Wireless Networking, Part 1: Capabilities and Hardware

Wireless Networking, Part 1: Capabilities and Hardware

These days it isn’t uncommon for a home to have multiple personal computers, and as such, it just makes sense for them to be able to share files, as well as to share one Internet connection. Wired networking is an option, but it is one that may require the installation and management of a great deal of wiring in order to get even a modestly sized home set up. With wireless networking equipment becoming extremely affordable and easy to install, it may be worth considering by those looking to build a home network, as well as by those looking to expand on an existing wired network.

The first installment in this two-part series of Tech Tips will provide an introduction to the basic capabilities and hardware involved in wireless networking. Once that foundation has been established, we’ll take a look at a few setup and security related considerations that should be addressed once the physical installation is complete.


The basic standard that covers wireless networking is the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) 802.11, which is close kin to the wired Ethernet standard, 802.3. Many people will recognize 802.11 more readily when accompanied by one of three suffixes (a, b, or g), used to specify the exact protocol of wireless networking.

The 802.11a protocol first hit the scene in 2001, and despite a small surge in recent popularity, it is definitely the least common of the three at this time. The signals are transmitted on a 5 GHz radio frequency, while “b” and “g” travel on 2.4 GHz. The higher frequency means that the signal can travel less distance in free space and has a harder time penetrating walls, thus making the practical application of an 802.11a network a bit limited. The maximum transfer rate, however, is roughly 54 Mbps, so it makes up for its limited range with respectable speed.

As mentioned, 802.11b and 802.11g networks operate on a 2.4 GHz radio band, which gives a much greater range as compared to 802.11a. One downside to being on the 2.4 GHz band is that many devices share it, and interference is bound to be an issue. Cordless phones and Bluetooth devices are two of many items that operate at this frequency. The range of these two protocols is about 300 feet in free air, and the difference between the two comes down to speed. 802.11b came first, released back in 1999, and offers speeds up to 11 Mbps. 802.11g first appeared in 2002 and it is a backwards compatible improvement over 802.11b and offers speeds up to 54 Mbps.

On top of these protocols, some manufacturers have improved upon the 802.11g standard and can provide speeds of up to 108 Mbps. This doesn’t involve a separate protocol, but just a bit of tweaking in areas like better data compression, more efficient data packet bursting, and by using two radio channels simultaneously. Typically, stock 802.11g equipment is not capable of these speeds, and those interested need to shop for matched components that specify 108 Mbps support. I say “matched components” as this is not a standard protocol and the various manufacturers may take different approaches to achieving these speeds. In order to ensure the best results when trying to achieve these elevated speeds, components from the same manufacturer should be used together. For instance, only Netgear brand network adaptors rated for 108 Mbps data transfer should be used with something like the Netgear WG624 wireless router (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=WGT624NAR).

Considering your typical broadband Internet connection is going to offer data transfer rates of 10 Mbps or less, it can be seen that even 802.11b would be more than adequate if you just want to surf the web. Sharing files on your LAN (Local Area Network) is where the faster protocols will really make a difference, and comparing the prices of 802.11b and 802.11g components may show that there is little to no difference in selecting a “g” capable device over a comparable “b” capable device.


Access Point – Wireless Access Point (WAP) is the central device that manages the transmission of wireless signals on a network. A base access point may be capable of handling up to 10 connections, and more robust APs may be able to manage up to 255 connections simultaneously. The D-Link DWL-1000AP+ (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=37) is an example of a wireless access point capable of 802.11b transmissions.

Router – In somewhat technical terms, a router is a network device that forwards data packets. It is generally the connection between at least two networks, such as two LANs, or a LAN and ISP’s (Internet Service Provider’s) network. For our purposes, and for the sake of simplicity, a wireless router is basically an access point with the added feature of having a port for sharing a broadband Internet connection. The D-Link AirPlus G (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=DI524-R&cat=NET) is an 802.11g capable router that provides access for numerous wireless connections and four hard-wired connections to one WAN (Wide Area Network Internet) connection. A typical router for home use will generally cost less than an access point, and via settings within the firmware, can be used as just an access point anyway. Wired or wireless, all the computers using the router can share files over the network, as well as sharing a broadband internet connection. Communication between wireless computers (or a wireless computer and a wired computer) will max out at 54 Mbps, while communication between wired computers will take full advantage of the 100 Mbps provided via the 802.3 protocol.

Network Adaptor – A network adaptor is required for every computer that you would like to be connected to the wireless network. Many laptops, such as this Sony Centrino 1.5 GHz (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=PCGZ1RA-R&cat=NBB) now include a wireless adaptor built in, so no extra hardware is needed. For those with systems that don’t have wireless capabilities built in, adding them is fairly simple, and can be done using a variety of connections. Desktop computers can go wireless by adding a PCI slot network adaptor such as the 802.11g capable D-Link DWL-G510 (http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=308). Notebook users can easily add wireless connectivity by using a PCMCIA adaptor, such as this 802.11g capable device (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=PBW006-N&cat=NET). And for truly convenient plug-n-play connectivity to wireless networks, USB adaptors such as this 802.11g capable dongle (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=80211GWUD&cat=NET) are available.

Antenna/Extender – These items are not essential, but given the specifics of a wireless environment, they may be helpful. Devices such as the Hawking Hi-Gain Antenna (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=HAI6SIP-N&cat=NET) or the Super Cantenna (http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=SCB10&cat=NET) serve the purpose of increasing the wireless signal strength, and therefore extend the range of a given wireless network. Not only can a large area of open space be covered, but the signal quality may be improved in structures with walls and floors that obstruct the signal transmission.

Final Words

In this Tech Tip, we took a look at the basics of wireless networking as it relates to capabilities and hardware. In the second part of this two-part series, we will look at some of the basic setup and security considerations that should be addressed. The physical installation of a wireless network may be exponentially easier than a wired network, but the more difficult part is setting up the software and security to make sure everything stays up and running without incident.

Employment Law, Part I

Just how serious is employment law to the small businessperson? Very serious and let me tell you a true story; A horror story, which will make you think about just how serious these issues can be. In San Antonio TX one of our wash trucks was driving down the road and a border Patrol Officer passed them. We run a company that does onsite washing; Http://www.CarwashGuys.com . Down the road they dropped over two trucks and were handcuffing Mexican illegal aliens from those company's work trucks. Our crew drve by on their way to work. They had just left the shop and had on board two workers who worked for Labor Ready Co, for a year and a half previously and were still employed from them from time to time. We had gotten extra workers and filled our service truck with workers who were temporaries to work for us since they needed extra help with the full schedule that day.

The border patrol officer was then done with the other companies' trucks and saw we had Hispanic labor in the back and folded over our truck after chasing it down the highway. Turns out Labor Ready had hired the illegals because theyave fake identification to them; I question the Labor Ready procedures. Labor Ready charges us $ 11.95 per hour for workers they pay $ 5.40 per hour. That is fine with us on those super busy days. So it's a deal and saves us from background checks for jobs that are not too serious like rinsing car lots. Well we found out that 4 of the five workers we had gotten from Labor Ready did not have green cards or US Identification of any type, so they cuffed them right on the highway and took them in. Good, we do not hire illegals anyway. But think about it we hired labor from a reputable nationwide company, a franchise called Labor Ready. They take care of all this stuff and charge us up the gazooo for the workers.

We know they are overcharging but for temporary extra labor for one day it is worth it. They told us there are certain questions that can not ask them when hiring, such as are you a US Citizen or where were you born or things like that. I can not believe we have laws in the banking industry called "Know your customer laws" yet in employment we have no "Know your employee laws". We have an unspoken do not ask the employee anything except when you can start and explain the type of work. We have laws in banking so we catch money launderers and those who are working hard to not pay taxes they owe.

So it is okay for the government to enforce those laws through private enterprise, but it is not okay for employers to ask questions to protect homeland security and save themselves from embarrassment. Of course in this case it is not a crime to hire someone who has given you false information, and we can not collect damages from a company who followed the employment laws? So what the hell do we do here? We want to help enforce the law as well, so do all true Americans. But we have so many laws in place that keep us from helping the situation.

Incidentally the workers who were handcuffed called us at 7 am morning two-days later and are ready to work and asked what time to meet. They were picked up at 9 am hand cuffed and stamped and transported that day. They were back in one day ready to work within 2 days. Some border patrol we have, what a complete joke; Protecting America, me ass? Why not implant a homing devise in these illegals and track them by satellite and find out the leaks in the system and plug them; Homeland Security or Homey Land of opportunity. You step up border patrol and catch these people and document on a board the number of deportees, yet they come the day back into the country. This is a true story you can call me for more information.

We have half a notice to go to the border patrol and give them free truck wash every morning and ask them to run the workers records and remove them from the crew. Sometimes the yellow truck will be known for not hiring illegals. A few weeks of that and every one who comes to work for us from Ready Labor will know it. Is this what we have to do to plug the system? Can not the border patrol guys figure it out; Then we will? If you can not enforce our borders then open them. But do not lie to the small businesses of America that somehow we are protected at our borders. We are not. This is a sham. Did not the Jordan Commission spend years putting together a plan only to have it never implemented? Why did we waste or breath? This is pure politics, not reality; Another of Smoot's points in his book "The Business Side of Government." One of the workers asked to work for us again and he wanted to borrow the twenty dollars he spent for the bus ride from Laredo to San Antonio. Even the illegals think this is a joke. We told him he could not work for us anymore. He did not understand why, because other businesses would have I guess that is why he was dumfounded when we told him to get lost. We called the border Patrol and they said they could not pick him up unless we knew for sure he was illegal. We said well you picked him up yesterday is he suddenly legal now? Can you prove it? No, all we can prove is your system does not work and that Labor Ready is doing an injustice to its customers, stocksholders and this country by not enforcing the laws of our land; The same laws, which have provided economic wealth to them over the years. Are they doing this all over the country? Yes.

The manager of Labor Ready said they did not like the laws either, but they needed to make a living and the companies need workers. So does this mean that Labor Ready who has offices all over Texas never disclosed this to their stockholders or customers? Yes it does, which is a gray area at least and a violation of disclosure law at best. The truth here is that no one cares. We make rules to appease the masses who vote for these things and tell the people we are saving them from terrorists. What about terrorists who are dark skinned and speak Spanish? What if a Middle Eastern spoke Spanish and was a terrorist and told the others he snuck over the border with he was from Argentina, they would not know either. And the business owner would hire them through a temp agency, who was making money off the business owner pointing to employment laws and said, well they had fake paperwork not my fault. Maybe it is not the border patrol's fault but shunning responsibility does not save us from the next attack.

Either we are worried about the next attack or we are not. I want someone to call me from the INS or Border Patrol to discuss this and I want a satisfactory answer or we will take this true story and document it and send it to the media one day before we send it to all the Congressmen and Senators. If we are not worried about terrorists then tell us. If we are, then fix the leaks. Why does it take 10 years to fix problems, when international terrorist groups only wait 3-5 years between acts? Good question worth answering and with all the BS and rhetoric we are seeing opposition from the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Hispanic Politicians. With 65% of the population of San Antonio Hispanic who do not want these laws at all, then extend the Mexican Border to include San Antonio TX as a free zone. Why not make it all of Texas and we can then defend the borders of Texas, which can be a free zone with Mexico.

If you are just going to give it lip service and not fix the leaks of illegals then open the borders and forget it. This is pathetic. We know how to enforce the barriers and we give out fines to businesses who do not complain, yet allow free entry by anyone who can walk. I am surprised we have not made ADA mandated border crossings for those in wheel chairs or are asthmatically challenged. Put in 1 foot per 1 inch inclines over the Rio Grande for those in wheel chairs and then nice sidewalks all the way to Washington DC so they can have a baby and run for Congress or become a radical speech writer and proponent of mass demonstrations and guns . You think I am kidding do not you. I am serious all this is so fake and such a ridiculous waste of breath and tax payers money.

End of Employment Law, Part I

10 Reasons Why People Travel

When people decide to leave the comforts of their home and venture to other locations there is usually a reason behind it. Whether the cause to travel was a last minute whimsy or had an actual purpose, it makes one think about all of the reasons why people travel. Reflect on the last time you left your location and ventured to another one. Did it have a purpose behind it? Let’s look and see if your motive to travel matched any of the one’s listed below. These are not listed in any particular order.

1. Romance- There are thousands of people who are involved in long distance relationships. At some point though, they need to see each other. For the sake of love, people will travel for hours to spend as much time as they can with the love of their life.

2. Relaxation- All work and no play is not a good thing. People need to get away from the stress of everyday life, and a nice sunny location with a beach might just be what the doctor ordered.

3. Family/ Friends -Many people have family/friends that are located in different parts of the world. They need to visit with them even if it’s for a short period of time.

4. Religion- There are places in the world that hold religious importance for many people. Religious travel is often related to a purpose such as seeing where the last pope was buried, or traveling to the town where Jesus was born.

5. Death- A relative, friend or acquaintance has passed away and travel is required to attend the funeral which is located out of town.

6. Honeymoon- You’re getting married and are going somewhere special to celebrate. This usually occurs right after the wedding, but there are many occasions where people celebrate a honeymoon years later.

7. Education-You’re getting your education somewhere other than where you live or you are going away on an educational school trip.

8. Celebration- Wedding, Anniversary, Birthday, Birth- There’s always something to celebrate and it doesn’t always happen where you live.

9. Medical/Health- Sometimes the treatment you need isn’t available in the city/town where you live. Often the best medical care is costly and requires travel to receive it.

10. Work- Job requirements might mean a fair bit of travel is involved. Even if the travel is within your own country it still has a purpose attached to it.

Overall, traveling can be a wonderful experience or it can be draining, expensive and just plain torture. Nonetheless if you need to go then embrace it for what it is, and try to make the best of it even if it wasn’t planned.

How the Internet Affects Traditional Media

Traditional Publishing, REST IN PEACE

This is the headline that greets you when you land on a web page identified as a memorial to commemorate the decline of Traditional Media. A photograph of a man who seems to be in distress and who's possibly just lost his job companies this headline. If this does not paint a bleak picture, go on to read the 548 headlines that all sing to the same tune as the following:

  • Bad Times: NYT Says Revenue Fell 13.9% Last Month – Forbes.com
  • Men's monthly magazine Arena to cease printing after 22 years – Guardian.co.uk
  • Cosmopolitan UK publisher to cut 100 jobs – Guardian.co.uk

There's even a website entitled Newspaper Death Watch that chronicles all the publishing and newspaper houses that close down. All rather morbid would not you say?

The Deadly Spell

Let's take a quick look at Traditional Media and how the Internet cast it's deadly spell.

Back in the old days, we're talking 500 years ago; Gutenberg revolutionized the printing industry by inventing the printing press. This meant bibles could be produced at a fraction the time it used to. This also mean more copies in a shorter time and the Word of God got further reach in a shorter time. Newspaper houses and Magazine publishers still use a printing press today (well thank you captain obvious) .

Much later, shortly after the advent of electricity, the world was blessed with another few media breakthroughs, rarely radio then a few years later, television. Marketers and Advertising agencies had it all figured out as they devised Integrated Marketing Campaigns with astronomical budgets. Ah, the good old days. Well, much to the dismay of many of these agencies, this media landscape started to change.

Behold! Enter The WWW

At first a website was seen as a cute way to put your company brochure online and on top of that the disastrous dot bomb era created skepticism that labeled the Internet as a bad media and business channel.

Fortunately, since then the Internet has matured. Now, in countries where broadband has achieved high levels of household penetration, the web has become the consumer medium of choice.

Why? Because people can do research, shop online, watch videos and connect with friends all in the comfort of their own homes. People can choose what media they want to consume, where and when they choose too, especially with mobile connectivity. Marketers can no longer dictate what advertising messages people get subjected too.

Social Media, The New Black

Then there is the phenomenon of Social Media. It changed the media landscape forever. Social Media websites have allowed consumers to connect with friends, family, colleges and peers in ways that were never imaginable a few decades ago.

Technology has empowered the consumer to become the prosumer. Prosumers are consumers who produce content like videos, photos and blogs that can be instantly distributed and shared among millions of people via social media platforms. This is also known as user-generated content or UCG.

Here is an interesting bit of trivia about the reach of Traditional Media vs. The Internet and Social Media.

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 Million:

  • Radio – 38 Years
  • TV – 13 Years
  • The Internet – 4 Years
  • The iPod – 3 Years
  • Facebook – 2 Years

So How Does The Internet Affect Traditional Media?

The Internet has reduced the need for traditional media because it enabled consumers to join social communities within their neighbors, across their countries and internationally. It has empowered them to converse at their leisure, 24/7, with friends.

Considering all that's been said, the demise of Traditional Media can seriously be attributed to the following factors:

  1. Decline in readership: The distribution of free news and information on the web has led to the decline in readership for traditional publications.
  2. Decline in revenues: The decline in readership advertisers advertisers will spend their money elsewhere and this leads to a decline in ad revenue.
  3. Real-time updates: Traditional Media can not compete with immediately updated user-generated content that's immediately available for the world to see.
  4. The rise of UGC websites: People have the freedom of unlimited real time commentary on content while Traditional Media is static and is a one-way communication tool.
  5. Online Audio / Video channels: People can choose what they want to watch and listen, when they want to and where without advertising interrupting their experience.

Simply put. The Internet has revolutionized the way things get done today. It has revolutionized the way we do business, the way we communicate and has broken down the walls of Traditional Media.

A recent example is the decision by Unilever UK to fire Lowe , their Ad agency of 15 years, in favor of crowdsourcing – which means it has thrown the brand creative pitch open to agencies and basically any person who can think of an idea, worldwide. This is done on the Internet of course.

Traditional Media will still be around for a while, but the Internet is getting more and more integrated into our daily lives.

Think about this. You could do without the Mail & Guardian or the MensHealth Mag for quite some time, sometimes live quite happily without it? But you just dare cut that ADSL connection …