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Sunday, 9 Jan 2005

I havn't written much on my blog for a while as i've been heavily revising for my A Level exams (I trust readers understand just how important those exams are from the media)

Here, however is the *COMPLETE* guide to sharing and setting up Wireless Internet using the PalmOne WiFi SDIO expansion card, this is based on my own *PERSONAL* experience and should proove useful to many others hoping to set up wireless internet accessible by their PDA. The handheld I used for this was the PalmOne Zire 72, but it should also work on one of the tungstons' with built in Wireless.

Setting Up

  1. Firstly if you dont have a hardware WIFI router (hence wanting to setup an "Ad-hoc" or "adhoc" connection), or a box (other than a PC) capable of routing the internet over WiFi, the Windows XP Wizard will be no use to you, DO NOT run it

  2. Equip your PC or Laptop with WiFi, install the drivers for it

  3. Open up the "Network Connections" folder from the "Control Panel" (Start->Settings->Control Panel) right click your Wireless network connection (it will have a different icon from any other networking device), Right click and select "Properties" then go to the "Wireless Networks" tab.

    • Click "Add", in the SSID box give your network a name e.g. "Bills' Wireless"... "Matthew1471!" etc...

    • Select "Open" Network authentication (Palm WiFi does *NOT* support the more secure "WPA-None" I do not recommend selecting "Shared")

    • In DataEncryption select "WEP" (So you have a bit of encryption running on it) WEP will require devices that want to connect to authorise using a "KEY"

    • Uncheck the box "The key is provided for me automatically" (You do not want to just negotiate a key with just about anyone, you want to only allow a SPECIFIC key to gain access, If you did leave it checked, your PC will just negotiate with whatever encryption key it gets given and vice versa, which is not a form of authentication)

    • Type in a key of either 5 or 13 characters, symbols and letters, make this as random as you possibly can (You do NOT want anyone to either guess, or easily hack into it, 13 characters is recommended over 5 obviously)

    • Tick the box at the bottom "This is a computer-to-computer (adhoc) network; wireless access points are not used"

    • The authentication tabs' page should be all grayed out, telling you you can't have authentication because you don't have a Wireless Access Point

    • The connection tabs "Connect when this network is in range" should be selected (otherwise you'll have to tell Windows to connect to it before you try connecting on your Palm.

  4. Click "OK" to add the network

  5. Click "Advanced" and uncheck "Automatically connect to non-prefered networks" unless you want your PC to connect to any WiFi within range (a security risk as far as I know)

  6. Click "OK" to close the advanced options, if you double click the wireless connection icon in your tray, you should now be able to click "Connect" (even if your Palm is off), your PC is now set up for a wireless connection using that network name, with the privacy key you specified

  7. Now set up "Internet Connection Sharing" on the wireless connection so that your computer will route internet requests too...

    • Still in "Network Connections", Rght-click the Ethernet network connection that is used to access the Internet, and then click Properties.

    • On the Advanced tab, select the "Allow other network users to connect through this computer's Internet connection" check box and clear the "Allow other network users to control or disable this shared Internet connection" check box.

    *IF* you are already running ICS on another computer on your network you will NOT be able to run it on another computer, the solution for this is to "Bridge" your Network connection with your Wireless connection, so they can talk to eachother

Tips :

Q. How can I speed up connection times?
A. Connection times can be sped up DRAMATICALLY by setting your IP settings manually instead of waiting for your palm to communicate with the DHCP server, On my Palm I have allocated it the IP address and have told it the gateway (the address of the ICS server) as "" and I have also used this address for the Primary DNS server (as a DNS server is running on there) and have left the secondary DNS server blank. Now you have effectively cut out the connection process, If your out of range it will still claim that you are connected but "WebPro" will state a Comm.8 error about DNS timing, this is WebPro basically telling you that it didn't recieve a response from a DNS server.

Q. Can I get "free" internet?
A. Many homes are now investing in wireless internet, many computer users have no idea what they are doing when they set them up either... This can result in users creating an "Access Point" that just about any PC within range can connect to (Including you) and once connected you have the internet in front of you. Installing NetChaser to your Palm will help you discover what networks are inrange. I must however diclaim this by stating that it can be seen as unethical, however here are currently no laws about this so I am leaving this down to you to decide. If a "Access Point" is protected via a password (or passkey) breaking into that *IS* illegal (especially in the UK under the "Computer Misuse" act) because basically you are circumventing a security restriction put in place to limit access. Whether users have set up a free "Access Point" for your enjoyment or whether it just happens they have done without realising is an issue many people debate.

Troubleshooting :

Q. I'm getting the "Comm.8 error", or errors telling me my DNS timed out and that i'm to check coverage
A. This occurs when either your not getting a strong signal or (Theres a chance the problem is with your DNS server, but if you can surf the internet fine on your PC it will not be this), I protested when I first saw this error "But i'm 10cm away from the WiFi connection and it's picking up my DHCP settings fine and getting allocated the right address", turns out that that it was the USB WiFi adapter, for once I connected a PCI desktop card the web sprung to life... Moral of the story, even if your picking up an IP address and your DNS settings, the signal STILL might be weak.

Q. I'm getting assigned a IP address of "169.X.X.X" (or you are getting told you have not specified a DNS server)
A. This occurs when your Palm cannot get an IP address off the DHCP server, running "Internet Connection Sharing" on your computer should provide you with a DHCP server, so the moment you see this error is a definite "uhoh", if you are using something else to share your internet connection other than ICS you might want to just select "Manual" for your IP address settings and entre in any static address (e.g. "") and make sure you specify your ISPs' DNS server (or the IP address of a DNS server on your network) Also read the answer to "I'm just not getting internet access".

Q. I'm just not getting internet access.
A. To share internet access you need a NAT (Network Address Translator) something that can carry across the request for internet onto one network to another network (e.g. any PC thats' connected to the internet needs to request whatever you request on your Palm for e.g.) the cheapest solution is to run "Internet Connection Sharing" on the PC that is directly connected to the internet (e.g. the one that has the wire coming from your internet to that PC), ICS will by default only share with one other connection, to share more than one you need to "Bridge them up" by selecting all the ones you want to join together and hit to "Bridge Connections", if you have WiFi set up on another PC (different from your Internet connection "Server") you may bridge your network connection with your wireless network connection and this will allow the Palm to contact services on your server (e.g. the ICS)

If you have a hardware "Access point", you will largely need to read up the manual on it, it will be a lot more straightforward and should have a built in NAT (Network Address Translator), if it doesn't you will need to set up another WiFi connection on your PC as Adhoc (See the guide at the top of this entry), if your Wireless Access Point does offer NAT, you should be able to just type in the SSID and WEP (You may need to disable more complicated authentication if the Palm does not seem to support the authentication you are using on the AP)