The Wi-Fi Personal Area Network is getting closer

Blogs and News Articles

Wi-Fi Alliance Peers into the Future with Ad Hoc Replacement | Wi-Fi Net News

Wi-Fi Gets Even Better | Wi-Fi Planet

Wi-fi to get a whole lot better | BBC News – Technology

Wi-Fi Direct : un sérieux concurrent pour le Bluetooth | DegroupNews (France)

From the horse’s mouth

http://www.wi-fi.org/news_articles.php?f=media_news&news_id=909

My comments

A while ago, I had mentioned in my blog about Intel and Ozmo designing chipsets that support a Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) personal area network. As well, Microsoft had built support for this kind of activity in to Windows 7 so the operating system can manage these networks if the computer’s chipset has inherent support for this. Now, the Wi-Fi Alliance are defining the “Wi-Fi Direct” standard that allows the establishment of these personal-area networks. They have also said that the “Wi-Fi Direct” personal-area network can be catered for on some existing equipment through the use of a driver or firmware update downloaded from the manufacturer’s site.

Wi-Fi Personal-Area Network concept diagram

Wi-Fi Personal-Area Network concept diagram

A Wi-Fi personal-area network is based around a computer, typically a laptop general-purpose computer, providing a single low-power Wi-Fi service set for a small number of devices while being able to link with an existing Wi-Fi service set using the same Wi-Fi networking chipset. The computer is essentially acting as though it is a wireless router with a Wi-Fi backhaul.

One main near-term benefit of operating a Wi-Fi personal-area network is to use a Wi-Fi-enabled device that doesn’t have the full screen, keyboard and Web browser, like a digital camera or Internet radio at most wireless hotspots which typically require you to establish your session through a Web page. Similarly, you can do network-based activities like transfer files, make your music library available to your DLNA-capable media equipment or engage in multi-player multi-machine gaming while using a public Wi-Fi network like a wireless hotspot.

The main benefit of this method beyond using the classic “Ad-hoc” mode that is part of the 802.11a/b/g/n standards. The “ad-hoc” setup often provided poor security and was very unstable, especially if it was being used to transfer large amounts of data like files between colleagues’ laptop computers.

This technology has also been designed to suit all classes of network deployment, ranging from home and small-business networks to large corporation and government networks. The needs of a large corporation or government department with sensitive intellectual assets have been taken care of including the ability for the access points in these networks to detect Wi-Fi Direct networks and, where policy dictates, to shut down these networks. There is only one security fear that I have in that the technology could be used to create an “evil-twin” rogue access point at a wireless hotspot. The way I would mitigate this problem would be to limit the power of a Wi-Fi Direct network and give hotspots the ability to detect these networks. Further still, I would support the use of SSL-style verification mechanisms being part of the SSID beacons in enterprise and hotspot networks as mentioned in my article on keeping the WiFi public hotspot industry safe.

Some of the computing press see the technology as a competitor to Bluetooth especially when it comes to linking devices with general-purpose computers. This is although Bluetooth have established small-size low-power chipsets for integration into peripheral devices like headsets and mice. It may also be seen as a chance for companies to work on low-power small-size Wi-Fi radio chips for use in these kind of devices, which can also benefit devices that deal with Wi-Fi on a LAN perspective like Internet-enabled consumer electronics.

Also, if the pundits see that this technology is going to work for human-interface devices (keyboards, mice, remote controls, game controllers, etc) and similar applications, they need to have this concept developed and proven across an IP subnet. This is because Wi-Fi is simply being used as one of many physical network media for IP networks; and there haven’t been any device classes and application-layer protocols established for human-interface devices, sensors and similar applications to operate across these networks.

Once this technology is worked out properly, I would see Wi-Fi Direct being an enabler for network activities involving Internet-based consumer electronics or working alongside a colleague rather than being another wireless medium for keyboards and mice.

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“Over-the-top” video services – a new direction for TV

http://jviptv.wordpress.com/2009/10/11/cisco-rovi-stb-2009/

Previously, if you wanted extra broadcast content for your television experience, you would have to subscribe to a cable or satellite pay-TV service which would provide many channels of content for a monthly fee. This hasn’t pleased many people because, if they wanted particular sports fixtures or good-quality TV content, they had to subscribe to packages filled with a lot of channels they didn’t really want.

Additional content was available through collectable videocassettes or DVDs; or lately through content-provider Websites which you had to view through a computer.

Increasingly, the broadband Internet service with its content-streaming and file-sharing abilities has opened up a new path for independent broadcast or on-demand video content and led towards “over-the-top” video services.

What is an “over-the-top” video service?

An “over-the-top” video service is an IP-based video service provided in a manner primarily independently of established broadcast TV infrastructure. The customer doesn’t have to sign up with a cable or satellite pay-TV service to benefit from the content. The reception arrangement is typically a set-top box, PVR or IP-enabled TV that is connected to the Internet via the home network. In most cases, especially PVRs and IP-enabled TVs, they will have a built-in digital broadcast tuner that is pitched at receiving free-to-air TV channels or, at the most, the equivalent of basic-tier cable TV.

These services had started out with Web-based services like Netflix, Hulu, Blockbuster Video and similar “video-on-demand” platforms being made available to network media adaptors and “personal-TV-service” devices like Tivo. These services typically provided either pay-per-view or “download-to-own” content, usually encompassing cinema feature movies or television serials. Lately, there has been the arrival of Sky Angel who have set up an IP-based streamed-channel collection based around Christian-focused family-friendly entertainment.

What paths could this open up

These services could open up the concept of “boutique television” which is about a supplementary-TV service providing “only what you want” without paying for “what you don’t want”. In the context of broadcast content, the viewer groups that would be touched would include families who want “clean wholesome entertainment”, ethnic groups who want content in their own language and culture, people interested in sports that aren’t covered in the country they reside in like AFL football or cricket, and those of us who like good-quality television content. As far as on-demand content goes, these programs could open an alternative to hiring DVD from the local Video-Ezy, provide a highly-strung catch-up TV service for people who follow TV serials, amongst other things.

Similarly it could allow content providers like established free-to-air TV networks to offer subscription-TV services and content without being limited by the dominant owners of cable and satellite-TV infrastructure. This was more so when, in Australia, Foxtel (the dominant pay-TV provider in Australia) made it very difficult for the Seven Network to establish a subscription-driven premium TV channel. This had led to a long drawn-out legal dispute and even broke down relations between both services with such behaviour as Foxtel not rebroadcasting the Seven Network to subscriber households that receive their service directly off the satellites; and Seven not providing programme data for Foxtel’s on-screen electronic programme guide.

What needs to be done

Most implementations require the use of a set-top box loaded with specific software, including a content directory in the case of broadcast services. There is the likelihood of a worsening problem if a household likes many different “over-the-top” video services, especially boutique-TV services, where there will be multiple set-top boxes in the AV rack.

One way to go about this would be to establish a standard for provisioning of broadcast and on-demand IP-TV services to subscribers. This could be based around DLNA standards and require at the most a common browser plugin or lightweight application to handle provisioning-manifest files that may be sent by email or downloaded from the service’s Website. As well, the industry needs to act upon content protection / conditional access standards like DTCP-IP when protecting premium services; and accept the idea of covering all receiving devices in a household under one subscription. This is in a similar way to how the TV licence is handled in the UK where ONE TV licence covers all TV-receiving devices in the same household.

How could this affect the TV landscape

For production studios, content providers and “boutique” channels, the “over-the-top” video services will provide these groups, especially small operations, with more opportunities to expose their content. This is in contrast to content being judged on whether it will suit the mainstream audience of a particular market, which is becoming more so in a highly-consolidated highly-controlled market like the USA.

For consumers, it will provide an increased choice of television that gives value for money as in “pay only for what you want to watch without paying for what you don’t want to watch”. This is more so in difficult financial times where one needs to factor in such events as the possible loss of their job or business and need to save as much as possible.

There is an increased likelihood of the commercial TV establishment being threatened by the concept of viewers taking back control of their viewing and the content produced “outside of the establishment” becoming available to most people. They, especially the cable-TV companies and similar companies who run pay-TV services on the same bandwidth, may try to block data streams associated with this new form of video content or implement traffic-shaping rules to Internet service. This would have these companies fall foul of “net-neutrality” rules that are established by governments. On the other hand, these services could force the TV establishment to “lift their game” with content production.

Conclusion

Once “over-the-top” video content comes to your home network and your TV set, it could become a watershed moment for TV broadcasting.

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UPnP AV (DLNA) for the Apple Macintosh platform

Introduction

I am writing this to help Apple Macintosh users know what is available when it comes to integrating their computers with the UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network, especially as a way of providing cost-effective way of distributing music, pictures and video over the home network. This is also because most of the DLNA-compliant equipment is available at prices that most people can afford and that most manufacturers that sell premium-grade consumer AV equipment like Linn or Loewe are running at least one unit capable of playing at least music from a DLNA-compliant media server.

Similarly, the article is also pitched at people who have decided to move to the Apple Macintosh platform from other computing platforms that would provide inherent DLNA MediaServer support like Windows.

Apple doesn’t provide any software to bridge the Apple Macintosh platform to the DLNA Home Media Network, whether as a server, playback or control program. One of the primary reasons is to keep the platform tightly integrated with Apple’s multimedia products like the iPod, Apple TV and Apple Airport Express. As well, some Apple Macintosh diehards may consider the UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network as an anathema to the “purely Apple” IT lifestyle that they desire.

So this need is fulfilled by software written by third party developers. The software is primarily in the form of media servers that can provision user-defined libraries or the iTunes and iPhoto libraries to the DLNA Home Media Network. Programs that provision user-defined libraries can be pointed to iTunes and iPhoto libraries once you know where these programs store their files.

DLNA software for the Apple Macintosh platform

TwonkyMedia are supplying a version of the TwonkyMedia Server to MacOS X, which can work from any user-defined folders. This program is available through www.twonkymedia.com .They are intending to port the TwonkyMedia Manager to the Apple Macintosh platform in the near future.

Allegrosoft have had Allegro Media Server for a while and this works directly with the iTunes Music Library. This program is available from www.allegrosoft.com/ams.html .

Elgato EyeConnect is available at any Apple Macintosh dealer who sells Elgato EyeTV TV tuner cards and is tightly integrated with the Apple iLife system. This means that it can share the folders used by iTunes, iPhoto and other Apple software over the DLNA Home Media Network in a more polished manner.

NullRiver Connect360 and MediaLink. These shareware products are pitched at integrating iTunes and iPhoto with the XBox360 and PlayStation 3 games consoles, but can provision content to DLNA Home Media Network devices. Infact, some friends that I know are using the NullRiver MediaLink to bring their online video collection which is held on their Apple Macintosh to a PS3 to view on their flatscreen TV in the main lounge area of their home. They are available through www.nullriver.com .

Songbook Mac is another iTunes UPnP AV / DLNA server, but this program also is one of the first UPnP AV Control Point programs available for the Macintosh. It is mainly targeted at people who run any of Linn’s network media players on their network, but can be run on with any UPnP AV MediaRenderer device. It is available at http://www.bookshelfapps.com/songbookmac.php ,

Yazsoft Playback is another program that is highly integrated to the Macintosh platform and can handle all of the high-definition video that a lot of Mac users will be dealing with. It can also work with user-nominated folders and is available at www.yazsoft.com.

Use of third-party NAS devices

If you use a third-party (non-Apple) network-attached storage device like the Netgear ReadyNAS, the QNAP units or the Buffalo TeraStations, you can use these devices as a UPnP / DLNA media server. They will also offer iTunes music server functionality as well as Time-Machine backup.

DLNA Media Controller Software for the iPhone

Most of you who own an Apple Macintosh will own or are wanting to own an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch by now and these devices can work as Media Controllers for Media-Renderer Devices that accept “pushed” content. They are the iMediaSuite (iTunes direct) and iNetFrame (iTunes direct) (blog mention) by CyberGarage, PlugPlayer (iTunes direct) (blog mention) and Songbook Touch (iTunes direct), which are all available through the iTunes App Store.

Conclusion

Staying loyal to the Apple platform doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on the abilities that the DLNA Home Media Network offers, especially now that more and more consumer-electronics manufacturers are making DLNA-compliant networked media equipment available at all price points and markets.

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Buffalo ships world’s first USB 3.0 hard disk drives this month – Engadget

Buffalo ships world’s first USB 3.0 hard disk drives this month | Engadget

My comments on this article

What has pleased me about Buffalo releasing the world’s first USB 3.0 external hard disk is that they have taken a “systems” approach to getting the standard off the ground. This is through supplying a USB 3.0 PCI-Express interface card for use with recent-issue desktop computers with a vacant PCI-Express x1 slot on the motherboard as well as, of course, the necessary cables.

It may appeal to those of us who like to take apart and put together desktop computers a lot and are likely to build “homebrew” server systems. But wait for 6 months to a year and the USB 3.0 sockets will appear as part of the next generation of motherboards and be integral to laptop computers and other small-form-factor systems.

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Masters of light-based telecommunications technology honoured given Nobel Prizes

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Nobel honours ‘masters of light’

Fibre optic pioneers to share Nobel physics prize – The Local (Sweden)

My comments on these Nobel Prizes

These Nobel Prize awards have become a celebration of two major technologies that are part of our everyday IT and lives

Charge-Coupled Device image sensor

One award went to Willard Boyle and George Smith who had developed the charge-coupled device (CCD) image sensor which has become a watershed technology for image and movie capture to electronic media. Previously, video cameras were tube-based, which made them heavy, power-efficient beasts which were out of the financial reach of most of us and were more fragile. The chip-based solid-state image sensor had led initially to lightweight video cameras and camcorders that most of us could afford. This image sensor has also led to a cost-effective version based on a CMOS design allowing for cheaper digital and video cameras. It also led to the digital-camera revolution which allowed us to grab images on a reusable electronic media rather than film and also ushered in the webcam.

Now every video or digital camera that you encounter in your lives is based on that technology, whether it be the digital camera that you can take many snaps with, the closed-circuit camera in the shopping centre or freeway, or the TV cameras that bring us the vision that appear on the TV screens each day and night. This technology has assisted with astronomy in the form of the Hubble Space Telescope yielding the highly-detailed images of space and cameras sent out as part of the space missions to Mars.

Fibre Optics

The other award went to Charles Kao who had developed the concept of fibre optics, which is the transmission of light over a glass fibre. This technology initially was about decorative lighting but had yielded great advances in telecommunications and medicine.

In the medical field, this technology allowed for endoscopy which permitted improved diagnosis, especially of the digestive tract. It also allowed for “keyhole surgery” which allowed operations to be performed without the need to cut large incisions in the patient.

The telecommunications and IT sector benefited from the concept of using these fibres to transmit large data over long distances. This technology even is the backbone of the Internet and is becoming a solution for moving large amounts of data to the end-user’s home or business premises in the form of optical-fibre broadband services.

The technology is also being used in the AV sector to transmit digital audio between devices like DVD players and home-theatre receivers. It is because of the ability to avoid ground loops and other interference traps between the components.

Conclusion

At least the Nobel Prize is being used as a tool for recognizing these technologies that are part of the connected lifestyle.

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Showdown on the handheld front

Two years ago, there was very little activity concerning the handheld PDA and smartphone front save for a few devices based on the Symbian S60 / UIQ platform and Windows Mobile (CE) platform.

Then Apple brought their touchscreen-enabled all-singing all-dancing iPhone on the market and businessmen became addicted to Research In Motion’s Blackberry smartphone with push e-mail functionality. Now Nokia (Symbian S60), Google Android and Microsoft have jumped on the same bandwagon as these previous companies. In the case of Nokia and Microsoft, they have released handset designs based on the iPhone-style “touchscreen” model as well as a QWERTY-style keypad. Some have even designed a handset that works sideways and uses a pull-out QWERTY keyboard. As well, Google had built up the Android Linux distribution for smartphone applications and a few manufacturers are releasing smartphones bast on this platform; while Palm, known for the classic “Palm Pilot” PDA, have come back from the dead with the Palm Pre smartphone platform.

This had stirred up things very significantly with the contract-driven high-end smartphone market. 

A new expectation was required for this class of device in the way they operated, the features they came with and how the additional software that extends their functionality is marketed. The devices will have 3G (or better) cellular voice and data interface, 802.11g WPA2 Wi-Fi networking, Bluetooth connectivity while being capable of working as a digital video camera, phone, portable media player, personal navigation unit and Internet terminal at least. Additional programs will be typically sold or provided through a PC-based or over-the-air application store hosted by the device’s manufacturer or platform provider.

As part of this showdown on the smartphone front, handset designers, operating-system and applications developers will start to develop very interesting handsets and handheld applications. The handset designers and operating-system developers will end up at the point which was common for consumer electronics in the 1970s and 1980s where manufacturers pitted themselves against each other to design the best product and as models evolved, the features that were in the top-end model gradually appeared on midrange and low-end models. Mobile service providers will also have to provide cost-effective mobile service plans which consider increased data usage on these devices as they become work and lifestyle information terminals for their users.

This could lead to inclusion of digital radio and TV reception in some of the models; 802.11n Wi-Fi networking; OLED user displays, improved battery runtime on “full-feature” use; and the like.

As far as applications are concerned, developers who write handheld applications, whether operating as a dedicated program or as a front-end to a Web page, will need to make the applications suit the different platforms and application stores. This may be easier for the Microsoft and Symbian platforms because the developer can have the option of providing the application through their Web site, a competing application store like Handango, or a mobile phone operator as well as the official application store for the platform.

There is a risk that certain features will be missing from the smartphone market during the smartphone platform showdown. One will be the support for WPS “quick-setup” functionality for Wi-Fi networks. These devices really need to benefit from this technology – how could you enter a WPA passphrase that is “security-ideal” in to a phone with a 12-key keypad or “picking through” a small QWERTY keypad. As well, most of the desireable wireless routers and access points that are being released at the moment are now equipped with WPS, These phones should have support for WPS, preferably as part of the operating system’s Wi-Fi functionality, but at least as a reliable application that the user downloads to the device for free.

As well, DLNA media-management support should be available across all of the platforms, preferably as a playback and download (to local storage) function and a media control point. Similarly, the phone could be set up to act as a media server so that pictures taken with the phone’s camera can be shown on larger screens. At the moment, Symbian is providing the functionality native to their S60 3rd Edition platform and third parties, mostly hobbyist developers, are developing implementations for use on the Apple iPhone and Windows Phone platforms.

It will be very interesting over these next few model years as we observe mobile phone manufacturers, smartphone operating-system developers, independent application developers and mobile phone service providers grapple with this new reality.

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Feature Article – Understanding the 802.11n high-bandwidth wireless network

Introduction

Now that the 802.11n high-bandwidth wireless-network standard has been declared a final standard, the price of 802.11n-compatible wireless-network hardware will come down to more affordable levels. This will lead to you considering upgrading your wireless network to 802.11n whenever the time is right to renew your home-network IT hardware.

The 802.11n access point

This works in a different manner to the 802.11a/b/g access points we are so used to. Basically, these units use a “multiple in, multiple out” methodology with “front-end diversity”. They will typically have two or three aerials with each aerial serving a particular transceiver. Some units may have an aerial serving a receiver as well as the two aerials serving two transceivers. It is totally different from “antenna diversity” which is used on most 802.11b/g routers and access points, where one transceiver works with two aerials, choosing whichever has the best signal strength.

These access points and the network client devices that connect to them also make use of “constructive multipath” to improve their quality of reception.This is different from the “destructive multipath” often experienced with FM radio and analogue television. Here, signals picked up as reflected signals are mixed with signals received by line-of-sight and “worked out” as a data stream.

The premium-priced 802.11n access points will be typically dual-band in which they can work on the existing 2.4GHz band or the newer 5GHz band. Some of this equipment may be able to work on both bands, as though there are two access points in one box.

Access Point Types

Single Band

These access points use a single access point that is set up to work on one band, typically 2.4GHz, but some of them work on 5GHz as an “add-on” access point.

Dual Band, Single Radio

These access points are like a single-band access point but can be set by the user to work on either 2.4GHz or 5GHz, but not both of the bands.

Dual Band, Dual Radio

These access points, sometimes described as “simultaneous dual-band”, are effectively two 802.11n access points in one box with one working on 2.4GHz and the other working on 5GHz.

Access Point Operating Modes

Primary Operating Modes

A typical 802.11n access point can be configured to work in one of two primary operating modes – a “compatibility” mode or an “N-only” mode.

Compatibility Mode

This mode, known as Mixed Mode or G-compatible mode allows 802.11g wireless network hardware to work from the same access point alongside 802.11n equipment. The limitation with this mode is that the wireless network works to a “worst-case” scenario with throughput that doesn’t hit the standards for an 802.11n segment. You will still have the larger coverage and service reliability with the 802.11n equipment and this benefit may pass through to 802.11g equipment

N-only Mode

This mode allows the access point to work only with 802.11n equipment and gives the equipment full wireless throughput as well as the full reliability of the standard.

Wideband vs Standard Channels

802.11n access points can run their channels as either “standard” 20MHz channels or 40MHz wideband channels which can yield higher throughput. The wideband channels also make use of a “standard” channel as a “base” channel for the double-width channel.

The preferred method of operation is that a 2.4GHz access point works on “standard” channels and most such access points will be set to have this kind of behaviour by default. But you can run these access points on the wideband channels with the limitation of poorer compatibility with 802.11g devices. If you are running a 2,4GHz access point in a manner to be compatible with regular 802.11g devices, it would be a good idea to stick to “standard” channels. If you are running 5GHz access points, you can get away with using the wideband channels and I would prefer setting up a 5GHz 802.11n extended-service-set to work this way.

The number of streams a device can handle

An 802.11n wireless device will typically be rated as being a single-stream, dual-stream or multiple-stream device. This relates to how many streams of data the wireless device can handle. All Wireless-N (802.11n) access points and routers will typically be either a dual-stream type or a multiple-stream type in the case of premium devices. Similarly, laptops with integrated Wireless-N capability; and add-on Wireless-N products will typically be dual-stream devices.

The main class of devices that will handle only one stream will be primarily-battery-powered devices like smartphones, WiFi VoIP phones, and WiFi-enabled digital cameras / portable media players because the single-stream ability won’t be intensive on these devices’ internal battery resources. Similarly, the idea of a single-stream Wireless-N network interface will also appeal to applications where size or cost do matter.

Other points to know

Best practice with dual-band equipment

If you are running dual-band equipment, especially dual-band dual-radio equipment, it would be a good idea to use the 5GHz band as N-only mode, while 2.4GHz works as compatibility mode. If you are running dual-band single-radio equipment, you will need to use older 2.4GHz equipment to run an 802.11g service set with the dual-band single-radio equipment on 5GHz N-only mode.

Use of aftermarket antennas

You can use external aftermarket antennas (aerials) with 802.11n equipment as long as all of the antennas are of the same type. This may work well if you replace the omnidirectional whip aerials with stronger omnidirectional ones. Then you may have to space the aerials further apart for the front-end diversity to work properly The main difficulty you will have is using directional aerials, in which case you may need to look for directional aerials optimised for 802.11n setups.

As well, if you are running dual-band dual-radio equipment, you will have to use antennas that can work on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands rather than antennas optimised for the 2.4GHz bands.

Shaping your 802.11n wireless network – the ideal upgrade path for your wireless network

I will be talking of WiFi networks that work on a particular technology and with a unique SSID and security parameter set as an “extended-service-set”. This allows me to cover setups where there are multiple access points working with a particular configuration.

You may be tempted to construct a multiple-access-point extended-service-set with an 802.11g access point and an 802.11n access point working in “compatibility mode” connected by an Ethernet or HomePlug wired backbone. The simple answer is "don’t”. You will end up with your wireless network having reliability problems especially as devices roam between the different access points and switch operating modes.

The simple answer would be to run different extended-service-sets with at least one access point for each WiFi technology. They are set up with different ESSIDs (such as SSID for the G cloud and SSID-N for the N cloud) with the wireless stations choosing between the different ESSIDs. The only thing they can have that is common is the WPA security parameters, and a common wired backbone which can be Gigabit Ethernet or HomePlug AV.

This could be achieved through deploying an existing 802.11g router that is set up as an access point and working on “SSID-G” and one channel while a newer 802.11n router working as the Internet “edge” is set to “N-only: or “compatibility” mode in the case of a single-band 2.4GHz unit, and set to “SSID-N” and a different channel.

As you evolve your wireless network, you may want to work towards establishing a 2.4GHz 802.11n “compatibility-mode” extended-service-set and a 5GHz N-only extended-service-set. You then upgrade your portable computers to work with dual-band 802.11n network interfaces or add dual-band 802.11n network adaptors to your existing equipment. The 5GHz extended-service-set will come in handy for high-throughput activity like video streaming and related applications while the 2.4GHz extended service set can work well with voice applications, smartphones, Internet radio and similar applications where throughput doesn’t matter.

If you are upgrading a wireless hotspot to 802.11n, it would be preferable to make sure your hotspot’s extended-service-set is on the 2.4GHz band and operating in “compatibility” mode so that customers can still use their existing 802.11g hardware on the wireless hotspot.

Some issues may occur with dual-band networks where the 5GHz extended-service-set may not cover the same area as the 2.4GHz extended-service-set. This is because the 5GHz band is of a higher frequency and shorter wavelength than the 2.4GHz band and is best demonstrated by AM radio stations being receivable at a longer distance compared to FM radio stations. It can be rectified by deploying a dual-band single-radio access point working on the 5GHz band in to the 5GHz extended-service-set as an infill access point.

Conclusion

Once you understand the 802.11n wireless standard and what it can and cannot do, you can make sure that you get the best out of the new standard while gaining the maximum mileage out of the existing wireless-network hardware.

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Telstra’s Mum 2.0 Videos about social networking

This series of short video lessons produced by Telstra gives a very good explanation about social networking sites like Facebook and how to use these sites sensibly. They are mainly pitched at older folk who most likely don’t understand these sites and describe a Facebook profile in a similar way to your home that you had just moved in to.

They talk of the primary concepts such as

  • adding online friends such as Facebook Friends to your profile
  • uploading pictures to your profile and what pictures you should upload
  • use of the social network site’s applications like FunWall, FarmTown, the many Facebook Gifts application and online “love meters”
  • joining online groups and “fan pages” within the social network and
  • tuning your privacy settings for your needs

If you are viewing the videos from this blog post, there will be a series of video thumbnails at the bottom of the video screen when the videos finish.

This will augment some of the posts that I have put up in my blog about getting the most out of Facebook and other social networks.

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Now the bathroom scales can connect to the home network

 Withings – Home Page

Why Fit | Wi-Fi Networking News

WiFi-enabled bathroom scale slides into USA, overweight Yanks sluggishly back away | Engadget

My comments on this next step for the home network

When I was young, the typical kind of bathroom scales that were commonly available were of a mechanical type that needed adjustment before anyone could be weighed. As well, a person who didn’t have good eyesight couldn’t easily weigh themselves and had to require someone else to read the weight. There was a trickle of electronic scales but these were very expensive and mainly available through selected mail-order catalog stores rather than the homewares departments of a typical department store.

In the last 20 years, we have seen the arrival of cost-effective electronic bathroom scales that had a large digital display or, in some applications, voice synthesis; didn’t need to be adjusted every time each person weighed in and could allow a person with limited eyesight to weigh themselves. These units are becoming available through most homewares stores and departments.

This bathroom scales is the first unit that does more than the typical bathroom scales can do. It can measure fat mass and body mass index; but works with a Web portal that keeps record of this data for up to 8 members of a household. The data is transmitted to the portal using the WPA-secured Wi-Fi segment of your home network and is kept in a secure manner on the portal. As well, there is a local application available for the Apple iPhone / iPod Touch platform which provides the data in a manner optimised to that handheld device. But the Web dashboard can be visited through a regular Web browser setup.

From what I have seen of this device, there isn’t anything about what is involved in integrating the scales in to a secure wireless network. As far as I am concerned, these are the kind of devices that WPS-Push-Button-Connect is made for. Another thing I would like to see for these scales is an API being available so that one can write software such as integration into various desktop, network and Internet health-records programs.

As well, this has actually been the first kind of personal-health device available on the market that is able to be part of a home network. It could pave the way for more of these networked health-measurement devices to be made available for home-network use.

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Facebook | Fighting the Battle Against Money Scams

Facebook | Fighting the Battle Against Money Scams

My comments and further explanation on this topic

This article in Facebook’s blog touches on a very common risk that can affect any social-networking site and user community. It mainly talks of the “money scam” which is really similar to the common “Nigerian” or “419” scam that many of us have encountered through the spam that comes in our mailboxes.

In the social-network version, a fraudster “sets up shop” on a Facebook or similar site and takes over a user’s account. They will then message the user’s social-network friends claiming that they are in another land and out of money. This will be via a message on the Wall or a direct message via the Inbox or a Chat session. They will typically require the friends to wire a huge amount of money to the scammer.

If you do receive one of these kinds of contacts from your friends via a social-networking Website, make a call by regular telephone to the number that you know the friend (or a person that you are sure knows them well such as their spouse / partner, child or employer) can answer such as their home or mobile number. Here, I would prefer to make a voice call rather than use text messaging. Then you can ascertain whether it is the friend who is in need or simply a scam taking place. As well, confirm the situation with mutual contacts. If the friend’s account is being compromised, tell them to change the account’s password immediately. Sometimes, companies like Facebook can lock down a compromised account and e-mail the account holder about what is going on. Then they advise the account holder to change their password immediately.

As well, know what resources do exist in your social-networking service for reporting compromised user accounts and be ready to identify “out-of-character” messages, links or pictures posted up on these services by your friends. For Facebook users, the link is http://www.facebook.com/help.php?page=420 .

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