All the peripheries of networking including best practices, an array of cool apps for your smartphone and a look at virtual private networks

A look at apps: iPhone and Android

Sharing an internet connection is okay, but do you know that you can use your phone to control your computer? Or use your computer to send text messages via your phone using your computer? By installing a few innovative apps, you can make full use of the potential that your phone has to offer.
First let's take a look at some useful Android apps.
Android apps
Wi-Fi Keyboard

This tiny app gives you the freedom to use your computers keyboard to type your SMS. After you've installed the app, go to Settings > Language and Keyboard and check "WiFiKeyboard". Touch "Select Input Method" and select "WiFiKeyboard" to set it as your default keyboard.
To use this, you must connect your phone and compute to a Wi-Fi network. Once connected, open your browser and go to If you want to type a message, open New Message on your phone and while the text box is highlighted, start typing in your browser to see the text in your phone.
To go back to your default keyboard, long press the text field and select "Input Method" and select your default keyboard.

You might already use this to share files with your friends on your computer but now you can use it to share files on your phone too. Sign up for an account if you already don’t have one and install the app. If you share any file in Dropbox on your computer, you can use your phone to access it any where and vice versa.
          Once installed you can see all the files you've shared on your computer and you're free to download as many times as you want. You can also choose to upload files from your phone to view them later on your laptop.

You're browsing the web on your computer and you find an interesting link which you want to share on whatsapp or just want to save it on your phone, what do you do? Mail it to yourself? The mobile Firefox app offers a better solution. You can sync your browser to your computer and have access to your browser history, bookmarks, passwords and open tabs from any device. It also has Add-ons to customise your browser. Now you can bookmark links on your computer to access them on your phone with just a few clicks.
To sync your phone:
1.    Go to Firefox Options and click on the Sync tab
2.    Click on "Set up Sync and Create a New Account".
3.    After you've filled your details, you'll see a security key, save it.
4.    Once you've created an account, click on “Add a Device".
5.    You'll see a window that asks you for a code.
6.    Open Firefox in your device and go to Preferences. Under the Sync menu, touch Connect and you'll see the code you have to enter.
7.    Enter the Code. Once the code is verified your device will be synced.
8.    You can choose what to sync from the Sync tab
9.    If you're a Chrome user, you'll have to wait a while because the official app for Chrome (Chrome to Phone) is not yet available in India.
Remote Gallery 3D

Imagine you've just come back from a trip clicking a lot of photos on your mobile. But if you want to show many people, you'd have to transfer them to a computer or pass your phone around so that everyone can get a good look. Remote Gallery 3D is a free app that can show your pictures on your PC/Mac/TV with just one tap from your Android phone. You don't need a USB cable or any other software, just your regular browser and a Wi-Fi connection.
          Just install the app from the market and connect your PC and mobile to a Wi-Fi network. Run the app and follow the simple instructions to view the pictures on your PC. You can choose to download or edit them and even secure them with a password.
uTorrent Remote

How many times have you left home leaving your torrents on only to realise later that they used up all your bandwidth? uTorrent Remote is a nice little app that will allow you to monitor and manage the uTorrent downloads on your PC or Mac from anywhere you get an internet connection. You can use uTorrent Remote to add, remove, start, stop torrents and check your download progress and check your RSS feeds and start downloads on the go. Use your mobile browser to find torrents and they will automatically be added to your home uTorrent. All the completed downloads can even be shifted directly back to your Android device for local playback.


Finally an app that lets your phone control your PC no matter where you are! PhoneMyPC is an exciting tool that lets you use your PCs from any Android device as long as you have an internet connection.
          All you need to do is download the app from the market for a fee and install a small software on your PC and you're ready to go. After you've installed the PC app, enter your desired username and password and click "Connect".
          Once you've done this, run the app on your mobile and go to settings.
Enter the same username and password and your mobile will be connected to your computer and you'll get a notification on your computer. You mobile will display your computer screen and you can take complete control of your PC. You can create and delete files, play music, install software etc. You can also attach a camera to your computer and monitor your children or listen through an attached mic.
iPhone apps

Remote is a cool Apple app that lets you control iTunes and Apple TV using your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad over your Wi-Fi network. You can choose playlists, songs, and albums just like you would in iTunes. You can also control every aspect of your Apple TV user interface. You can quickly type using your device's keyboard instead of clicking each letter on the Apple TV screen. You can pause, rewind, fast forward, shuffle and control volume on each speaker independently. You can create and edit playlists in iTunes and even control Shared Libraries on iTunes and the new Apple TV.
Mobile Mouse Pro

Tired of using your touchpad? Convert your iPhone into a mouse. Mobile Mouse instantly transforms your iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless remote for your computer so you can sit back and use this remote to surf the web, browse your photo library or control your music player from the comfort of your couch. Using the built in accelerometer, it translate your hand motions into mouse movements on your screen. You can also use it in trackpad mode; in this mode you can control your mouse with a single finger just like your laptop touchpad. Mobile Mouse uses an innovative application notification system to let the iPhone know what program you're running at any time and show the appropriate keys for that program. So if you're using a media player, it will show you the start, pause, next buttons and if you're using it for a presentation using powerpoint, it will show you the next and back button. It also has unique multi touch features like two finger scroll, two finger tap, swipe left/right with four fingers, swipe up/down with fouringers etc. This app is available at the Apple App Store for $1.99
Mocha VNC

Mocha VNC lets you control your Windows PC or Mac using your iPhone or your iPad. This app works similar to PhoneMyPC and letsyouview, create and delete files.

If you like gaming and play X-Plane then this is a must-have app for you. With this app you can use your iPhone or iPod touch as wireless joystick for your desktop computer flying X -Plane. This can be very useful if you're ever traveling and do not have you joystick with you, you can simply use your iPhone or iPod touch as a wireless joystick. You can control the throttle, flaps, speedbrakes, landing gear, and brakes on your desktop or laptop just as you do with your joystick.

Virtual Private Network

If you need access to your data on a network while you're on the go, you need a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPN technology lets a computer using a public internet connection join a private network by establishing a secure tunnel between that machine and the network. It's commonly used in offices where employees need to access the data on their network from remote locations.
          Windows 7 has a preloaded VPN client and it's very easy to set up a VPN in it.
First let's see how to build a VPN.
Setting up a Virtual Private Network

1.    Open the Network and Sharing Center.
2.    Click "Change Adapter Settings" in the left hand menu
3.    Press Alt key to get the menu. From the File menu, select "New Incoming Connection".
4.    You'll now be able to see a list of users you can allow to connect to your computer. Select the users you'd like to give access to and click "Next".
5.    Check the "Through the internet" checkbox.
6.    Select the TCP/IPv4 protocol
7.    Finally, click "Allow access"; you've now set up an incoming VPN connection.
8.    Make a note of your IP address as you'll need it to connect to your VPN.
Connecting to a VPN

1.    Now that we know how to set up a VPN, here are step-by-step instructions to connect to one.
2.    Click the Start button and type VPN in the search bar and then select "Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection".
3.    Enter the IP address or domain name of the server to which you want to connect.
4.    You can choose to set up the connection, but not connect by selecting "Don't connect now" or leave it blank and click "Next"
5.    Enter your username and password and click "Connect".
6.    To connect, click on the Windows network logo on the lower-right part of your screen; then select "Connect under VPN Connection".

In past chapters, we saw how to connect all your devices to one network. Since all your data is on this network, it's extremely important that you secure it. An unsecured network can give any hacker access to your data and passwords.
          To get started, you'll need to log in to your router's administrative console by typing the router's IP address into your web browser's address bar. Refer to your router's manual for this address (usually
          There are a few simple but effective ways to secure your network.
Enable WPA2 encryption

The new WPA2 encryption offers better security than its predecessors - WEP and WPA. You can choose the type of security when you create your network. Make sure you enter a strong security key.
Changing passwords

This is the simplest way to protect your network. Keep changing your passwords regularly. Although no password is foolproof, you can build a complex password by using numbers and special characters. You'll have to manage two passwords - Wi-Fi and router. Most often we forget to change the router password. The default password is "admin" which is pretty easy to guess. Make sure both your passwords are strong and do not use birthdays or pet names as passwords.
Limit your connections

If you always use the same number of devices, you should set your router to allow limited number of connections. Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) makes it easy for your network to manage how many devices can connect to your Wi-Fi network at any given time, by limiting the number of IP addresses your router can assign to devices on your network. Open your router administrator settings and go to DHCP settings. Here you can change the number of client leases as per your requirement. You can keep the number one higher than the devices you have for guests.
Block WAN requests

You can conceal your network from other users by enabling the Block WAN Requests option. Once this feature is enabled, your router won't respond to IP requests by remote users, preventing them from gleaning potentially useful information about your network. Also disable remote administration privileges through the router administrator so no one can change your router settings wirelessly.
MAC filtering

Every device that can connect to a network has a unique MAC (Media Access Control) address. It's composed of six pairs of alphanumeric characters. Using the MAC address you can allow only specific devices to connect to your network. To know the MAC address of a Windows PC, open the Command Prompt. Type ipconfig /all and press Enter to bring up your IP settings. Here you'll be able to see the details of your network along with the MAC address under the name of Physical Address.

If you're on a Mac, open System Preferences and click "Network". From there, select Wi-Fi from the list in the left-hand column, click "Advanced" and look for Airport ID or Wi-Fi ID. If you want to find the MAC address of a handheld or any other device, check the user manual. You can also find the MAC address of this device if it's connected to a network. Your router displays a list of devices connected to your network along with their MAC address in the router administrator.