over IPOne of the latest and greatest advances
in communications is Voice over IP (VoIP). This
service is ONLY available to those of you with
a broadband connection (Cable or DSL). If setup
properly, a connection can drive your entire
home phone network. One limitation is that the
service is only as good as your Internet provider.
When your Internet connection fails, your phone
service does also! I personally use Vonage for
my VoIP provider on my Time-Warner RoadRunner
high-speed Internet connection. Vonage is currently
the largest provider but don't expect a tremendous
amount of technical support. Their email support
really does not exist. I've tried it, they NEVER
respond. Phone support takes 20-30 minutes but
is helpful. But, the upside is that it is easy
to install, easy to configure and rarely fails.
Failures are normally due to the broadband carrier
and not the VoIP provider. There are several
other providers. Time-Warner has an offering
which is very well supported but pricey at a
minimum of $39.99/month (Vonage is $24.99). AT&T
has an offering at $19.99/month. One additional
consideration is the availability of a local
number and porting from your existing number
to the new VoIP number.
More on VoIP as of June, 2005. I recently flew Lufthansa
to Europe and was surprised to find that they now
have Broadband Wireless Internet Access available
on all their long flights. A little pricey at $30/flight
for unlimited access but you can do a lot of accessing
on an 8-hour flight. In the "This Should Work" category
is the Vonage
SoftPhone. If you have Vonage VoIP service, you
can add this software to your laptop for $4.99/month
and your laptop will have its own phone number. With
a headset, you should be able to make and receive
calls during flight. Cost of the call is the same
as if it were made from your home VoIP phone.
One final thing. Should you opt to try Vonage as a
VoIP service, do me a favor. Send me an email and
let me refer you to Vonage. You will receive an invitation
for service from them which will include free equipment
and a minimum of a month's free service. I will receive
a month or two of free service also. It is a good
deal for both of us.
ready for wireless. It is coming, it is good and
you will like it. Wireless actually began several
years ago but has recently gained in popularity as
numerous public Hotspots (places in the real world
where wireless works) have popped up. Wireless comes
in several flavors, the current most popular being
802.11b (11 Mbps) and 802.11g (54 Mbps). Speeds shown
are the maximums, actuals vary based on distance
from the access point, structural interference, etc.
Wireless is a "Must Have" with a laptop. Laptops are
meant to be portable and convenient. If they have
to be connected by wire to a LAN or to a phone line
to connect to the Internet, they are NOT convenient.
Desktops are a different story but not a lot of difference.
While wired LAN's currently support up to 1 Gbps,
the norm right now is 100 Mbps so 802.11g at 54 Mbps or 802.11n at 108 Mbps
is not that bad. "Wired" is the action word here,
you have to run wire to all connected devices. Also,
keep in mind that the LAN speed is only a limiting
factor between computers on the LAN, not the Internet.
If your Internet connection is Cable, you are already
running at a maximum speed of less than 5 Mbps. DSL
is somewhat less than that.
Security should not be an issue if you setup the access
point properly. Specify encryption key on the
access point and provide the key to accessing
wireless devices. The key is NOT necessary for hardwired connections.
Detailed Wireless Network Installation Instructions
Student & Teacher SoftwareSoftware products
are not cheap, at least the better one are not.
Systems at one time were bundled with many products
but now have limited or trial versions, leaving
the customer to shop for and purchase their own
copies. IF your computer is used by a student
or an educator you may well be able to get a
BIG break in pricing if you are willing to do
a little research and paperwork. Some packages
are offered in stores (such as Microsoft Office
2003), others direct from the manufacturer (such
as Macromedia products)
and others from special distributors (such as Gradware.com).
I have personally used all three and saved tons
of money on the software on the kids machines.
Normally all that is required is for you to fax
a copy of a current ID, course schedule, report
card, letter from the school, or something similar.
Requirements vary but are quite simple in most