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Wi-Fi Router Charts

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Mesh System Charts

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In the continuing saga of getting my new web publishing system to behave (the system is Joomla, by the way), I've had to abandon the part of the system that created the user-friendly URLs. The system was simply taking up too much memory for each site visitor, resulting in server crashes whenever things got busy.

I'm busy updating all of the redirects and hope to have it all straightened out today. But in the meantime, use the site search or browse the categories to find what you need.

Things seem to be running more smoothly (and quickly) with the recent link system changes. But, since I'm never one to leave well enough alone, I decided I'd try turning the article comment system back on. So registered users can now resume their commenting!

In other news, I've installed a new FAQ module and ported over (again) some Wireless FAQ. So, give it a look and let me know what you think.

The trickle of news from CES 2007 has started and will soon become a flood. I'll be in Las Vegas, starting this Saturday, covering the show using a combination of news items, slideshows and articles.

To make it easier for both you and me, I'll be tagging everything with "CES 2007", which will appear in the Tag Cloud once I get enough articles posted. In the meantime, you can use this link to bring up a list of the tagged articles.

In his CES keynote, Bill Gates introduced the Microsoft Home Server, but didn't provide many details. Thankfully, George Ou is also at CES and did a good drilldown with the Microsofties and spills some of the beans behind what makes the product tick.

The short story is that it is based on Windows Server 2003 R2 and has a "rich" admin GUI delivered to a Windows desktop and a not-so-fancy one for the riff-raff who choose to run another OS. Windows Server 2003 also powers some of Iomega's StorCenter Pro series NASes and they ain't cheap. And when Jim Buzbee looked at the StorCenter Pro NAS 200d/320GB with REV built-in, he found that some admin functions required dropping into Windows Remote Desktop.

The final standard is still over a year in the future and the Wi-Fi certification process for draft 11n products is about 3-5 months away. But companies are continuing to put this Beta-test-in-progress (which you, the consumer, are paying to participate in) into end-products beyond wireless routers and adapters. We've already seen draft 11n integrated into notebooks, and now Apple and D-Link have integrated it into networked media players.

The AppleTV announcement revealed that draft 11n capable hardware (from Atheros, it turns out) had already been integrated into existing Core 2 Duo MacBooks, MacBook Pros and Core 2 Duo iMacs (except the 17-inch, 1.83GHz iMac). All you need to do is run an "enabler" app, buy a new version of the Airport Extreme (in new Mac mini form factor) and voila, you have an interference generator for your 11b/g network. But something that Apple has done right is to put concurrent (or simultaneous) dual-band capability into its draft 11n products. This raises the cost, but also the flexibility since connections in both bands can be made at the same time.

You would think from Atheros' statement released today announcing the approval of 802.11n draft 1.10 that it's all over except for the sound of champagne corks popping in terms of having 802.11n products that consumers can buy without fear.

But it is not.

Yes, today's vote is good news since it advances the ball toward the end goal, which is still over a year away. But if you already own draft 11n gear, you should not assume that it is only a few firmware and driver upgrades away from being equivalent to products that will roll off the production lines over the coming months. And the same goes for gear currently sitting on the shelf at your favorite retailer.

Tuesday's entry by Intel into the draft 11n market was a bit of a surprise, given its history with being late to the party with previous wireless LAN product generations. But the 11n train left the station awhile ago and Intel, like any other company wanting to stay in the WLAN game, had to get on board, draft status or not.

But aside from lending legitamacy to a technology that has so far been most notable for further decreasing the chance of an average consumer having a successful wireless networking experience, and for getting reviewers' and pundits' shorts in a knot (myself included), Intel did something else. Something that, in my opinion, they didn't play up enough in their announcement material or webcast / conference call, and that deserves special mention.

Updated with corrections from Bill McFarland 1/29/07

In both private discussions and during the Intel draft 11n chipset webcast, I have been hearing hints about 11n's "bad neighbor" problem having been addressed in draft 1.10. I was able to get Atheros' CTO, Bill McFarland on the phone to bring me up to speed on what actually got into the 1.10 draft. Note that some of these mechanisms were being debated back when Draft 1.0 was being finalized. But since consensus couldn't be reached, the 11n task force punted and didn't include any of them in 1.0.

Glenn Fleishman has a long piece over at Wi-Fi Networking News that expands on some of the issues I covered in my post of a few weeks ago. It also provides some new insight into some of the issues regarding 11n and its operation in the 5 GHz band.

Glenn gives props to Apple for its decision to not allow use of "wide channels", i.e. channel bonding or 40 MHz mode, in the 2.4 GHz band. It should also be noted, however, that Intel has done the same thing in its new draft 11n chipset. Buffalo Technology didn't go quite as far with its new dual-band gear, choosing only to default to 20 MHz mode in the 2.4 GHz band. It's still possible for a user to manually switch the Buffalo gear to channel-bonding mode, however.

Thanks to all of you who have responded to my call for reviewers. I'm trying to get back to everyone, but if I don't, please accept my apologies.

As I've been wading through the responses to my previous post, it occurred to me that there's another way to approach this. If you've got an article that you'd like to write, then send me a short pitch or outline. Or even better, send me enough of the article so that I can get an idea of your writing style and see if you can grab my interest enough to make me want to read more.

Articles can be on most any networking-related topic, but our readers really like how-to's, tutorials or short articles on solving networking problems. So if you've got something you're itching to write about, send me your pitch.

And yes, we will pay you for your work!

I need someone who can take articles that come in both Word and HTML form and copy edit, rewrite and reformat them into ready-to-post HTML form. You must be able to clean up HTML and do simple image resizing and cropping.

This is a part time position, but I need someone who does this for a living and can meet deadlines and provide 1-2 day turnaround. Contact me if you're interested.

Last week's Blackhat DC Briefings included a presentation by Errata Security on "Data Seepage", most notably of the wireless kind. "Seepage" typically comes from chatty networking programs that broadcast information that can be used to launch exploits.

A slideshow of Errata's presentation and a copy of their program, including source code and Windows exe file is available here.

If you've been following along with me on my web adventures, you know I've been here before. The last time that SmallNetBuilder graced the Etherwaves was Dec 31, 2003 and morphed into TomsNetworking the next day to start the new year.

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