I have never done any networking before, or learned the lingo. Now I want to get my main PC talking to my HTPC, and get both of them to access my DSL line. Regular PC is in an upstairs bedroom/office, HTPC is in the basement. I'm also converting over to an external DSL modem, from the internal Speedstream 3060 POS that I've been using the last years. I tried to get the 3060 working in RADICAL-EDWARD, my new Athlon/Win2K rig. No dice. Drivers installed, but no connection. Verizon helpline said that the 3060 doesn't get along with Win2K. There are a couple of DSL sites on the net where people describe making the 3060 work with Win2K, but it's just too much trouble, and I'm out of PCI slots in RADICAL-EDWARD anyway. Plus, I can connect the external DSL modem to a router, and just distribute the router cables to whatever PC's I want.
So, it's time for me to come up to speed on networking. After a lot of browsing various home-networking and DSL sites, I picked the Netgear RT314 router, and the Netgear FA-310TX network card. My HTPC came with a NIC already installed, don't know the brand. I'll assume it works for now. ^^ The RT314 seems to have a rep for being rock stable and very easy to set up. Goes for around US$100 retail. Reviews on various sites are almost entirely positive, except those from people who don't seem to know what they're doing. One of the nice things about this model is that it seems that it will do PPPoE, which is what my DSL provider Verizon wants. If this is true, then I can dump my dumb WinPoeT PPPoE software. Yay! Likewise, the Netgear NIC is also well thought of, and it's a lot cheaper than the 3Com or Intel NIC's. It's a somewhat older model, and Amazon had it for US$18.
For the external DSL modem, I looked for the Westell 36R51x series, which Verizon supports. No retailers carry them, you usually buy them through your phone company or other DSL provider. Retail is around US$240, I think the phone companies sell them for around US$150. Lots on eBay for anywhere from $50 to $100. So I bid one one today, and got it for $66, no shipping, which I think is a fairly good deal, especially because it's the 36R516, one of the newer models. The seller has good eBay feedback, here's hoping the modem will be okay.
BTW, I checked for both the Netgear router and the NIC on eBay. Not worth going to eBay for either of them. Not too many of the FA-310TX NIC's are listed at all, which is probably a good sign. People must still be using them, because they aren't dumping them. The RT314 routers on eBay are a hoot. Used ones are going for only US$10 to $20 less than new ones at on-line store. New ones are going for more! Here Amazon has the RT314 for US$98.95, and the eBay sellers are getting US$100-$125, plus shipping. Don't people comparison shop?
I had thought of doing wireless networking, saves the trouble of pulling CAT5 through drywall, but the speeds are annoyingly slow, and even slower when you aren't in the same room. I think wireless is the wave of the future, but it's not there yet.