When we last left Joan, she was faced with an interesting problem. She had been connected to the Internet via a cable modem for about six months when she purchased another computer. In order to connect to the Internet with the second computer, however, she’d either have to purchase a hub and lease another IP address or purchase a router to set up her own internal network which could use just one IP address.

When she asked a store clerk his opinion on a router, he explained that the router works just like a hub or a switch, but it can also act as a gateway and firewall. As a result, it would help to keep hackers out of Joan’s home network. He also explained that the router was also extremely easy to set up, and came with very detailed instructions that any network user could follow.

Joan was sold on the idea and purchased a four-port Linksys Router. When she returned home, Joan set up her laptop to connect to the network using DHCP, and proceeded to connect the router to the network. She rewired the CAT-5 cables so that the CAT-5 from the cable modem entered the WAN port on the router, while two CAT-5 cables ran through the LAN ports, one to the laptop and one to the desktop machine.

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After reading the booklet for the router, Joan opened a browser on her desktop computer and typed in the router’s default IP address. When she did so, however, an error occurred telling her that the site she was attempting to access could not be reached. She tried the same thing on her laptop as well, and received the same error message. She then tried hitting a few Web sites to see if it was a problem with her internal network, and discovered that she also couldn’t reach anything outside of the network.

Thinking that her cable modem was down, she called her cable provider to have them inspect the problem. She explained her situation to the cable company and asked if they could test her modem. The tech ran a diagnostic and received a ping back from the modem. The problem, therefore, had to be on Joan’s end.

Frustrated, Joan called her friend David to assist with the problem. She explained what she had done to her network and walked through the setup with David. After listening to her story, David gave Joan a simple solution. He told her to restart both computers and see what happens.

After turning off the machines and turning them back on, David and Joan waited as the operating systems for both machines began to load. Once up, David had Joan open her Web browser to see if she could access the Internet. She opened up her MSIE and typed in the address for TechRepublic. To her surprise, the site came up without a hitch.

In her excitement to get the network up and running, Joan didn’t consider the fact that both the laptop and the desktop machines had been turned on while she had been redoing her home network. Because of this, they couldn’t be assigned an IP address from the router via DHCP. In fact, the desktop machine still had the IP address that the cable service had originally provided. When the machines were restarted, the IP addresses that were stored had been dropped, and each machine was assigned a new IP address via DHCP from the router.

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This week, we award TechRepublic T-shirts to Alisa Greene and Allen Heard! These two lucky individuals were selected out of all the correct entries received. Congratulations!