Posts Tagged ‘WiFi’

WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 4: Secure Your WiFi Network

January 26, 2012 3 comments

Secure Your WiFi NetworkWelcome back to our series on WiFi networks. First, we explained the difference between the two major types of WiFi. Then we explained how to get your wireless network… uh… wired up and helped you decide the right WiFi format for you. Now let’s talk about security.

Secure Your WiFi Network

Before you get to work performing all of those high speed transfer of giant files, you have to consider security. Of course we know that every computer on your new-fangled wireless network has antivirus and firewall software installed. Doesn’t it?

But the dance of techno security doesn’t end with those two moves. In order to make sure you don’t have unwanted traffic eating up your bandwidth and eavesdropping on your traffic, you need to secure your WiFi network.

Fortunately new wireless routers come with security solutions built in. All you have to do is access your router’s front end through your browser and activate your wireless security. We suggest using WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access II) but WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) security will also provide protection, although to a lesser degree. Be sure to read your routers documentation to learn all about securing your wireless network. While you are at it we STRONGLY suggest changing your wireless router user-name and password. Just be sure to remember this information. If you take your laptop or tablet to a new location that has a secured wireless network, you will need to ask for their network password before you can access it. See, security keeps out strangers!

In Conclusion

Now you are ready to go out in the world and stay connected wherever you find a WiFi signal! With your new knowledge you can check your mail at the coffee shop, play World of Warcraft at the library, or even get some CAD work done using AutoCAD or AutoCAD WS at your favorite Chinese restaurant! You can even use your new wireless network at home to stream Internet content to your smart TV or gaming console. The possibilities are endless and all because you cut the wire and went wireless!

Author: Curt Moreno

WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 3: Choosing a WiFi Format

January 24, 2012 3 comments

Which WiFi Technology Will Work For You?Welcome back to our series on WiFi networks. First, we explained the difference between the two major types of WiFi. Then we explained how to get your wireless network… uh… wired up. Now we’ll help you decide the right WiFi format for you.

Now that you know the differences between WiFi-G and WiFi-N, which WiFi will work for you? Well the answer to that question depends on what sort of wireless shenanigans you have planned. But it is the most important answer of all, because the wrong choice will lead to disappointing results.

Which WiFi Where?

The differences between the two flavors of WiFi discussed in Part 1 is about a bit more than speed. It is also about future proofing your investment. While WiFi-G is widespread and your existing laptop or tablet probably has the correct WiFi component, it is also old tech. That is why it is so widespread! If it were new tech then it wouldn’t be so widespread. Bummer, huh?

In addition to availability is WiFi-G’s limited bandwidth. As we noted in Part 1, WiFi-G has a maximum bandwidth of 54 megabits per second. On a good day. Whereas WiFi-N has maximum speeds of 300 megabits and above! Doesn’t six times the data transfer speed sound enticing? We thought that it might. Luckily WiFi-N equipment will also work on WiFi-G networks. So you’ve got the best of both worlds! But like WiFi-G, it has a drawback: availability.

Since WiFi-N is newer technology, you will not find as many WiFi-N routers at your local coffee shops and elsewhere. In addition you will find that only the most recent laptops and a few tablets have WiFi-N components already installed. If you are not fortunate enough to have such a unit, you will have to purchase a WiFi-N adapter. These units are available at most big box electronic stores and are sold by companies like Linksys and Belkin but do cost more than WiFi-G adapters.

Which WiFi Will Work?

When deciding which WiFi network type is right for you, you must consider the type of work you plan on doing. Does your work consist of test documents and the odd spreadsheet? Is tending your farm on Facebook the most intensive thing you do on your computer? If you have this sort of light workload, then WiFi-G is more than you can handle! Actually even if you have more technical duties WiFi-G will work, just not as quickly.

However, if your daily routine has you working with large video or audio files then WiFi-N is for you. Transfer rates of 300 megabits or greater per second can cut downloads from sites like Dropbox and personal servers to a fraction. You’ll find that your upload rates will be much faster on WiFi-N versus WiFi-G also. So when once you have that important presentation done, you can upload it and the accompanying videos with no problems!

Stay tuned as we finish up this series with the important discussion about securing your network!

Author: Curt Moreno

WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 2: Setting Up a WiFi Network

January 19, 2012 4 comments
The WRVS4400N 4-Port N Gigabit Security Router with VPN from Cisco Small Business

The WRVS4400N 4-Port N Gigabit Security Router with VPN from Cisco Small Business.

Welcome back to our series on WiFi networks. First, we explained the difference between the two major types of WiFi. Now we’ll explain how to get your wireless network… uh… wired up.

Setting Up A WiFi

Even though WiFi networks are “wireless,” at some point they must be plugged back into a wired, physical network. Normally this connection happens at your wireless access point, which may or may not also be your router. This type of unit is very common in big box electronic stores and sold as “Wireless Routers” by companies like Linksys and Belkin and many others. You may even already have such a unit installed and not even realize it.

The connection runs from this access point to the broadband modem via a physical cable. That cable is the bridge between the wireless and wired worlds, so the type of cable is very important.

Network Cables

Network cables classified as CAT 5 are rated for a maximum speed of 100 megabits per second. While this is fine for WiFi-G, it will become the bottle neck for WiFi-N networks. This is the dirty little wired secret of a WiFi network!

In order to get the most out of your WiFi-N investment you will have to make sure that all cables in your “wireless” network are rated as CAT 5e (enhanced CAT 5) or higher (CAT 6 or CAT 7). This category of cable will give you maximum transfers rates of 300 megabits per second and greater.

Stay tuned as we explore choosing a WiFi format, securing your network and other WiFi goodness that cutting the cable can bring you!

Author: Curt Moreno

WiFi for the CAD Workstation, Part 1: WiFi-G and WiFi-N

January 17, 2012 3 comments

So the whole world has gone mobile. Where we once had been tethered to our desks, chained for productivity’s sake, we are now free to roam the corporate wilderness. People are grabbing their tablets and laptops and running out the door to continue working at the job site, in coffee shops, and from home. And thanks to the wonders of wireless networking, you can keep right on working just about anywhere you go.

You are set up for wireless networking, aren’t you?

The WiFi Basics

Today it seems as if there is no place you can go and not be covered in wireless networking (WiFI) coverage. The price of access to everything the Internet has to offer is usually covered by simply having the right equipment to access the wireless network. Despite terms like “802.11a,”Wireless G,” and “Dual Band Networking” being prepared to take connect to most wireless networks is fairly straight forward.

We could go over EVERY flavor of WiFi there has ever been, but come on, this 2012 and we are data professionals. We’re not interested in ancient technology. That leaves two wireless horses in this race: 802.11g and 802.11n. Sound sort of intimidating, but it’s not. Just think of them as WiFi-G and WiFi-N.


By far the more widespread wireless networking technology installed today is 802.11g compliant. This specification of WiFi can carry a maximum data transmission of 54 megabits per second. this means that you could transfer 1 gigabyte in about 2.5 minutes across this type of network, at maximum speed. Of course, due to factors like interference, temperature, and distance, you will probably not be transferring at maximum speed. On average it is safe to double or even quadruple that time, under normal circumstances.


Newer, and thus faster than WiFi-G, is WiFi-N. Technically known as by it’s specification code, 802.11n, WiFi-N has a maximum transfer speed of up to 300 megabits per second. That is almost six times faster than WiFi-G! This means you could theoretically transfer 1 gigabyte across a WiFi-N network in less than 45 seconds! Theoretically. Unfortunately WiFi-N is limited by the same mitigating factors as all WiFi networks. This means that due to distance and other factors your WiFi-N network will most likely not operate at maximum speed. Once again, doubling or even quadrupling transfer times are normally considered a safe estimate.

Watch this space for more about wiring your wireless network, choosing a WiFi format, securing your network and other WiFi goodness that cutting the cable can bring you!

Author: Curt Moreno

Connectivity Options and the CAD Workstation, Part 2: PCI, FireWire and eSATA

December 20, 2011 1 comment

Connectivity OptionsThis series explains connectivity options for CAD hardware. The first post covered network connections and USB. Now we’ll discuss PCI, FireWire and eSATA.


Yes, the old standard PCI add-in card is still around, and from a user’s perspective is completely different than PCI Express. A PCI slot can’t support a PCI Express card, and vice versa. However, workstations will still include a PCI slot or two for low-demand legacy cards. Unless you have some special legacy PCI requirements, you’re unlikely to be disappointed by whatever your OEM provides.


In the age of first-generation USB, FireWire (also known as IEEE 1394) was pretty much a requirement, as USB’s bandwidth was too wimpy to handle video. That changed dramatically with USB 2.0, which more or less matched FireWire in performance.

At this point, if you plan to keep a legacy device that requires FireWire — and check it out closely, as many devices that support FireWire also support USB 2.0 — then of course make sure your machine has a FireWire port (and you can always add a PCI or PCI Express card).


Most modern workstations also include an eSATA connection, a high-speed computer bus interface that connects host bus adapters to mass storage devices such as hard disk and optical drives. With USB 2.0’s advance in speed, most of us just naturally opt for USB to accommodate external storage. And with USB 3.0 on the horizon, it’s hard to see what use eSATA will serve in the longer term, beyond supporting legacy devices.

Author: Alex Herrera

Connectivity Options and the CAD Workstation, Part 1: Networking and USB Ports

December 16, 2011 1 comment
CAD Hardware Connectivity

CAD Hardware Connectivity

Connectivity is a generic term that describes how a computer connects to other devices to transfer data back and forth. The term covers everything from networks to wireless to printer cables. Based on the nature of CAD work, some sort of connectivity options are going to be required. This series will cover the major areas of connectivity to help you decide the right ones for your situation.

Networking: Ethernet and Wireless

Every workstation comes with a wired Gigabit Ethernet network port; higher-end machines might have two or more. Wireless networking is typically available for desktop workstations, so you’ll need to decide whether to add that option.

Consider your security requirements with wireless networking if you are looking at mobile workstations. It’s one thing to be connected to your secure office wireless route (it is secure, right?). It’s another when you take the workstation on the road.

USB ports

USB has certainly lived up to its name. The Universal Serial Bus is absolutely universal, in terms of its pervasiveness across platforms and device types. USB 2.0 began replacing the first-generation standard technology a few years ago and has become the de facto general-purpose I/O interface. It yields a tenfold increase in maximum available bandwidth, a jump that is easily witnessed when, for example, transferring large models or videos to a flash drive.

The jump to next-generation USB 3.0 will also be substantial — another tenfold increase — but its impact will be less pronounced. Version 2.0 has been a slam dunk for just about every user and for many types of media (music, pictures, even video to some degree). It’s harder to predict the benefits of moving to USB 3.0, as they will vary by use.

Still, USB 3.0 will in all likelihood supersede 2.0 over time. Some workstations today already support 3.0, not natively via the Intel platform but via an additional motherboard chip. It’s widely believed that Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge platforms (expected to launch by the end of 2011) will include native USB 3.0 support. Unless you frequently transfer huge files over USB, either version should suit your needs. Take whatever your model has as a default.

Think about the number and location (front vs. back) of USB ports you want — and for that matter, flash memory card access, if you need it.

Next we’ll talk about PCI, FireWire and eSATA.

Author: Alex Herrera

AutoCAD WS: Go Mobile and Collaborate in Real Time

July 12, 2011 6 comments

With over 2 million downloads in less than a year — AutoCAD WS has become quite the mobile sensation. Thanks to Cloud technology, you can now upload your drawings to AutoCAD WS — and access them from any iOS  (iPod touch, iPAD, iPhone) or Google Android device.

For the AutoCAD user, that means the ability to take your drawings to the job site, with or without an internet connection, and use the markup features to update the drawings remotely. If you happen to have an internet connection – your coworkers back in the office can actually see your edits in real time!

And did I mention it is free of charge? (and we all love free!).

Alert:  This is how you’re going to get your boss to approve a iPad or tablet!

AutoCAD WS isn’t just for remote use – it’s also a strong player in collaboration.  You can share your drawing files with others (even if they don’t have AutoCAD) and invite them to an online collaboration session. AutoCAD 2012 and AutoCAD for Mac have tools built right into the user interface to managing your drawing and sharing super easy.

Accessing AutoCAD WS web service

Click for larger image.

So let’s say you want to share a drawing file with someone.  Simply select the Share drawing option in AutoCAD and entire the email address of the intended collaborator.  You can decide whether they can edit and/or download the drawing (as opposed to just viewing the drawing file).

Collaborate with AutoCAD WS web service

Click for larger image.

Or maybe you just want a safe and secure place to keep your drawing files.  With security as tight as your bank  (which I like to think is super secure) you can upload your drawing files at the end of your work day and access them from anywhere.  Maybe you decide to work at home the next day – not a problem as you can just grab your saved drawing files from AutoCAD WS.

The online version of AutoCAD WS ( has a decent set of drawing and editing tools for basic markups.  You can even turn layers on and off – or create new layers (great for markups).  I love the Timeline option (and certainly wish AutoCAD had this) that allows you to go back in time and check out the various revisions.

Sharing with AutoCAD WS web service

Click for larger image.

So how many files can you post on AutoCAD WS?  As many as you want! (and did I mention it is free?).  There is a 15mb limit per drawing but other than that the storage capacity is limitless – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Give AutoCAD WS a try — you won’t believe the capabilities you get at such a tiny price tag (and $0 is about as tiny as you can possibly get!)

Did you miss the Dell-Sponsored TwitterChat on AutoCAD WS web service with Lynn Allen last month? Click here for the archive!

Author: Lynn Allen, Autodesk Evangelist. Find more tips from Lynn Allen on

Dell-Sponsored TwitterChat with Lynn Allen on AutoCAD WS Web Service

June 23, 2011 1 comment

Did you miss our Dell-Sponsored TwitterChat with Lynn Allen? We archived the conversation here so you can check out the conversation.

View “AutoCAD WS TwitterChat with Lynn Allen” on Storify.

Tune in to the next installment in our TwitterChat series! Click here for more details.

Hardware for the CAD Professional, Part 6: Connectivity

April 20, 2011 3 comments
CAD Hardware Connectivity

Choose a workstation with sufficient connectivity options for longevity.

So far in this series, we’ve discussed system requirements, commonly used terms, processors, RAM and hard drives. This sixth part of the series will cover connectivity.

The modern PC has become an electronic version of Grand Central Station, with connectivity options that add capabilities, allow data storage or transfer, communicates with the world outside, or with another computer on your local network. Choosing a workstation that has sufficient connectivity options may determine the longevity and usefulness of the system you acquire.

Network Connectivity

Network connectivity is standard on modern workstations, allowing you access to the Internet and to other workstations in your local network. A 1GB connection is common, though some workstations also offer WiFi connectivity. Typically your Internet connectivity will come from a network cable attached to a router, a cable modem, or a DSL modem.

USB Ports

It seems that you can hook almost anything to your workstation these days using the flexibility and chaining capabilities of USB. USB v.2 is generally standard, though newer workstations are beginning to incorporate USB v.3 with its “SuperSpeed” connectivity and power management options. USB has largely become the standard way to attach mice, keyboards, digital cameras, external hard drives, thumb drives, scanners and printers, so you want to be certain that you have a number of available USB ports.

USB does allow chaining of devices, but chains have a way of getting unwieldy. Some vendors include an internal USB connector to keep software dongles secure, and most have connections on both front and back of the system. Personal preference here: make sure there are USB ports readily accessible from your sitting position at your workspace — this means a few connections on either the top of high up on the front side of the case.


It won’t hurt to have a FireWire connection or two for use with devices that rely upon this connector to function. Also known as a IEEE 1394 High Speed Serial Bus, this connection was originally found on Apple computers, but the broad array of external devices are also useful with PCs using the FireWire port.


Most modern workstations also provide an eSATA connection. eSATA is a computer bus interface that’s used to connect host bus adapters to mass storage devices such a hard disk drives and optical drives. It provides a high speed data path for such storage devices.

Next we dive into graphics cards.

Author: Ron LaFon