This chapter gave you a core understanding of how your computer talks to other computerswhether it's the computer in the next cubicle or the one across the globe. No matter what the transmission medium, the rules, or protocol, for TCP/IP communication remains the same.
Further, TCP/IP is here to stay, and it is the default networking protocol for all modern operating systems. That wasn't true when I started in this business. Back then, if you wanted to network Novell systems, for example, you had to learn a protocol called IPX/SPX. Apple networks? You'd better brush up on AppleTalk. (And for Microsoft networks, you had to know a thing or two about NetBEUI.) Don't know what those protocols are? Fine. You don't have to.
Now, fortunately, everything's TCP/IP, and the skills and knowledge acquired here will serve you well for many years to come. What you've learned will help you as you add a second or third device to your home network or add a new router to your existing small office implementation. Better still, it might even convince your boss to let you telecommute once in a while. ("Look, I can still access my office computer right from home, and there are so many less distractions when I'm at home. I'll be twice as productive in half the time!")
More significantly, we looked some of the technologies that work in conjunction with an active TCP/IP connection. We looked at ways to access your office desktop from home with Remote Desktop, and we explored ways to help a friend in need with Remote Assistance. We also examined some utilities that can help you get back on your feet if those connections fail.
In the next chapter, we'll examine a specific type of networkingwireless networks. All the concepts presented here will still apply. For example, there's nothing magical about a wireless network card unless you count the fact that it doesn't require a cable. The wireless network card still requires an IP address before it can communicate with other computers, and you still will decide how that wireless cared receives its address, either manually or automatically. The next chapter, then, focuses not on networking considerations, but specifically on issues that can arise in a wireless environment.