So I finally got WiFi. I had recently purchased a Compaq 2100 series laptop, which doesn't come with any 802.11 networking. It of course did come with two PCMCIA slots, but I've never been fond of the card hanging out of the computer.

At some point I noticed that there were two expansion slots on the bottom of the laptop, one of them was for RAM (it was labelled), and I had no clue as to what the second was for -- I've never owned a laptop before. It turns out it's a Mini-PCI expansion slot, and one of the most common uses is for WiFi expansion. So I thought that's wonderful -- REALLY built-in WiFi! So I search for suppliers of such cards. Compaq offers ne, but it was $199, and only supported 802.11b. I found that Orinoco (sp?), and Intel make a few, but I couldn't find any way to buy direct from them.

It turns out that Dell makes a bunch. They call the Dell Truemobile. They have a 1150 which supports 802.11b, $49.99. Nice and cheap! They have the 1300 Series (which is, incidentally the one I bought), and it was also $49.99... however, it supports 802.11b AND 802.11g! They make another -- the 1400, and you get b, g AND a, but they only sell that as part of a laptop currently -- not for sale separately.

I also had to buy an antenna -- since it's internal, there's no place to han an antenna out of, so the antenna runs inside the case. Amazingly, this was only $24.99 direct from Compaq, but required a considerable amount of deconstruction of my laptop. It booted up after I was complete though! Incidentally, i you order this part, make sure to order the screws that attach t to the LCD panel -- the $24.99 part doesn't include them!

In any case, for those of you wondering, I'm nnow sitting in my backyard, without any wires connected to me, typing this entry. On a Compaq 2100 altop with a Dell TrueMobile 1300 802.11 WiFi card, and it works just fine. One of my concerns when buying the 1300 as whether it would work on my laptop, but for the price, I decided to take the gamble.. most other PCMCIA card of this caliber cost more. PLUS the fact that the antenna on these tings makes it work much better that the PCMCIA cards.

Another side note -- if you have your WiFi router set up with WEP encryption, you MUST manually set the encryption key in your TrueMobile configuration -- using the "automatic key transfer" DOES NOT WORK.... of course, it might be that my router doesn't properly send that information. Who knows. In any case, this is awesome.

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