Computer Networks

Setting up a Personal Computer Network
Linksys Corporation has a nice computer network resource center, including an excellent on-line guide to help you set up a personal computer network at home or office.
Instructables Wi-Fi Guide
All sorts of hacks for your wireless internet, including several different cantenna versions
IPv4 & IPv6 Guide
Internet addressing, old-school and new-style, explained
DNS Explained
TCP/IP Fundamentals
Nice diagram with explanation
History of Bluetooth
From the Bluetooth site
Bluetooth 101
How Bluetooth works
DSL explanation
Another DSL explanation
More detailed, from Cisco Systems
Wide Area Networks
Routing Algorithms
Figuring how to get it from Here to There
Journey of a Data Packet
How a data packet travels through the Internet

Key Terms

  • Application layer protocols: The rules for implementing the end-user services provided by a network.
  • Bandwidth: The capacity of a transmission medium.
  • Bluetooth: A low-power wireless standard used to communicate between devices located quite close to each other, typically no more than 30–50 feet (10–15 meters).
  • Broadband: Any communication link with a transmission rate exceeding 128,000 bps.
  • Bulletin board: A shared public file where anyone can post messages and everyone is free to read the postings of others.
  • Bus topology: A strategy for connecting the nodes of a LAN in which all the nodes are connected to a single shared communication line. If two or more nodes use the link at the same time, the messages collide and are unreadable.
  • Cable modem: A broadband technology that uses the links that deliver cable TV signals into homes.
  • Computer network: A set of independent computer systems connected by telecommunication links for the purpose of sharing information and resources.
  • Dedicated point-to-point lines: Transmission lines that directly connect two machines.
  • Digital subscriber line (DSL): A broadband technology that uses the same wires that carry regular telephone signals but with a different set of frequencies; DSL transmits digital signals.
  • Domain Name System (DNS): Application used to convert from a symbolic host name such as macalester.edu to its 32-bit IP address 141.140.1.5.
  • Electronic commerce (or just e-commerce): General term applied to any use of computers and networking to support the paperless exchange of goods, information, and services in the commercial sector.
  • End system: An individual computer on a computer network.
  • Ethernet: A broadband technology that provides dedicated data transmission throughout a building or a campus at rates of either 10 Mbps or 100 Mbps.
  • Fast Ethernet: A “new and improved” version of Ethernet that transmits at 100 Mbps across coaxial cable, fiber-optic cable, or regular twisted-pair copper wire.
  • FTP (file transfer protocol): Provides a way to move files around the network quickly and easily.
  • Framing: Identifying the start and the end of a message.
  • Gigabit networking: Networks with transmission lines that support speeds in excess of 1 billion bits per second (Gbps).
  • Host: An individual computer on a computer network.
  • Hypertext: A collection of documents interconnected by pointers called links.
  • Internet backbone: An international ISP that provides global coverage.
  • Internet Service Provider (ISP): A wide-area network whose purpose is to provide access from a private network to the Internet or from an individual’s computer to the Internet.
  • Internet: A huge interconnected “network of networks” that includes nodes, LANs, WANs, bridges, routers, and multiple levels of ISPs.
  • IP (Internet Protocol): The network layer in the Internet.
  • Local area network (LAN): A computer network that connects hardware devices, such as computers, printers, and storage devices, that are all in close proximity.
  • Logical link control protocols: The rules that ensure that the message traveling across a channel from source to destination arrives correctly.
  • Medium access control protocols: The rules for determining how to arbitrate ownership of a shared line when multiple nodes want to send at the same time.
  • Mobile computing: The ability to deliver data to users regardless of where they are located.
  • Modem: A device that modulates a carrier so that it encodes binary information at one end of the transmission line and then demodulates the carrier at the other end of the transmission line.
  • Network layer protocols: The rules for delivering a message from the site where it was created to its ultimate destination.
  • Node: An individual computer on a computer network
  • Packet: An information block with a fixed maximum size that is transmitted through the network as a single unit.
  • Physical layer protocols: The rules governing the exchange of binary digits across a physical communication channel, such as a fiber-optic cable, copper wire, or wireless radio channel.
  • Protocol: A mutually agreed upon set of rules, conventions, and agreements for the efficient and orderly exchange of information.
  • Repeater: A device that simply amplifies and forwards a signal.
  • Resource sharing: The ability to share physical resources, such as a printer or storage device, as well as logical resources, such as software and information.
  • Ring topology: A strategy for connecting the nodes of a LAN, which connects the network nodes in a circular fashion, with messages circulating around the ring in either a clockwise or counter clockwise direction until they reach their destination.
  • Routing: The process of selecting one specific path for a message.
  • Shared cable: A form of an Ethernet LAN in which the transmission wire is stretched around and through a building and users tap into the cable at its nearest point using a transceiver.
  • Social networks: Systems that create communities of users who share common interests and activities and that provide multiple methods of online interaction.
  • Star topology: A strategy for connecting the nodes of a LAN in which a single central node is connected to all other sites.
  • Store-and-forward, packet-switched technology: A transmission technology in which a message must “hop” from one node to another to make its way from source to destination.
  • Switched, dial-up telephone lines: The regular telephone lines used in homes.
  • Telnet: Software package that allows users to log on remotely to another computer and use it as though it were their own local machine.
  • TCP (Transport Control Protocol): The primary transport protocol on the Internet.
  • TCP/IP: The Internet protocol hierarchy.
  • Transport layer protocols: The rules that create a “program-to-program” delivery service, in which we move messages from a specific program at the source to a specific program at the destination.
  • URL (Uniform Resource Locator): The worldwide identification of a Web page that is located on a specific host computer on the Internet.
  • Wide area network (WAN): A computer network that connects devices that are located across town, across the country, or across the ocean.
  • Wi-Fi (Wireless Fidelity): used to connect a computer to the Internet when it is within range (typically 150–300 feet or 45–90 meters) of a wireless base station.
  • Wireless data communication: Data communication that uses radio, microwave, and infrared signals to transmit data.
  • Wireless local access network: A form of wireless data communication in which the user’s computer transmits its message to a local wireless base station that is no more than a few hundred feet from the user’s computer.
  • Wireless wide-area access network: A form of wireless data communication in which the user’s computer transmits its message to a remote base station provided by a telecommunications company, which may be located many miles away.
  • World Wide Web: An information system based on the concept of hypertext.
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