July 18th, 2006

Wi-FI Conspiracy Theory

I have a new theory (ok, maybe someone else has said this already, but since I’m frustrated by my Wi-Fi experience this afternoon, I’m going to toss it out there anyway) about Wi-Fi vendors and security threats. Everyone in the industry wants consumers to turn WEP/WPA, etc. on. They’ve scared us to death with warnings of identity and bandwidth theft. I think they just want everyone to have their own AP and eventually upgrade to WiMax service to get roaming services.

I’m working from a friend’s place in Menlo Park, CA this evening. I can see about 16 networks from her flat – probably 12 have the security turned on. She gave me her password so I could use her network. I typed it in to the little pop-up screen when prompted.

It’s July 2006 and I get this error message:

“The network password needs to be 40 bits or 104 bits depending on your network configuration. This can be entered as 5 or 13 ASCII characters or 10 or 26 hexadecimal digits.”

Thanks for the tip. It’s all clear now. Good thing that I studied electrical engineering in college and they made me write stuff out in hexadecimals and binary (bits/bytes) ["Six bytes" was our course slogan in fact - I have the shirt at home still with the binary code]. I’ve written some machine code as well back in the day – maybe they can throw that in as well as a hurdle to borrow access on your friend’s network for a while.

Sigh.

I listened to a company this am that was pitching me on Wi-Fi together with WiMax as the ubiquitous clouds of the future.

I know the Wi-Fi Alliance is working through these issues and it’s a tough job, but I’m impatient – this is the kind of stuff that I thought had gone away.

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