Setting up the wireless on your laptop can be as easy and booting the computer and double clicking on an icon or as difficult as finding a needle in the middle of the dessert.
I will assume for the sake of time that you have a new laptop and it’s ready to go. Much of the work has already been done at the factory. So how do you connect to the internet? Start by going into your control panel and click on network connections. Then double-click on wireless connection. It will open a small window with a bar that says view wireless connection. Click on the bar and a list will appear with every wireless signal within range. The more bars highlighted the better.
Within that list you will find two types of connections: Open and Secured. For an open network, simply highlight the name in the list, click on the connect button and wait until it says connected. That’s it you are done.
The second type of a connection, secured, requires a bit more. If you want to use a signal that you own or have been given permission to use, highlight it and click connect as you would for an open signal. A small window will open with a space for the encryption key (the top line) and the password (the bottom line). Type this information into the appropriate space and then click ok. Wait while it connects and you are finished.
Normally, once this has been established there will be an icon in your taskbar that you can simply right-click on to open your wireless connection and you can choose to view available wireless networks whenever you wish. Once established, your computer will generally log you into the wireless setting automatically.
I mentioned above that the more highlighted bars on signal strength the better. This is because the stronger the signal, the faster your data can move and it moves with less interruption. As a general rule, you will not notice a problem to one or two bars missing if all you are using are normal applications or surfing the net. However if you try using an online gaming service it could lag or drop the game altogether.
Vista has a great application that you can download for free onto your desktop that shown not only signal strength but also where that signal is coming from. So you might be able to move closer to it and thus improve your signal.
There are places that allow you to access their wireless for free, coffee shops, etc. The process is the same, just click on the wireless icon, look for the open signal with the best strength and click connect.