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6 Essential Items to Get Any Device Connected to Your Home Network

6 Essential Items to Get Any Device Connected to Your Home Network

    Once upon a time, “getting connected” meant setting your computer desk up by a telephone port, whipping out a massive lugger of a dial-up modem and blocking your ears as the modem screeched and beeped its way towards connectivity. That cliched sound, still sometimes heard in commercials about the Internet that were evidently designed by someone who hasn’t used it since 1995, was the bane of teenagers of the era who tried every trick in the book to muffle that sound at midnight, trying to get online when they were meant to be in bed.

    Today, the situation has changed entirely. There’s no ear-shredding noise to muffle, and our connections are always on. You don’t have to sabotage someone’s phone call in order to get online now, and in fact, many of us are using the Internet to make those phone calls. Your printer, DVR, television, gaming console, heck, even your home theatre system, probably has an Ethernet cable if it doesn’t have wireless. And if your phone can’t jump on the network, it might seem as if it has an antenna and only runs on analogue cell networks, too, even though wi-fi was only in the most expensive of expensive phones a few short years ago.

    The question was: how do we get the computer desk to fit near the single phone port in the house without blocking the doorway? Now, it’s: how the heck do I get every device I own that demands a connection, connected? I’ve had to resort to some trickery in my house. Complicating matters, I’ve had to contend with cross-platform compatibility—how do I get my iPhone on my wireless network without giving up the 802.11n that allows movies to stream from iTunes to my Apple TV so seamlessly? How do I get the Xbox on there without spending a ridiculous amount of money on a wireless adapter that’s not even N-compatible, without running Ethernet cable across the house and under the rug?

    There was a time when I struggled to get everything connected, but I’ve discovered that with a collection of devices and wires you can ensure that almost any home network configuration can be set up. I’m not talking about fancy networks that require you to know what a network topography is and how IP addresses are assigned, but reasonably complicated networks in a home situation where various computers, phones and media devices demand access to the Internet and your other devices. And this won’t be for everyone; if you own one desktop and one laptop and are content to stick with cable and DVD for your lounge room entertainment, you don’t need all this.

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    1. A Solid Modem

    You can get modem-routers. I’ve had a few, but I don’t like them so much now. If I make a change to my port forwarding on a modem-router, you have to save and restart the device and then, once it has fired up and started the network, wait for it to authenticate with your ISP. If you have a modem separate from your router, the downtime is lessened because the connection is still there when your router comes back up. This might not make much of a difference for most people, but if you’ve got a complicated set-up and thus need to make lots of changes, test, rinse and repeat, this can save considerable time.

    Modems change so much from region to region and connection type to connection type that I won’t try to recommend one here—the brand I use isn’t even sold outside of Australia, last time I checked—but if you’re using a modem-router now, you can continue to use it as nothing but a modem instead of going out and buying a new modem and a new router.

    And if you’re comfortable using a modem-router, that’s fine. I’m just a little odd and impatient!

    2. Wireless Router

    You’ll need a wireless router (should you wish to have wireless access, and I’m going to assume that of course you do). Preferably a Draft-N router if you’re running devices that support it (especially more recent Apple devices) or are willing to fork out and upgrade the wireless adapters your devices use. Draft-N is much snappier than G, especially if your entire network is an N network.

    The other thing you want to look for is compatibility with one of the open source router firmwares that are available—such as DD-WRT or Tomato—that’ll enable you to turn that router with a “made for idiots” interface into something more powerful. The most popular option is DD-WRT and they provide a full list of supported devices here. There are plenty of N-capable Linksys routers, which is a brand numerous people recommend.

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    While I’ve run DD-WRT in the past, I’ll admit that I don’t use it now on my primary router. This doesn’t make my recommendation hollow as it is still useful firmware and I’m just saving space by using my Time Capsule wireless backup device as my router. DD-WRT comes in handy later on when you need a cheap bridge.

    3. Access Points

    If you’ve got a home that is large enough to cause your connection grief as you get further from the wireless router, well-placed access points ensure that signal is strong throughout the whole house. They also make it possible to cater to both Draft-N and b/g devices without running a mixed mode network from one device, which is one reason I like them (for performance reasons). Also, many access points will have an Ethernet and USB port, which makes them super-handy and cheaper than a full-blown router should you need to get an isolated printer or other device that uses Ethernet or USB online.

    For instance, our printer used to run off the Time Capsule’s USB port before it was promoted to the rank of Main Router. There was no room to put it next to our computers, and it was impossible to connect it to the main router since the only phone port in our house is in the kitchen (some sadistic architect, right?) and you’ve got to be able to chop onions on some portion of the bench. Since we used the Time Capsule as an access point in that part of the house, we could also use the printer remotely with minimum fuss from anywhere (never tried it from Windows, but it worked great on the Macs).

    Ideally, I’d like to have an access point sitting spare since it only takes one Internet-craving device to throw off the balance—but then again there are bills to be paid, too!

    Recommendation: the Airport Express makes a good access point.

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    4. A Cheap Bridge

    It never ceases to amaze me how much the average home theater demands in terms of connectivity these days. It still doesn’t cease to amaze me that some media appliances—and I’m thinking particularly about the Xbox 360—don’t have wi-fi built in, just an Ethernet cable, and the manufacturer wants AU$150 for a wireless adapter that doesn’t even support Draft-N. I know it’s a draft and nobody has to support it, but still, for AU$150? C’mon!

    So you could solve it by buying some fancy wireless bridge that costs more than US$100 and get everything hooked up by Ethernet. But that’s a lot of money, though it is better than a hundred or so per device, and we can do better. There are plenty of wireless routers out there that can be acquired for $30 or $40 and have just as many Ethernet ports as a wireless bridge.

    The only difference, really, is the software these devices run. And by purchasing a nice, cheap router that happens to be on the DD-WRT Supported Devices list, it doesn’t take long to hack the thing and get Ethernet juice running to all your home media devices without running CAT-5 around the walls. Esentially, DD-WRT enables you to receive a wireless signal, rather than broadcasting one, and distribute it via wire. Here’s a good post on how to get this configured.

    5. Ethernet Cables

    It sounds a little obvious, but it’s smart to have Ethernet cables around. I don’t mean just the two or three that came with some of the devices you’ve bought over the years. Plan to have them spare, and in differing sizes, because if you have a complicated network set up, situations will come up where an extra cable sitting around will be handy. Any time your configuration changes, you may need another one or two cables. Sometimes you’ll change the system and need fewer cables, and that’ll happen more so as manufacturers become smarter and realize nobody wants to use Ethernet anymore, opting to install wireless adapters instead. But still, the amount of times I’ve been caught out on the issue of cables compels me to advise you that you seriously do want to have spare Ethernet cables lying around.

    Really, these five items are all you need to get the average home with several modern computers running various operating systems, a few isolated devices such as printers that often get network-orphaned, and your entire home theater system connected. But there is one more thing that you’ll find useful, failing the presence of the above items…

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    6. A Laptop

    If you need to get something connected for just a few minutes or hours, and don’t have any other way to get it done until you can buy the requisite equipment, all you need is your laptop and an Ethernet cable. If you’re using any decent operating system you can set up Internet Sharing to take your wireless connection and share it via wire, and plug an Ethernet cable in between your laptop and the device that needs to get online. Problem solved, albeit awkardly, but it should buy you some time until you hussle up the coinage for the right gear.

    If you’ve got these six things, you’re prepared. I’m not a networking expert—though ironically enough I do have certification in networking—so you may feel free to correct me in the comments, but I have got a system working using the items listed above, and you should be able to do so as well. The best instruction is born through personal experience, after all!

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on September 11, 2019

    8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

    8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

    Computers and cell phones have become an integrated tool in our professional and personal lives that the original methods of using pen and paper may not be so common anymore.

    Although our old-school methods of note taking may not have entirely left us, technology is advancing with no intention of slowing down; iPads are moving into service industries, video calls are taking the place of in-person interviews, and store receipts are making its way into our email inbox – all of which requires the skill of typing.

    Learning a new skill doesn’t have to be boring and never had to be. Thankfully, there are effective games and apps that can help you learn to type fast with swift precision and accuracy.

    Why Typing Fast Matters?

    Learning how to type fast is a game changer. In fact, you can save 21 days per year by typing fast!

    Although shaving several minutes from curating a long email or texting paragraphs in a text message may not seem to be of great significance, the minutes soon do eventually add up and the long list of tasks then evolve into frustration. By the end of the day, time is being wasted, and the work pile is stacked high over your head.

    Why not alleviate some of those frustrations through practice and dedicating your spare time to build muscle memory?

    Learning a simple skillset like speed typing can drastically improve other essential areas in life including time-management and prioritization. Not only does it help you efficiently complete tasks at work and in your personal life, but it also boosts your productivity.

    8 Most Effective Typing Games and Apps

    Everyone learns at different speeds and uses various methods. While some work better under pressure and tight deadlines, others thrive when given ample amounts of time to learn and soak in the knowledge that is being provided. Despite the number of resources that are available in the hollow corners of the internet, it’s all about finding one source that helps you learn at your fullest potential.

    Whether you’re a keyboard ninja or not, here are some effective typing games and apps that allow you to test your speed, accuracy, and maybe shoot some spaceships along the way.

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    For Beginners

    1. Speed Typing Online

      What’s more fun than to type to the story of Alice in Wonderland or the lyrics to “Hey Jude”? Speed Typing Online is an online typing game that allows you to dive into the creative and familiar world of famous books, fables, songs, and even hone your skills in data entry.

      The bright blue frame holds the text, which then turns green after punching in the accurate keystrokes. After the end of the personal timer, a statistics page appears to show you your typed words per minute, accuracy, correct and incorrect entries, and error rate.

      2. Typing Trainer

        Typing Trainer

        is another online platform suited for beginner typists looking for step-by-step lessons. Learning the keys on a keyboard can confusing especially for those who aren’t as familiar or getting adjusted to typing on a computer keyboard.

        Typing Trainer has a collection of step-by-step tutorials that covers everything from sentence drills, introduction to new keys as the lessons progress, and skills test. The Typing Trainer specifically highlights unique features in each lesson including a warm-up section where the user begin to build muscle memory and learn to type without looking at the keyboard.

        The website is also programed to identify difficulties the user is facing when typing specific words or sentences.

        3. TapTyping – Typing Trainer

          There is the feeling of physically typing on a keyboard and then there’s the feeling of typing on a touch screen mobile device.

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          Since the use of cell phones has become closely integrated into our everyday lives, learning to type on a mobile is much of a skillset as it is to type on a computer. The mobile typing app, TapTyping – Typing Trainer, allows users to practice while on-the-go making it perfect for commuters who want to practice typing during their down time.

          The app allows you to challenge other typists around the world with TapTyping’s global leaderboard and test your skills by taking advanced lessons. There’s always room for improvement and with the app, you’ll be able to find your mistakes by watching a heat map of your finger strokes.

          For professional writers and programmers

          4. The Most Dangerous Writing App

            Suitable for writers facing a creative block or on a tight-deadline, the Most Dangerous Writing App is a website that forces your fingers to type as quickly as your ideas.

            If you stop longer than 5 seconds, everything you had written will slowly disappear from the screen.

            Sessions are timed from 3 minutes to 20 minutes, or can go from 75 to 1667 words. This online app is perfect to brain dump ideas, write a chapter of a manuscript you’ve been stuck on, or help with procrastination.

            If you’re up to the challenge, try the hardcore mode – an alternative option where a single letter appears on the screen at a time. This level prevents you from seeing the entire word, sentences, or even correct any spelling or grammatical mistakes until the timer is complete.

            If you’re wondering, copying and pasting is not an option until each the end of each session.

            5. The Typing Cat

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              Looking to upgrade your typing skills? Also working as a personal tutor, the Typing Cat has a list of regular typing courses with the option to try other lessons with more complexity such as HTML. Learning to type code is a another valulable skillset worth adding.

              Even with disregarded interest in the coding world, using the code course enhances your typing skills and allows your fingers to familiarize itself with uncommon word combinations and placement of punctuations on a keyboard.

              The coding course can be difficult even for typing whizzes, but it’s all a part of muscle memory. According Psychology Today,[1] only a handful of people actually learn how to type by looking at an actual keyboard, while a majority of the population locate specific keys intuitively through muscle memory.

              Available courses include EcmaScript 6, HTML 5, and CSS 3.

              Fun typing games

              6. ZType — Space Invaders Meet Webster

                Remember playing the iconic 70’s game that allowed you to shoot tiny purple and green aliens from one end of the screen to the other with a two-bullet laser? It’s hard to believe that Space Invaders just turned 40 , but you can still get the same adrenaline rush with ZType, a typing game with the same shooting concept.

                Ztype works in waves – stages that must be cleared but instead of aliens, you must type out the words before the missiles destroy your ship at the bottom of the screen. Every so often, longer and mor complex words would appear and if the words are not typed in the allotted time, a series of letters will disperse like missles.

                The game is quick on the fingers and will still have your heart pumping until the very end.

                7. Epistory – Typing Chronicles

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                  Although this game does cost money to purchase, it is worth the investment if you’re looking for a refreshing and alternative mode to learning how to type fast.

                  Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a role-playing action and adventure game of a young girl riding a fox in a magical and fictional realm; together they combat enemies in the shapes and forms of words.

                  Once you’re starterted, you almost forget you’re playing a typing game. The paper craft art aesthetics of the game has you captivated by the vibrant colors and character’s storyline, while having you build your typing skills.

                  8. Daily Quote Typing

                    Need some inspiration? Say no more.

                    Daily Quote Typing is one of many gammes available on Wordgames.com – a website that offers a variety of typing games ranging from different levels based on your experience.

                    With Daily Quote Typing, users are able to type out inspirational quotes by famous leaders, inventors, and innovators such as Mark Twain and Albert Einstein.

                    Bottom Line

                    At the end of the day, discipline and patience is what teaches to type faster. It comes down to making that commitment to improving not only your typing abilities, but in a lifelong skill that benefits other areas in life.

                    By practicing daily and using effective games and apps, it’s only a matter of time before keystrokes will become second nature and your brain will adapt to learning other skills faster.

                    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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