need more bars

Got a new computer with wifi. Unfortunately know squat about wifi. Getting one, sometimes two bars on the indicator that comes up now and again. My neighbor tells me I need an antenna. Checked with NewEgg and they have a few but understand little or nothing of the discriptions available and the pix they have don't look like anything I can connect to my computer. I do have those flat connectors and phone looking type connectors but nothing that looks like a cable connector.

Wonder if anyone can turn me on to a tutorial somewhere here on the net or recommend a way to get more bars? Oh... I have vista on my system, hope that isn't the cause of another problem I've been having with this system.
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  1. If it's a laptop the wireless antenna is built in (usually into the lid) you can mostly improve it by re-orientating the laptop (swivel it to change the angle of the antenna) or by bringing the laptop nearer the router.

    Often changing the wireless channel will help avoid interference from neighbour's wifi networks. Also relocate other wireless stuff like video senders away from computer or router.

    Frankly the best tutorial is to read the literature which came with the router -- if necessary download the manual from the manufacturer's site and while there see if there are FAQs or tutorials on the site, Some like Netgear have excellent user forums.

    Vista can be an issue because the drivers situation isn't very settled -- if the wireless is Intel and you can identify the model you may find a newer driver on their site (but be careful if you have little or no experience).

    Check that your computer has an ethernet networking port like those on the router (most new ones do) and use that to connect to the router when making changes to the router setup.

    If this doesn't help, try posting more details of your system (type or router etc).
  2. Appreciate your response. The router is internal on both my laptop and desktop computers. There is a ethernet (fat phone
    like connection) on both computers and I currently have both connected via that wire.

    As best I understand from reading through "How stuff works" web pages the wifi connection I'm trying to connect to is from a
    public source - public library or fire station in my area.

    Both computers are Acer. The desk top is an Athalon 64 and the laptop, Turion 64 and both came installed with Vista. There
    was very little paper documentation that came with the systems but have been looking for information and/or software from
    the net that will give me the details of what all is in the systems.

    I'm guessing I'll need to buy a router and an outside antenna. Please let me know if I'm completely out of the ball park with that
    guess. I'm in the middle of a remodeling project here at home so would like to resolve this if I have to drill holes through experior

    I'll check with NewEgg and Netgear on the documentation and what's in the systems. Oh, the laptop picks up the wifi signal
    great when I take it down town.
  3. You are completly out of the ball park.

    The thing in the computer is a wireless adapter.

    A wireless router (actually usually a modem/router) is used to connect to the phone line for ADSL broadband and then route it to the computer either via wireless or ethernet cable.

    If you are able to detect other people's wireless routers, your chances of connecting to the internet that way are slim as most use encryption.

    Some public spaces (notably MacDonalds burger dives) have free wireless connections and you could access broadband that way with a laptop. Normally you'd need to pay an ISP to supply you with broadband via your home phone line (or cable TV connection) . They will normally supply a modem or wireless modem/router . Good Luck.
  4. Ok in a window called Wireless Network Connection they list Belkin54g as an unsecured network with 2 bars and 2WIRE101 Security-enabled network with 2 bars. Belkin goes from not there at all to 2 bars, 2Wire is usually there with 2 bars but I can't log into that cause of the security stuff apparently.

    I have been thinking that Belkin is a public network as we are suppose to have wifi in areas here in Austin.

    I have been using Belkin to download stuff from the net now and again and it works like a charm so I'm thinking I have a modem/router of some kind internal on both systems.

    I would like to get any free-bee connection I can from the city here in Austin or at least try to before I have to pay a monthly bill for cable or DSL. Give that, can you give me a brand name/component name for the stuff I need to do that? At whatever the cost, seems it would be cheaper than just a few months of cable or DSL.
  5. The Belkin connection you have been using is probably in someone's home and they have simply failed to change the router's ID from the default -- most manufacturers like Belkin send the stuff out with their brand name as the ID. Obviously this person has also failed to apply wireless encryption. The reason you can't connect is that the 2 bars indicates that you don't have enough signal to establish a reliable link.

    Strictly speaking it's an offence (certainly in Britain) to knowingly use another person's wireless network without their permission, but I'd like to know who hasn't at some time or another !

    If you are able to detect wireless networks with both your computers it means they already have wireless adapters built in (this is more typical with laptops). They won't have a router built in.

    Obviously if you take the laptop to an area with free wireless networking (such as a coffee bar or MacDonalds) you will be able to use the internet that way. You shouldn't need to add any further equipment, though you may need to configure the laptop's network settings -- McDonalds in London have a leaflet about wifi and, in the branch I visited, a staff member who will help.
  6. Here in Texas we operate on the principle, "if it ain't specifically allowed it's forbidden" at least in regards to the individual. Big
    business and government of course are absolved from any prohibitions. Something we have adopted in some twisted way from
    you Brits as I understand. I suspect that applies to using another person's wireless network without their permission. But I digress.

    So I'm to understand an adapter is different from a router/modem but router/modem are interchangeable for the most part, at least
    in the wifi world.

    I suppose despite my most fervent attempts I'm going to have to pluck down a pile of our ever weakening dollars for cable or DSL
    if I want broad band. I will of course snoop around a bit more as here in Austin, besides claiming to be the "live music capital
    of the world" we also claim to be computer and wifi friendly. Perhaps I can prevail on our Lord Mayor to expand the public library's
    wifi stuff to include my neighborhood.

    Appreciate you hanging in here with me via this blizzard of electrons. I guess this old dog can be taught new tricks even though I'll have to pay through the nose in the end.
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