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First War-Ride

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Well, I needed a ride, and I hadn’t scanned for any networks lately, so I thought it’d be a good chance to combine the two and try something new. I rigged up my laptop with a new power profile, whacked in the headphones, slapped it all in my backpack and rode off into the night (being 8pm and all) to stumble for networks through the middle of Perth (expecting it to be a relative hotspot).

I wasn’t disappointed with my findings, and below is a small, standardised summary according to the format that I’ve used in other stumbles. I’ve also included a map of the ride route, with a few interesting points marked on it for reference.

  • 31 different SSIDs scanned
  • 59 unique MAC-addressed nodes scanned
  • 32 WAPs encrypted with WEP [54%]
  • 7 WAPs using what appear to be default SSIDs [12%]

As you may notice, the percentage of WAPs using WEP is much higher than previous stumbles, and the percentage of default SSIDs is much lower. I would most likely attribute this to the commercial nature of the majority of these nodes (see ride route below), which went through the main business street of the city. I suppose at least some businesses are securing their networks 🙂

A couple of interesting observations from the results;

  • 3 ‘WesWiFi’ devices were located when passing Wesley (private school); all of which were NOT encrypted
  • An SSID called ‘HayStNet’ was scanned, which sounds like a rather ‘community’ sort of a thing, but it was encrypted, so I wonder what it is
  • Cino To Go 182 has a WAP, which is not encrypted, and I am assuming that it provides public Internet access (marked on map)
  • The Chifley Hotel appears to provide free/public Internet access as well, since their SSID is ‘Chifley Public Wireless Internet’ (marked on map)
  • Posh Nosh, a cafe at the West end of St George’s Tce, provides access via the HotSpots network, but it’s paid access, and from memory is something like $20 for 2 months!
Complete map of the war-ride.
Close-up of the city part of the ride, including what appear to be public access sites.

I will definitely have to go for another war-ride soon, it was very fun indeed. There are a few things to watch out for;

  1. Heat: I stopped 3 or 4 times on this relatively short ride for a little break, but also to take my laptop out of the bag and let it cool down a little bit. Being in the enclosed space for that long means that it heats up.
  2. Power Profile: I customised a special power profile for handling my laptop, which basically tells it to never hibernate or suspend the drive, but to turn off the LCD screen and keep running when the lid is closed, with the CPU running in ‘battery-saving’ mode. This way, I can close it all up and tuck it away in the bag without worrying about it suddenly going to sleep 🙂
  3. Damage: Be very careful riding around on a bike with your laptop in a backpack – if you fall off, think about how you land, you really don’t want to roll in any way, or fall directly on your back, because your laptop will most likely be crushed.
  4. Headphones: Getting the volume level takes some tweaking, and it’s kind of hard because it needs to be up louder so you can hear it while riding, but when you slow down or stop it will be very loud. It also gets a bit much if you have 16 APs dinging away at you all at once (like I did!), so you might be better of turning off the MIDI mode in Net Stumbler
  5. GPS: Just thought I’d mention it again – I really want one 🙂

Ok, that’s enough for now – more write-ups later on some more of my equipment, namely my backpack and laptop, which I realised I haven’t really talked about yet.

Written by Beau Lebens

November 5th, 2003 at 4:00 pm

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Pack It Up

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STM Ultra Laptop Backpack

When I go war-riding, I need to be able to carry my laptop securely and safely for a period of time, while riding around, scanning for networks. Since I used to carry my laptop around to work, and I didn’t want one of those shoulder-bags (they just scream out to be stolen because it’s so obvious what’s in them), I already had an STM Ultra Backpack, which is specifically made to be comfortable, secure and safe, while providing enough room to carry all the bits that you need for your laptop.

When riding around, I travel light and just take the laptop itself, in the padded inner-pouch, within the main bag. Luckily for me, the wireless card and the headphones both stick out at the same end, which makes it easy to put them up the same way so that the headphones cord can reach me while riding. I can then strap it all up securely and ride away, with my laptop safe and sound.

I highly reccommend STM bags, they are sturdy, provide a very secure ‘house’ for your laptop, and have plenty of little pockets and spaces to carry all sorts of other things. I easily carry my laptop, power supply, external USB hard drive and cable, mouse and a collection of phone cables and things like that, without a problem. The Ultra is comfortable, sits nicely on your back, and really doesn’t look like a laptop bag at all, it looks more like a stylin’ sports backpack of some sort.

Written by Beau Lebens

October 20th, 2003 at 4:00 pm

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