Welcome to the forum, breannishome.
Wi-Fi simply means wireless internet or "broadband without wires" (at least, without wires as far as the router anyway)
As far as your wireless card is concerned, yes, you install the software for it first (very important), then insert the card when prompted (or after rebooting) but not before.
Actually getting it to connect to a wireless router within range, however, may not be so straightforward. Most establishments with public wireless routers may have configured it to require a password (called a 'WEP' or 'WPA' security key) which you will need to enter into the setup utility of your wireless-card's software. This password requirement is there to stop non-customers 'freeloading' onto the network using a long-range wireless card and laptop in a car on the street or even from a room in the next block. if you only use wireless to get internet-access on the laptop, it doesn't need an ethernet port, and a phone-socket on a laptop is only used if you have a 'dial-up' internet account you want to connect to, using an analog (dial-up) modem. Rarely used nowadays (thank God!)
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to be able to physically plug the laptop in to a router or broadband modem because they aren't wireless models (a rare situation these days), or because you can't get wireless access to work, you can buy an ethernet laptop card (plugs into the same slot as the wireless card) which has an ethernet socket (more corectly known as an RJ45 socket) at the end of it. like this one: http://www.maplin.co...e...&doy=Search
Then you just need a CAT5 or CAT6 network cable with RJ45 plugs at each end to connect the card to the modem/router. These are readily available at most computer stores or online, ready made up to standard lengths of 3 or 5 metres (at least that's what they are here in the UK). Probably the most popular brand for CAT5/6 cables is Belkin.
hope I haven't confused you even more and that you have learned a little about what you need.
Edited by pip22, 23 February 2008 - 06:23 PM.