Tag Archives: wireless

Rover 4G Wireless Internet Problem

Yesterday, my new Rover 4G Wireless Internet “puck” arrived in the mail. I could use the Rover Puck last night (for a very brief while) just fine. Suddenly, and without warning, it turned non-functional – despite a 100% perfect admin status page.

I was grateful to be able to give ‘er a go with their 48-hour unlimited trial – but if the following experience is indicative of the shitty service I can expect from Rover in the future, I’m returning the unit immediately and withdrawing all future recommendations. Then again, I discovered it’s running on “CLEAR” – which, I’ve long attested, is one of the worst companies to deal with in the consumer electronics / wireless Internet / WiMax space.

I’m not surprised that my Rover experience has been just as nasty. Check out this joke of a tech support session – with the rep, at one point, referring to the hardware as “wifis.” Seriously.

NOTE: I did move lines for readability / clarity. It would have been easier to follow in real-time – but, as you know, Internet chats (even with one person) can become disjointed quickly.

Hello Chris. Please wait while we find a ROVER specialist to help you.

You have been connected to Patricia Everest.

Patricia Everest: Hi, Thank you for chatting with Rover. I’d be happy to help you.

Patricia Everest: What is the Mac ID# to the device?

Chris: [redacted]

Patricia Everest: You will need to go to the user interface and check on the signal strength

Chris: 100%

Chris: Everything checks out.

Chris: I can get to the local admin interface.

Chris: I have an IP as assigned by the connection…

Chris: But… nothing else.

Patricia Everest: what is your ip address you are getting?

Chris: Which – client or the puck?

Chris: Client IP is 192.168.0.189.

Chris: DNS is 192.168.0.1… which is odd, but that’s what it’s showing.

Patricia Everest: that is the wrong ip, it should end with a number other than 1. please check
your connections

Chris: Puck IP is 75.94.67.57

Patricia Everest: i need the ip for your wifi on your puck

Chris: You’re asking one question with four possible answers.

Chris: i can email you a screen shot of what I see.

Patricia Everest: i need the ip address on your computer, you are giving me more information than i did not ask for. all i need is the ip address from your wifi connection

Chris: I’m not going to argue with you, but you said “I need the IP for your wifi on the puck” – and that’s the info I gave you. If you’re asking for AN IP address assigned to a connected system, one would be 192.168.0.114.

Patricia Everest: you have given me three ip address starting with 192.168

Chris: And the Puck IP, too – scroll up. “Chris: Puck IP is 75.94.67.57”

Patricia Everest: I’m sorry you are having problems understanding me, i will try to be more clearer. when you are connected to the wifi, what ip address do you get. it should start with 192.168

Chris: You said “I need the IP address on your computer” – and I have two connected systems. One (again) is showing 192.168.0.189 as the IP, and the other is showing “192.168.0.114.”

Chris: ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Patricia Everest: are you connected to two wifis at the same time?

Chris: …that’s impossible.

Chris: They’re not “wifis,” they’re access points. And no, I have two different systems connected to the Puck.

Patricia Everest: it is not possible if you have two wifi adapters. you should only get 1 ip address

Chris: TWO DIFFERENT SYSTEMS CONNECTED TO THE PUCK.

Patricia Everest: you can have upto 8 devices connected

Chris: Yes, I know.

Chris: I’m trying to troubleshoot, eliminating the possibility of this being a problem with ONE system.

Patricia Everest: I appologize that you are having problems connecting. lets try something else. where do you get your ip address 75.94.67.57

Chris: Admin Status page

Patricia Everest: what happens when you try to browse. do you get an error message, and what do you see?

Chris: timeouts

Patricia Everest: have you tried to connect with another computer?

Chris: are you kidding me?

Patricia Everest: no

Chris: scroll up

Patricia Everest: i don’t understand why you want me to scroll up

Chris: I’ve told you, nothing short of twice, that I have two systems connected to the puck.

Chris: They’re exhibiting the same problem.

Patricia Everest: sorry, you also said you cannot connect more than 1

Chris: No, I didn’t.

Chris: I was correcting your error, in that you can’t connect to two access points from one antenna at the same time.

Patricia Everest: have you tried to ping?

Chris: Yep. “Unknown Host”

Patricia Everest: you have a valid ip address. have you tried resetting the puck?

Patricia Everest: are you still there?

Chris: I can’t even factory reset

Chris: i can’t get a connection

Chris: even after sticking a paper clip in the pinhole…

Patricia Everest: can I have your address please?

Chris: [redacted]

Patricia Everest: It seems that we are having some issues in WA with our signal. Our techs are working to solve the problem and should be working in a few hours

Chris: so my “free trial” was uselss?

Patricia Everest: no, you still have time to use, you will only miss a few hours

Chris: few hours? It was problematic last night.

Patricia Everest: when did you setup your account?

Chris: last night.

Chris: it seemingly worked fine. then an hour later, it didn’t.

Patricia Everest: I’m sorry it is not working now. I will submit another issue so our techs can escalate and fix the problem with the system.

Chris: Thank you.

Patricia Everest: it should be working in a few hours, is there anything else i can help you with?

Chris: no

What Cisco Doesn’t Want You to Know – ADTRAN’s Router Performance Results


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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gillette. All opinions are 100% mine.

I had the opportunity to speak with the Director of Marketing for ADTRAN over the weekend. If you’ve not heard of them, you definitely need to pay attention. Independent tests have shown that when it comes to router performance, ADTRAN actually outperforms Cisco.

There was a whitepaper done by a gentleman who used to set up test methodologies. ADTRAN routers were run through a series of tests against Cisco routers. In short, three tests were done. One was Internet security. In that test ADTRAN outperformed the Cisco ISR g2 router by about a 285% increase in performance. You would think that routers in the similar price range would work about the same. However, that isn’t the case. The ADTRAN hardware is simply built better.

ADTRAN feels the tests prove they excel in three areas: operating system, patents in technology which allows data to move through the box quickly and their focus on small to medium markets. They’re making sure that they are offering a very robust feature set to address the needs of those market areas. You don’t want to pay for features you’ll never use – yet still leave room for future growth.

ADTRAN started about twenty-five years ago, and has a Cinderella story. They started by building one type of hardware out of an actual garage. The company grew out of that and now has two separate divisions.

Some of my audience is comprised of young geeks, but they don’t always know where to begin. The qualities that a company such as ADTRAN looks for includes the ability to do more than one thing. Don’t only focus on engineering… look at things such as marketing or management, as well.

What type of router are you using?

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A Letter from AT&T

Mike Maxwell, Vice President and General Manager for AT&T (Pacific Northwest & Alaska) took time out of his busy day to send me a nice form letter:

I am writing to thank you for choosing AT&T for your wireless service, and to update you on exciting plans we have to make your wireless experience even better.

You already know that AT&T covers 97% of all Americans. And as an AT&T customer, you have access to the nation’s fastest mobile broadband network; a mobile broadband network that allows you to talk and browse the web at the same time; and seamless access to over 20,000 AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots – more than any other U.S. wireless provider.

But you may not know the extent of our plans to improve your experience. In 2010 alone, we plan to invest between $18 and $19 billion in our wireless and wireline networks across the country. In fact, we’ve invested more in our networks over the last three years than any of our U.S. competitors. We’ve already upgraded our cell sites to enable faster mobile broadband speeds when paired with expanded backhaul, and we plan a similar upgrade at the end of the year that will enable even faster speeds.

We’re not stopping there. We are also adding thousands of new cell sites, expanding mobile broadband coverage to millions of customers, installing enhanced fiber backhaul, and increasing the capacity of our data network. Not only do these enhancements provide a better experience today, but they also enable a seamless migration to our next generation of mobile broadband – LTE.

What this means to you is simple: better coverage where it matters most, and fast access to information on the go.

Uh huh. All I want to know is when I can stop telling people I’m using an iPhone before it’s had the chance to end the call prematurely?

Free WiFi Rolls Out at Starbucks

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood when you can sip your favorite coffee drink while surfing the Internet for free. Starbucks rolled out their free WiFi access across the US and Canada today, much to the relief of millions of caffeine-powered Geeks. Grab your phone or laptop and head over to the store nearest you. You can sip those Frappuccinos while replying to everything in your Inbox.

Best of all, there’s nothing to sign up for. You don’t need a password, and there are no time limits. As shown in the photo above, you only have to click twice to get online: once to agree to the Terms of Service and again to actually connect. You won’t be locked out (or thrown out) after an hour. You don’t have to come up with yet another fifty-character super-secret password. Just click twice… and go.

Starbucks claims that they feel no one will spend more time languishing over their laptops and drinks than they did before. I have a feeling they are very, very wrong in that assumption. I can already see the work-at-home sector dragging their gear to their local coffee joint and setting up shop at a corner table for an entire day. What better way to make connections, observe others, see and be seen and manage to look as though you are doing something productive is there?

Verizon MiFi2200 Problems

This is NOT a review. If it was, the MiFi2200 would be lucky to get 2 stars out of 10 from me. To view the screencast in better clarity, click the arrow on the lower right side of the video embed and select “Full Screen.”

I recorded this video to better illustrate the multitude of problems I’m having with Verizon’s product. I sent the video to Verizon Support and they auto-responded with a block of text that was absolutely useless in helping me solve the issues.

  1. I can only get connected to the Internet (via the MiFi2200) by way of the VZAccess Manager software with the device connected via USB. I’m on Mac OS X 10.6.2, which should not need that software (according to them). I demonstrate that an Internet connection doesn’t work when connected to the MiFi2200 via WiFi.
  2. The dialing profile is never saved in Network preferences, nor is the WWAN connection option ever available in the OS X menu bar (despite being checked off again and again).
  3. I can’t ever access the MiFi2200 admin page, no matter how I try to connect to it – via USB or WiFi.

I have a feeling that it’s a bad piece of hardware, but no telling how Verizon will respond further to my support request. I have an official thread open with them, but they’re suggesting I call them – which would be an exercise in lunacy. I clearly demonstrated the problems I’m having, and really don’t care to waste any more time on it.

They responded a second time, asking me to perform more troubleshooting steps – which I did:

Let the buyer beware: the Verizon MiFi 2200 has completely failed to impress on the Mac.

What’s Your Favorite Bluetooth Device?

Bluetooth is relatively pervasive these days, and the next iteration (3.0) has just been announced. You probably use Bluetooth without thinking about it, anymore. I have connectivity in my car, with my mouse and keyboard, and certainly with random accessories for my iPhone. Now, I’m wondering…

chrispirillo: Bluetooth 3.0 Is apparently on the horizon. Question: what Bluetooth device do you use most often (if any)?

about a day ago

ghozali: blueant with my BB pearl

about a day ago

musosdan: none? never bloody works!

about a day ago

NH97: handsfree headset for cell

about a day ago

pogochamp113: taking pics off my sony ericsson w580i to my macbook pro. Don&#39t use bluetooth much, but maybe 3.0 will make me use it more!!!

about a day ago

GeorgeHopkin: Hands free for phone was used several times a day until switch to iPhone. Now more than happy to use wired ear bud things.

about a day ago

cityspur: wireless keyboard and mouse, never been a fan of the headset uses (security)

about a day ago

EditorColin: I rarely use bluetooth. Really never found a good use for it

about a day ago

britpopfury: Plantronics 925 🙂

about a day ago

funaki: motorola s9 with BB bold.

about a day ago

kevincastillo: Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Nothing else, my bluetooth headset collects dust.

about a day ago

jreed1920: definitely bluetooth headset gets the most use

about a day ago

applemicrosoft1: Bluetooth wireless mighty mouse!

about a day ago

AwesomeRobot: No bluetooth here – but I&#39m looking forward to Bluetooth stereo headphones on iPhone OS 3.0

about a day ago

chrisnoble_nz: Only device I have is a Nokia phone and I never use the bluetooth on it. More interested in USB 3.0 personally.

about a day ago

jplusa: my mighty mouse and apple keyboard

about a day ago

mdonald8: my blue tooth headphone and ear all the time.

about a day ago

jonnyblackler: my PS3 headset. Other than that I don&#39t use bluetooth.

about a day ago

susanbeebe: – Plantronics BlueTooth phone headsets – use for iPhone and Skype calls daily!!

about a day ago

BigRedPimp: Does the Wiimote count? 🙂

about a day ago

McTw1st: Cellphone transfering music and pictures back and forth

about a day ago

procax0: cell phone: bluetoothing songs and stuff to friends

about a day ago

ShannonRenee: bluetooth device = Zivio rox

about a day ago

AllenBrewer: Bluetooth with iPhone and motorcycle helmet headset

about a day ago

chris1p: As I have an iPhone, just for the phonecalls, but os3.0 will make BT headphones possible so i&#39m sure that will be it for me.

about a day ago

pauley: I use a Bluetooth mouse at home. When I switch to Mac soon, I won&#39t need a USB port for my mouse.

about a day ago

charlesjbarry: My car is the Bluetooth device I use most. It has built in hands free for my iPhone and once I load on 3.0 I&#39ll stream to it.

about a day ago

FerasH: Samsung BT headset that i got from @key714

about a day ago

leebennett: Def. my Jawbone 2nd generation. I *would* use it to share files to other phones if Apple would let me!

about a day ago

TrafficMike: Love my bluetooth mouse and keyboard for my mac mini, but the mouse really sucks the life out of the batteries.

about a day ago

ShannonRenee: btw, your app that easily converts tweets into blog post…what is it?

about a day ago

carl20: My cellphone, besides that, not much actually

about a day ago

WebKarnage: Bluetooth Logitech mouse

about a day ago

sandro: Does that mean we will soon be getting bluetooth teeth?

about a day ago

Bwana: PS3 controller, keypad, and remote. Also my truck is equipped with bluetooth so I use it for hands free calling on my iPhone

about a day ago

VxJasonxV: Bluetooth Keyboard. /Rarely/, but it does get use. Could never find a Bluetooth Headset I liked.

about a day ago

wwejason: It&#39s a tie between Motorola S9 stereo headset and cheapo portable stereo speakers from Meijer. 🙂 Can&#39t live without A2DP!!!

about a day ago

thetarrman: i see you shaving, and yes, i have nothing better to do.

about a day ago

mclaughj: My iPhone

about a day ago

ActivityGrrrl: @chrispirillo: I have the newer Jawbone and I like it but rarely use it. I either have little occasion or I forget to take it or charge it.

about a day ago

Boodlezoid: Logitech mouse, but it&#39s not working right now, much annoying!

about a day ago

B00G1T: bluetooth remote for ps3 and rumble joystick

about a day ago

alfredmanson: none have tons but they are just such a waste of time and no range – can&#39t wait for wifi to step into that space and take over

about a day ago

cnlevo: Apple Wireless kb, Jawbone 2, IS300 equipped built into GPS, Landline BT Headset by Plantronics. Just a few of the daily uses.

about a day ago

fogfish: I stopped. I have an almost new headset sitting in the charger.

about a day ago

bluefuel318: My Bluetooth headphones for sure. If I could wear them all day I would.

about a day ago

macdaddydwj: iPhone… Duh; other than that, PS3

about a day ago

WhatithinkShow: none LOL… maybe my bluetooth 2.0 motorola s9 headphones. Even those are kinda MEH. Who needs bluetooth, go WIFI !!!

about a day ago

key714: BT headset. can&#39t live with out it.

about a day ago

lizmoney: i use bluetooth to send files from my phone to my macbook all.the.time. pics, ringtones, music, all kinds of stuff.

about a day ago

jroth860: Apple wireless aluminium keyboard

about a day ago

chanskat: The only bluetooth accessories I use are my Jawbone headset and my car.

about a day ago

mahqdotnet: Headset for phone/games.

about a day ago

Eurekaville: I tried a BT cell earpiece for a bit, but it was just uncomfortable. I&#39m waitin for 1 that doesn&#39t make me look like a cyborg

about a day ago

LukeBrownUK: Bluetooth for linking my new LG Viewty with my PC for file transfers since it didn&#39t come with a damn USB cable…

about a day ago

jmccullough108: Use the Apple Bluetooth religiously.

about a day ago

SystemWorks: is BT really that popular? or did it fall to the waste side like infrared ports.

about a day ago

thaoly: the one built in my Prius. I think cars should have Bluetooth as a standard.

about a day ago

RelateMedia: Bluetooth headsets mostly. One of our team members has a Bluetooth speakerphone.

about a day ago

scruz: A Samsung WEP-200 with my iPhone in the car.

about a day ago

JordanPatterson: I use no bluetooth devices. I guess im just old fashioned…

about a day ago

cvriavas: Use bluetooth mostly for device/MAC syncing.

about a day ago

darthmyers: not a fan of bluetooth, except for the hands free option in the Tundra.

about a day ago

tetfsu: Jawbone (2nd gen version)

about a day ago

TariAkpodiete: Plantronics 855 stereo headset pimped out on my Acer Aspire One via small USB BT dongle, use for #skype #music #movies

about a day ago

cyper2002: pretty much only use the blueant supertooth light in the car. Hate wearing bluetooth headsets.

about a day ago

thecrazyjogger: file transfer. PC to Phone normally

about a day ago

AbblePC: I use Motorola bluetooth headsets in a variety of models, HS810, 850 and HT820 with DC800, Mighty Mouse & Apple BT keyboard

about a day ago

TheMacJedi: My most used bluetooth device is my Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse. Followed by my JAWBONE earpiece.

about a day ago

LukeBro: Bluetooth headset for phone.

about a day ago

AngieColson: I use a Bluetooth headset for my phone & also my mouse. Considering a keyboard. Would love a printer… but the price…

about a day ago

Bondi007: Bluetooth file transfer protocol

about a day ago

brandname1975: My #1 BT device is my Mighty Mouse 🙂

about a day ago

aaronstep: I hook wiimote up to mac for wireless controller. I also use apple wireless keyboard.

about a day ago

ericrbecker: i dont use bluetooth 🙁

about a day ago

myndmelt: wii remote 🙂

about a day ago

rrrebo: My Jawbone, hands down. Pun intended. 😉

about a day ago

technosaint: At the moment the most use I get is a tie between an audio receiver/tramsmitter, Jawbone, and Activesync/tethering.

about a day ago

wsylvester: Bluetooth to the macbook pro from the sprint cell phone when the AT&T connection card is out of service or the jawbone

about a day ago

jacktx42: No Bluetooth use here, though I&#39m contemplating using on my G1 with headset, and maybe a printer one day

about a day ago

netwizard2003: I have a bluetooth headset that I never use (actually I have 3)

about 23 hours ago

haxor911: supposedly some devices already have “Bluetooth 3.0” just need to be firmware updated.

about 22 hours ago

ti_kaei: BT GPS device is my everyday companion for GPS tracking and photo tagging.

about 22 hours ago

TheHenry: I use the Apple wireless keyboard and Mighty Mouse on Bluetooth.

about 22 hours ago

nomand: can&#39t wait for iPhone 3.0 so that I can play some ad hoc multiplayer games. never used Bluetooth really, only to sync my phone

about 21 hours ago

eidann: Bluetooth headset, mouse, keyboard.

about 21 hours ago

MikeKukielka: I use the Ford Sync Bluetooth connection more than any other.

about 20 hours ago

How to Secure your Wireless Home Network

Geek!This is Kenny Mozzillo’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Most people have a wireless home network these days. In the past few years, the cost of setting up a wireless home network has dropped. Setting up a wireless home network is much easier than it is to string networking wire through your walls and connect wall plates. In most cases, setting up a wireless home network is cheaper and easier than installing a wired network. Here’s a top five list on how to secure you wireless home network so that all of your hard-earned money used to pay for Internet access is not stolen by your neighbors.

  • Position you router in the middle of your home. This reduces the amount of signal that leaks outside the house and (therefore) makes it harder for neighbors to pick it up. Most people don’t take this tip into consideration when they set up a wireless home network – it’s the easiest way to help enhance the security of your wireless home network. Security through obscurity.
  • Turn on the wireless encryption! This sounds like a “duh,” but you would be surprised at how many people have an unsecured wireless network at home (or work). I’ve talked with many people who said that they didn’t turn on the encryption on their home network because they doubted that anyone would bother them. This would be the equivalent of leaving your house unlocked when you go somewhere because you didn’t think anyone would break in. It is very simple to enable encryption on all wireless access points. The best encryption mode is WPA2. WEP and WPA both have been cracked before, and it isn’t that difficult for someone to break the encryption key in a few minutes. Be sure to choose a password that no one can guess – never use things such as your pet’s name, your address, or your birthday as a password.
  • Enable Wireless MAC Address Filtering. This is another feature that most people forget to enable. This allows a set amount of devices to get on the network (if their MAC address is placed on the list). Setting up this feature is fairly simple to do – even for the average person. If you need help, check your manual – and if you threw away your manual, I bet the manufacturer put a PDF of the manual on their Web site.
  • Use home network monitoring software. This will allow you to scan the local network for mysterious devices that are connected to it. If you have a home network that has five devices connected to it, and the IP address scanner finds eight devices, you should look into what is connected that shouldn’t be connected to your network. Most home networking tools are free and can be easily found on any platform.
  • Turn off the Access Point. When you are not home for an extended period of time, turn off your access point. This will ensure that when you are on vacation you will not have to worry about someone getting into your shared files on a PC.

If you keep these five points in mind when you are running a wireless home network, you shouldn’t have to worry about your neighbor and other people getting into your wireless network. If you have anything else to add, please be sure to comment on this blog post.

Wireless Security: Why WEP is Bad

Fellow geek Andy Riordan emailed me in regards to a video we recorded a while ago on wireless (WiFi) access points. I haven’t used WEP for wireless security since WPA was available as an option. I refuse to run anything less than WPA on my home wireless network, although it was recently revealed that WPA has also been cracked. What’s so bad about WEP? Andy’s here to explain…

WEP does indeed stand for Wired Equivalent Privacy, which is a rather hopeful name considering that WEP can be cracked in less than 60 seconds now. How? Well, when you connect to a WEP network, the router sends you a randomly generated “hello” message. The connecting machine then encrypts the message using the WEP key and sends it back to the router. The router then decrypts it with the WEP key, and if it matches the original, unencrypted (“cleartext”) message, the machine is authorized.

This is bad. Why? Well, first we have to look at how the encryption and decryption is done. You may or may not be familiar with bitwise operators, but in this case we’re dealing with “exclusive or”, XOR. XOR, like other bitwise operators, operates on bits. If the 2 input bits are 0 and 0, it puts out 0. If they are 1 and 0, it puts out 1. If they are 0 and 1, it puts out 1. If they are 1 and 1, it puts out 0.

To encrypt the data for WEP, the data is XORed with the key (getting “cyphertext”). To decrypt, the cyphertext is XORed with the key, reversing the operation and returning the cleartext. When you think about it, that really can be shown visually (hope it doesn’t get mauled in the mail):

Cleartext   0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1
Key         1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1
—————————-
Cyphertext  1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0

Now, to decrypt:

Cyphertext  1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0
Key         1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1
—————————-
Cleartext   0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1

As you can see, we end up with the original message. (Cryptography is fun!)

However, this is where the problem is. Remember what we did to authenticate with WEP – we got sent a cleartext message, and then sent back the cyphertext results. What happens when we XOR the cleartext with the cyphertext?

Cyphertext  1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0
Cleartext   0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1
—————————-
???         1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1

That byte looks a lot like one we’ve seen before. I wonder what it could be…

Key         1 1 0 0 1 1 0 1

Well, darn. That’s our key. An attacker can get our key just by XORing two things exchanged when a connection is made. It can’t be all bad, though, since a connection has to be made before that can happen, right? How often do you disconnect a machine and reconnect it? A few times a day. They would have to be lucky to catch you doing it.

Except that there’s another vulnerability which makes booting everyone off the network and causing a reconnect easy. Thus, our friend the cracker needs only to force a disconnect of all clients, then watch for the handshake and XOR the two pieces of information exchanged between the router and one of the clients.

That’s why you use WPA now. WPA is pretty much competely safe, if you have a good password. Rule 1 (or perhaps it’s 0) of security is that you never use a short, easily guessable password. Using a short, easy to guess password opens you up to the dictionary attack, or as I like to call it, the Gandalf attack. Scream elvish words at the router long enough and the gates of Moria are bound to open to one of them. Make the “word” long enough (32 characters is good, and is about what I use since some devices have issues with 64) and it will be impossible to guess. Again, a lock is only as secure as its combination. In your case, for instance, I don’t recommend a password of “Pixie”.

Now, for the banking/email question. This brings us to the realm of diffie-hellman key exchange. Many a beginning cryptographer has lost his life to the tangle of bits and factored prime numbers that awaits us here, so suffice it to say this: If there is an SSL connection between you and your web site of choice, you are safe. All your traffic will be encrypted, and will not be decrypted until you get to the site. You’re safe, as long as you have an SSL connection to the site itself, regardless of whether it’s an open wifi hotspot. If you don’t have an SSL connection and they give you a WEP or WPA key, don’t think banking will be secure – if they gave the key to you, they gave it to others, too!

Now, there are caveats (aren’t there always with technology?). Notice I said “If there is an SSL connection between you and your web site of choice, you are safe.” I don’t want to have to send you HTML mail, so mentally underline the first part of that sentance. What’s to stop the hotspot from saying “Ah, he’s going to ‘MyBankSite’ – take out their certificate (the part that contains their “public key” – what you use to encrypt your data to send to them. Note that public and private key encryption are one-way operations – if you encrypt something with the public key, it cannot be easily decrypted with that same key. When I say “easily”, I mean it would take a supercomputer thousands of years.) and put in our own public key. That way, we can decrypt his traffic on our end, look at it, then encrypt it with his bank’s public key and send it on.” Well, in a word, nothing is stopping them. This is known as a man-in-the-middle attack.

Wait, nothing is stopping them? How am I safe, then? Well, nothing is STOPPING them, but their key won’t be signed by a signing authority. A signing authority basically verifies that a given key belongs to a given site, and then when someone asks whether a key belongs to ‘MyBankSite’ they check their database and see. The “someone” who asks is your browser. This is done automatically in modern browsers – if you have the SSL indicator in your browser somewhere on ‘MyBankSite’ (this varies by browser – it usually comes in the form of a lock in the statusbar), that means the browser has checked the site’s credentials out with a trusted authority (VeraSign, etc) and it has checked out. If you get a site that can’t be verified but has a certificate, you will be warned – as in the case of our scheming wifi friends. Thus, if you see a warning, run far, far away.

Whew. Well, that certainly only scratched the surface, but it should help some. Glad I didn’t type that on my phone.

What's Your Favorite Keyboard?

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For a long time, I was using the Microsoft Internet Pro keyboard. The reason I loved it so much is that it had two USB ports in the back. Microsoft stopped producing it, so I’ve been looking for a replacement for it.

My friend Moonglaive recommended this new keyboard. The Enermax Aurora Aluminum Keyboard looks pretty cool, eh? I thougt the keys themselves were aluminum. It turns out they’re plastic with some kind of silverish spray over them. The right Shift, and half the letters have paint worn off of them. The shell of the keyboard is metal, yes. It works very well, and has a couple of USB ports in the back. It also has audio pass-through, which is nice. It was a good keyboard all in all.

The next keyboard I tried out was the Microsoft Wireless Entertainment Desktop 8000. It works really well, and has a touchpad built in. This is the set I was using with my Windows machine, and it works really well for me.

Now, of course, I’m using a Mac as my primary system. So what keyboard am I using? The thin Wireless keyboard from Apple is great. It’s super thin, and I haven’t even had to change batteries! It’s bluetooth enabled, which is really nice. The Apple Wireless Keyboard has been completely redesigned, inside and out. It features an elegant, ultra-thin anodized aluminum enclosure with low-profile keys that provide crisp, responsive feel. It also has function keys for one-touch access to a variety of Mac features such as screen brightness, volume, eject, play/pause, fast-forward and rewind, Expose, and Dashboard. Its compact design fits on your lap or on even the most crowded desk. And its Bluetooth wireless technology lets you use it just about anywhere within 30 feet of your Mac.

The keyboard automatically powers down when you’re not using it and turns on instantly as soon as you start typing. This intelligent power management means you’ll get up to nine months of battery life based on average usage patterns. It also has an on/off switch for when you’re away from your computer for a long time.

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Wireless Internet is Everywhere

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During a discussion about Broadband and people near Seattle having trouble with Comcast, Rikai from our chat room brought up an interesting question. “What are your thoughts on the rumors of the 700Mhz spectrum potentially being used for Hi-Speed Wireless connections?”

I’m sure you’ve all heard the news lately about how Starbucks is now offering free WiFi to their customers. I’m not going to comment on their coffee… but who would turn down some free Internet service? Make sure you use https:// when doing things from open Wi-Fi like checking your email. This makes you much more secure.

Wireless Internet is just everywhere. You can’t walk more than 20 feet in an urban area without finding an open connection. The problem with a lot of Tel-Co’s is that they want you to experience their version of a wireless Internet. That’s crazy. It’s the Internet, right? For now… we don’t have much choice other than to stick with just one provider. Some people don’t have access to faster Broadband… yet. Internet is essential these days. One of these days… mark my words… the world of the Internet is going to be blown wide open, as far as choices.

Just imagine if Wireless Internet truly was available everywhere, much like Television. Throw up a TV antenna… you have tv. Throw up an Internet antenna… you get the picture. Someday, it will happen.

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