A Wi-Fi is basically a technology that allows the user of an electronic device to transfer electronic data wirelessly. Such a wireless transfer is mediated by radio waves over a computer network and also provides high-speed internet connections. The device making use of a Wi-Fi connects to an access point whose range may be from about 15 to 20 meters indoors to a much greater range outdoors. The range of this Wi-Fi can be limited by the walls of a room that block the radio waves. One can increase this range by using overlapping access points also called hotspots. The basic necessity in a computer to connect to a Wi-Fi is the wireless network interface controller. The interface controller plus the computer is called a station. All these stations must share the same radio frequency communication channel which enables the connection of each of these stations to each other when they lie within the same range. Wi-Fi has usage in the homes of people as it would save the large amount of cable clutter, office areas, airports, hotels, etc. Many of the public malls provide free Wi-Fi connections for the use of the public. Several Universities have followed the suit as an attempt to make it easier for the students to harbour the power of the Internet unto their disposal without having to own an Internet connection.
There are many ethical issues when it comes to using someone else’s unprotected network. Some say it is illegal to use them and some others say that there is no harm in using the Wi-Fi connection of a neighbor’s if it is used on a small scale and for the right purposes. Also, if the range of a Wi-Fi connection is beyond the walls of the neighbor’s house and reaches your domain with fair amount of signal, people do vouch for the fact that there is nothing wrong in putting it to good use.
Searching for a Wi-Fi network is like searching network for the mobile phone, the basic concept behind both being that both of these signals use the radio waves to travel. The first and the most basic suggestion is to sit near windows or preferably in the balconies of your house as these signals travel unblocked in the absence of walls. The solid walls of both, the neighbor’s house and your own prevent these signals from traveling and hence, do not allow you to use them. Once you sit in open air and make sure there is nothing that blocks these signals, you might have to wait for your device to sense these signals. This usually takes time. Aligning the device in various different directions to optimise the signal that it receives is an exercise one may have to perform irrespective of whether it makes you look like a clown. When the device senses these Wi-Fi signals, it is important to see if they are password protected, in which case you might not be able to use it. But names like ‘linksys’ or ‘NETGEAR’ or ‘Belkin54g’ are the usual default names of wireless transmitters. And these names suggest that such networks are not password protected, or so is it maximum number of times.
Once the laptop/device has successfully connected to the wireless network, it would change its IP address as the network router would assign it a specific address. If the Network Control panel in Windows is kept open, one can actually monitor the change of IP address. It is when this address is changed that one knows that the laptop has fruitfully connected to the Wi-Fi. Although, it is not enough to just have the Wi-Fi connected to the computer. For using the Wi-Fi, one must also enable the Domain Name Service or the DNS. In most cases, the DNS gets to work automatically but in very rare cases, one has to go through the trouble of configuring the laptop to use a public name service.
The working of the DNS gives the user the ability to connect to the internet without any problem. But some Wi-Fi connections have enabled barriers on e-mail routers to bar the spammers. Therefore, sending and receiving mails from Outlook express and the likes may prove to be difficult. A logical solution to this problem would be to use services like Gmail or Hotmail that are completely web-based. Such small tricks would enable a connection that is much faster than the normal internet!
Using the neighbour’s Wi-Fi is a good idea only when one is desperate for the connection. And not many people are open to the idea of sharing their connections. When your neighbours are people belonging to this category of people, it would be a wiser option to keep in mind that you could be caught anytime if your usage hinders the bandwidth of the neighbour’s connection! So don’t restrict yourself from indulging in it, but make sure it is safe and ethical before you do!
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