What Can You Do Over a Wireless Network?

What Else Can You Do Over a Wireless Network?

Well, you’d be surprised. There really are all sorts of things you can do with wireless networks — you’re only really limited by your imagination! Here are a few weird and wonderful ideas to get you started, but don’t be afraid to try out anything else you think of.

Store Files in Your Car.

If you put a small wireless-enabled hard drive in your car, you can use it as a mobile file server, avoiding the need to send files around on the Internet or burn them to a CD. This can be especially good if you often move large files around. You could, for example, upload your files to the car-server when you’re at home, and then download them again when you get to work.

There are other uses of this too — you could, for example, send music files from your computer to the car to play on your journey, without having to physically move anything at all.

Build a Real ‘Network Neighbourhood’.

You can extend wireless networks as far as you want, using repeaters and directional antennas. If some of your neighbours put repeaters in their houses, then any networks in the area could be extended to cover a gradually larger range.

Ultimately, if you have co-operative neighbours, you could turn your whole street into a wireless hotspot: you could even all share one super-fast Internet connection, paying less per person than you usually would for a much slower one. There is even a name for this: a ‘freenet’ or ‘community net’. People who have tried it find that it makes people feel much closer to each other, bringing back long-lost social ties within the local community.

Bear in mind, though, that you’re basically running your own ISP if you decide to do this, with all the support issues that could involve. You might want to ask your ISP’s permission first, in case they get upset about you sharing your connection so freely. Whole books have been written about this topic — for more information, you might want to read one of them, such as Rob Flickenger’s ‘Building Wireless Community Networks’. If you live in a big city, you might even find that someone’s already trying to do it in your areas.

Make Cheap Phone Calls.

If you get a Bluetooth-enabled headset, you can use your wirelessly networked computer to make cheaper (or free) phone calls. Voice over IP (VoIP) software such as Skype makes it easy to call anyone in the world, and using a headset makes it even more convenient than using a phone — you can do whatever you want while you talk.

Most VoIP software is limited to calling other VoIP phones, which is free. Services like Skype, however, allow you to call real phone numbers too. Since the call is made in whatever country the number is in and then routed over the Internet to you, you can call worldwide for not much more than the cost of a local call. There are few things more fun than chatting to your friend half the world away for an hour and knowing it only cost you 50 cents — and that all they had to do was pick up the phone.

Watch Media on Your TV.

There is a new wave of wireless media devices that connect to your TV like a cable box or a DVD player, but allows your TV to play media files you have shared on your wireless network. If you use an operating system like Windows Media Center Edition or similar, it’s easy to watch videos from your computer on your TV — you even get a remote control. On top of that, you can record shows from your TV, TiVo-style, and then share these recordings over your wireless network.

You want things you digitally record on one TV to be viewable on all your TVs? Now they can be. Simply get two wireless-enabled digital recorders and they’ll form a network all on their own — simple as anything.

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