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• Microsoft Vista Home Networking Setup and Options
The most daunting part of upgrading to Windows Vista may be trying to figure out where in the layers of menus the networking and file-sharing options are hidden.

• Do It Yourself: Roll Your Own Network Cables
It may not be something you do everyday, but having the supplies and know-how to whip up a network cable on the spot can be very handy.

• Tips for Securing Your Home Router
Seemingly minor and easily overlooked settings can still have profound security implications. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wired or wireless home router and by extension, your network is as secure as possible.

  Most Popular Reviews

• Microsoft Windows Home Server
If you have a home network, you'll welcome the easy file sharing, remote access and the image-based backup features of Windows Home Server.

• Iomega StorCenter Network Hard Drive
Iomega's fourth generation StorCenter Network Hard Drive brings many of the features found in higher-end storage devices down to an attractive price.

• MikroTik's The Dude
This free tool delivers many of the same capabilities that you'd find in pricey network monitoring tools. As long as you don't mind tinkering, The Dude is a decent network utility that should be worth the download.

We don't need no steenking standard!

We've considered PowerLine networking to be dead, or at least in a deep coma due to the lack of any viable products.  But as we prowled the CES floor visiting the various PowerLine networking companies, we alternated between being optimistic that useful products are on the way, and fearing that the the efforts could be still-born if the industry doesn't pull together behind a single standard...

The HomePlug alliance HomePlug logo is "a non-profit corporation established to provide a forum for the creation of open specification for home powerline networking products and services, and accelerate the demand for these products and services through the sponsorship of market and user education programs", according to their Web site FAQ. They have selected Intellon's PowerPacket 14Mbps technology as the basis for their Version 1.0 specification, with field trials scheduled for "early 2001".  If all goes well, product shipments would begin in "late Summer" of this year.

Given this major accomplishment, and the fact that the competing HomePNA phoneline and WiFi and HomeRF wireless technologies have a 1 to 2 year head start, you'd think that everyone would say, "Ok, that's over with, now let's go get some market share!".  But you would think wrong, because as I visited Enikia, INARI, and Power Line Networks' stands, the mood was more like no standard existed, with each company vowing to push ahead with their different (and incompatible) standards.

The two exceptions to this scrappy bunch are Phonex (they're the folks who make the "wireless" phoneline and modem jacks that you see at Radio Shack and Home Depot) and SonicBlue's Diamond/HomeFree group.  Both are planning product shipments in "late Summer", at a price point somewhere in the $80 to $100 per node range.  So stay tuned... this soap opera isn't over yet!


Bluetooth bites down

3COM Bluetooth PC Card

This "Personal Area Networking" (PAN) technology keeps chugging along with real products shipping soon from recognized vendors.  3COM was showing PC Card and USB adapters and an Access Point.  Shipments of at least the PC card (which has a cool "Xjack" retractable antenna) should begin in February, but are designed to the 1.0b standard (see below)

TDK had their PC card and USB adapter (which they said was being redesigned to a cabled style for robustness) at their booth, but won't be ready to ship until late Q2 2001, partly because they're waiting for Bluetooth 1.1 to be approved.

TDK Bluetooth PC card

Intel was also showing some Bluetooth hardware over in the Technology demonstration area of their booth, but we made the poor guy who was on duty so nervous with our questions (and our "Press" badge) that we didn't get much information.  (They didn't look like they were close to releasing any products anyway.)

One warning flag that we picked up was to pay attention to the version of the Bluetooth standard for any products that you buy.  Look for products that are designed to at least version 1.1.  Anything earlier than that, and they may not work together. 

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