Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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Fun with Windows networking...

marypcb and I have a fairly typical geek house, with far too many computers. However, in order to reduce the number of wires trailing around the house, we've only put a wired network into one room. The rest of the house has to use wireless access.

In order to review some TV software and tools, Mary has been loaned a media PC full of TV tuners and video capture cards. It's a nice box that looks like it's come from an overclockers' convention, all shiny metal and perspex. Unfortunately it needs to be tested down in the lounge, and it needs to be connected to the network in order to access some of the features in the digital video recorder software. But (and it's a big but) it doesn't have an ethernet card, and we don't have a PCI wireless card (or for that matter a piece of 10baseT that would run from the office to the lounge).

So how could we get it on line?

Luckily we had a brainwave. Using an old laplink parallel port cable, we were able to connect the desktop PC to a wireless laptop. That would allow us to at least transfer files to and from the network. A bit of further investigation revealed that the Windows XP version of the built in direct cable connection could actually be configured to act as a remote access server and client, passing IP packets from the desktop PC to the wireless network, using the laptop as the server. We tried to get a browser running, but it took a couple of pings to the house gateway box before packets started flowing.

And there it was, online and connected to the registration site and the TV guide. Phew. An interesting challenge and a working solution. And one that came out of the box. I'm pretty sure it would be possible to do similar in UNIX-based OSes by setting up a PPP daemon on the wireless box, and running a serial cable between the two systems. That, however, is something to try out another day.
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