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Computer Confusion--Help!

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monarch64

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I really hope someone can help me! I feel like a complete idiot...I am buying a laptop through my employer''s computer purchase assistance plan (company buys the comp., gets corp. discount, then gives employee 24 months to pay it off interest free). However, I''m not exactly sure how this laptop/notebook thing works as far as it being compatible with our home PC, which is the same brand but has an older operating system (Windows 2000, I think). The notebook I''m going to purchase has Windows XP, and can be upgraded to Windows Vista. So I guess my question is, will the two computers be compatible? I have to connect my notebook to my home PC modem, right??? Argh, I''m completely and utterly confused. The live chat dude from Dell was really no help whatsoever, I don''t think he understood how totally clueless I really am. He asked me if I was planning to use a network with my desktop and new notebook (what''s a network?), and when I said yes he said he recommended I do it from the most upgraded system for better performance. (what does THAT mean?)
 

sumbride

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It''s the software that needs to be compatible, not really the operating system. XP and 2000 will both use compataible software... like MS office. I''m sure Vista will too, but don''t get that yet!

Your laptop will probably come with a wireless card, so what you will want to do is to set up a home wireless network. This will mean you will need to buy a wireless router (about $40) to hook up to your home modem. You''ll still have the desktop connected via a wire to the modem, but the router will send out a wireless signal that you can use to connect your laptop to the internet. What kind of service do you have at home? Cable modem? DSL? dial-up? That will matter. You''ll probably have to spend some time on the phone with your service provider so that it will allow you to share the connection.

It sounds harder than it is, I promise!
 

monarch64

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Thank God for you brainiacs! Sumbride, you make it sound so easy, LOL! We have DSL at home. So basically I need a wireless card and a router, and then I need to talk to the Comcast people (our DSL provider) to get a shared connection, right? Thanks again for your advice!
 

codex57

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You don't need to talk to Comcast (likely). Just read the instructions on the router. Generally, it should be plug and play. However, I HIGHLY suggest you put in a password on the router (otherwise, anyone can use your internet access including a pedophile next door causing you some unwanted police attention). That will require some minor work, but it's all shown in the router instructions and actually quite easy.

Err, if you're thinking of Windows Vista (should come with a free upgrade coupon), you have to make sure it can really handle Vista. There are differing levels of Vista "readiness". The basic minimum is to make sure it's going to come with 1 Gig of RAM.
 

sumbride

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Yup, that''s about all there is to it. The key thing is to buy a wireless router and follow the instructions that come with it. There are a few areas where you may need help from your DSL provider, such as IP address sharing, but for the most part it''s pretty straightforward these days. If the tech person you speak to at Comcast doesn''t want to help you, keep calling back until you get someone that does!

Netgear and Linksys make really good and affordable routers. Go to Amazon and read up on them. Sometimes the feedback can give you tips on trouble areas. You can also google "home network setup" and come up with lots of info. I looked at a lot of guides but can''t tell how much you know or don''t.
 

sumbride

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Date: 12/12/2006 1:10:34 PM
Author: codex57
You don''t need to talk to Comcast (likely). Just read the instructions on the router. Generally, it should be plug and play. However, I HIGHLY suggest you put in a password on the router (otherwise, anyone can use your internet access including a pedophile next door causing you some unwanted police attention). That will require some minor work, but it''s all shown in the router instructions and actually quite easy.
Definitely password protect your network. I use my neighbors all the time when I''m in the basement and can''t access mine.
 

monarch64

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Thanks Sumbride and Codex! I ordered the Linksys router and the notebook does come with a wireless card. And I will definitely use a password on the router.
 

elsie

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Good advice from sumbride and codex. For extra-paranoid protection, I''d also recommend that you don''t broadcast your wireless network name (should just be a setting that''s mentioned in the manual of the router). What this means is -- when your laptop has a wireless card, it can list the different networks that it can find in the area (usually your network as well as the networks being broadcast from any wireless router closeby -- like your neighbors''). If you don''t broadcast the name of your network, then the network won''t even show up in the list (so your neighbor won''t even know you have a wireless signal). The only way to connect to it is if you know the exact name of the network.

Enjoy your new computer!
 

strmrdr

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If your going to use it for work or online banking you need the wireless secured with wpa2 at a min.
Know any high school or college kids?
Have them find ya the resident computer geek and pay him or her $30 and a pizza to set it up and secure it properly.
 

codex57

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Most high school or college geeks I know would do it for just a couple of slices of pizza. Don''t even need the $30.
I still make my college roommate do house calls occasionally. Even to my parents house since he''s in the same city. Granted, I''ve been friends with him since 7th grade and he was one of my groomsmen, but I still don''t pay him for his computer help.
 

monarch64

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Date: 12/12/2006 5:30:38 PM
Author: strmrdr
If your going to use it for work or online banking you need the wireless secured with wpa2 at a min.
Know any high school or college kids?
Have them find ya the resident computer geek and pay him or her $30 and a pizza to set it up and secure it properly.
Wha...t? What''s a wpa2? Um, a man I work with actually has two sons in that age range. I will see if they can help.
 
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