Friday, April 25, 2008

Connect to the authority with authority part 2 (read part 1)
Wireless In the previous article I described the different parts that need to be working so you can connect to the Internet. But it would be helpful to see what it looks like when it is working. Let's start with the actual visuals, and also with wireless. In windows XP when you are connected to a wireless network, you should have a small icon in your System Tray (the System Tray is the area next to the "clock" on the bottom right of the screen) showing that you are connected. It is not necessarily visible by default, you need to tell Windows to show it to you when connected.
This is what it looks like:
If you don't see it, please turn the "show me when connected" option on by:
  1. Click on Start
  2. Click on Control Panel
  3. In Control Panel, "double click" the "Network Connections" icon
  4. Find the Icon called "Wireless Network Connection"
  5. Right click on it, and select "Properties"
  6. There are two check boxes at the bottom:
    • "Show icon in notification area when connected"
    • "Notify me when this connection has limited or no connectivity"
  7. Put a check mark in each of the boxes
  8. You can select OK.
This is what is should look like before you click OK:
You should now see the icon in the System Tray, and if you are connected to a Wireless Network you should be able to see it plainly. So that is visible evidence that you have a "connection". Lets look at three settings:
  1. An IP address for your Wireless connection, along with the "mask".
  2. The Gateway address
  3. A DNS server address
The easiest way to do this if the Wireless icon is visible, is to right click on it, and select "Status". There are two tabs, on is the General tab where you can actually see the status. Signal strength, the name of the Wireless network you are connected to, and in/out traffic.
This is what the General tab looks like:
Select the second tab, the Support tab. There you will see your IP address, the Mask and the Gateway addresses. But to see the DNS, you have to go one more step and click on the button called "details". Now you will see even more information, including towards the bottom of the list a "DNS" server address.
This is what the Support tab looks like:
This is what the Details Look like:
Write down the numbers for the IP address, the Gateway, it well help you with the next exercise. OK, so far you have seen all the things that should be there. Let's go step farther by seeing how the connection is working. Start a command window. You can do this by clicking on "Start", select "Run", and in the box that appears type "cmd" and then click on "OK". We are going to use two commands "Ping" and "Tracert". Ping is like a sonar, and Tracert is a trace of a route from point A to point B. Ping We are going to ping:
  1. Your own machine
  2. Your gateway
  3. Your DNS server
  4. An Internet address
First Ping your own machine by pinging 127.0.0.1 (loop back) - now this not your assigned address, but it is a good way to tell that the IP protocol is properly working on your machine.
This is what it looks like:
Next Ping the IP address of the Gateway. This tells you that you at least can get to the door that leads to the Internet.
This is what it looks like:
Next Ping the IP address of the DNS server. This tells you that the DNS is reachable.
This is what it looks like:
Next Ping a web site. One that I often use is www.yahoo.com.
This is what it looks like:
Next use a special Ping command. Use it this way. Instead of Pinging the web site name, ping the actual address with the -a option. This should return the "name" of the address. This tells you the DNS is working because you could have every address correct, but if DNS can't give you back a name of the web site, you will not be able to surf. In that case the DNS is having problems. In my example I actually used the DNS address itself. You can actually use the same number because it is "a free DNS" server on the Internet. Or you can do an IP address that you know belongs to a real Web Address. The point is, that you should see the name on the first line. Like below: "Pinging resolver1.opendns.com ..... That first part is the name being returned to the IP address being pinged.
This is what it looks like:
Tracert A good thing to also do is to use Tracert to follow the path to a Web Destination. This shows you the path from point A to point B. I used Yahoo again. Notice that it went through each "hop" OK until it got to its destination, and it says "Trace Complete". Each number is a "hop" through a router interface.
This is what it looks like:
One more thing to look at while things are working:
  1. Double click the wireless icon in your system tray.
  2. Click on the "View Wireless Networks"
This is what you should see:
The main thing to notice is that where is says "connected" and the signal strength. Also the "name" of the network you are connected to. The name is referred to as an SSID. Your connection should look similar to the screen shot above.
I concentrated in this article on the "Wireless" connection and what things looks like when everything is working. In the next article we will look at when it is not working. If you connect with a "Wired" connection or a "Modem" you can still use most of the same commands above to see how things are suppose to look like. Delco

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