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Apple Notebooks Apple's notebook computers including MacBook Pro, MacBook, MacBook Air, PowerBook, and iBook.

Macbook - wireless idiot


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zombie

 
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I think this is a hardware issue. I hope I'm posting in the right place, if not I'm really sorry and I didn't mean to be a ditz, I'm just a bit overwhelmed.

I'm getting a macbook for a friend. Neither of us has ever owned any sort of laptop and we can't figure out what accessories we need.

I have to make sure he's able to carry his comp wherever he goes and get online from anywhere, and it's quite important that I get everything he'll need to be able to do that as easily as possible.

Please help me figure out what I need. And please talk to me as though I'm a mentally challenged first grader, otherwise I probably won't understand. A link to a page where i could buy whatever is necessary from apple would be wonderful if it's possible. I'd really appreciate as much help as I can get, I'm lost and so confused.
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RNDdave

 
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Hello.

First of all the macbook has everything you need built in. The macbook obviously has the mouse and keyboard but also has wireless AND wired networking built in so as long as your friend can access a network wherever he may be then he'll be able to use the tools that come as standard with this excellent piece of technology. In the UK there are a lot of places that people can get free wireless access - a coffee shop for example - some have a policy that as long as you buy coffee from them then you can use their wireless network for nothing. Also some places in the UK have free wireless coverage in large central areas like Milton Keynes (I believe) - I guess this will be the same or similar in the US

However if there is a chance the your friend will be in areas where he'll have access to a telephone line but it is less likely that there will be a network of either the wired or wireless variety then you'll need to buy a USB modem as well.

Have a look at store.apple.com for a list of Apple products or for the Macbook follow this link Apple online store: Macbook You should see an option about half way down the page to the right hand side which says Compare Specs - click this for more information

I'm not sure if this really answers your question - but have a look at the Macbook link above and see if you can get more information from that page.
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zombie

 
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How odd ... a good friend with a macbook told me she isn't able to get online from anywhere but home. I guess she just doesn't realize what she has since she isn't using it like that but she had me convinced i should to go hunting down extra equipment.

I've been all over that apple store, that's where I'm getting the computer, but even with the descriptions of all the products I couldn't figure it out. All the technological talk just confused me and left me feeling like everything I looked at was necessary for reasons I couldn't comprehend.

So there's no need to find cards or other odd things I have no experience with? That's a huge relief. I was going nuts trying to figure out what I was supposed to be looking for.

Thanks for the info, you're a sweetheart and i really appreciate it.

...And does that usb modem help him get online through his wireless provider from any phone line or is it just for use with a phone he's paid to have dialup access through? I know I'm asking too much, wanting another question answered and all, but I have no one else to ask.
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walkerj

 
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Okay, here's how it works (with a Macbook, anyway.)

A Macbook comes wih a wireless network thingee. This wireless network thingee (called an Airport Extreme in Mac-speak) will search out wireless access points that are connected to other thingees which are wired to the internet as a whole. If they are not secured, your Mac will connect (wirelessly) to that thingee which will allow access to that whole Internet thing and provide the ability to surf the net, get email and all the other stuff that one might get with a paid-for wireless internet thingee that a lot of people get for their home.

I know this might be a simplistic way of describing how it works, but that is how it does. For example I have a wireless network at my home that lets my Macbook (and Windows running Dell computer) connect and use my wired internet DSL connection. If I'm out and about with my Macbook it can 'find' and connect to some other wireless networks and I can use theirs if it is not secured. My employer uses such a network which connects by wireless to their wired network that accesses the rest of the internet. Lots of places do. About a year ago I used a dentist's office wireless network while parked outside their offices to chat with my wife to tell her I was coming home soon, and should I pick something up at the store on my way.

Some wireless network are 'secured' meaning the owners only want those who are 'authorized' to gain access to it so they make it so a password is required to access it. A lot of them (most, actually at least where I live) don't. My wife spent a bit of time in a big city hospital, and was able to use my (non-mac) laptop to access one of them and chat with me duriing that time. Depending on where you are, you might find open wireless networks, or secured wireless networks. All of these will be visible to a Macbook. Sometimes they will be one click away from joining in and being able to access the internet; sometimes they will be secured and your friend will not be able to get on the internet unless he/she gets internet access in a different way.

One trend that seems to be happening (in America at least) is places like Atlanta Bread, Starbucks, and some grocery stores providing wireless internet access for free if you come in and buy a meal or cup of coffee and hang out in the cafe. For these types of places a Macbook will be able to connect and surf the 'net with no problems.

Finally, the USB modem option will require that the user (owner of the Macbook) has a subscription to some Internet Service Provider (ISP). He might already have that, but in any event the hardware will not guarantee that one will be able to connect to the internet unless one does. I do know that a lot of Hotels are providing wireless internet access for guests these days. For this a Macbook would be superb. Even if they are providing 'wired' internet access, as all Macbooks come with the appropriate hardware and connections to plug into the ethernet that they might provide.

So modems are nice to have, but are becoming less relevant these days.

I realize what I've written here might be a bit redundant to what has already been posted, but..uh every bit helps right?
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zombie

 
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Yes, every bit does help and that bit helped enormously. I feel as though I actually understand now. Thank you so much for your help! I spent the past two weeks trying to get this all figured out before ordering anything, now I can finally get past the horrible headachey frustration and start on the fun part. You're awesome!
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Del

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RNDdave View Post
However if there is a chance the your friend will be in areas where he'll have access to a telephone line but it is less likely that there will be a network of either the wired or wireless variety then you'll need to buy a USB modem as well.
Not necessary!

The MacBook has Bluetooth so use this to connect to your mobile phone and then use your phone's GPRS connection to access the internet.
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RNDdave

 
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A very good point I completely forgot about the Bluetooth connection - but if I were in an area with no network connectivity I'd rather use a land line to dial into an ISP than my mobile - it'd be whole lot cheaper for me at least.

Macbook : Wireless (Airport) + Wired + Bluetooth - with the exception of a possible USB modem (Personally won't be buying one - but the option is there) - you don't need anything else - well maybe a power point
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