Fun without wires

Archive for the ‘wireless’ tag

Growl Network Notifications

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I use a system wide notification manager called Growl to handle notifications of all sorts of apps on my Mac, including a number of custom scripts and tools. It’s a really neat little system, and even supports handling notification requests across a network. I was working from a cafe today and fired up a little app called Flame to see what was going on in the network around me. It just shows you all Mac machines connected to the same network and tells you what services they are running.

I spotted someone who had the Growl network service active (_growl._tcp.), so I thought I’d give something a try. According to Flame, their computer was called “Brad’s Computer”, and his IP was so I fired up Terminal and entered the following:

$ growlnotify -H -t "Hi Brad" -m "You should really put a password on Growl network notifications"

Obviously it got through and displayed, because some dude freaked out and his eyes went wide while he stared at his screen. I tried not to laugh.

Surprise! πŸ™‚

Written by Beau Lebens

February 5th, 2009 at 3:06 pm

Wireless Developer Network

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The WirelessDevNet is a pretty cool website, and has channels on a bunch of interesting topics, in particular Bluetooth and Location Based Services.

They offer an RSS Feed, but it appears to be for the entire site, and isn’t available per channel. Pity, but still good.

Obviously, it is targetted more towards developers, so if you’re into that sort of thing, then this site might be for you. It contains a lot of articles written locally, as well as pulling in and referencing articles and tutorials from other locations, so it’s a decent ‘landing pad’ for wireless development.

Written by Beau Lebens

July 12th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Netgear WGR614 Wireless Cable/DSL Router

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When I came over here, I brought my Netgear DG824M, because I figured that it’d be useful, at the very least as a WAP, hooked off whatever I got sorted out with here, if not as my main DSL modem for my connection here. Instead, it turns out that I got cable, and it didn’t work as a WAP for that, because I couldn’t get it to not act as a DHCP server, and have the cable modem do that part of things, and it didn’t like to play otherwise. So – long story short, I bought a new modem!

Netgear WGR614
Having had a good experience with Netgear products so far, I stuck with them for my new modem, and hunted down a WGR614, which I bought from EBuyer.com. Once I get my rebate, it will have been a $35 router – not bad for something that would probably cost $200 in Australia πŸ™‚

Since I previously had difficulty getting WEP to work with my XP machine, and had been running with it turned off (only using MAC-based restrictions), I figured it would be worth a shot to see if I could get it going using this modem. For some reason, it works! I still don’t know why, but when I turned WEP on, entered the generated key on my PC, laptop and iPAQ, everything Just Workedβ„’.

I thought I was doing really well, had my wireless connection to the ‘net via PC, laptop and iPAQ, when I noticed that I was having problems with my PC – every 5 minutes or so, I would lose my connection to the WAP, then it would reconnect. This wouldn’t have been the end of the world (although it was annoying), but half the time my PC would pick up the connection to the other, un-secured network that’s around here, and connect to that instead. Then there was also the obvious problem of if I was doing a download or upload or gaming or something, a connection that consistently drops out every 5 minutes isn’t much use.

I checked Netgear’s support site for the modem, and downloaded the firmware update for it, which I hoped would fix the problem. I applied the update (no need to re-enter any configuration on the modem BTW, it retained all settings), but the problem persisted.

Just in case, I did a Windows Update to see if it would pick up anything. What do you know, there was an update there for Netgear, under the ‘Driver Updates’ section (not listed in ‘Critical Updates and Service Packs’). I installed it, and hey presto, my connection is clean as now. Haven’t had it drop out now in over 12 hours (which is only how long it’s been installed, so it’s never dropped off since installation).

This makes me happy – it means that now I can actually run WEP, which makes me feel better about having wireless, especially knowing there’s another network within range. I have a solid connection, which my iPAQ, PC and laptop can all share, which is relatively secure, and pretty darned fast. I haven’t bothered optimising the position of my WAP, because it has perfect range into my bedroom and onto my balcony, so there’s no need, and hopefully having it under my desk will reduce the overflow into the street and around the place.

Yay Netgear, yay wireless!

Written by Beau Lebens

July 4th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Free Internet Infrastructure

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Ignoring the fact that Verizon are clearly evil (as shown by their service, and the amount of sneaky rubbish installed by their software), maybe they are contributing to a greater good, without even realising it.

I have moved to America now, and in the area that I live, there are only 2 ISPs, Verizon and Road Runner. Verizon’s DSL service is cheaper, so a lot of people are going for that. Road Runner’s Cable service is better, so I went for that. Either way, I tried out Verizon Online DSL, and part of their sales process is to attempt to upsell customers to buy a router so that they can have as many computers as they want online… a wireless router… which is always sold without WEP or MAC-based security configured, because it causes too many support calls! I talked with the technician who installed my Road Runner service and she said basically the same thing, that people are allowed to install a wireless router on their home connection, but that they certainly wouldn’t assist with configuring any security measures, or provide them with security enabled by default.

At first, this just sounds like the usual cop-out of large corporations (HI TELSTRA!), but if you look again, you realise that if this upsell process is effective, and people get the wireless router and use it, then they are providing something to the public; free broadband wireless access to the Internet. There are no bandwidth restrictions (to speak of) on any of these accounts. They are always-on, and not charged by download, upload, connect-time, nothing. It’s a flat charge per month no matter what you do with your account.

I’m not condoning that people should run around looking for open access points to use, but my point is this; if ISPs are providing these facilities (in particular un-metered, un-secured, wireless access to their connection), then there has to be some level of acceptance of the fact that people are going to be using the service without direct authorisation.

The reason that I thought of all of this, is that before I got my connection installed here, I turned on my iPAQ and checked for wireless networks – it immediately picked up 2, one of which was unsecured. Just for a laugh, I let it have a go at connecting, and bingo, I had a nice, fast connection to the Internet, care of a friendly (read: clueless) neighbour. If I thought that I was costing them anything, I would have gotten off immediately, but with everything here being flat-rate, and me only checking a few emails and doing some quick browsing, I didn’t feel too bad.

What’s the general vibe from other people out there about this sort of thing?

Written by Beau Lebens

July 1st, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Wireless News @ Wired (Funnily enough!)

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Wired News offers a feed all wireless-related news stories that they are covering, conveniently located on their /news/wireless page.

Written by Beau Lebens

May 5th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

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Configuring a Wireless Network under Windows XP

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So I got my new computer (well, most of the pieces anyway, the keyboard’s coming next week hopefully), and I wanted to get wireles set up and running straight away so that I could get on the ‘net with it and download any patches etc that I needed. I get everything connected, then get my box to pick up my AP and then what happens? Nothing. Absolutely, positively, not a damn thing. For some reason, I could not get my desktop box to connect properly to my AP. It would say it was connected, but if I logged into the admin interface on it (using my lappy luckily), it wouldn’t say it was connected.

To cut a potentially long story short, I tried playing with some of the settings in Windows’ control panel, and it turns out that XP and the Netgear control utility don’t play so well together. When I told XP to control all wireless network settings, everything Just Worked(tm).

So now I am posting this, the first post from my new desktop, which is wirelessly connected to the ‘net (insecurely ATM!) into another room, where my modem sits on its own. When I get my keyboard, things will really be getting wireless, but this will do nicely until then!

Written by Beau Lebens

February 26th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Desktop Wireless

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Netgear Wireless USB Adaptor (MA111)

In arranging my new desktop machine, I realised that things were going to be much easier for me if I could use wireless for my Internet connection. With the nearest telephone point being in another room, I’d have to run a cable all over the place otherwise, so this way I can leave the modem near the phone port and connect wirelessly without any hassles.

I gave the guys at Zoom ITG a call and arranged to have a Netgear Wireless USB Adaptor (MA111) included with the new box that they are building for me, so I should be all sorted once it gets here!

Written by Beau Lebens

February 17th, 2004 at 4:00 pm

Wirelessweek.com – Pretty good info site

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Wirelessweek.com is a pretty good site for information about all sorts of things in the wireless industry. It doens’t appear to have an RSS feed unfortunately, but is a good place to catch up on what’s going on.

Written by Beau Lebens

February 2nd, 2004 at 4:00 pm

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WA Freenet Project and Open Access

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Well, I noticed that I had a little bit of traffic from e3.com.au, the home of the WA wireless freenet blog, so I jumped on over there, and sure enough, somone had posted a link to my site. The post was followed up by some comments relating to my lack of involvement in the freenet project here in Perth, so I thought I’d post a little about my reasons behind that.

Basically, I’d like to be involved, but I don’t have the resources at the moment. When I get around to getting a new desktop box, then it will be an option because I can have it running all the time, and it will be reliable, but at the moment I only have my laptop running on this WAP, so I can’t really act as any sort of reliable node in a network, thus there’s no point getting involved just yet. I’ll also need to get an external aerial, and figure out how I’m going to go about only semi-permanently attaching that to a rental property, but that’s a whole other issue.

In the mean time, I’d like to point out that there’s probably not a lot that I’m going to directly get out of being a part of the network (i.e. access to any extra information etc), but that I’d be providing my WAP as a repeater/node to help out the power of the entire network more than any sort of personal gain.

Now on to something that might interest other people.

I’m considering opening up my node and leaving it open for public use, for anyone that wants to get onto the ‘net, check email — whatever. I’d leave it completely open, because when I’m not here, it’s not even connected to my computer, so I don’t mind, and I have massive bandwidth quotas, which are paid for by my employer and that I’ll never use, so it’s of no consequence to me. All that I would consider doing is giving myself the ability, and reserving the right, to block users out if they abused it, or if I needed a large slice of my bandwidth for anything in particular at any one time.

What do you think of this? Anyone out there that’d be interested in using a public node once in a while in the Comer Street, Como area? Let me know via the comments and I’ll consider it further πŸ™‚

Written by Beau Lebens

December 22nd, 2003 at 4:00 pm

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Securing My Netgear Network

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On advice from someone who works in the DSD (pretty good advice on this sort of thing I’d say!), I went about securing my network as soon as I had it installed. This is basically all I had to do;

  1. Get connection going normally (unencrypted) between my WAP and my wireless-card-equipped laptop.
  2. Log into the admin interface on my WAP/switch
  3. Under the ‘Maintenance’ section, go to ‘Set Password’ and change the admin password for the administration interface (default is ‘password’ on Netgear devices)
  4. Under ‘Setup’ go to the ‘Wireless Settings’ and configure the WAP with the following details;
    1. Region: Australia (don’t know why this is required, but set it anyway)
    2. SSID: ansible (see previous post about origin of this name)
    3. Click to ‘Configure WEP’
      1. Leave ‘Authentication Type’ on ‘Automatic’
      2. Set ‘Encryption’ to 128-bit
      3. Enter a passphrase (remember it, will need for the PC Card later, and if anyone else is going to access this network)
      4. Click ‘Generate Keys’ and ‘Apply’ when done to save it all to the WAP, this will reboot WAP to initiate settings (losing wireless connection in the process, because I am no longer authorised to connect!)
  5. On the ‘Security’ tab of the config utility for my PC Card (on my laptop) adjust the following settings;
    1. ‘Enable Encryption’ (check this box to turn it on)
    2. Change ‘Key Length’ to ‘104/128 bit’
    3. Under ‘Create with Passphrase’ enter the same passphrase as was used on the WAP
    4. Click ‘Apply’ to save the settings, then go to the ‘Status’ tab and click ‘Re-Scan’ which connects back onto the WAP (using encryption this time)
  6. Now that we are connected using WEP, we are little more secure, but we also want to restrict connections to only certain MAC addresses (the hardware signature of the PC card).
  7. Get the MAC for you wireless card; I got mine by going back to the WAP admin, then selecting ‘Attached Devices’ under ‘Maintenance’.
  8. Again, under the ‘Wireless Settings’ under ‘Setup’ in the WAP admin interface, we now click the ‘Trusted PCs’ button under the ‘Access Point’ section (to specify trusted PCs)
  9. Enter the MAC for your wireless card in the space provided and click ‘Add’ – mine came up with the name of my machine next to the MAC, so I assume it is either encoded in the MAC, or it contacted my machine and asked (?)
  10. Click ‘Back’ when you’re done so we can turn on the security access based on MAC.
  11. Now select ‘Trusted PCs only’ under ‘Allow access by:’ so that only those machines on your trusted list can connect.
  12. Click ‘Apply’ to save these changes and reboot the WAP. You should reconnect successfully once it’s on again, since you are now on the trusted list. If you have another device, try connecting to confirm that it’s secure. I haven’t been able because I don’t have anything else, but I assume it just won’t be able to connect πŸ™‚

More security info to come, including some experiments with things like AirSnort hopefully πŸ™‚

Written by Beau Lebens

October 19th, 2003 at 4:00 pm