Thursday, December 28, 2006

How To Use A Bluetooth Enabled Cell Phone

Many new cell phones are Bluetooth enabled. Bluetooth can be used to transmit data, pictures, phone numbers, etc through a wireless connection to your Laptop or PC. Some carriers charge up to $.25 to transmit a picture from your camera phone to your PC. Bluetooth allows you to transfer them without any charges. Most laptops have Bluetooth built into them and a USB wireless Bluetooth connector for a desktop can be purchased for under $20 for most phones. Bluetooth is a short range device which works in a 30 foot radius.

There are also wireless Bluetooth headsets, speakerphones for home and car use and other accessories. Some car models from Toyota, Lexus and BMW use Bluetooth technology making it possible to use your phone as a handsfree device while you drive.

Here's step by step directions to connect your Bluetooth enabled cell phone to your laptop/PC:

1. Turn on the bluetooth enabled cell phone and turn on the bluetooth connection software.

2. Make the phone discoverable.

3. In Windows XP on the laptop go to My bluetooth Places.

4. Select View Devices in Range.

5. After the discovery process is complete you should see the icon for the cell phone.

6. Right-click on the icon and select Discover Available Services.

7. To connect to your cell phone right-click on the Dial-Up Networking.

8. Select Connect Dial-up networking.

9. The phone will ask if you want to accept the connection request, decline or add to paired.

10. The last step pairs the phone and laptop and performs the connection request.

11. You will be prompted to enter a PIN code to pair up the devices, the PIN is entered in the cell phone.

12. A dialogue box appears asking for user name, password and the phone number of your ISP.

13. Click on the dial button to complete the connection.

Tips:

1. To find devices in range you can click the bluetooth menu and select Search for devices or open Entire bluetooth Neighborhood and press F5.

2. Pairing a phone and laptop will ensure the connection can be established whenever you require it and you don’t have to go through the set-up process each time. If you do not pair the two devices you will have to make the phone discoverable each time.

What You Need:

* bluetooth enabled cell phone
* bluetooth enabled laptop/PC

If you're looking for a BlueTooth enabled cell phone.... we suggest using the multi-provider search tool at Cell Phone Finder

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Monday, December 25, 2006

What Is SONET And What Does It Do?

SONET is Synchronous Optical NETworking. SONET equipment generally uses one wavelength, or lambda, to carry an OC level (see below), which can be divided into time slots for individual circuits. SONET is generally used at the carrier level to build diverse networks to carry the Internet backbone, point-to-point leased lines, and pretty much anything else with a SONET interface (ATM & frame relay switches, voice switches, digital cross connects, other multiplexers). SONET in Europe and Asia is known as SDH (Synchronous Digital Heirarchy). Asia's SDH differs from Europe's in some respects.

SONET OC levels:
OC1 - 52mb/s
OC3 - 155mb/s
OC12 - 622mb/s
OC48 - 2.5gb/s
OC192 - 9.6gb/s
OC768 - 40gb/s

You can divide OC circuits into what are called STS channels, or tributaries. Generally each OC level has a corresponding STS level, and higher bandwidth optical equipment can carry more than one STS channel, such as a combination of any of the following:

VT-1.5 = T-1 (1.44mb/s)
VT-2 = 2mb/s
OC-1 = STS-1 (usually used for DS3/T3)
OC-3 = STS-3c or STS3 (3 STS1 channels)
OC-12 = STS-12c or STS12
OC-48 = STS-48c or STS48
OC-192 = STS-192c or STS192
OC-768 = STS-768c or STS768 (have not encountered these systems yet)

SDH equivalents:
STS-3c = STM-1
STS-12c = STM-4
STS-48c = STM-16
STS-192c = STM-64

The "c" in STS3c or OC3c stands for concatenated, meaning that the entire 155mb/s is dedicated to one channel (one payload), unlike an STS3, which would be 3 STS1 channels (3 payloads). For instance, on an OC12 ring, you could have 9 STS1 channels and 1 STS3c channel, or 3 STS3c channels and 3 STS1 channels. Once the channels are demultiplexed, they are split into tributaries, the lower-bandwidth interfaces used for connecting to other networking equipment.

Each OC level can be a ring interface to a UPSR (Unidirectional Path Switched Ring) or BLSR (Bi-directional Line Switched Ring). On these rings, generally one line goes east, and another west. If one side fails, individual STS channels (UPSR) or the entire line (BLSR) can be switched to the other path or span, depending on the technology.

For assistance in finding just the right Optical Carrier Bandwidth (SONET) solution for your business application(s)....comparing multiple providers available in your specific area....we highly recommend the no cost consulting services from:

Optical Carrier Bandwidth

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

What Is Wired Ethernet?

Ethernet IEEE 802.3 is the most common local network technology used today. It is based on CDMA/CA (Collision Detection Multiple Access Collision Avoidance) scheme. Think of Ethernet as a telephone party line. Before speaking you listen to see if anyone else is talking. If no one is talking then you start. It is possible that several people may start talking at the same time. That is a collision; no one can understand what is being said. When this occurs everyone stops talking for a while. When the line is idle they try again. Each party waits a different length of time to minimize the chance of colliding again. CDMA/CD imposes a number of design constraints on the network. The minimum packet size must be longer then the end-to-end propagation delay of the system. This insures the transmitter is still transmitting when the collision occurs allowing retries to be done by the network layer. Power levels must be set to allow collision detection.

When Ethernet was developed it used a fat coax cable with taps clamped on at prescribed intervals. Today the most common type of Ethernet wiring is unshielded twisted pair (UTP) copper cable consisting of 4 pairs of wire terminated with 8 conductor jacks similar to those used for telephone wiring. This has dramatically reduced the cost of implementing a LAN.

Media Access Controller (MAC) Address

Each Ethernet interface has a unique address called the MAC address. This allows each interface to be uniquely addressed. This is not the same as the IP address that will be discussed later.

Excerpt from Assigned Ethernet numbers:

Ethernet hardware addresses are 48 bits, expressed as 12 hexadecimal digits (0-9, plus A-F, capitalized). These 12 hex digits consist of the first/left 6 digits (which should match the vendor of the Ethernet interface within the station) and the last/right 6 digits which specify the interface serial number for that interface vendor.

These high-order 3 octets (6 hex digits) are also known as the Organizationally Unique Identifier or OUI.

Ethernet addresses might be written unhyphenated (e.g., 123456789ABC), or with one hyphen (e.g., 123456-789ABC), but should be written hyphenated by octets (e.g., 12-34-56-78-9A-BC).

These addresses are physical station addresses, not multicast nor broadcast, so the second hex digit (reading from the left) will be even, not odd.

10Mbps - 100Mbps - 1Gbps - 10Gbps

Initially UTP Ethernet operated at 10 million bits per second (10Mbp/s). Fast Ethernet increased speed to 100 million bits per second over Category 5 wiring 100Mbp/s). Gigabit Ethernet is 10 times faster then Fast Ethernet (1,000Mbp/s). During Gigabit Ethernet development the Cat5 specification was tightened resulting in Cat5e. Work is in progress to increase Ethernet speed by another factor of 10 to 10 Gigabits per second....and yet again to 100 gigabits per second (10 GigE and 100 GigE).

Ethernet Hubs and Switches

UTP Ethernet is a point-to-point topology electrically even though logically it is a party line. Each Ethernet interface must be directly connected to another Ethernet Interface. Hubs regenerate Ethernet signals and allow devices to talk to each other, remember the party line analogy. Cable must run directly between the outlet and the hub it cannot be spliced or daisy chained. CDMA/CA scheme used by Ethernet places a limit on the number of wire segments and how many hubs can be used. For 10Mbps Ethernet use the 5-4-3 rule, maximum of 5 wire segments and 4 hubs between devices, however only 3 of those hubs can have devices attached. Because 100Mbps Ethernet is faster the rules are more stringent. A maximum of two Class II hubs, and the distance between hubs is limited to less then 5 meters. Class I hubs cannot connect directly to another hub. For all intents and purposes 100Mbps Ethernet networks are limited to a single hub.

Where hubs need to be cascaded the solution is to use an Ethernet switch. Switches do not simply repeat incoming packets on all ports. A switch examines each incoming packet, reads the destination address and passes it directly to the proper port. A switch allows multiple conversations to occur simultaneously as opposed to being limited to only one with a hub. This allows total switch bandwidth to be greater then a hub. A 100Mbp/s hub shares 100Mbp/s among all devices. A switch segments traffic betweens pairs of ports. A non-blocking 16-port 100Mbp/s Ethernet switch has a maximum throughput capacity of 800Mbp/s. This assumes 8 pairs of connections evenly divided between the 16 ports; each one operating at full 100Mbps. A switch has another advantage it eliminates collisions allowing full duplex communication. This means individual computers can be transmitting at the same time they are receiving. This doubles throughput of our hypothetical 16-port 100Mbp/s switch to 1.6Gbp/s as compared to 100Mbp/s for a hub. In actual use the advantage will not be as great but switches offer tremendous performance advantage

The switch selects the proper port based on MAC address. Every Ethernet controller has a MAC address. The switch reads packets as they arrive and associates a port with a specific MAC address. When the switch does not know which port to use it broadcasts the incoming packet to all ports, much like a hub. When the device responds the switch knows which port it is connected to.

Ethernet Tip – Use 10/100 autosensing hub or switch. This allows a mix of 10 and 100Mbp/s computers. Internally the hub combines all low-speed ports together and all high-speed ports. If a packet goes between different speed ports the hub does a store and forward. The packet is completely assembled at the incoming speed then sent out at the outgoing speed.

Managed vs Unmanaged Hubs and Switches

Ethernet hubs and switches come in both managed or unmanaged versions. Managed devices allow the administrator to control various parameters and observe traffic. These features are valuable in a corporate network but are overkill in a home network. Unmanaged devices are considerable less expensive.

Preferred Topology

For maximum flexibility a switch should be used in the wiring closet. This maximizes total network bandwidth. Using a central switch allows hubs to be used in each room if additional Ethernet drops are needed. Switches used to be very expensive, but recently switch prices have been dramatically reduced, making a switch the preferred choice.

For assistance in finding just the right Gigabit Ethernet solution for your business application(s)....comparing multiple providers available in your specific area...we highly recommend the no cost consulting services from:

Gigabit Ethernet Solutions

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Visec Security Software........Security and Peace Of Mind Were Never Easier

Believe it or not, but one of the most popular categories of security is video surveillance. Increasingly, security systems are employing surveillance cameras to let people keep an eye on things in and around their home and office. Until now, it was quite expensive to maintain and implement such security systems because they were tied to expensive recorders and other fancy hardware components.

With VISEC you can keep an eye on everything you ever wanted without spending a fortune. Perfect for anyone desiring more peace of mind.....home or business.

See for yourself......

Visec Security Software

Keep an eye on your home, office, cars, and valuables. Watch your pets. Watch your kids. Keep an eye on your nanny or babysitter. Provide continous security for your business 24/7....watch customers, employees, deliveries, shipping, after hours. Best of all you can do this from any location in the world via the Internet! VISEC is designed to be highly configurable and can even be used as a stealth surveillance system, allowing the program to operate secretly with just a few mouse clicks. And did we mention that Visec is extremely easy to use, installation and configuration will take only 5 minutes, even at a novice or newbie's hands? All that for just a fraction of a regular security system price!

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cisco Equipment Buying and Configuration Tips for The Average Joe

Here are a few things you need to know up front when you plan to buy Cisco equipment for home or business use......

1. Buy new-never-used Cisco equipment from a reliable store or seller.

2. When you buy the equipment, don't forget to also buy the proper Smartnet contract for the equipment.

3. To make it easy for you, buy both the equipment and the Smartnet contract from the same store or seller; and have them register the equipment.

4. For most home users, Cisco 850 or 870 series router should be sufficient.

Now let's say you already have the equipment and it is time for installation and configuration. When you have no or limited knowledge of networking, here are some tips......

1. When you plan to connect the equipment to your ISP, make sure you have all the info you need. There are things you need to ask your ISP and other things you might need to ask your seller or store where you buy the Cisco equipment.

2. Questions to ask your ISP include.....

* Connection method to ISP: PPP (either PPPoE or PPPoA), static IP, DHCP (dynamically assigned)

* IP address you will get from your ISP (the public IP address) along with the subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS server IP address

* Equipment speed setting necessary: full duplex, half duplex, or auto

3. Questions to ask your seller or store include.....

* MAC address (or addresses) of your Cisco equipment

* Cisco TAC or Support Center phone number

4. Once you have all the necessary info, follow the Quick Start Up instructions that come with the equipment to install and setup.

At first glimpse, it looks like there is a lot to prepare when dealing with Cisco equipment. Well, don't quit just yet. :)

All those things are necessary (sometimes required) to make things go smoothly. Keep in mind that Cisco equipment is built with reliability as the #1 priority. Therefore Cisco equipment can be "picky" in terms of installation, configuration, and support. All of these are to ensure that everything works just as it is supposed to.

You might ask, "why do I not have to go through this with Netgear, Linksys, DLink, or similar brands?". Yes, those brands are easy to use....but are they? However that easiness comes with big consequences. These brands sacrifice a lot of reliability. That is why when you poke into Netgear, Linksys, or DLink forums; you almost always find horror stories that stem from unreliable equipment.

So prepare yourself. There might be a few bumps in the ride. Relax, it is only a process. Cisco is always there to help anyway. Once you get through it, you can just leave your Cisco equipment alone and should never have to touch it again. It runs solid as a rock once you get it right.

For a great resource for finding quality reputable Cisco dealers and installers in your area we recommend: Cisco Equipment Dealers & Installers

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Will Fractional T1 solve this problem?

Here's the picture you're looking at:

You have a small business....with less than 10 employees....who are all hooked into a router attached to a DSL modem.

You all need to be logged into an online database through the internet all day. You and your staff access the database to do lots of data entry as well as uploading of files. When all of you are logged in, the upload/download speed frequently is incredibly slow.

When you run DSL speed tests on any of your office machines, it shows around 1.1 mbps in the morning. By mid-afternoon, the speeds are down to 600 kbps on most of the machines. You've even seen them as low as 350 kbps.

Would a Fractional T1 solve this problem? Fractional T1s in your area run around $290/month. You don't believe a standard internet 1.5mbps T1 line is really affordable for you at $399/month. (Dollar figures are just an example for purposes of this article).

Well.....here's your answer:

Reliability, dependability, and fitness for a particular purpose have more to do with the shared nature of the services that you are using than they do with "speed". DSL is a shared resource service. Shared means that many customers are sharing an underlying internet backbone connection....that's why your speeds drop during the day ... more users are watching music videos from home in the afternoon than during the morning, sucking up all the provider's bandwidth. If the "fractional T1" provider will also be sharing their connection to the internet backbone with many of their customers, then you will likely find the same thing at the new carrier, though the busy times would be different.

The provider offering you a "T1" for $399/month is also likely sharing their backbone connection.

Remember that a shared service provider will measure speed from his office to your office, and not guarantee throughput to the internet backbone. If the shared provider has a 45M connection, and he sells 30 customers a 1.5M connection, what happens to the 31st customer? A shared provider will plop him on the same connection. Same thing with the 32nd customer, and the 33rd customer, and that's where speed problems arise.

What you need is a dedicated connection to the internet backbone, where you have your own slice of bandwidth that is not shared with other users. You say you can't afford $399. That's $20/day. That's one hour of a decent employee. What you can't afford is problems with your internet circuit, and shared connections are causing you problems.

However....before changing out the network facility and rushing to more bandwidth, first give the current carrier the chance to troubleshoot what might be broken!

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Which Cisco Router, Switch, VPN, Firewall, etc. Is Right For Your Situation?

Often people who ask questions of this nature have a limited knowledge of networking and/or the equipment involved and they don't know how or where to look for assistance. Some seek network consultants to help with determining requirements while individuals or smaller companies may avoid this choice due to financial constraints.

Cisco offers a broad spectrum of products and solutions for all networking situations. They can fulfill the networking needs of a home users or SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) network, up to and including requirements of major corporations, ISPs, and bandwidth carriers/providers. In fact, Cisco dominates the network equipment market worldwide.

Fortunately, Cisco provides tools to help determine what products and solutions will best help you meet your specific network requirements.

Here is the link for small business:

Cisco Small Business Solutions

Here is the link to a general solution tool that applies to all organizations:

Cisco Network Design Solutions

Here's the link to a resource for finding Cisco dealers, installers, and consultants in your area: Cisco VAR Resource

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Monday, December 04, 2006

T1 Router Recommendations

Here's the scenario....all too frequently seen by the way...with a practical honest answer.

You have (1) T1 line for which you will need a T1 router in order to plug it into your ethernet router/vpn/firewall that will then pass into your LAN. You want the router to be able to handle a 2nd T1 line (or 2-T1s bonded) for future growth (if needed). You also want the router to be easy to "adminstrate".

Now here's the questions you may have.....

1. What are some basic T1 routers that will fit the bill?

2. Are these T1 routers traditionally provided and maintained by the local loop provider or the business owner?

3. Are there advantages/disadvantages to managing this router yourself vs letting the carrier do it? Typically, how much maintenance/administration do you need to perform on it?

And here's the answer you really need......

Unless you're doing something really really complex or unique, your best bet is to allow the internet provider to supply the router ... that's called "managed" service. Then you have no acquisition cost, you won't pay extra for a dual T1 router on which you might never deploy the 2nd circuit, don't have to go through the lease or buy decision, have no maintenance costs or worries, you have no risk of obsolescence, and don't have to program the thing (or pay someone else to do it). AT&T circuits have the managed router option for only an additional $15/month or so for a single T1. Other providers include the router for free.

A primary advatage of managed service is during trouble situations. If you own the router, and your service is disrupted, you're really naked if the carrier claims the problem is with your equipment. You'll have no way to dispute that until you do whatever swapout or repair visit is necessary to determine that your equipment is fine....you'll have to eat that bill....and your service would still be down. With managed service, whatever is wrong is the carrier's fault, and they can't point fingers.

If you're "out of your element" with this type of thing, then managing and optioning your own router would really be outside your comfort zone, and you might find yourself spending too much time on that, instead of simply using the circuit. Certainly, if you start on a managed basis, you can always change to a purchased router if you end up wanting to do things that the carrier would not support using their router (BGP would be an example).

T1 routers are not a $50 purchase at Wal-Mart. Paying a nominal monthly fee avoids the initial purchase price, avoids the learning curve of configuration and upkeep, avoids the issue of T&M fees and availability of an IT guy, avoids that sinking feeling when the router goes bad three days after the warranty expires, and avoids the risk of obsolesence (if you purchase a T1 router, and then need to upgrade to 3M, you'll be back at your dealer for a new purchase).

Different strokes for different folks. Everyone weighs what's important for them.

A good source for T1 quotes which include routers can be found here: T1 Bandwidth

A good source for routers....if that's what you need....can be found here: Cisco Routers and other Network Equipment

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