If you have more than one computer in your home then you have a home network

Do you have two or more computers in your home? Have you ever wanted to create your own home network so that your computers could share resources such as printers within your home? Have been putting off doing this because you didn’t know how? Which cables to buy? What software to use?

Not to worry. You already have a home network in place, though you may not realize it. Others haven’t realized it also; see for example Wikipedia’s Home network.

I just realized I already had a network in place when I created two PDF files on the Ubuntu Linux machine I use for my volunteer efforts and wanted to move them to a Windows XP machine. Though I plan to create my own home network when I have the time, I haven’t yet had the time, and I did need to move them over.

I started out by writing the files to a USB flash drive. That’s easy to do using Ubuntu. But when I went to plug the drive into my Windows machine I realized there was no free USB slot available. I usually use a separate keyboard and mouse, and my Windows laptop only has two USB slots. I knew I could power down the machine, unplug the keyboard and mouse, and bring it up again so I could plug in the flash drive, but doing so would have required several minutes.

Then I thought of a better approach. Both machines were connected to the web. So I logged into my gmail account from the Ubuntu machine using Firefox, composed a mail to myself using an address that would cause it to be delivered to my Windows machine, included the two files as attachments, and sent it on its way.

I then logged into gmail from my Windows machine using Firefox, saw my note had arrived, and saved the attached files on my Windows machine.

Mission accomplished.

The key point is not that I used gmail but that both machines were connected to the internet, and so could use the internet to share resources.

A home network is not just the computers in your home.

There is a silent, virtual computer out there that is already part of your home network, at no cost to you. It’s called the internet.

And then I appreciated this has been going on for some time. I live in a two-level house. My wife’s home workspace is on the upper level, mine on the bottom, far enough apart that we can’t communicate by voice except by shouting, which we both find annoying. So from time to time when I check my mail downstairs I see that my wife has sent me a note.

Using the internet this way may not be efficient as having a “real” home network in place. But it does work, and is already there, so you can put off doing that home network while you are busily blogging away, checking out your MySpace account to build your own personal network, or checking baseball standings as the season draws to a close.

Then again, you can forget about all this computer stuff and unplug yourself from the internet so you can go upstairs to give your cutie-pie a hug.

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