Multiple Wireless Networks

When I first got a wireless router at home back in 2003 no one I knew locally had a wireless network. Partly as no one had DSL (our exchange hadn’t been upgraded) and cable wasn’t available either. I had got an Airport Extreme (802.11g) from Apple which came with a built in 56K modem.

Once DSL became available then wireless became more prevalent. My neighbour had a wireless network, but I could only pick up his and mine.

In the last year however the number of wireless networks has grown considerably. There are at least seven now which I can pick up from my house.

If I drive around the local area I can pick up many more. I am currently using an Acer Windows Mobile PDA as a Satnav as it comes with GPS and this picks up countless wireless networks as I drive round the local area; so much so that I have to turn the wireless off.

Most of these are Sky and BT supplied wireless networks (you can tell from the SSID) so they seem to be selling well.

Why is wireless doing well?

The fact that most laptops are wireless, the PS3 is wireless, the Nintendo Wii is wireless, the PSP is wireless means it can make sense to have wireless internet.

As households move from having a single computer to multiple computers, then wireless makes it much easier to connect them to the internet.

Of course the main issue with multiple wireless networks is interference so be aware of which channels your neighbours are on.

Good article on wireless security

When it comes to wireless security there are lots of myths out there.

Ars Technica has published a nice article on wireless security which covers many of the key issues and importantly debunks some of the myths out there as well.

The SSID (Service Set Identifier) is an identification code (typically a simple name) broadcast by a wireless router. If a wireless device detects multiple SSIDs from multiple access points (APs), it will typically ask the end-user which one it should connect to. Telling a router not to broadcast its SSID may prevent basic wireless access software from displaying the network in question as a connection option, but it does nothing to actually secure the network. Any time a user connects to a router, the SSID is broadcast in plaintext, regardless of whether or not encryption is enabled. SSID information can also be picked up by anyone listening to the network in passive mode.

Read more.

Use WPA to protect your wireless network.

This video from the BBC’s Real Hustle gives you an idea why you should be using WPA to protect your wireless network.

A gang using easily available software break into a WEP protected wireless network and find out what a surfer has been up to as well as having access to his computer and his internet connection.

Though they have used a fair amount of dramatic licence, what they do (rather than how) is possible.

Why can’t I print?

So today I needed to print some documents for work tomorrow and would my Canon MP600R print? No it would not!

It was only while I was doing the washing up that I remembered that my Canon MP600r was wireless and of course I had only recently changed my 802.11g wireless network.

So of course I had to reconfigure the MP600R to join the new wireless network. Alas you can’t do this wirelessly, nor using the control panel on the printer itself. You need to connect via USB and then configure (on a Mac) via Printer Setup Utility.

Though usually this is a straightforward process, I had real problems today. Though I could change the settings I could not actually add the printer. In the end it actually froze my iMac and I needed to hard reboot. Once this was done I found I could add the printer.

Then of course I now need to check I can print from my other computers.

Problems with WEP

Some people have quite a few problems connecting devices to a WEP encrypted wireless network.

One of the problems with WEP is that the actual standard relies on a 10 character HEX key for 40bit WEP and a 26 character HEX key for 128bit WEP.

In order to make things easier for people, vendors use certain algorithms to convert simple alphanumeric passwords (or passphrases) into HEX keys, thus enabling people to use simple memorable WEP password rather than lengthy HEX keys.

The problem is that different vendors use different algorithms to generate the HEX key and therefore a ASCII password on an AEBS will be hashed differently on a Netgear client and vice versa.

One thing is a 13 character 128 bit WEP password will be hashed by all vendors in the same way (if you use 40bit WEP then a 5 character password is required).

Though sometimes not even that works and the  HEX key must be used regardless.

Having said all that WEP is considered today to be insecure and not recommended (it can be broken quite easily by a determined hacker) if you can use WPA. However if you have legacy devices which don’t support WPA then WEP is sometimes all you can use.

Well that didn’t work did it…

Okay removing and reinstalling the wireless adapter on the Q1 Ultra didn’t work, once more Windows Vista disabled the wireless adapter once more for no apparent reason or with any justification.

There doesn’t seem to be any solution to this problem on the web, others are having problems with the wireless card and video playback, but at least their wireless adapters work.

Trying a different driver to see if that helps.

Certainly couldn’t recommend the Q1 Ultra if this is “normal” behaviour, it should work out of the box without issue. Yes if you install software and hardware, sometimes this can cause issues, but out of the box a device should just work in my opinion.

Vista, stop disabling my wireless…

Windows Vista did it again…

Annoying to say the least. Windows Vista on my Q1 Ultra discovered a (so-called) problem with the wireless adapter on the Q1 and decided (without telling me) to disable the wireless and not allow me to renable it at all (well not easily).

In the end I decided against doing a system restore (like what I did last time) as obviously some kind of Windows update was causing the problem. This time I removed the adapter from Device Manager and rebooted the Q1 and let Windows reinstall the drivers, which it did without finding anything wrong!

I wouldn’t mind so much, but this is a new Q1 and I haven’t done anything except install updates…

It’s annoying.

Samsung Q1 Ultra Wireless Problems

I have been messing about with evaluating a Samsung Q1 Ultra over the last couple of days. I was trying out Internet Explorer and was surprised to find that the Q1 was not connected to my wireless network. After some investigation I found out this evening and was disappointed to find that Windows Vista decided that the best thing it could do was disable the wireless adapter as it had a found a problem with it.

Samsung Q1 Ultra

Initially the problem I was having was that the device failed to connect to my wireless network, which surprised me, as I hadn’t really done very much with the Q1 except switch it on! I hadn’t installed any software (or even uninstalled software).

The wireless was on according to the Samsung software, but as far as Windows Vista was concerned there were no networks to connect to.

Very strange, after checking device manager (something I doubt any general user would do) I found that Vista had disabled the wireless adapter because it had found a problem with it. It didn’t tell me what the problem was, but was willing to go online to find a solution (well I would have gone online, but the wireless wasn’t working was it).

There didn’t seem to be any way of re-enabling the wireless adapter. I could have uninstalled it, but I wondered if Vista would let me reinstall the wireless adapter, I was pretty sure it might have got pretty obnoxious about it.

In the end I went with a system restore, something I do like about XP and Vista and restored the Q1 to this morning’s configuration which I know was working, and is working now.

I wonder if it was a Windows Update that caused the problem, I am not totally sure of the cause.

TC1100 Wireless Problems, Sorted!

I have finally sorted out my HP TC1100 wireless problem. I was having issues getting the TC1100 to connect to my 802.11g Airport wireless network.

I had confirmed that the Intel 2200 BG card in the Tablet supports WPA and I have updated Windows XP to support WPA as well.

The Intel 2200 BG card also supports 802.11g.

I say that as the solution was to switch the Airport Extreme from 802.11g only radio mode to 802.11b/g mode.

In this mode the TC1100 has no problem connecting to my WPA/WPA2 network!

It’s not as even though the TC1100 is connecting at 802.11b 11 Mbps speeds, as the speed shown in the connection window though fluctuating is greater than 11 Mbps!

So if you are having issues connecting to an 802.11g network with a laptop with the Intel 2200BG card, revert to b/g compatability and see if that makes a difference.

HP TC1100 Tablet PC Wireless Problems

Since I sorted out my new wireless networks, my HP TC1100 Tablet PC has been having issues connecting to the 802.11g wireless network.


The 802.11g wireless network is using WPA/WPA2 encryption.

I have confirmed that the Intel 2200 BG card in the Tablet supports WPA and I have updated Windows XP to support WPA as well.

However the TC1100 fails to connect to the network. Initially I thought it was a channel 13 issue, but since changing to channel 6, I still can’t connect.

I have been through my settings and my own troubleshooting guide but still no joy.