NETWORKED AROUND US
The consumer goods marketplace is flooded with an array of devices, all
capable of networking. This has opened up new vistas, which would have
seemed futuristic and far-fetched less than a decade ago. Consumers are
spoilt for choice - you can take your pick from among laptops, tablets,
smartphones, network-attached storages and consoles. What's more, you
can network them in unimaginable ways! You can access your NAS box from
your smartphone and use it to play a movie on your home theatre. In this
chapter, we'll explore the different available avenues out there, for
us to network.
Tablets and smartphones
computers serve as a great replacement when you want to read a book,
watch some videos or just surf the web. However, just like smartphones,
much of the use of tablets is dependent on network connectivity.
Therefore every tablet manufacturer provides network connectivity in
multiple ways such as through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc. You'll learn how to
take advantage of them in later chapters.
simplest and the most common way to connect to a network is using the
Wi-Fi built into the tablet. With Wi-Fi you can not only connect to your
local wireless network, you can also access the net if your network is
connected to the internet. You can surf the web at any Wi-Fi hotspot
which is now common in malls and coffee shops. Most devices are now
shipping with 802.11n Wi-Fi which, as we've already seen, is the fastest
and most flexible of all the technologies.
you don't have access to Wi-Fi all the time you should consider a 2G or
a 3G internet connection from a mobile network provider. This way you
can stay connected anywhere you go. However you will have to pay your
service provider too. Most network providers give you the option of
choosing between various data plans according to your requirements.
There are data plans for 3G as well as 2G but 3G is still pretty
expensive in India and 2G is too slow. Although some mobile network
operators have started testing 4G networks in India, we still have a
long way to go.
know that Bluetooth technology is primarily a means of connecting
wireless peripherals to mobile devices. This includes items such as
keyboards or headsets. This technology can also be used for networking
between devices and sharing an internet connection (commonly known as
tethering). Tethering is a method of connecting a mobile device such as a
laptop, netbook or tablet with a mobile phone or any other mobile
device to share the wireless broadband connection. So you can share your
internet connection on your phone with your tablet via Bluetooth. We'll
learn how to tether different gadgets in the later chapters.
Wireless Base Station
emerging form of wireless connectivity is Wireless Base Station. It
allows an individual to connect a wireless router to a high-speed
wireless network such as a 3G network, allowing other devices that have
standard Wi-Fi to share that broadband connection. You just have to turn
on the device and it connects to your network provider and creates a
portable Wi-Fi hotspot to which several devices can be connected. Tata
Indicom and MTS currently provide this service in India and charge you
around Rs.5,000 for the base unit and monthly charges depending on your
data plan. However if you use these, you can't switch your network
provider. To have this freedom you need to get a Dlink DIR-457 pocket
router. With this you can choose your own network provider, your data
plan and switch network providers just by swapping the SIM card in it.
You'll learn how to use this pocket router in the later chapters.
Attached Storage (NAS) is a dedicated data storage technology, which
can be connected directly to a computer-network in order to provide a
centralised data-access and storage to all compatible network-clients.
In short a NAS is a standalone file-level computer data storage device,
into which you can install one or more internal or external hard disk
drives, and then connect the NAS device directly to your network.
NAS device is given its own IP address. This allows you to configure it
to share the hard drives and their data contents on the network to
other computers and other devices. With a NAS you do not have to have
your computer(s) powered on permanently - your data is always available
on your network and easily accessible from multiple devices. It's also
possible to 'convert' a modest computer into a dedicated NAS device -
we'll be covering this in the latter chapters.
Four cool ways you can use your NAS
we can make out, the principle purpose of the NAS, is to store and
share files on the network. However, the utility of these cool devices
doesn't simply end here.
There are a loads of other things you can do with your NAS:
Ø Streaming media to other computers from your NAS
you have a home theatre PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or other UPnP
enabled device, you can stream media straight from your NAS with just a
The first thing you need to know about is Digital Media
Adapter (DMA, also referred to as Digital Media Receiver). DMA provides
the most elegant way to share audio, photo, and video files between your
PC and your television. The DMA connects to your TV via HDMI, composite
or component video outputs; and it connects to your network via
Ethernet or wirelessly. Once on the network, it can stream media from
your net work hard drive -assuming the NAS box has an UPnP (Universal
Plug and Play) media server embedded, as most of them invariably do. You
can also use a video game console connected to your television, such as
the Sony PlayStation 3 or the Microsoft Xbox 360, to stream the media
from a NAS to your TV.
In order to complete the circuit, you'll need a
router; preferably one equipped with wireless and wired gigabit
ethernet. In most cases, gigabit ethernet provides a smoother playback
experience with high-definition content.
NAS boxes with UPnP media
servers also offer other media-centric features such as an iTunes
server. What this translates into is you can simply store your songs on
the drive, and the iTunes server will create a shared iTunes library
that shows up automatically under the "Shared" heading of the iTunes
navigation panel on your PC, or via your DMA. This little trick saves
you the hassle of adding songs to every iteration of iTunes on your
Ø Backing up data to your NAS
a NAS can hold many large drives, it's a popular option for backing up
data. FreeNAS recommends a software called Rsync for backup, but there
are better alternatives. Microsoft SyncToy, is a case in point. In case
you're a Mac user, you can use Time Machine with your NAS.
Backing up with SyncToy
if you have to back up a folder or even a group of folders on Windows,
you first need to download and install SyncToy. SyncToy is extremely
simple to use: all you need to do is create a new folder pair, using the
"left" folder as the folder from your computer that you want to back
up, and the "right" folder as the folder on your NAS to which you're
backing up those files. You have three different types of sync:
Synchronize, Echo and Contribute.
Ø Synchronize will keep the two
folders in sync at all times, so if you change or delete something on
one side, it will sync those changes to the other side.
Ø Echo will
only sync changes you make from the left side (your com puter)- if you
change or delete anything on the NAS, those changes won't be synced
Ø Contribute does the same thing as Echo, but won't sync over
deletions. This means if you accidentally delete a file from your hard
drive, it will still be on the NAS, and you can go grab it and replace
it. When you're done, you can run your first sync and make sure all the
files copied over correctly.
SyncToy, unfortunately, only
runs when you tell it to, so if we want to automate this process, we'll
have to do it ourselves. Open up your Start Menu and type "task
scheduler" into the search box, and start up Microsoft's Task Scheduler
program. Click "Create New Basic Task" in the right sidebar, give it a
name and set it to run daily. When asked, tell it you want to start a
program. At the next screen, browse into C:\ Program Files \ SyncToy 2.1 folder and choose "SyncToyCmd.exe". Type -R into the Arguments box, hit next and finish setup.
Backing up with Time Machine
you want to back up with Time Machine, you'll need one of the drives in
your NAS shared through AFP instead of CIFS. If you do, you can head
into Services > AFP > Shares on the web interface, edit
the settings for that share, and pick "Time Machine" from the 'Automatic
Disk Discover Mode" dropdown. The next time you open up Time Machine,
your NAS drive will be available as a backup disk.
Note that to do
this, you'll want to mount the NAS drive at logon, which you can do by
opening up System Preferences on your Mac, going to Accounts > Login items
and dragging the NAS drive from your desktop right into the login items
window. That way it will always be connected and Time Machine will be
able to access it at all times.
Ø Downloading torrents using your NAS
of the coolest features of FreeNAS is the ability to download torrents
without the help of another computer. FreeNAS has a version of
Transmission built right in, that can watch folders for torrents and
download them. This means you will never have to worry about keeping
your main computer on, being logged in, or avoid rebooting it. Your NAS
will automatically download all those torrents for you.
In order to
set up BitTorrent support, just open the web configuration of FreeNAS
and select BitTorrent from the Services menu. Click the Enable checkbox
on the righthand side, and specify a Download Directory. This is where
your completed torrents will go. You can also set up a Watch Directory
that will allow you to drop torrent files right into a specific folder
on your NAS and it will immediately start downloading them. You can save
the settings when you're done.
Ø Using your smartphone or tablet with your network attached storage
comes the interesting part - there will be times when you would want to
upload or download files from your network-attached storage device
using your smartphone or tablet computer. You may even treat the NAS
simply as a network transfer point for your data. In this section we'll
tell you how to use your smartphone with your NAS.
How to do it
it comes to shifting or syncing multimedia files like music or images,
different NAS may follow different methods. Some network attached
storage devices may use a web front for the file collections whereas
others may implement certain extensions to DLNA for uploading and
downloading some media files. These environments don't necessarily
provide a consistent or ideal user experience for the
user, due to a number of factors. Typically this is due to a web front
that is optimised for desktop use only. In certain cases, the DLNA
server and client apps may not offer the proper sync or file transfer
SMB file-manager apps
The recommended method for this task is the SMB/CIFS network file handling, because of various reasons:
Ø It's supported by every network-attached storage device thanks to Linux's SAMBA software.
Ø Even the USB-linked file servers support SMB as well as the internet HTTP and FTP file transfer protocols.
This has been a standard for regular computing devices with the
Microsoft Windows Platform, as well as Linux and Apple Macintosh
platform, for a long time.
The platform-based mobile devices have
joined the SMB party through the use of SMB-enabled file-manager apps.
These are typically low-cost or free apps that expose the mobile
device's file system and the SMB file shares (entry points) made
available by computers or network-attached storages.
Listed below are
some of the most popular file manager apps with SMB file transfer
below. You can even find more such apps at the various app stores for
the popular mobile device platforms by using the terms "SMB file
transfer" in your search query.
iOS (App Store)
Intuitive Commander - $0.99
FileBrowser - $4.49
Syncsellence - $5.49, free limited version available
Android (Android Market)
ES File Explorer
File Manager / File Manager HD by Rhythm Software
BlackBerry (BlackBerry App World)
File Expert - $1.99
File Manager Pro by Terra Mobility - $4.99
Arrangelt File Manager by Conceptual Designs - $1.99
It's also worth noting that your NAS's vendor may offer file-transfer
apps for their device on the iOS and/or Android platforms so you can
transfer the files to their device. These programs may also work with
the remote-access functionality that some of the consumer and SMB NAS
units provide. As a result, one can keep login credentials for the
devices and thus streamline the entire remote-access experience.
are the days when LAN gaming was just for computers. You can now enjoy
online gaming with your friends on almost all new gaming consoles. Let's
see how we can network different gaming consoles.
Turn on your wireless network and make sure your PlayStation 3 in
within range. Make sure that the ethernet cable isn't plugged into the
2. Turn on the PS3 console, go to Settings and select "Network and Settings"
Select the Internet Connection-Settings tab and the system will display
a new screen saying you’ll be disconnected from the internet. Select
4. On the next screen, select "Easy" when the system asks you what kind of installation you want to use.
5. When it asks you what type of connection you have; select "wireless".
6. Select "Scan" on the next screen and the console will search for all available networks in the area.
When it completes scanning, select your home net work. Select your
security settings, enter your encryption key and save your settings.
You can test the connection by selecting the "Test Connection" option.
If the connection has been made, your network information will appear on
Do you know
that your PS3 can do more than just online gaming? With a few tweaks to
your settings, and some software set up on your computer, you can stream
music, videos and photos from your computer to your PS3 over your home
To do this, make sure your PS3 is connected to the same
network (via ethernet or wirelessly) as your computer. Then, on your PS3
go to Settings > Network Settings > Media Server Connection and set it to “Enabled”.
Ø If you have a PC with Windows
1. Open Windows Media Player
2. Go to Library > Add to Library
and add folders you want your PS3 to access. All personal folders
(Photos, Videos, and Music) are selected by default, but if you have
media in other folders, add them.
3. Go to Library > Media Sharing, and check Share Media. Press OK, your PS3 to show up as one of the devices in some time. Select it and click allow.
Ø If you have a Mac
You have to install a free software called PS3 Media Server. With this software your Mac will be visible to your PS3
1. Connect to your network
Go to Navigation/Share Settings and uncheck everything in the
Thumbnails section (at the top). Then, at the bottom, add folders you
want yourPS3 to access. You can choose to add your entire hard drive,
but it's advisable only to add the folders that have media.
go to Transcoding Settings and change the Maximum bandwidth to 14 or 15.
Leave it to 0. If you have a very strong network connection.
4. Click Save and Restart HTTP Connection.
Now that we'are done setting up the computers, it's time to move on to your PS3:
Open the Photos, Videos or Music tabs and you will be able to see your
computer name in it. Make sure you're in the right section; you can't
view photos in the video section.
2. When viewing a photo, hit the
triangle button to view extra options, like starting a slideshow of
images in the selected folder.
3. When listening to music, you can keep it playing in the background by hitting the PlayStation (home) button.
You can copy music, photos and videos onto your PS3 hard drive. When
viewing a file, hit the triangle button and select "Copy".
Live is an online multiplayer gaming platform provided and main tained
by Microsoft. To play online on your Xbox you will have to buy an Xbox
360 Wireless Networking Adapter and an internet connection.
After connecting your wireless adapter, press the Guide button on your
controller, go to Settings, and then select "System Settings".
2. Go to Network Settings, select your wireless network and enter your password. You're now connected to Xbox Live.
like the PS3 you can also stream your computer data on your Xbox. All
you need is the free version of the TVersity software and a Wi-Fi
1. The first thing you need to do is make sure that your computer and Xbox are connected to the same network.
After you've installed TVersity, run it and click on the plus symbol on
the top left. Click "Browse" to select the folders you want to stream
from your network hard drive.
3. If you have media in incompatible
format, TVersity can translate it. Select "Transcode" when needed in
the advanced menu to convert media on the fly. TVersity will
automatically start finding and sharing your files over your home
4. Go to your Xbox and navigate to the Music, Picture, or
Video Library where you will see a new category called "TVersity on
[computer name]". Select it and you will be able to see the media stored
on your computer.
Hubs, switches, routers and access points
order to connect computers together on a network, we use a plethora of
devices. These include hubs, switches, routers, and access points; each
of them have different capabilities and serve different purposes. Let's
their bare essence, hubs enable computers on a network to communicate.
An ethernet cable is used to plug each computer into the hub, and
information is then sent from one computer to another through the hub.
One of the glaring drawbacks of a hub is its inability to identify the
source or intended destination of the information it receives. As a
consequence, a hub ends up sending the information it receives to all of
the computers connected to it, including the one that sent it.
Moreover, a hub can send or receive information, but it can't do both at
the same time. This makes hubs slower than switches. On the upside,
hubs are the least complex and the least expensive of these devices.
Technically speaking, three different types of hubs exist:
Ø Passive hubs:Do not amplify the electrical signal of incoming packets before broadcasting them out to the network.
Ø Active hubs:Perform
this amplification. Another dedicated network device which is capable
of amplifying the electric signals is a repeater. Some people use the
terms "concentrator" when referring to a passive hub and "multiport
repeater" when referring to an active hub.
Ø Intelligent hubs:Used
to add extra features that are of particular importance to businesses
to an active hub. An intelligent hub typically is stackable, i.e. it's
built in such a way that multiple units can be placed one on top of
another to conserve space. It also typically includes remote management
capabilities via SNMP and virtual LAN (VLAN) support.
working principle behind a switch is somewhat similar to that of a
hub's. However, switches are capable of identifying the intended
destination of the information that they receive as a result, they can
send that information to only the computers that are supposed to receive
it. Besides, switches can also send and receive information at the same
time; making them much faster than hubs. If your home network has four
or more computers, or you want to use your network for activities that
require passing plenty of information between computers (such as playing
net work games or sharing music), you should probably use a switch
instead of a hub. Switches cost little more than hubs.
with hubs, ethernet implementations of network switches are the most
common. Mainstream ethernet network switches support either 10/100 Mbps
fast ethernet or gigabit ethernet (10/100/1000) standard. Different
models of network switches support differing numbers of connected
devices. Most - consumer- grade network switches provide either four or
eight connections for ethernet devices. Switches can be connected to
each other via a so-called daisy chaining method to add progressively
larger number of devices to a LAN.
are devices which enable computers to communicate. They have the
capability to pass information between two networks - such as between
your home network and the internet. It's this capability to direct
network traffic, which gives a router its name. Routers can be wired
(using ethernet cables) or wireless. Hubs and switches work well if you
just want to connect your computers, however, if you want to give all of
your computers access to the internet using one modem, use a router or a
modem with a built-in router. Routers also typically provide built-in
security, such as a firewall. Understandably, routers are more expensive
than hubs and switches.
Home networkers often use an Internet
Protocol (IP) wired or wireless router, IP being the most common OSI
network layer protocol. An IP router such as a DSL or cable modem
broadband router joins the home's local area network (LAN) to the wide
area network (WAN) of the internet. By maintaining configuration
information in a piece of storage called the routing table, wired or
wireless routers also have the ability to filter traffic, either
incoming or outgoing, based on the IP addresses of senders and
receivers. Some routers allow the home networker to update the routing
table from a web browser interface. Broadband routers combine the
functions of a router with those of a network switchand a firewall in a
points, also known as base stations, are capable of providing wireless
access to a wired ethernet network. An access point can be plugged into a
hub, switch or wired router and can then be used to send out wireless
signals. This enables computers and devices to connect to a wired
In principle, access points act a lot like
cellular phone towers. Just like you can move from one location to
another and still make and receive calls, you can move around and
continue to have wireless access to a network. When you use a public
wireless network in an airport, coffee shop or hotel to connect to the
internet, you're usually connecting through an access point. If you want
to connect your computers wirelessly and have a router that provides
wireless capability, you don't need an access point. Keep in mind that
access points don't have built-in technology for sharing internet
connections. So if you have to share an internet connection, you must
plug an access point into a router or a modem with a built-in router.
very small WLANs can function without access points in so-called "ad
hoc" or peer-to-peer mode, access points support "infrastructure" mode.
This mode bridges WLANs with a wired ethernet LAN and also scales the
network to support more clients. Older and base model access points
allowed a maximum of only 10 or 20 clients; many newer access points
support up to 255 clients.