To this day, I still don’t understand why the entire campus is Wi-Fi enabled except for the residence units. I’m not saying that wired connections are bad, as they are generally faster than Wi-Fi connections, but some devices don’t have Ethernet ports to plug into a wired connection. Tablets (notably iPads), smartphones, iPods, etc. Also if you have two computers, or an Xbox 360 or some other device that is to be plugged in and you only have one Ethernet port, you’re screwed without a switch/router.
So there’s a few options here. You can camp out in the University Center or Engineering Building (SITE) with your device in order to access the Internet, you can fiddle around with Internet Connection Sharing on Windows XP/Vista/7, or you can use a third-party software program to turn your computer into a Wi-Fi hotspot, wherever you get Internet. This article will describe the third option.
I’d also like to point out that this can be done not only in residence, but at home, in hotel rooms, and wherever you plug your computer in to the Internet. Yes, it even works at work too, but please keep in mind your workplace Internet use policies.
What you will need:
- A computer running Windows XP, Vista or 7 that has wireless networking capability
First of all, ensure your computer is plugged into the Internet.
Download Connectify onto the computer that is plugged in. It will require a system restart, just to let you know. The free version is fine for our purpose, however if you feel the need to upgrade to the PRO version later on, feel free to do so.
After your computer restarts, it should start up automatically. If not, double click the Connectify icon on the desktop to open the program. You will be shown a screen like this:
Enter in a name (SSID) for your hotspot. What you are doing here is essentially creating a virtual router. The free version requires the name to be preceded with “Connectify-”. Also, enter a password, as you are creating a secure network. (Yes, mine is that long.)
In the Internet box, pick the one that has the Ethernet cord icon (usually there will be only one). This is because you’re connected right now using the wired connection. You will also notice here that there is an option for Automatic, which takes the guesswork out of this and lets you share any connection, however it is only available in PRO version.
Under Advanced, in the Share Over box, choose the one with the wireless icon (the six bars). If there is more than one, you may have to play around with it. Avoid ones that have the word “virtual” in it. Ensure that sharing mode is set to Wi-Fi Access Point, Encrypted (WPA2). Depending on your Network and Sharing Center settings in Windows, you may be sharing your personal documents over the network. If you create an open network, anyone can connect and open documents, not a good thing.
Click Start Hotspot when you are ready. Once the hotspot is created, you can turn it off by clicking Stop Hotspot.
Technical note which most people can safely ignore: In most cases, this hotspot is DHCP enabled, which means that any device that connects to it is automatically assigned an IP address, without manually entering in the Gateway address, IP address, DNS servers, etc. Modern routers usually work in a similar manner.
Now that this is all set up, you can go to your iPod, smartphone, iPad, other computers, etc, and connect to it, just like any other wireless network. Under the Clients tab, you can see the devices that are connected, and the private IP address that each device is assigned:
|Wi-Fi connected on BlackBerry device
|Wi-Fi connected on iOS device (iPod touch)
|Connectify showing connected devices
and their respective IP addresses
So there you have it, Wi-Fi, sans router. The reason I’m recommending third-party software over ICS is because with ICS, DHCP wasn’t working properly on the ad-hoc network that was created, so I had to assign an IP to the gateway, as well as to each individual device. Also, ad-hoc networks do not support WPA/WPA2 I believe, and it would have to be an open network. With Connectify, a secure, encrypted network can be created.
Do you have Wi-Fi in your residence?