in the case of the latter you can only have access within an organisation. Networking has several other uses but as stated earlier, it is subjective, depending upon individual requirements.