Entries Tagged as 'WiFi'

Why You Never Write About Laws You Break

Transportation Security Administration, an age...

Image via Wikipedia

Would I be surprised that Jordan Crook got put on a no-fly list for breaking laws?  Probably not.

The one thing I learned a long time ago in journalism type ventures is that you never take anything that you’re currently doing and throw it out to the world thinking that the masses can protect you.  If you’re still doing it, then you don’t go about broadcasting how you’re breaking the law, neener neener, because bad things befall those that taunt the law in that fashion.

Basically, the article itself is about how there is still the law on portable devices creating the possible interference with navigations and other devices on a plane and how some people (like Ms. Crook) think that there isn’t such an issue.  Having been in the wireless industry for over a decade and knowing the ins and outs of RF, I am one of those that find it absolutely amusing when it comes to the justification of how GPS and other navigation equipment gets “effected” by wireless or portable electronics.   Sorry, but it’s basic physics.   If your equipment isn’t effected usually, then it’s not an issue of EM or wireless since those signals always exist.  It’s the same reasoning behind people that think cell phones can set off detonators on a construction site.  If that was the case, then it would have went off long ago due to base station coverage and I don’t see airports setting up no cell coverage zones like it is at a NSA listening station.

No, all of that is fine and dandy.  But if you’re actually looking to travel still for whatever reason, you don’t go around telling people the laws you break on planes.  In my opinion, the travel industry is already inundated with a bunch of movie-scenario security laws and in doing silly things like “proving a point”, that just proves that there needs to be regulations in place to prevent people from using technologies in the air.  On top of that, most laws are enforced by people that don’t actually understand what they’re enforcing.  Just look at the random TSA cases of seizures of books (when the law claimed books of matches were banned) and other types of amusing stories.  Government never claimed to be efficient.

So, if the next time you fly and get detained by TSA, Ms. Crook, I’d probably go and take a look at what you’ve written.   Maybe it wasn’t such a wise choice after all.

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Tips and Tricks: Upgrading to Ubuntu 10.10 Wireless Fix

So I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.10 today on my HP Mini 210. What was interesting is that the fixes to the touchpad (like two finger scrolling) were wiped out and doesn’t work. Oh well. But initially, there was something else that annoyed the hell out of me.

The wireless didn’t work on the reboot. Everything boots up, and you find out that there is no wireless. Not that the driver doesn’t load, or anything, but your wireless is disabled.

If you go and look at /var/lib/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.state , you’ll find that the wireless was enabled = false.

So you figure, change it to true, reboot, and you’re golden, right?

Wrong.

You have to run this command as root: rfkill unblock all

This will actually get rid of any blocking on the wireless network. For whatever reason, in the update to Ubuntu 10.10, there is a rfkill block command that isn’t taken off after the upgrade. This is also a newer utility so you’d never actually realize it until you found that you couldn’t do anything to take that wireless block off. Now if only they’d fix those touchpad issues for Synaptic touchpads instead of toying with the driver for Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

Thoughts on Skype Mobile for Android

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

This is funny as hell. I mean seriously. Does this guy even understand how power works? Less trips to the charger? WOW. Okay… a little lesson on how telecom radios work folks. It’s a really easy concept actually. A base station is usually located somewhere between one to two miles away. Ideally. Sometimes farther, sometimes closer. But the amount of power it takes to generate a signal that far is a lot more power on the forward channel than any WiFi signal. Ever.

So buying into the whole … Verizon is the best 3G network so we’re making use of their network thing is total marketing mumbo jumbo. I would know, considering I’ve worked on the infrastructure. What’s funny is that someone at Verizon made this call on banning WiFi which I have no clue about because from a telecom business perspective it makes absolutely no sense. Probably a sales guy that didn’t do his bean counting correctly.

So if you have a Verizon smart phone, you have to pay for a line and a data package. You don’t have a choice in this matter. And more than likely you use it for way more things than Skype. Believe me, the last thing I consider use for my data package for is voip. So why would you ban voip? Because some brilliant guy somewhere thought that it would decrease sales in lines, without actually thinking through who actually uses Android phones.

Here’s food for thought. The point of Skype is voip, but RF spectrum is actually expensive to run. Why not allow people to do their voip on WiFi but still pay for their data packages? You’re basically allowing more spectrum available for both actual data and voice use (depending on how the channels are configured). It’s the most optimal use of your current network from a business perspective and network perspective. Again, something else I’d know since I spent over ten years optimizing network traffic and analyzing KPIs.

It seems that Skype couldn’t break their full client in to Verizon and they didn’t know the telecom lingo to actually sell it. What’s amusing is that it makes them look bad in throwing the Skype Lite out since it really doesn’t help with those of us that run SkypeIn numbers or allow us to conduct business the way Google Voice does. Oh right, Verizon isn’t afraid of Google Voice which makes connections over the voice lines? That’s more traffic taken up for no reason when it doesn’t have to be routed as such.

All in all, both of Skype and Verizon Wireless need to revisit how their technologies work and why one thing is superseded by another when they’re two different things. I get the whole Verizon wants to make money and are afraid that they would lose subs. But come on… are you serious? Releasing a product that half par is worse than not releasing one at all. It just makes both ends look terrible from a public relations perspective and becomes a marketing nightmare. In the end, you’d spend more money trying to fight the non-existent problem instead of just letting the thing through.

Right now? I can say that as a telecom veteran, I have to say that this application might as well have been left in beta. In fact, the beta was better since it didn’t disable the wifi. That’s a little sad. There’s nothing great about the final Android version and continues to win subpar remarks because of bad decision made on both ends.

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Review: Nokia n810 Wimax Internet Tablet


I got this lovely little thing a last week, and have had to chance to play with it enough to get a good feel for it. Here, you’ll see all of the fun things it comes with. Retailing around $493USD, but if you shop around you can find it cheaper like here at Amazon.
For those that are in a frantic frothy state, the pictures of the unboxing are after the review. For the rest, this little weighs 1.6 pounds and has a 4.1 inch screen. No different from the original n810 except for the fact that there’s been a 2.5Ghz radio shoved into it to support Wimax. Everything else is the same.
The beauty of this little guy is that from my perspective, it does way more than your usual Asus EEE or Dell Mini9s. This is due to the fact that although a 9inch LCD does beat out a 4.1 inch screen, this comes with a keyboard. Thus, it allows me to access things that are otherwise somewhat annoying from a device like an iPhone. It also gives me access due to the fact that the entire maemo OS is a derivative of linux and that gives me a lot more power to tweak and change the way this works.
So far, the connectivity and application support for this device is fantastic. Compiling anything for this device is as easy as compiling any application for ARM devices, as long as you’ve done a little bit of development work. Most of the interface type applications are done in GTK+ so no problems there either.
Also, there’s a GPS integrated inside and I have to say that the satellite acquisition is a little slower than your usual GPS devices, but this actually does work very well with both the Wayfinder GPS application and the open source ones. Bluetooth syncs seem to work just fine and both streaming audio and regular audio/video plays well as long as you have enough ram. One thing that it could do with more of is actual ram. 128MB and the option to push for another 128MB in virtual is kind of piddly.
Overall, this is a great portable device with impressive battery life and the ability for me to keep in touch with some of things going on with work that I would not be able to do on a phone but still keep the portability. It’s basically better than a netbook on a smaller scale and about the same price and Wimax thrown in. I’ll be curious if someone will figure out a way to tether this to a laptop to run Wimax at some point, but it’s not a high priority for me right now.
In any case, the only thing right now I’d love to do is to not have to go into CLI to actually optimize the memory. Probably at some point will have to do that since the GUI only offers so much in saving space on internal RAM, but that’s just part of the openness of linux.
So for those of you looking for the pictures of the unboxing? Here you go. Go nuts and drool to your heart’s content.

Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax
Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax Nokia n810 wimax

How to add WPA support in Ubuntu

Adding WPA support in Ubuntu is extremely easy. All you have to do is add the wpasupplicant package. Then, just reboot the system. The next time around, if your card is configured for WPA, it’ll actually automatically detect. So far, I’ve tested this with D-Link, Orinoco, SMC, and Senao cards. They all work off automatic detection.
This is actually a brilliant thing that Ubuntu has done since this brings this distribution that much closer as a integrated solution that’s pretty newbie resilient.
The entire plug-and-play platform actually works fairly well and I didn’t have to configure anything. Gone are the days where you had to go around tweaking the drivers. Just click the Network link in the status bar, and choose your connection. You’ll be prompted for passwords and such if there is need. Brilliant.

Misconceptions on Wifi hazards

Excuse me while I laugh quietly.
In reading about “Hazards of Wifi” I almost cried. Don’t get me wrong. EHS (electromagnetic hypersensitivity) probably exists. At least I know that if I stand in front of a 19db dish pumping out over 1 watt of WiFi, even I would get a headache. Obviously Part 15 doesn’t allow such power behind it so, that’s probably not the issue.
My silent laughter has to do with the ill education of RF in general and how Part 15 works. The Sebastopol petition has those that claim to be effected by WiFi and that the constant barrage of waves make them ill to the point that they can’t visit anywhere with wifi. I hate to break it to you, but on a power scale, your cell phone pumps out way more power than any WiFi ever could. What’s more is that if you’re effected by Part 15 wave patterns, then you probably also have issues with not only pretty much all general electronics which irradiate under Part 15, but you also couldn’t possibly be using a microwave.
Forget consumer band 2-way radios. Part-15. Maybe you have the silver or gold flecks that block certain wavelengths from entering a house like a Faraday cage. But I’ve found that most people that actually claim to get sick from certain Part 15 are picking and choosing what RF they are associating with even though it’s all around us.
Hate to break the news, but cellular phone calls are going on all the time and you’re immersed in a large cellular wave 24×7 if you have coverage. Similarly, there’s UHF, VHF, radio bands, and pretty much everything mentioned above and a few that I didn’t even go into since there’s no need.
Having worked in celullar infrastructure for the past nine years, I can tell you that most people run petitions against wireless technologies without doing much homework. Again, it has nothing to do with EHS. In fact, I believe that EHS is probably real and have done some research into EMF readings. But when you just think about how relative power in relation to the body is, you’d realize that a mobile next to your head is actually irradiating you way more at a single point than having the same amount of power irradiating your whole body.
Still don’t get it? Think of wave power as a weight and the point of contact as a needle. If the weight sits on a single needle, the likelihood that the needle would puncture someone is great because there is little surface area. But if you distribute that weight acros multiple points of contact, then the over all surface area has increased and thus lessening the weight at the points of contact. Same with RF.
Regardless, the smell of fear is in the air. Don’t tell those people yet, but computers actually generate some pretty nasty EMF fields due to the power supply and spinning disks and what not.
Photo Credit: (Travelin’ Librarian)

AP Grapher

apgrapher.png AP Grapher is a free program for MacOSX graphs out the strength of wireless signals. This is useful for determining the pattern of signal strength and if the pattern needs to be optimized.
AP Grapher also has a scanner to determine which access point you want to graph. This basically allows you the determination of whether or not the access point or your client is in the most optimal wireless position. You can also configure most of your preferences including refresh rates and where the application shows up.

RogueScanner

roguedetection.jpg NetworkChemistry has another interesting free Windows product that is open source. RogueScanner can be used to detect patterns and characteristics of devices that are wireless.
I’m curious if they wrote this or if this was using someone else’s deal. The unfortunate part of this free tool and the rest of NetworkChemistry stuff is you have to fill out a contact information type form to actually download the tool. Makes me slightly suspicious of these free tools, but hey… nothing in those licensing that stops you from collecting information I suppose.
From a 802.11 standpoint, it sounds pretty good although there are many tools such as Netstumbler and such that do the same thing.

SixApart introduces plugin for iPhone


Another reason to buy that iPhone or iPod Touch. Six Apart has released a plugin that uses the beautiful new design of MT4 and Typepad as a mobile interface for the iPhone and iPod Touch.
What’s interesting about this is that Six Apart actually paid attention to user interface, which I must applaud. All of the iPhone’s interfacing was done from scratch instead of using the browser interface and just shrinking it down. This makes for a way better user experience and overall will be worth a lot to Six Apart.
Now if only iPhones actually worked on CDMA networks… I’d actually have a reason to buy one.

iPhone: MobileChat

mobilechat.gif

This is a pretty cool application for the iPhone that is open source. It fills in a gap for instant messaging that you just don’t have natively. MobileChat currently is probably one of the most efficient footprints when it comes to AIM clients for the iPhone and runs at about the same speed on both the EDGE network versus the WiFi network. That says something for efficiency.
There isn’t too much different as far as IM clients, and it also has sound notifications and the abillity to suspend but stay online. Pretty interesting little client considering that most mobile devices need IM clients. The iPhone is no different. Should be interesting if this application starts implementing other protocols into it and becoming an all-in-one client.