Reader Question: Wireless Setup

Mark, I’d be interested in reading what else you have done to remove the wires from your office. I’m looking at as much as possible to wireless and I’m a bit stumped as to where to start. –James

Here is a general overview of our setup.

  1. Apple Airport Extreme – This sits on a chest of drawers across the room from my desk. It hooks into DSL and also into an external 500GB hard drive. Our house is small enough that it covers the whole thing, but in the past I’ve exanded the network with additional Airport devices. I have also used an Airport Express to hook up desktop computers that have a network connection, but not a wireless card. I use WPA encryption on the wireless network.  I have used some other wireless equipment in the past that was more powerful, but I’ve found that the Airport requires the least amount of my time fiddling with the networking.
  2. Computers – I have two desks facing each other. One is mine and one is my assistant’s. I use a MacBook Pro and she uses a Powerbook. Both connect to the airport base station. Mine can go 802.11n and hers supports up to 802.11g. We would probably get better speed if all of the computers were using 802.11n, but it still works well for our usage.
  3. Bluetooth – On my computer, I use a wireless bluetooth keyboard and mouse. My assistant has a wireless bluetooth mouse, but she usually just prefers the trackpad.
  4. Audio – I have used a Jawbone headset with my laptop in the past, but for some reason I can’t get it to work with Leopard. So I’m back to using a wired connection for that. I don’t have any external speakers.
  5. Phones – For business I have a cell phone and Skype. For personal calls we use Vonage hooked into an old VTech 2.4 Ghz cordless phone that supports multiple headsets. We have one near our network connection on the base station and the other in the kitchen. I have recently discovered that there needs to be at least 3 feet between the Airport and the phone base station or they start interfering. I don’t think that would be a problem with the new DECT phones.
  6. Printer – My printer has an ethernet port. It sits over by my Airport and plugs into one of the network jacks. It also has media card slots on the side that I can access over the network. It is fairly slow, but it gives me a simple way to pull data off cards without needing to put a card reader on my desk.
  7. Monitor – I use a 30 inch Cinema display. It has a single cord running to the back of it the splits out into a DVI, USB, Firewire (400), and powerbrick connection. When I kept my laptop on my desk, this wasn’t particularly handy, but now I keep my laptop on a shelf under my desk. This means I can plug in USB and Firewire devices into my monitor without needing to route the cable as far. It only gives you two Firewire and two USB, but that is usually more than what I need.
  8. Scanner – My ScanSnap scanner is something I wish was wireless. It has a USB connection and a power connection. My old flatbed scanner only has a single USB connection so it is much simipler to work with. Right now we have to manually switch the USB cable between my computer and my assistant’s.  I know there are some Fujitsu workgroup scanners that look like they might support networking, but most of those are much more expensive.
  9. Hotels With Wired Access – When I’m in a hotel with a wired connection, I usually use my Airport Express to give me wireless access. Not only does this make it where I can use my computer from anywhere in the room, but it also allows my wife and I to share the connection.
  10. Places Without Access – When I’m somewhere that lacks access or riding in a vehicle I have two options. First I can use my Blackberry as a wireless modem. This gives me about 300 Kbps because it is limited by the bluetooth connection. If I plug it into Windows, I can get around 1000 Kbps. I also have a Sprint EVDO PCI Express card that goes in my laptop. I generally get about 1200 Kbps with that. I can share either of these connections over Wifi if I’m with other people who need access.


  1. Mark Shead says

    @James – Because I can take Skype with me on my computer and because Vonage service is about twice as expensive if you want to use it for business.

  2. Mark Shead says

    Vernon – I use a Plantronics headset that came with a usb adapter. The headset uses a connection that will also work with my blackberry or other headset so I get double use out of it. I think it is the MX500i or something like that.

    I tried using the Jawbone bluetooth headset, but OS X kept disconnecting from it. I’d like to try it again with the new version.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *