This is the next blog in the continuing series of interviews with leading professionals. In this series of blogs, I have an exclusive interview with Barb Bowman. Barb is an internationally acknowledged home networking and device authority; Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) – Windows Networking and Windows XP Media Center.
Stephen: Provide commentary on three topics of your choosing.
Topic 1: Purchasing Your First Home Networking Router
Brick and Mortar stores want to see you what they have on their shelves and what gives them the most profit. Typical store personnel have very little product knowledge or know much at all about home networking. If you must buy at a brick and mortar retail store, try to bring someone more knowledgeable with you. Research products on the web before you purchase. Check www.dslreports.com for known problems and also check the groups dedicated to various ISPs.
Topic 2: Shared Family Computers, Safety and Security
If you don’t already have a home network and a router, chances are good you have a single shared family computer connected to a broadband modem. Even if you don’t have wireless networking and even if you just own a single wired computer, it’s advisable to buy a router and place it between your computer and the broadband modem. Even a cheap wired-only router will do. Most have a built in hardware firewall and NAT will give you an extra cushion by not exposing you directly to the Internet. ISPs are still installing directly to a computer. Most offer downloadable anti virus programs and firewalls. Maybe the tech installed this add-on software, maybe not. Or maybe your 13 year old disabled the anti-virus software because it was slowing down gaming responses and maybe he/she turned off all firewalls because of similar reasons. I’ve got neighbors surrounding me that are all were this situation. I’ve made it a point to educate them. I wish more people would follow my lead here. Those of us who know the dangers need to be the educators because the ISPs are not doing this and should be.
Topic 3: Data Backup for Home Users
This rarely happens. Home users don’t think about data backup until disaster strikes. Gone are 3 years worth of digital images of your firstborn child. Your personal email is wiped out and you’ve lost all financial info you were storing in Quicken or MS Money. And all that digital info you had accumulated in Family Tree Maker after painstakingly building a family tree is gone. Sure, some programs now offer online backup and backup to writable CD/DVD but how many people actually take advantage of these tools? Pitifully few. Windows Home Server is coming soon. This may be the answer for some, but for many, it will involve getting and setting up a router and a network. And it may be in itself, the best reason for setting up that first home network.
Closing Comment: Barb, we thank you for sharing your time with us and we wish you continued success for the future.
Barb: I’m sure that my little niche is somewhat different than the IT/Enterprise oriented technologist, but I hope I’ve shared some insight into the state of the residential home user space that has been helpful. Thanks for the opportunity.
I encourage you to share your thoughts here on these interviews or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.