Posts Tagged ‘wireless’

Windows with two network connections: internal and external

Posted in Blog, Tech, Tutorial on May 6th, 2011 by Matt – 2 Comments

This post applies to both Windows 7 and Windows XP (and probably the server OS's as well).

At the office we have two available networks: An internal network with our servers that also has filtered internet and an external wifi network that just offers unfiltered internet.

The main issue is that, as an IT tech, I download a lot of large files that can slow down our network, so I often found myself using a laptop on our external wifi downloading items so that I don't slow internal people down.

My goal was to have two network connections on my Windows 7 PC, one wired internal connection and one a wifi external connection. I also want my internet traffic to go over my wifi connection but at the same time any have the ability to access all the internal sources.

A warning before I start: Doing this incorrectly can open a giant security hole in your network, please don't do it without the approval of your IT dept.

First, I simply hooked up both network connections and tested them both (by only plugging one in at a time and checking the internet) as fully functional.

Once both are functional you need to edit your routing table so the correct requests go over the correct network adapter.

You can do this via the command line, but I found the Nirsoft NetRouteView utility to make this whole process a whole bunch easier.

Download and extract the NetRouteView utility. Then if on Windows 7, right click the NetRouteView.exe file and select "Run as Administrator".

NetRouteView with two connections

Click the "Interface Name" column title to sort your entries by interface like above.

Depending on your network only one or two changes should be made. First, you need to remove the entry from your internal network. That entry is a "catch all". We want the catch all on the outside network and not the inside. So remove from your internal adapter and make sure its already there on your external connection.

For most people that should be it! But for me I had to add one entry to my internal network to get it to work. I wanted the whole (that means anything that has a 192 for its first number in it's IP address) to go on my internal network connection. So I added the following:

Adding a route

Adding a route

Thats it! To check that everything is going over the correct interface I added the Network Traffic gadget to my Windows 7 desktop twice (just drag it to the desktop twice from the gadget list). I made my internal connection red and my external connection green.

Network Traffic with two connections

Network Traffic with two connections

Now I can watch as I view a web page which adapter it's going out.

Stream Music To Your Home Theater Wirelessly

Posted in Blog, Tech, Tutorial on June 1st, 2010 by Matt – 8 Comments

Big home theater systems are now ubiquitous. Everyone seems has at least a 5 to 7 speaker setup with big subwoofers. Yet, why is it that when I go over to someones house, they have their computer speakers cranked up playing either iTunes or Pandora Radio and their big theaters idle? I asked around. Most people never thought about it. In their minds their computers and home theaters were two separate systems. They don't have to be.

Here's a how-to that covers getting music from your computer to any stereo system with a focus on simplicity that anyone can set up.

Before we jump into this, we need to talk about what kind of equipment you already have. For the sake of brevity I'm going to assume you already have a computer, a wireless network and a home theater. If you have all that then lets move on, if not, then get that setup and continue from here.

Here's how its going to work:

We're going to put a program on your computer that will send the music over the wireless network to a device plugged into your home-theater.

AirPort Express To Home-Theater Streaming Diagram

Other than the equipment you already have, we're going to need one piece of hardware and one piece of software.

The hardware consists of an Apple Airport Express and one audio cable. Apple's Airport Express has a number of features. It can extend your current wireless network to cover more area, host a printer, host a USB hard drive, be used as a cat5 to wireless bridge or stream music over your wired or wireless network.

Setting up the Airport Express is easy, plug it in to a socket, hook up the cable for audio to your home theater and run the included software CD on your computer. During the initial setup you'll give the Airport Express a name (a good name is where the unit is located, in case you end up with a bunch of these), tell it to join your existing wireless network and give it the network password if you have one. That's all there is to it.

The Airport Express supports two audio output methods: via 3.5mm headphone jack or 3.5mm optical output. The simplest method is a male to male 3.5mm headphone jack cable if your receiver has 3.5mm jack input. My home theater does not, so I went with a 3.5mm headphone to dual stereo RCA connectors. When in doubt, go with the RCA cables, every home-theater supports them.

3.5mm Headphone Male to Male

3.5mm Headphone Male to Dual Stereo RCA Male

If you want true digital audio to your home-theater, go with the optical audio option. You'll need a funky cable that's specific to Apple audio output. Optical cables work exactly like other cables, but they use light pulses instead of electrical pulses to transmit signal. Just plug one end into the Airport Express's output and the other to your optical input on your home theater receiver.

Apple Mini Optical to Toslink

That covers the hardware setup. Now we need to get a program that will send audio to the Airport Express from our computer. We have a couple of options.

iTunes: Since the Airport express is an Apple product, iTunes has support for it built right into it. Just play music like you normally do in iTunes, then look in the bottom right corner of your iTunes window. There will be a little box (unhelpfully not labeled) that defaults to "Computer". Click in the box and select the name that you chose earlier for the Airport Express.

Speaker Output Selection in iTunes

The downside of iTunes is you can only stream music you have currently in your library. What if you wanted to stream music from Pandora, or Sirius Satellite Radio's web interface? You'll need something different.

Rogue Amobea's AirFoil: This gem of a program is available for Mac or PC and enables you to stream the audio output of any program on your computer to an Airport Express unit or other computer with the AirFoil software running.

Rogue Amobea's Airfoil

It's another one of those programs that I consider a "must buy". Nothing else I've used has come close in terms of quality and reliability. To use: You select the name of the program who's audio you want from a drop down box. Then select click on the speaker icon next to the speakers you want the sound to come out, in this case that would be our Airport Express. Away you go.

Now you too can have great party tricks like taking a laptop out by the pool and change the song, play a different internet radio station or adjust the volume. All without going inside. Or use Apple's iTunes remote software, available in the App Store, to change the volume or song currently streaming from iTunes. All from your iPhone or iPod touch.

For the price of $125 you can have any music you can play on your laptop or desktop computer streamed to your home theater and I bet it wasn't as difficult to set up as you were expecting.