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Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

silverfinch
Grafter
Posts: 108
Registered: 23-02-2013

Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

Hello folks,
My friend is in a care home at the moment and her social worker arranged for a 'dongle' to be delivered so she could use her laptop. Now, neither of us knows how the devil they work. I haven't even seen it although I am lead to believe it looks like a memory stick/flash drive type of thing. My friend was expecting something that plugged into a phone point. I managed to explain that the whole point was she didn't have to pay for a temporary land line. The thing that is worry me is I don't think the care home has Wi-Fi so how will this work? I have no idea which company the 'dongle'  was purchased from  (although her home land line is with BT) and I am visiting my friend tomorrow and will be bombarded with questions to which I have NO answers. Is anyone out there who can help please.
Huh
23 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 17,478
Thanks: 1,479
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Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

If it is a WIFI dongle.... it will have a SIM card inside it.... this is either on a monthly contract, like a mobile phone, or PAYG , usually expires after 30 days...
The dongle will probably look like a memory stick... about the same size... with a slide off cover to insert the sim card.
The sim card is linked to a "provider"  same as mobile phone...
it transmits and receives a wifi signal, in the same way a mobile phone does... so you dont need a landline... nor a "local" wifi router,  as in McD or Subway, etc. you can use it (almost) anywhere...
You might want to invest in a 5 mtr USB extension lead,... so you can plug the lead into the laptop, and then hang the dongle on the other end , high up in a window for best reception / transmission
like this.....    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/5m-High-Speed-USB-2-0-Extender-EXTENSION-Cable-Lead-Wireless-Dongle-5-Metr...
silverfinch
Grafter
Posts: 108
Registered: 23-02-2013

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

Hello 'Shutter'
Thank you so much for that, I have been on-line off and on for days and could not find an explanation that I could understand and then relate to my 70 year old friend. The social worker will not be visiting for another week so I was left worrying my little head off. I think there maybe hope here after all. Will try and convince her to try it tomorrow but worried now that the £20.00 she paid by debit card when she was in hospital and had delivered to care home in advance  may have run out as she has not used it/unpacked it.and yes it is a Wi-Fi one.
On a lighter note there were some funny demonstrations using Pringle tins!
Thank you once again Kiss
gtowen
Rising Star
Posts: 354
Thanks: 9
Fixes: 1
Registered: 05-05-2013

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

The £20 credit won't actually start until the dongle is plugged in, required software installed and the product registered with whichever "provider" it uses.
silverfinch
Grafter
Posts: 108
Registered: 23-02-2013

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

Hello gtowen,
Why did I go on-line when I know there are good kind people like you around on this forum. Wary of starting her off now in case she doesn't use after we have left BUT at least I CAN explain it to her now. Well, a little bit better, her and I are like the blind leading the blind and she  has cataracts!
Thanks so much Kiss 
silverfinch
Grafter
Posts: 108
Registered: 23-02-2013

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

Hello again,
I forgot to apologise to the moderator, I didn't know a dongle was hardware, sorry.
PeeGee
Aspiring Pro
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Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

I'm confused Huh
Is it a Wi-Fi dongle used to provide wireless access for a laptop that doesn't have wireless capability (or to use a later standard than the laptop has, such as 11n instead of 11g) or is it a mobile internet (3G or 4G) dongle with a mobile SIM card?
If the former, the care home needs to have a wireless router/access point for residents use; if the latter, then there needs to good indoor 3G mobile network coverage by the mobile network to be used. Three PAYG data SIMs are sometimes enabled by the shop when bought, so the credit only lasts from that date.
Phil
Plusnet Fibre (Sep 2014), Essentials (Feb 2013); ADSL (Apr 2009); Customer since Jan 2004 (on 28kb dial-up)
Using a TP-Link TD-W9980 modem-router.
silverfinch
Grafter
Posts: 108
Registered: 23-02-2013

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

Sorry PeeGee I wandered off. I have no idea, her laptop is definitely Wi-Fi, we both have Toshiba Satellite models albeit, different versions. I have no idea what the social worker bought, with my friends approval, as she insisted 'she must have internet access'. She used to run her life off the laptop. The care home website said they did but, it turns out they do not. The dongle thing is Wi-Fi and that is all I know. I do hope it is ok to come back tomorrow when I have had a look (will there be paperwork inside the package?) If not I will have to leave it to the social worker next week.
The Dongle was ordered over the phone whilst she was still; in hospital using her debit card so I will not find out who it is with until I unpack it tomorrow, if she allows me to!
Community Veteran
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Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

When you plug in the dongle..... it will do an auto setup, just the same as any other usb device.... once that is completed, you should get a message box, with some instructions.
At the bottom right of the screen you would normally get the notification of a wireless connection..( two monitors ) .i.e when you are working "wireless" to your normal router/landline connection... this will show no connection if there is no router/landline  
If you right click on the double monitor icon, you will get the option to " "Connect to a network"... and when you click on that, you will be shown the networks available... including your "dongle" network  Just click on connect... and follow that through... ( you may then get another "connect" message  on the screen for the dongle... ).
silverfinch
Grafter
Posts: 108
Registered: 23-02-2013

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

Goodness me Shutter I think I had better print all this off as I will never remember. do you recall the title 'can anyone help an idiot'. I will be fine if I either write it down or print off your instructions, that is after all, how I taught myself to use a laptop! Wink
I do have a Nook so I expect it is a bit like that when I connect it to charge it up from laptop, or maybe not!!!
As an aside, do you think PlusNet should/could start a forum subsection for not very clever 'Oldies'  or beginners so we don't waste the time of people who are 'technically smart/knowledgeable in computer  things' and we slower  ones are left to the kindness of people who don't mind helping very, very technically challenged as we must infuriate the former? My first post was I don't know what I am doing and the wonderful forum folk said 'you are obviously doing something right you have found your way here' and that was GREAT!
Community Veteran
Posts: 17,478
Thanks: 1,479
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Registered: 06-11-2007

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

Yes, you get a notification that there is something in the USB port.... same thing for the dongle.when you plug it in.....
silverfinch
Grafter
Posts: 108
Registered: 23-02-2013

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

Great, am getting a little more confident now thanks to you. I do hope you realise how much people like you help. I would have given up a couple of months after I bought this laptop without this forum and that was last February(2013.) I mean that from the heart it is not hogwash/tripe. My friend desperately needs this help, as I do obviously!
Thank you to everyone for your help/instructions/guidance. What I must remember, once I have looked online and STILL don't understand, come here and ASK!!!
Regards
Val
kmilburn
Grafter
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Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

I'm as confused as PeeGee, so just to clarify (assuming this isn't making things worse),  as things seem a bit confused here,  which isn't helped by the multiple uses / meaning of the term Dongle!
A WiFI dongle  (e.g. A USB Wifi dapter) would connect to a local WiFi, after purchase the only additional cost would be for locations that charge for Wifi.
A Mobile dongle (e.g. a USB Mobile network adapter)  would require an addititon SIM card and payment to a mobile operator to provide the internet connection on an ongoing basis. These work anywhere there is a decent mobile signl from the network operator.  The lifetime of the 'purchased' bandwidth depends on the terms of the provider, usually a minimum of 30 days. 
The documenation that comes with the adapter should explain which type of adapter it is and whow it works.
Shutters' last set of information should work for either type,  and give you the opportunity to set the up as required.
And if  you have any questions,  there are lots of people here who can help,  it just depends on who's around at the time and we're more than happy to do so.
silverfinch
Grafter
Posts: 108
Registered: 23-02-2013

Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

Hello Kmiburn,
I have been here all the time but when I did my reply all I got was 'loading' for ever and ever. I suddenly thought, try refresh again! Until I see what is in her package tomorrow I have no idea what has been purchased/who the provider is/etc, very frustrating for us all. At least I have some basic knowledge now to answer some questions. As my friend was convinced she had to pay for a landline, which I have told her she will not, we ARE getting somewhere. It is frustrating. As to cataracts, I can remind her of the only useful I learned from Microsoft forums, Control/Scroll to enlarge print instead of using the spyglass, as I call it! 
Everything has been so helpful, I feel quite humble. Love your sign off by the way!!
Am going to log off now as I am shattered and I am supposed to sensible/clever  tomorrow. Will check in the morning before I go for my visit to the care home in case there are any more 'gems' to assist me with my guidance/information to my friend. She is still paying all her BT landline charges/mobile phone charges at her home address and I don't know if she will return. Very, very heart-breaking/frustrating as she is not co-operating at all,think she has become 'institutionalised' as she had been in hospital for 4 months. 
RPMozley
Aspiring Pro
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Re: Can anyone explain a 'dongle' to an idiot?

The simple way to look at this dongle:
No SIM card = a Wi-Fi dongle to connect to an existing wireless router in the home.
A SIM included = 3G Mobile dongle that uses the mobile network to connect to the internet.
So the key thing to look out for is whether there is a SIM card in the package or not. Then you'll know what type it is.  Wink
Oh and good luck helping your friend.
That's RPM to you!!