The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'wifi'


Members of Glastonbury's New Age community are up in arms about the town's free WiFi network, which they say emits "negative energy", disrupting the flow of chakras and ley lines and causing all sorts of ailments from headaches and dizziness to pneumonia. Some are calling for the network to be dismantled, while others are using this as an opportunity to sell "orgone devices" which work, by means conveniently unknown to boring old straight science, to neutralise the bad vibes:

Matt Todd, who campaigns against EMFs, said that residents had complained that chakras and ley lines are being disrupted. "They believe positive energy flows are being disturbed," he said.
Mr Todd has started building small generators which he believes can neutralise the allegedly-harmful radiation using the principles of orgone science. The pyramid-like machines use quartz crystals, selenite (a clear form of the mineral gypsum), semi-precious lapis lazuli stones, gold leaf and copper coil to absorb and recycle the supposedly-negative energy.
One does wonder what happened when Glastonbury was first wired for mains electricity.

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A Russian government agency is now making noises about requiring all WiFi devices to be registered. This will include not only access points, but laptops, VoIP phones, handheld game consoles and so on. The Russian Mass Media, Communications and Cultural Protection Service reserves the right to confiscate any unregistered devices:

According to Karpov’s statement, registering a PDA or telephone would take 10 days. Then, only the owner of the device would be licensed to use it. Registering a Wi-Fi hotspot, on the other hand, would be more difficult. Anyone wishing to set up as much as a personal home-network would need to file a complete set of documents, as well as technological certifications. Networks in Moscow or St. Petersburg would also need approval from the Federal Security Guard Service (FSO) and the Federal Security Service (FSB).
The FSB, of course, used to be known as the KGB, and is closely tied to the administration of Vladimir Putin.

(via Engadget) authoritarianism bureaucracy russia unclear on the concept wifi 0


As reported elsewhwere, Bruce Schneier, the Chuck Norris of computer security, leaves his home wireless network open:

To me, it's basic politeness. Providing internet access to guests is kind of like providing heat and electricity, or a hot cup of tea. But to some observers, it's both wrong and dangerous.
I can count five open wireless networks in coffee shops within a mile of my house, and any potential spammer is far more likely to sit in a warm room with a cup of coffee and a scone than in a cold car outside my house. And yes, if someone did commit a crime using my network the police might visit, but what better defense is there than the fact that I have an open wireless network? If I enabled wireless security on my network and someone hacked it, I would have a far harder time proving my innocence.
I'm also unmoved by those who say I'm putting my own data at risk, because hackers might park in front of my house, log on to my open network and eavesdrop on my internet traffic or break into my computers. This is true, but my computers are much more at risk when I use them on wireless networks in airports, coffee shops and other public places. If I configure my computer to be secure regardless of the network it's on, then it simply doesn't matt

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In Britain, the police are arresting people for accessing open wireless access points without permission:

The man arrested at the weekend was cautioned for dishonestly obtaining electronic communications services with intent to avoid payment.
According to the authorities, accessing wireless networks without permission is, much like downloading MP3s and skipping ads on TV, theft:
"Gaining unauthorised access to someone else's network is an offence and people have to take responsibility for their actions. Some people might argue that taking a joy-ride in someone else's car is not an offence either," he said.
Not only that, but leaving your access point open for strangers to use is strongly discouraged; not only is it taking away business from commercial service providers (a cardinal sin in Thatcherism-Blairism), but it is giving paedoterrorists a convenient rock to hide under:
"There have been incidences where paedophiles deliberately leave their wireless networks open so that, if caught, they can say that is wasn't them that used the network for illegal purposes," said NetSurity's Mr Cracknell.
Such a defence would hold little water as the person installing the network, be they a home user or a business, has ultimate responsibility for any criminal activity that takes place on that network, whether it be launching a hack attack or downloading illegal pornography.
I wonder whether that would hold up in court; could someone be successfully prosecuted for a crime committed by a stranger using their unsecured network? Perhaps a new crime of "facilitating evasion of surveillance" would be appropriate?

The BBC article provides the following helpful advice to anyone with a wireless access point wishing to avoid ending up on the Sex Offenders' Register:

There are many different types of security options available - but the most basic is to give the network a Wireless Encryption Protocol (WEP) key.
While not totally secure, WEP keys do at least provide a modicum of security to thwart all but the most technically-literate hackers.
Well, them and any script kiddie who can download a WEP cracking program and run it for a few minutes.

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This looks pretty nifty: a gadget the size and shape of a mobile phone which is a WiFi-based Skype client; it will connect to wireless base stations and send and receive calls over the internet using Skype, showing which contacts are online and calling phone numbers (credit permitting) as well. Best of all, it does not require a PC to be switched on and running Skype.

Of course, it is less than ideal, given that most wireless hotspots use a web-based kludge to collect payments, which renders them unusable for appliances not suited to web browsing. What the world needs is a standard for publishing access point metadata and negotiating payment or roaming. Perhaps, on each access point, an IP address (say, to be reserved for responding to HTTP requests, which could give XML-based metadata about the access point, handle logins in a standard fashion, and speak some kind of digital-wallet protocol if needed for payment. With that, a wireless VoIP phone (or satellite navigation client or news-ticker wristwatch or whatever appliance one wants to imagine) could ping this, grab data on the access point, and see if it can use it on its existing credentials (such as roaming agreements). If not, it could display the point's charges and ask the user if they want to pay for access.

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A new application of wireless networking tailored for the bleeding-heart types of the world: WiFi-SM, which is woen by the user and delivers a painful though harmless electric shock every time a selected keyword (such as "death", "torture" or "war") appears in news sources. If you're afraid that your affluent Western lifestyle cuts you off from the true suffering of the world and diminishes your humanity, this could be for you. If it were real, that is. (Via Gizmodo)

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Via this Age article (which says that "Wi-Fi" stands for "Wireless Fidelity"), this list of Wi-Fi hotspots in Australia. All the ones in Melbourne seem to be concentrated in the CBD or south of the Yarra (with the exception of a lone one in Glen Waverley), in the sorts of places that won't look amiss on corporate expense accounts. Of course, in Australia, it's a safe assumption that 99% of wireless internet users are executives working on spreadsheets on the road or something (as opposed to, say, San Francisco or New York, where the big market seems to be hipsters with iBooks that match their trucker caps using them for collaborative Photoshop jams or whatever).

The other day, though, I saw signs in the food court on Lygon St. (outside the Cinema Nova) advertising that they have wireless internet access there.

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Free wireless networking may save the world, if certain blogging hipster sci-fi authors are right, but it wasn't enough to save Niue. The Pacific island nation (best known as the home of the .nu domain), which had installed a free, island-wide wireless network and ushered in the new golden age of humanity ahead of the rest of the world, was flattened by storms which destroyed virtually all buildings on the island and killed an unknown number of people. The population of the island, which was 1,200 before the storm, is tipped to fall below 500, with the possibility that the independent nation may become unviable, and may be returned to New Zealand rule.

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A Canadian man has been arrested by police whilst driving the wrong way down a residential street. After he was stopped, the police noticed that he was naked from the waist down and operating a laptop computer. The man had been "war driving", exploiting open 802.11 access points to surreptitiously download child pornography, of which he had an encyclopaedic collection. And who knows how many other paedophiles are currently cruising the streets with laptops?

(Clearly, our lawmakers need to act immediately, ban the possession of long-range WiFi antennae, and institute an international registry of all WiFi cards, for the sake of our children. Also, the Pringles chip company must change the design of their cardboard tubes to prevent perverts from turning them into directional wireless antennae.)

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A Mini-ITX novelty project with a difference, Bass Station is an oversized 1980s-style ghetto blaster containing a Linux-based Mini-ITX PC which plays MP3s. Not only that, but it contains an 802.11 access point and web server, making an instant collaborative jukebox, file server and bulletin board for all within range. (via bOING bOING)

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Passengers on GNER trains, which run between London and Edinburgh, will soon have WiFi Internet access for passengers with laptops; that'll be convenient, for sure.

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The Solomon Islands' economy, government and indeed their entire civil society are collapsing. How can this be fixed? Easy, by the magic of free WiFi. (No prizes for guessing where I found this link.)

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