June 26, 2002

Wibos hit the streets

Starting in London, people are marking WiFi spots in chalk on the street, called Warchalking. Just like the hobos of old, these WiBos(Wi-Fi Hobos) are marking places friendly to them. They are using take-offs of the hobo sign system to mark places where bandwidth is available.Thanks to Cory at BoingBoing.
Posted by dsifry at 8:48 AM | View blog reactions

June 24, 2002

Vernier Networks raises more funding

According to Venturewire, Vernier Networks is expected to announce the close of a $24 Million dollar Series C investment round. New investors Allegis Capital and Financial Technology Ventures co-led the round.
Posted by dsifry at 11:12 AM | View blog reactions

June 23, 2002

Related Stories patch accepted for Movable Type 2.2, Dave Winer's comments

I just heard back from Benjamin Trott, one of the authors of Movable Type, and he tells me that the new Google search (on both titles and excerpts) will be included in MT 2.2! Cool.

Also, Dave Winer (glad you're back from the hospital, Dave!) posted about the Google hack in today's Scripting News. I'm glad that he liked it. However, he may have misunderstood what I was doing - my hack doesn't give you a Google-It macro that just puts a link to a Google search. Instead, it actually performs the search when you build the page, and puts the related links right on the page as well. This removes a step from the process, and more clearly adds context to each entry. In addition, whenever the index page is rebuilt (like when new entries or comments are posted), the Google-created links are updated, even for old stories. If Dave is looking for a Radio implementation of this, he should look at Jake Savin's macro.

Posted by dsifry at 5:51 PM | Comments (5) | View blog reactions

June 22, 2002

WiFi speedbumps in the UK

The Register reports on a potential threat to the UK's new freedom in the 2.4 GHz spectrum. Up until 2 weeks ago, 802.11b outdoor or commercial use was prohibited. Now, the Low Power Radio Association is feeling threatened by this, according to their article.

My comments: It's funny, just when I think that the USA has problems with the FCC and its Part 15 rules in the 2.4 GHz spectrum, I'm remineded that there are countries with even less freedom of the airwaves available. I'm also surprised that Wi-Fi itself isn't considered "low-power" - sure, it is lower power than say, Bluetooth, but surely not much less power than alarm circuits or meter-reader radios. Sounds more like an established player is looking to hold onto its turf.

Posted by dsifry at 9:40 AM | Comments (2) | View blog reactions

June 21, 2002

Joltage Networks signs up Atlas Broadband

Joltage and Atlas Broadband announced a partnership that will allow Atlas' existing clientele, in addition to other enterprises of all sizes, to transform their locations into Joltage-powered Hotspots. The two companies will deliver jointly the tools, services and support for creating and maintaining freestanding areas of high-speed, fixed wireless Internet access.

Joltage will provide the registration, authentication, billing, payment processing and quality management services. Atlas will supply the broadband connection with speed and quality of service guarantees.

They are also offering a website promotion to receive a free access point when you sign up for Atlas Broadband and Joltage.

I'm still perplexed by Joltage's business model, but hey, maybe they can pull it off.

Posted by dsifry at 7:07 PM | View blog reactions

June 20, 2002

Google for Userland Radio Users, too

Jake Savin has taken the spirit of my recent MT hacks and created a new macro for Userland Radio. Cool deal, Jake! I got a bunch of inquiries from Radio users who wanted the functionality. Now they can be happy.
Posted by dsifry at 11:28 PM | View blog reactions

NTT and Singapore Telecom each announce massive WLAN deployments

Alan Reiter posts a good analysis of two recent moves by big asian telecom carriers -Singapore Telecom and NTT DoCoMo to roll out massive numbers of hotspots throughout public Singapore and Tokyo, respectively.

These are big moves, and show off two interesting points:

In the NTT case, they are agressively making moves in the 2.4GHz space even though the ministry of Posts and Telegraphs (the Japanese equivalent of the FCC) hasn't officially opened the spectrum for outdoor use. Reliable word on the street is that they will be opening up the 2.4GHz spectrum along with a piece of the 5.1GHz spectrum for use with unlicensed devices.

In the Singtel case, they are promoting the use of the Nokia D211 multimode radio card, which supports GPRS and 802.11b WLANs. This is, in my opinion, the sweet spot where the established carriers show their true muscle.

This is also a page that the US carriers should seriously consider, both as a bridge to their 3G rollouts and as a way to lock up the business user market and to force handset manufacturers to include these capabilities in their new handsets and PDAs. If and when this happens, say goodbye to the fledgling WISP aggregator model, a la Boingo and Joltage, and all the little WISPS sprouting up where wired broadband is hard to find. The ISP model (and WISP model) will be won by those with the most capital and the most locations; any other players will have to survive at the fringes and in the smaller niches where they can dodge the footsteps of the giants.

Hey, this happened before, with the wired internet as a model, and some of the bigger ISPs were able to hang on against the ILECs. But what is so surprising to me is how quickly these large carriers are learning from their past mistakes and are getting out there with service now.

Posted by dsifry at 11:03 PM | View blog reactions

SMC chooses TI's 802.11b/g design

Glenn Fleishman reports on SMC's choice to use TI's ACX100 chips in their next generation access point, which will deliver 22Mbps "turbo" mode for SMC client cards, and standard 802.11b for all other cards. They also claim a 30 percent increase in range because of the ACX100. Since 802.11g isn't even ratified yet, and since TI and Intersil are building competing implementations that are not compatable, this should be seen as a shot across the bow at Intersil, though it remains to be seen where the majority of the market will end up with regards to the 802.11g standard.
Posted by dsifry at 10:42 PM | View blog reactions

June 19, 2002

More Google API hacks for Movable Type

Wow, I was pleasantly surprised with the rush of positive feedback from today's Google API hack for Movable Type users. A number of people asked for some new features, and given that it was only anoither 7 lines of perl code or so, I coded it up!

The new patch to MT 2.11 adds the following new features to the MTGoogleSearch tag. It adds the following new properties that will change the behavior of the tag:


  • title="1" : This will cause the google search query to be the title (MTEntryTitle) of your current blog entry
  • excerpt="1" : This will cause the google serch query to be the entry excerpt (MTEntryExcerpt) of the current blog entry
Those two properties are mutually exclusive (along with the current query="" and related="1" properties).

In addition, if you use strip_html="1" inside the MTGoogleSearch tag, it will remove any html that Google replies with, including <b> tags that surround the search query terms.

This is a patch on the default build of Movable Type 2.11. If you've already installed my previous patch, it might be easier to just back out the patch and install this one.

By the way, I haven't done a lot of testing with the MTEntries query code (entries="1") so if you do use it, please send me feedback.

Posted by dsifry at 10:09 PM | Comments (10) | View blog reactions

A great new use of the Google API and SOAP

OK, I'm convinced. I've been toying with Movable Type's new Google APIs, and I've created something new and really cool.

With a 3-line hack to Movable Type's source code (gosh, I love having the source code to my software) I added a new function to its Google search capability - I can now do dynamic google searches on each and every one of the titles of my blog posts.

What's that mean? Well, look down at the bottom of this blog entry. You'll see a line that starts, "Related Stories:" followed by 10 links. These links are created by a google search on the words in the title of this blog entry.

The reason why I can do this is because Google has created a standardised way to automate queries to its search engine using a protocol called SOAP and the folks at Movable Type have created an interface that takes advantage of SOAP calls. All I needed to do was to add 3 lines of code to the Movable Type codebase to enable the capability seen in the "Related Stories" links below.

In addition, those links get updated each time I post a story - In other words, as Google indexes my pages and others like them, new stories show up whenever I update the index page with a new entry. Additionally, I could run a regular task to automatically refresh my Google related stories links for all of my entries each night as well.

If you're interested in the patch to the Movable Type codebase, I've included it below.

You can get the patch file at http://www.sifry.com/mt-googleapi.patch It is also included below:

+++ Context.pm Wed Jun 19 01:46:44 2002
@@ -1225,10 +1225,13 @@
sub _hdlr_google_search {
my($ctx, $args) = @_;
my $query;
+ my $title;
my $blog = $ctx->stash('blog');
if ($query = $args->{query}) {
} elsif (my $url = $args->{related}) {
$query = 'related:' . $url eq '1' ? $blog->site_url : $url;
+ } elsif ($title = $args->{title}) {
+ $query = _hdlr_entry_title($ctx);
} else {
return $ctx->error('You used without a query.');
}

In other words, I added 3 lines to the code. The first defines a new $title variable, and the other two test to see if the "title" property is set in the MTGoogleSearch tag, and if so, it sets the $query variable to the entry title stored in the $ctx variable.

To use the new MTGoogleSearch functionality, simply use the title="1" property in the MTGoogleSearch tag.

I've put up my Movable Type index template file as well so you can see it work in context.

Posted by dsifry at 2:59 AM | Comments (5) | View blog reactions

June 17, 2002

Proxim to acquire Agere's Orinoco Division

Glenn Fleishman reports on Proxim'sannouncement that it will be buying Agere's (formerly Lucent's) Orinoco wireless division. I agree with Glenn's assessment, that this is a good move for both Agere and for Proxim.
Posted by dsifry at 10:36 AM | Comments (2) | View blog reactions

IBM announces new Distributed Wireless Security Auditor

IBM made a press release today about their new 802.11 wireless security tool. It runs on Linux on desktops and laptops, can accurately pinpoint the location of any rogue access points by triangulation from 3 or more signals from machines running their software. The wireless security tool was developed in collaboration with the IBM Personal Computing Division, which is investigating the potential of including it on future ThinkPad models. ThinkPads are already equipped with built-in 802.11b wireless networking capability.

More information is available.

Posted by dsifry at 6:56 AM | View blog reactions

June 9, 2002

New last-mile solution using hacked 802.11 cards?

John Markoff at The New York Times is reporting on Etherlinx, a company that claims to have significantly extended the range of wireless broadband by hacking the firmware of current 802.11b cards and running CPEs (customer premises equipment) with 2 cards inside - one card that runs their software radio (non-standard, not 802.11b protocols) and one that retransmits signals into a house or other local broadband endpoint. They claim 2MBps speeds in field trials they've been conducting in Oakland.

Certainly, this is somthing that needs further investigation. The company claims all sorts of neat stuff, including security, QoS, and other features. This can be performed in the CPE, probably not at the radio layer. The CPE can also be built very cheaply, and sold at about a $100 price point. A number of questions remain - are they using FHSS (old-fashioned 802.11 signals maxed out at 2Mbps and were FHSS) or DSSS? How do the CPEs react to multipath loss, reflections, and loss of line-of-sight to the brodcast tower? How well does the technology scale? Can it be used in a mesh configuration or is it point-to-multipoint? They claim that their low-cost CPE can be deployed without the need for an installer, which means it must be robust indeed.

This can be compared to Navini networks, which has developed a base station that uses phased antenna arrays (essentially smart antennas) to direct power at the CPEs, and simple CPEs that can be installed indoors.

Phased array antenna approaches allow for better penetration and even a notional non-line of sight capability, but they require a managed base station and can't be used for organic mesh networks, like the meshes that are created as a part of Nokia Rooftop's or Sky Pilot's solutions.

Posted by dsifry at 11:36 PM | Comments (4) | View blog reactions

June 8, 2002

Two more interesting 802.11 real-world use cases

Thanks to Tom Davey, who points out two stories about WLAN rollouts in real-world scenarios. First, a story this week in Network World that highlights armory and other inventory tasks in the U.S. Marine Corps. Next, a story in June's Business 2.0 that highlights manufacturing operations at Boeing

These boosterish pieces pay little to no attention to security or management issues, which makes me wonder how Boeing and the Marines perform them (if at all).

Posted by dsifry at 9:32 AM | View blog reactions

Does WLAN pose a health risk?

Time to toot my own horn a bit - Dan Jones, Senior Edior of Unstrung just wrote up an article entitled, Does WLAN pose a health risk? around the issue of 802.11b radio emissions and personal safety, with lots of quotes from yours truly.

The short answer? Maybe -- if you are one of the growing band of people who use home-made equipment to increase the range of 802.11b hotspots.

Posted by dsifry at 9:21 AM | View blog reactions

June 6, 2002

Sirius has withdrawn their FCC petition!

According to Carl R. Stevenson, Interim Chair of the IEEE 802.18 Regulatory Technical Advisory Group, Sirius has withdrawn its FCC petition regarding out of band (OOB) emissions from 2.4GHz users.

Sifry's Alerts' comments on this development:

This is good - it removes a potential issue that overshadowed the widespread adoption of wireless technologies like 802.11b. I think the FCC would have ruled against them anyway, for the following reasons:

1. They were asking for a legislative fix to the laws of physics. This Sirius request included an OOB limit of -158dbm which is 8 dbm below the thermal noise floor. In other words, the normal evaporation of water into clouds makes more noise in the 2.5GHz spectrum. Besides, other noise generators much closer to the receiver emit a much larger noise profile. The spark emitted from a spark plug is one example.

2. Significant opposition from other established industry players, including Motorola, Intersil, Intel, and others.

3. The FCC's emphasis on reducing the digital divide. The FCC was being asked to decide if it was more important to have high-end radio between cities or cheap, high bandwidth connectivity in low income neighborhoods, and I think the public interest would have won on this one.

So, count one for the good guys today! And don't rub Sirius' nose in it - they did the right thing.

Posted by dsifry at 8:41 AM | Comments (3) | View blog reactions