“Websites have a responsibility to protect the people who depend on their services. They've been ignoring this responsibility for too long, and it's time for everyone to demand a more secure web. My hope is that Firesheep will help the users win.”
Is that true? Well, test the waters yourself with Eric Butler's Firesheep extension for Firefox--a one-button way to collect the unsecure logins and passwords being thrown across open Wi-Fi networks!
How strong is your Wi-Fi signal? Or, more importantly, how strong is your neighbor’s Wi-Fi signal? Where do you have to be to leech, er, acquire the best free Wi-Fi signal in your general surroundings? At your favorite strip mall? Outside of the local Starbucks?
Anyone can grab a Wi-Fi sniffer and go wardriving around to find the best possible signal for your personal or business use–that’s easy. Heck, you can even do that in Windows if you don’t mind staring at (and constantly refreshing) the tiny little “bars of service” meter in your wireless connections window. But this week’s “App of the Week” does a bit more than tell you the networks that give you the best signal, or when you might have acquired said signal in your trips around town. No, the app I’m profiling will actually go and map your connectivity as visualized “hot zones” overtop any map you’d like to use.
Before we charge too far ahead here, let's run over the basics. Your house or apartment, or the coffee shop you're sitting in now, is saturated with radio waves. Inconceivable numbers of them, in fact, vibrating forth from radio stations, TV stations, cellular towers, and the universe itself, into the space you inhabit. You're being bombarded, constantly, with electromagnetic waves of all kind of frequencies, many of which have been encoded with specific information, whether it be a voice, a tone, or digital data. Hell, maybe even these very words.
On top of that, you're surrounded by waves of your own creation. Inside your home are a dozen tiny little radio stations: your router, your cordless phone, your garage door opener. Anything you own that's wireless, more or less. Friggin' radio waves: they're everywhere.
Wilocity and Atheros Communications today announced a partnership to build tri-band wireless solutions that will operate on the 2.4-, 5.0,- and 60GHz frequency bands. Wilocity has been developing 60GHz technology for three years. Atheros is a major player in the dual-band IEEE 802.11n chipset market.
Both companies have seats on the WiGig Alliance’s board of directors and contributed to the draft standard for wireless networking using the 60GHz frequency band the alliance announced on May 10. The alliance is also contributing ideas to the IEEE Task Group AD, which is working on the IEEE 802.11ad but it’s not taking any chances that the standards body will move quickly enough to enable standardized 60GHz products to reach retail shelves on a timely basis.
Even if you reject the iPad on an intestinal level—you know, because you don’t want to be associated with mock turtlenecks and man bags—then you should still view Apple’s device as a referendum on the looming wave of tablet computers. The bottom line is that the iPad is damn useful. The referendum has passed.
The LED-backlit display clocks 1024x768 pixels across 9.7 diagonal inches. Those are netbook-like specs in a physical formfactor that’s more attractive (both aesthetically and functionally) than any netbook. The best part about the screen is that it defines the iPad in toto—without the baggage of a hinged physical keyboard, track pad, or pointing stick, the iPad thrives when typing, web-surfing, or doing similarly simple tasks while lying on your back.
A professor of electrical engineering at Penn. State and his research team managed to get an infrared signal to transmit data at 1Gbps. Optical networks have a host of potential advantages over traditional radio networks such as more security, less interference, and obviously speed.
The research pair seemed to think that by their calculations, there is much more bandwidth to be found using infrared light. The new technology is touted as the future of wireless communications as the RF spectrum continues to be gobbled up and overly congested.
Sony has announced yet another product at CES. This one is a bit of a head-scratcher for us, though. The Dash Internet Viewer is a sort of touchscreen widget station. Think Chumby, but with a larger (and frankly, beautiful) 7 inch screen and sleeker design. As it turns out, that’s exactly what it is; the Dash runs the Chumby OS.
Sony is pushing the app angle hard, because well, isn’t everyone? The Chumby OS already has over 1000 apps available, and Sony will be making some new ones of its own. The Dash will have Wi-Fi so you can use it to pull down data for those data-hungry apps. There is no internal battery, so don’t confuse this with a tablet device as some already have. Is this something you need? If so, the Dash will be shipping in April for $199.
LaCie is hitting CES hard right out of the gate announcing a new LaCinema device, network server, and Wuala USB drives. The new LaCinema Mini HD is a DLNA compliant media player capable of 1080p output via an HDMI port. The Mini HD has an internal hard drive that can be loaded up with content over the network or by way of the USB port. It will support 802.11n Wi-Fi and most codecs including DivX, MKV, and AVC.
Next up we have a network server that LaCie is just calling Network Server.It will support five drive bays, gigabit Ethernet, and runs Windows Home Server. Customers will also have access to LaCie’s Wuala backup technology, but no details were available at the time.
Finally we have the new line of CoolKey and WhizKey USB keys (that actually look like keys). They are only USB 2.0 instead of SuperSpeed USB like many devices we’re likely to see around the CES floor this week. LaCie did sate the drives would be capable of 30MB/s transfers and are waterproof. They will be available in sizes up to 32GB. They also come with 4GB of Wuala web storage for two years.
When you’re ready to step up to the world of cellular broadband connections, there are lots of options. The removable PC Card, USB, and ExpressCard modems deliver great performance and work with pretty much any PC, but they’ll connect only one machine at a time to the Internet—that is, unless you can successfully set up connection sharing in Windows. And while we love the always-on nature of modems integrated in notebooks, their permanent association to a single machine makes the external cards seem positively promiscuous by comparison. Enter the MiFi 2200.
Inside this tiny device—it’s about the same size as a stack of six credit cards—is not only a 3G wireless modem, but also a Wi-Fi access point and a battery to power the whole thing. That’s right, the MiFi 2200 lets you and four of your closest pals connect to the Internet anywhere there’s a 3G cell signal. We tested the MiFi with two computers and a Wi-Fi-enabled phone and were pleased with the results. The battery-powered MiFi seems designed to work with PCs that are no more than 10 feet away. While we had signal further out in some test environments, we found it worked best up close.
Who wouldn’t want Wi-Fi in their car? GM is offering up the option to purchase the Autonet Mobile Wi-Fi router for seven Chevy vehicles. The system will run $199, after mail-in rebate. While that may seem a bit steep, keep in mind that the normal price is $500. The system is available in the Equinox, Traverse, Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban, Avalanche, and Express. To get the cheap price, perspective customers have to buy one of these vehicles before December 31st.
Customers have to agree to a 2 year service agreement running $29 per month. That only comes with 1GB of data, after which the service shuts off until the next billing cycle. A 5GB plan is available for $59. The Autonet service uses the Verizon network to provide data. An interested party could just get a Verizon MiFi and have a Wi-Fi network powered by Verizon everywhere, not just in the car. Still, if your dream is to impress your friends with a Wi-Fi router in your car, the time to buy is now.