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Making a traveling personal wireless network with a MacBook Pro
Getting multiple wireless devices online from a single hotel wired Internet connection
By Joshua Virata

Although the prices of travelling keep going up due to the rising price of gas, many people continue to choose to travel. Although many hotels offer high speed Internet in the rooms, access is usually of the wired kind. The average family now have multiple computer users, including teenagers who have their personal lives on their own notebook computers. These families will benefit from a traveling personal wireless solution that I will show you how to set up here, provided you have a MacBook or MacBook Pro. 


There are many consumer products such as the Apple iPod Touch, Sony PSP, or the Sony mobile messenger device that use wireless access points to get online content, play multiplayer games, or even use popular messengers to chat with friends. But without a wireless access point it's a no-go with any of these devices. But not anymore. If you have an Apple laptop there is a very simple solution for creating your own wireless network. 


As long as you have access to a wired high speed Internet connection with your Mac you can share this connection with all of the other devices that require wireless access points to get content. Once your Mac is online with the wired connection, sharing that connection is easy.


Select Internet sharing

Select WEP encryption

Ethernet is the default

Select all the sharing


In the system preferences panel in Mac OS 10.5, click on the sharing icon to bring up the sharing settings pane. Once there click on Internet sharing option in the left window of options. In this option there are settings to share your wired Internet connection through FireWire, Bluetooth, and through the Airport wireless. For Airport there are a few settings that can be set such as the network name, and the two types of WEP encryption available. Of course the network can be set up without any encryption at all. 


Now while setting this up I did run into a few problems with the set up and encryption styles and different devices. Since the encryption is password based using 40-bit or 128-bit WEP encryption, the HEX keys aren't made available for you to see. Now set up with the Apple iPod Touch and iPhone weren't a problem to set up with a Windows-based laptop yet the Sony PSP was a problem because these two devices didn't offer password key creation for WEP. For the 128-bit key it was easy to find a website that could generate the 26-character alphanumeric key for me but for 40-bit keys it was a bit harder. On the Airport set up screen Apple does warn that 40-bit encryption may be more compatible than the 128-bit flavor. What would be a great suggestion for newer releases of this feature would be the capability to use WPA encryption styles because WPA is easier to set up, usually done with a password or a phrase where the keys are generated automatically. In the worst case scenario you can always set up the network to have no encryption for maximum compatibility. Once set up the network looks as if it is being broadcast by a wireless router with an automatic DHCP server that assigns private IP addresses, DNS servers and search servers. That about sums it up. With this set up we were able to run a second notebook computer, an iPod touch and a Sony PSP with the MacBook Pro acting as the wireless access point.

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Joshua Virata is a 2008 graduate of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA. He has been using computers since the age of 2 and is proficient in the areas of home wired and wireless networking, music creation, secure computing, cell phone communication and GPS navigation. You can email him at [email protected]

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