It used to be that most people bought personal computers to do work—word processing, spreadsheets, databases, that sort of thing. But today, many people buy PCs to access the Internet—to send and receive email, surf the Web, and chat with other users.
The first step in going online is establishing a connection between your computer and the Internet. To do this, you have to sign up with an Internet service provider (ISP), which, as the name implies, provides your computer with a connection to the Internet.
If you're using your notebook PC on the road, all you have to do is look for a public WiFi hotspot. Your notebook connects to the hotspot, which then connects you to the Internet, simple as pie.
If you have a broadband connection to your Internet service provider (ISP), you connect your PC to the broadband modem. The connection is similar whether you're connecting via cable Internet or DSL; most broadband modems connect via either USB or Ethernet.
Connect one end of the supplied cable to the cable or telephone outlet on a nearby wall
Connect the other end of the supplied cable to the input jack on the back of your broadband modem.
Dial-Up Internet Some ISPs still offer a dial-up Internet connection. This type of connection uses your standard phone line but is extremely slow—just 56.6 kilobits per second (kbps) as opposed to the 3,000kbps or higher connection speeds possible with broadband connections. ■
Cable or DSL? Your cable company and phone company both offer broadband Internet access. Both cable Internet and your phone company's digital subscriber line (DSL) offerings provide the same always-on, super-fast Internet connection. ■
Connect one end of a USB cable to the USB "out" port on the back of the broadband modem.
Connect the other end of the USB cable to an open USB port on your notebook PC.
Connect the power cable on your broadband modem to a power source. The modem should now turn on.
Connecting via Wireless If you prefer not to anchor yourself to a wired Internet connection, you can connect your broadband modem to a wireless network router and then connect your notebook PC wirelessly. Learn more in Chapter 9, "Setting Up a Wireless Home Network." ■
After you sign up for your home Internet service, you need to configure your computer to work with your ISP. Windows 7 makes this simple; just connect your broadband modem (cable or DSL) to your computer and then perform a few simple steps.
Click Connect to the Internet (in the Network and Internet section).
Plug and Surf In many instances, you don't even have to perform these steps. Try launching your Web browser after you connect your broadband modem. If you can connect to a website, your computer was configured automatically and no manual setup is required. ■
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If your ISP provided a username and password, enter that information now. (Most broadband connections do not require this information.)
If you want other users of your computer to use this Internet connection, check Allow Other People to Use This Connection.
Dial-Up Connections These instructions cover connecting to a broadband (cable or DSL) Internet connection. If you're connecting via a slower dial-up connection, consult your ISP for setup instructions. ■
If you have a notebook PC, you have the option to connect to the Internet when you're out and about. Many coffeehouses, restaurants, libraries, and hotels offer wireless WiFi Internet service, either free or for an hourly or daily fee. Assuming that your notebook has a built-in WiFi adapter (and it probably does), connecting to a public WiFi hotspot is a snap.
^^ Click the Network icon in the notification area of the Windows taskbar.
The pop-up window should now list all available WiFi networks. Click the network you wish to connect to.
Finding the WiFi Signal When you're near a WiFi hotspot, your PC should automatically pick up the WiFi signal. Just make sure that your WiFi adapter is turned on (some notebooks have a switch for this, either on the front or on the side of the unit), and then look for a wireless connection icon in Windows' system tray or notification area. ■
^^ Click the Start menu and click Internet to launch the Internet Explorer Web browser.
©Some hotspots will ask for your username and password or require a credit card for payment. Enter the necessary information.
Q Click the Login or Enter button to access the hotspot.
Logging In to the Hotspot After Windows connects to the selected hotspot, you can log on to the wireless network, which you do by opening Internet Explorer. If the hotspot has free public access, you'll be able to surf normally. If the hotspot requires a password, payment, or other logon procedure, it will intercept the request for your normal home page and instead display its own login page. ■
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