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Thread: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

  1. #1
    *Flashaholic* PlayboyJoeShmoe's Avatar
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    Default Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    It seems that we will be getting another computer here pretty soon.

    At this point DSL comes to my 'puter in the closest room to the telephone box, using a Netopia 4 port wired modem.

    The room where the new 'puter will be is some 65 feet away, through several walls. A wired run would be on the outside back of the house, and be very hard to make look good.

    Is anyone using wireless in an even remotely similar way? Which of the protocals would stand the best chance here?

    There is a WAY outside chance that our across the road neighbors are 'puter equipped. The next nearest ain't NO WAY! I wouldn't think interference will be a problem.

    Help?

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    *Flashaholic* gadget_lover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    Joe,

    I use wireless for fun. I doubt that I'd use one in a business enviroment without a proper firewall. I like the linksys brand.

    Get something like the WRT54G and you should be good to go.

    Make sure you enable the highest possible security mode. The access point can be used to attack your other computer too.


    Daniel

  3. #3

    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    I run a wireless network at my house, since we have a laptop with a built-in wireless card, and also a desktop on the other side of the house.

    It works wonderfully...both computers seem to operate at the same speed as when they were wired. I highly recommend you enable WPA encryption on your network, so be sure to get WPA compatible components.

    Good luck!

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    *Flashaholic* PlayboyJoeShmoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    Business happens at the shop which is about 4.2 miles from here. This will be so Dad and Sis can have internet/email when they want it (and stay the he77 off my machine!).

    Linksis WRT54G? I'll look into it. Around here I'd worry more about a stray bullet than a 'puter attack! Will enable best security anyhow when I set it up!

    I use Mozilla exclusively for CPF and other Web browsing.

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    Flashaholic* Stingray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    If you're worried about wireless security, you can go with a network via your phone lines (HPN)in the house. I have one and it works well. I use a Linksys Cable/DSL router, so it has a hardware firewall by nature.

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    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    wireless will work just fine. I wouldn't be particularly worried about security. Change the default password on your router! Many routers also support connection by MAC address. This takes a few moments to setup but will keep anyone from easily connecting to and using your network, or easily connecting with the intention of hacking your other machines. It can still be done, the point being that you want to discourage the guys looking for easy targets, and there are plenty of easy targets.

    None of those things will keep someone from just sniffing your packets and ultimately hacking your WAP key. (this is not easy though, someone would really want to get in to YOUR system, it's not something you can do while driving around one block after another) but there are things you can do about that too.

    Remember when you're logging into your bank via your browser you're already using a encrypted connection over https, this is far more secure than WAP. Email clients now mostly (and most email services, and if they dont you should switch) support using the same SSL level of encryption when sending and receiving email so that nobody sniffing your wireless packets can see them. If you use your banks encrypted website and use SSL for email then the only casual traffic that anyone would see was what news sites you visit and potentially your IM traffic.

    I think using wireless in this way is easy and safe with those few things taken into account.

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    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    I'd just recommend that you get a wireless NIC with a connector for an external antenna - that way you can go with a directional antenna, or adjust the included omni-directional antenna for better signal strength. You might also look at a directional antenna for the router - just point the signal to where the other computer is located - that will help 802.11's mighty 100mW of radiated power make it through walls.

    Second the comment on changing the router password. I used to support customers with wireless routers and saw more than a few isntances of someone "hijacking" the router, trying to lock out the owner or changing the config in novel ways to suit their purposes.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    Unless your house is steel or something like that it will work fine. My old Cisco 340 I can take my laptop in the back yard, hop the fence and walk down the field and the signal drops from excellent to good and I didn't feel like walking in furthur to see just how far it would go.

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    Flashaholic* Stingray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    James, how does the E-mail encryption you're talking about work? If I set it up on Outlook 2000, do the recipients all have to do something special as well to read it? Thanks

    Steve

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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    I've set up several home systems for friends and myself. If it's really 65 feet through several walls, you MAY have some signal strength problems. There's almost no way to predict this except by buying the gear and trying it. IMO, most wireless products perform very similarly, but have some different features, so just buying other basestations may not improve reception. You may need to buy a booster station or try other configurations such as the basestation in the attic. A remote desktop computer can have a PCI card with a hinged antenna on the back, or for more money (but more adjustable), a WiFi-ethernet or USB bridge unit that sits outside of the computer.

    Echoing some tips:
    -You only need regular Wireless G with WPA encryption, unless you need faster-than-your-DSL file sharing between your computers. I now use a D-Link, which was $20 after rebates. Linksys, Netgear, etc. are also generally fine.
    -Put the wireless router after the DSL modem, for a firewall ("NAT"). Port 113 will have to be handled manually on a $20 D-Link....ask if you need it.
    -Definitely change the wireless router admin password. I would change the SSID name and NOT broadcast it, and use WPA PSK encryption, and enable the MAC address filter to only accept the ethernet addresses of your computers. That's as much security as you can do, and I think it's plenty adequate for home use. Apparently, the typical WiFi user enables NONE of these settings!

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    Flashaholic* Pydpiper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Stingray said:
    If you're worried about wireless security, you can go with a network via your phone lines (HPN)in the house. I have one and it works well. I use a Linksys Cable/DSL router, so it has a hardware firewall by nature.

    [/ QUOTE ]
    WOAH!
    Is it possible to use a wireless system on a dial-up account?? Please tell me it can be done...

    As far as unsecured wireless, I use a laptop for mapping software in my truck, it is constantly online as I drive due to the many many unsecured wireless homes and businesses.

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    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    Excellent advice, Louie. And you're right about the predictability. Microwave signals are tricky and multipath effects can make it nearly impossible to predict coverage in advance without a lot of exotic measnrements and calculations. Pick a good brand that supports WPA and go for it.

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    *Flashaholic* this_is_nascar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    I've been using wireless at home for a couple years now. Three laptops share a wireless network with my Verizon DSL setup. I even have printing setup as well, so all laptops can print via wireless. There's nothing like relazing in the hammock in the backyard, while reading E-Mail.

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    Flashaholic* Stingray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    Pydpiper...yep...you can do it.

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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    I have a wireless network in my house, I'm using a Linksys Wireless - G portable USB adapter. Sometimes the signal is low, but I just adjust the angle of the antenae and it's good as new. It is a lot easier than a hard wire network.

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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    I know for sure one friend who uses the Apple Airport Extreme basestation with built-in modem for a dialup ATT account with his wireless home network. Don't know much else about it, tho.

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    *Retired* NewBie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    [ QUOTE ]
    idleprocess said:
    I'd just recommend that you get a wireless NIC with a connector for an external antenna - that way you can go with a directional antenna, or adjust the included omni-directional antenna for better signal strength. You might also look at a directional antenna for the router - just point the signal to where the other computer is located - that will help 802.11's mighty 100mW of radiated power make it through walls.

    Second the comment on changing the router password. I used to support customers with wireless routers and saw more than a few isntances of someone "hijacking" the router, trying to lock out the owner or changing the config in novel ways to suit their purposes.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    A directional antenna will go a very long way towards preventing others from gaining access in the first place.

    Something nice and simple homemade and suppress sidelobes, and really add considerable security:
    http://www.trevormarshall.com/biquad.htm

    There was some Aussie with a pair of these using nothing more than a standard wireless node hooked to them (no amps or anything) and was getting 31 kilometers with a nice strong signal.

    A 4 degree beamwidth really helps security, and the 27-31 dB gain really helps. Remember for every three dB, you get double the power. If you used a very low loss cable, you end up with the equivalent of 51.2 Watts on an omnidirectional antenna. Now, if you have a dish on the other end, you also greatly increase the "gathering power".

    Another bonus, you significantly reduce other sources of noise. They really help alot.

  18. #18
    *Flashaholic* gadget_lover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    [ QUOTE ]

    WOAH!
    Is it possible to use a wireless system on a dial-up account?? Please tell me it can be done...

    [/ QUOTE ]

    You can do it with special routers that use a dialup for backup. Cisco makes several of them.

    You can also do it with a PC running Linux and set up as a router.

    You can also do it with a PC running XP and set up to share the network.

    10 years ago I was using a PC using linux as a dialup based router to allow my other computer to access the net.

    Daniel

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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    I've set up several wireless networks for friends and family, I'm going to set myself up this week. One thing I found is that changing the channel can help if the connection seems to randomly drop. Some cordless phones operate on a similiar frequency. Also, the 802.11g for 54 Mbps is standard, but to go any faster, the speedups are propriatary and require the use of the same brand and speedup method for the cards to talk to each other. I plan on getting one of these desktop wireless cards, it's both Mac and PC compatible: Motorola WPCI810G
    I'm leaning towards the Linksys WRT5 for the router.
    Don't forget to change the admin PW and the SSID. You can also hide the SSID. I also changed the IP range and locked the wireless connections down to specific MAC addresses. Of course WEP is enabled, I'll use the stronger WPA encryption on mine, the other systems I set up are old enough that 128 bit WEP is the best option. The stronger encryption methods slow down the transmission a bit, but most ISP connections are 3 Mbps or slower. The 54 Mbps or faster rate is good if you transfer data between systems on your local network. All these help against the casual hacker, but a skilled war driver with a good program and promiscuous wireless card can snag enough packets to get whatever he wants.

    I have had excellent experience with SMC brodband routers, and the SMC2804WBRP-G has a USB printer sharing port if that's important.

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    Flashaholic* gregw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    To easily manage and enhance the security of your home wireless network to enterprise-class standards (same as using a RADIUS Server), you might want to download Lucid Link. The 3 user Home Office edition is available for download here for FREE, with no time limit. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] Note that you will require Windows 2000 or XP PCs to get this to work and click here for list of compatible wireless access points and NICs.

    Here is a review of Lucid Link by PCMag.


  21. #21
    *Flashaholic* idleprocess's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    [ QUOTE ]
    JOshooter said:
    I have a wireless network in my house, I'm using a Linksys Wireless - G portable USB adapter. Sometimes the signal is low, but I just adjust the angle of the antenae and it's good as new. It is a lot easier than a hard wire network.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Ethernet is simple. Plug in the average PC and it's ready to go. You have to plan your cabling, but bandwidth and signal reliability concerns on an ethernet network are nothing like a wireless network. You always know exactly what LAN you're connecting to with ethernet, and security is as simple as your locked front door.

    You're going to spend more time on network configuration with wireless than ethernet ... unless you leave the network wide-open and/or don't care if you're really connecting to someone else's network. Also, one can't upgrade firmware on most wireless router via the WiFi interface - you need to connect via ethernet to ddo this to ensure data integrity.

    When I was working direct customer support, I used to dread calls involving wireless routers. Home networking gear is made first and foremost with economy in mind. I'm sure most wireless routers work great, but be prepared for random dead spots and wildly varying performance (watch the speed graph for a wireless connnection someday - you're not going to be getting that full 54 or 108Mbps all the time). Sometimes this is due to equipment fault; mostly it's due to site conditions.

    I don't recommend use of wireless as the sole means for connecting any PC that needs a reliable connection. It's a great convenience for laptop users, but there's nothing like having the straightforward go, no-go that ethernet offers.

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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    My Real Life Personal Wireless Networking Experiance:-

    Edit: Added: I Began my first Wireless Network in 1999 with 2 Peer-to-Peer Network at 11 mbps (unsecured) network.... got encription etc enabled in a months time... and by 2004 i had 4 machines hooked up...with added security etc etc stuff

    Today...I have about 5 Computers and 3 Mobiles (Smart Phones) all Connected Wirelessly in our SOHO Setup. These computers are spread across 3 floors maximum distance between the machines is about 300 ft.

    Mobiles are connected to Machines via BlueTooth 1.2 (100 mtr range) and Machines are connected via 802.11 b/g (11 - 54 MBps). However, There is NO Access Point. All of them are connected in Peer to Pear Network. There is one "Main Machine" (So called Server) which has Internet connection, Printer, Bluetooth. This "Server" has enabled Printer, Internet & Bluetooth Sharing for it's services.

    The Shared Internet service Access is through Dial-Up & Mobile's GPRS to the "Server" and then to other machines through the "Server"

    The Internet Gatweay is Firewalled by Windows Firewall, Only Known Ports are open. No Passive Connections / Ports are allowed. Other Known Ports require Username & Pasword for the Access. RDC & Other Related Services are Dissabled on the GPRS & Dial-up Adapters.

    For Security of the network is using 256 bit HEX Wireless Encription Key. The channel number for accessing the N/W / SSID is also different from the default (i will not disclose the number though [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]). Firewall Enforced for all Local Network Adapters to access Only the Subnet that I have assigned. Additional security is by a UserName Password for accessing any of the services. The bluetooth is secured by "not viewable to all" setting & "keys" for various services.

    For testing, I used a Friend's Laptop to check if my network (bluetooth as well as Wireless Ethernet) is accessible to his laptop. We were able to get "Name" (SSID) of network through some "hacks" which is otherwise not accessible. but to join that network, one needs to know the 256 bit Encription Key (it will require a good processing power to crack in to it in reasonable time, i am not saying that it's uncracable) ... and even if some how the WEP was leaked, one can still not access the network as each machine has got it's individual UserID and Password (again it's possible but it will again consume some time). Same is applicable for mobiles too. and I hope that by the time all this activity is going on I will be able to know through constant watch on my network parameters.

    Machines have Windows XP Pro, Mac OS X 10.2.8 and Symbian 6.0 and 7.0 Operating Systems.

    There is a Provision for Future Wireless Devices such as Wireless Digital Camera and Wireless Smart Phone (through 802.11 b) Connectivity.

    To extend range of the Furtherest Machine... a simple Wiretag wire (picture to come later) was wound over the Antina of Wireless card and some length left open (similar to old RC Controlled Car's Antina)

    All the Oprating Systems & Operational Softwares are Updated at regular intervals for BugFixes & Security Updates through an automated "Automatic Updates" Feature. Virus Definations Updated and Scheduled Weakly scans are also done.

    Even if all these arrangements are made, I am just 90% sure that this setup is secure. Rest 10% is not really under my control.

    Hope this helps.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    [ QUOTE ]
    Pydpiper said:WOAH!
    Is it possible to use a wireless system on a dial-up account?? Please tell me it can be done...

    [/ QUOTE ]

    The easiest I've used so far for dial-out is Apple's AirPort Extreme Base Station. It's fully configurable from WinXP, though unfortunately it's not via web it's via a software package that Apple makes that you need to load onto yer PC.

    Another really cool thing that thing will do is also allow you do dial in to your network. SO.... say you're on the road and you've got your cell phone & data cable with you... Just dial your home network and you can access your PC if you need a file or something like that.

    Of course, (not if but) when you decide to stop sharing the 56K among your home LAN and move to something like DSL or cable, you can just plug that WAN connection into the AirPort Extreme and use that same router for that faster connection.

    It has an external antenna port too if you want to use a broader or narrower antenna than what's inside.

  24. #24
    *Flashaholic* James S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    Another plug for the airport express. I drag the thing with me on vacation even and use the modem to connect from it there so I can still be wireless in the condo or whever we are that doesn't have DSL. Then plug it back into the DSL modem at home.

    I've had nothing but trouble (and helped other people with their trouble) on other units with modems. Some even have serial ports that you're supposed to be able to connect to external modems. But the airport products actually work.

  25. #25
    *Flashaholic* gadget_lover's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    [ QUOTE ]
    gregw said:
    To easily manage and enhance the security of your home wireless network to enterprise-class standards (same as using a RADIUS Server), you might want to download Lucid Link. The 3 user Home Office edition is available for download


    [/ QUOTE ]

    I just want to point out that Radius is an AUTHENICATION system, not a security enhancement. It allows you to use a password for signing onto the network. It does nothing to prevent snooping, spoofing, etc. That's what the WPA, WEP or VPN encryption is for.


    Daniel

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    Flashaholic* gregw's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    [ QUOTE ]
    gadget_lover said:

    I just want to point out that Radius is an AUTHENICATION system, not a security enhancement. It allows you to use a password for signing onto the network. It does nothing to prevent snooping, spoofing, etc. That's what the WPA, WEP or VPN encryption is for.


    Daniel

    [/ QUOTE ]

    WPA with Radius has the highest security standard available on wireless LAN as compared with WEP, WPA PSK, etc.. The LucidLink software helps you to set this up as painlessly as possible and also automatically rotates the authentication passkeys periodically without any need for human intervention, so it basically makes your wireless router as secure as possible.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    Just throwing out another experience - my daughter was using a Linksys 4 port router with wireless b. Complete POS, and I mean that in the most substantial way. It made Chinese 5mm LEDs running at 1 amp seem reliable.

    The wireless would barely penetrate 1 wall inside of an apt, was MUCH slower than wired to the DSL, so they finally all went back to wired. After 1 year it completely died.

    I ended up with a ParkerVision - it has some hype, but seems to work fine with XP.

  28. #28
    *Flashaholic* PlayboyJoeShmoe's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    Attic is not an option (don't have one!)

    I'm not a super wiz-bang at this stuff and have no real idea what most of it is.

    I can run a cable if I must. It may not be pretty, and I have to ask first. IF I go that way, is cable any real problem with termination (end) etc.?

    The DSL modem here by me has LAN1,2 and 3 open. This end is a no-brainer!

  29. #29
    *Flashaholic* PhotonWrangler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    Linksys products typically ship with the transmit power backed off to around 28mw. You can re-flash the A/P with Sveasoft firmware (a re-work of Linksys GPL code) to get a user-adjustable power setting.

    Your problem might have been multipath though, which is the same regardless of what power level you're using.

  30. #30
    Flashaholic* CroMAGnet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Wireless Networking - Real Life Experiences?

    We have two laptops that we use in our home office and our regular office and we use them ALL the time. We've tried a few set-ups and the latest one is by far the best and has the best range as well. It's the new Belkin Pre N Wireless. The range in WAY better than anything we've used before. It's been very reliable too.

    The old netgear that we had was good but you couldn't get the signal at the far end of the house. BTW I still have the Netgear Wireless Router and would be happy to give it to you if you want. You can probably get the software online. Just pay the shipping. I'm not at home now so I don't know the model#

    I've also had Linksys and another one... ummm ... can't remember. Didn't like either.

    BTW Congrats on the new house!

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