Chapter 9. Playing Nicely with Others
With its discussion of networking, this chapter sets the table for chapters to come, and in some ways for many of the chapters that preceded it. For example, the ideas outlined in Chapter 12, "Email and Internet Browsing Tricks," won't be of much use unless you have an active network connection in the first place, and the network printing discussed in Chapter 8, "Print Management," won't do you any good without a network.
Much of this chapter is knowledge-based rather than "recipe-based," although I will touch on some really useful things you can do with your Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (hereafter TCP/IP) connection. The understanding you gain here will help you troubleshoot a host of communication problems.
The information in the chapter begins with an explanation of TCP/IP. The short version is this: in order to get on the Internet, your computer must first use the TCP/IP networking protocol stack. If that has you checking under the lid of your laptop, don't worry; it's built into the XP operating system. And while you don't necessarily need this information to get on the Internet and check your email, it sure helps to have a base understanding when things aren't working the way they're supposed to.
Such understanding can save you countless hours of frustration, guesswork, and time on hold waiting for some technical support department guy. Put another way, if this chapter saves you but a single call to the Geek Squad (i.e, me), it will be worth the price of the book. (Those Geeks have this little hourly rate = desperation x lack of understanding algorithm, the mathematical proof of which is set forth in your invoice.)
What follows, then, is a condensed TCP/IP tutorial, aimed at giving you a working knowledge of how XP accesses a computer network. It also sets up most of the rest of the book. I could go on at length, believe me; I have had the pleasure of delivering a five-day course on the subject. I could spend this entire book on TCP/IP.