EOW


Finally, the work week is at an end. OK, I've still got a couple of e-mails to send out before I siphon off my laptop's /home into its weekly backup and there is a lot of news I've skimped on, but it looks like I'm finally going to relax some.

(An interesting bit of news I missed was the Ginza Apple Store opening, which is fun to watch but has been covered to death all over the 'respectable' media. It did, however, lead me to discover someone who attends every single Apple Store opening, which is taking things a bit too far...)

But first, a minor rant concerning clueless uses of wireless technology:

The Useless Mobile Access Point

WiFi Anywhere: The Pocket Router - grab an iPAQ, flash it with Linux (been there, done that, even did QNX once), bolt on a Wi-Fi card and a Bluetooth adapter, and route (most likely NAT) 11Mbps' worth of traffic over a dinky 44kbps GPRS connection.

Duh. Are you kidding? Sure it works, but what is the point? First off, and even though GPRS is pretty fast and reliable these days, more than a single user will definetly cause a bottleneck - so talking brazenly about using it on "working lunches" is utter crap. Two people just using their browsers will find it quite useable, but three will clutter up the link something awful - especially if one fires up Outlook or a similar bandwidth hog.

Next up, the iPAQ's battery isn't really up to it, especially the 3600 series shown on that photo (I happen to have one of those someplace in an office drawer, which has seen a lot of field work - in fact, I even have a couple of those D-Link cards too). The 3600 will eat through its own battery and an extended battery pack (the large fat one with two PCMCIA slots) real quick, especially when using an old (more power-hungry) D-Link card and running the Linux Bluetooth stack at the same time. Used like that, the thing will bleed its battery away in the 2.4GHz spectrum in an hour, at the most (and the infra-red one too, since it will heat up quite a bit).

Another thing that irked me (and that smacks of overdone geekery) is that you don't need HostAP. That's sheer misdirection (and maybe a lack of understanding of how 802.11b works). You can just create an ad-hoc network with a lot less configuration effort, since it saves you the bother of fiddling with the Prism2 stuff - it's just the same to the clients in a scenario like this...

Furthermore, spending a day or so scripting the whole thing together (which is not accounted for in the article, which doesn't mention that you probably need to setup SSH on the iPAQ and work on it from a PC) doesn't strike me as particularly efficient when, if you do need to share a GPRS connection over Wi-Fi, you can setup one of the "client" laptops as an internet gateway with a couple of clicks (yes, even in Windows).

No need to carry around an iPAQ - which is a pretty big thing with the battery pack bolted on the back, and if you have a GPRS PCMCIA card on the laptop acting as a gateway, you don't even drain your phone's battery (besides having better throughput overall, since you don't have the bit reshuffling associated with sending packets over the Bluetooth link to the phone).

In short, this is a crap way of solving a non-existent problem. A geeky, clever approach, but one that not even people with an old iPAQ around are likely to find useful. And please note that I didn't mention how much it will actually cost in GPRS traffic fees...