Networking, or connecting computers together to share information, has long been one of the more difficult areas of basic computing to get a grasp on, mainly because it is one of those points at which the generally friendly user interface of your average Windows box starts showing cracks, or possibly gaping holes ready to swallow up the unsuspecting user.
Now granted, since windows 98 started the process, Microsoft's OSs have been getting progressively better at automating the process of connecting computers together, but there is still the external setup required, and if something goes wrong... well it's good to know where to look to fix it.
The purpose of this article is two-fold. First, to enable you to set up your own home network and share files between your computers, and second to make you comfortable with basic computer networking terminology and practice. Internet sharing deserves its own article, and so is not part of this one.
First, some important terms. Skip them if you know them.