Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 24, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

WIRELESS UPDATE....I met up this morning with one my readers, T, who very nicely agreed to meet and show me his wireless setup. We met at Wired for Coffee, a local place that offers free wireless access plus all your other basic coffee amenities. It's also Marian's favorite coffee shop.

Anyway, I'm not sure how much interest there is in this geek stuff, but here it is anyway:

  • T uses (appropriately) T-Mobile and says it works pretty well. It costs him 20 bucks a month on top of his phone bill and provides about the same performance as a dial-up connection.

  • When I went through my security blitz a few weeks ago, one of the things I did was disable DHCP. Turns out that this makes WiFi unusable at public access points, something that I guess is pretty obvious once you've figured it out. (It's funny how many things are like that, isn't it?) I don't think DHCP is actually much of a security risk anyway, so leave it on if you plan to roam around with your laptop.

  • Last night I downloaded some WiFi sniffing software, so after we were done I did some war driving around my neighborhood to see if I could steal some bandwidth. Sure enough, there were loads of home networks, but apparently connecting to them isn't quite as automatic as I thought. I managed to get one to work, although I don't quite remember how, but after that one success I never connected again.

    I'm not sure what the deal is with that. Windows seemed to acquire networks here and there, but I couldn't make my browser work. Eventually I went into Control Panel and manually connected, but even that only worked once (I think) and I couldn't get it to work again. In fact, once I got home I couldn't even connect to my home network until I rebooted although I suppose that might have been because of the whole DHCP thing.

  • My WiFi sniffing software, NetStumbler, was pretty rudimentary. It seems like the world needs a much better version of this software that gives more info on which networks are around and allows you to decide which ones to connect to. In fact, I'll bet something better does exist. All I have to do is find it.

Overall, I think I'm missing some crucial (but no doubt trivial) aspect of this whole WiFi thing. If I ever figure it out, I'll let you know.

Kevin Drum 4:03 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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