Communication Tools

Once you have your computer and modem (see chapter 3), you are ready to configure your computer to connect to FIRN’s remote computers, handle email, and browse the Web. This chapter will give you step-by-step instructions for configuring the most common types of computers to connect to FIRN using a modem and a regular telephone line. This is called a Point to Point Protocol (PPP) connection. The following types of computers are covered in this chapter:

Of course, if your computer does not already have one installed, you will also need to install a browser such as Netscape or Internet Explorer to be able to use the Web.
A second method of connecting to the FIRN network is a direct connection available in many schools. If you have a direct connection to the Internet, your school’s network administrator will be able to assist you. The intricacies of direct connections through a local area network are beyond the scope of this book; however, a short overview can be found beginning on page 72.

Connecting to a 28.8 Kbps dial-up number

If you have dialed into a FIRN number and a blank terminal screen appears, you are probably in an area still served by 28.8 Kbps connections. FIRN is attempting to upgrade these areas, at which time your computer will respond as described earlier in this booklet. In the meantime, the procedure will be slightly different from dial-ups in 56 Kbps areas.

Logging into FIRN

a. If your terminal window is blank, press the Enter key. The Enter username prompt should appear. (You may have to press the Enter key several times for this to happen.)

b. At the Enter username> prompt, enter your FIRN Profile ID and press Enter.

c. At the Enter user password> prompt, enter your FIRN password and press Enter.

d. You will receive the message “Searching for Script file. Please wait...”

e. The FIRN Network Access Menu will then be displayed.

Figure 53. FIRN Network Access Menu

f. When you see the Enter Option Number prompt, type 19 and press Enter.

g. Garbled characters may be displayed on your screen. Then click Continue or press F7.

h. Launch your browser, email application, or any other PPP applications you would like to use.

i. Enjoy your FIRN connection!

Disconnecting from FIRN

a. When you are finished, quit the PPP applications you launched.
b. Terminate your PPP connection, following the directions for your type of compter:

• Macintosh 7.6 and 8.0:

Click the Disconnect button in the PPP control panel. When Disconnect changes to Connect, you have hung up the modem and cleared the PPP connection to FIRN.Then Quit PPP by clicking the close box in the upper left corner of the control panel.

• Macintosh 8.5 through 9.2:

Click the Disconnect button in the Remote Access control panel. When Disconnect changes to Connect, you have hung up the modem and cleared the PPP connection to FIRN. Then Quit Remote Access control panel by clicking the close box in the upper left corner of the control panel.

• Macintosh OS X:

Click on the Modem icon in the menu bar and select Disconnect.

• Windows:
Restore the Connected to... window and click Disconnect. When Disconnect changes to Connect, you have hung up the modem and cleared the PPP connection to FIRN.

Direct connections

Many schools are establishing direct connections to the Internet through local area networks (LANs). LANs consist of several computers with network interface cards (such as Ethernet cards) that are linked together with cables. Usually, a Ūle server on the network contains the programs and Ūles that can be shared. Other peripherals, such as printers, scanners, and CD-ROM players, may also be connected on the network for all to use.
An important feature of LANs is that they can serve as direct connections to other, larger networks, such as the Internet. For example, a school LAN can connect directly into a FIRN node by leasing a high-speed data line. A network router is required at the school and a monthly connection fee must be paid to the company that leases the line. In addition, software that can “speak” the language of the Internet (TCP/IP or Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) must be loaded on the network.
The technical considerations for connecting a school LAN to the Internet are beyond the scope of this publication; however, a few advantages and disadvantages should be considered:

Advantages of direct connections

No busy signals. Modems are not required for direct connections; therefore, you will not receive a busy signal.
Simultaneous connections. A major advantage of connecting a LAN to the Internet via direct connections is that all student computers can access the Internet at the same time.
Leased line. The leased data line can transmit data from many computers at the same time.
Less interference on the lines. Interference on the high-speed leased communication lines is minimal compared to regular telephone lines used for dial-in and PPP connections.

Disadvantages of direct connections

Hardware expense. In addition to the components of a LAN, additional hardware, such as a router and other communication devices, must be purchased to connect a school LAN to the Internet service provider.
Expense of leased lines. The expense of the leased line is a major consideration in linking a LAN to the Internet. Leased lines are available at several speeds and prices from the telephone or cable company (in most areas).
Complexity. Obtaining and installing a direct Internet connection is complex. In addition to the LAN, router, and high-speed data line, you must contract with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), assign Internet Protocol (IP) numbers, obtain direct connection software, and set up an Internet mail server. Before entering into this arena, seek the advice of networking experts, contact other schools in your area, and check with FIRN.

|| Contents || Telecommunications in the Classroom || Florida Information Resource Network || Hardware ||
|| Configuring your Computer || PPP email Applications || Implementation || Appendices ||

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