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The Internet

Free Wireless For Fun And / Or No Profit 139

An Anonymous Coward pointed to this San Francisco Chronicle story about San Francisco's wireless networks there for the taking, set up for convenience but left open to anyone with an 802.11 card to grab packets, and in many cases, hop on the networks themselves. Sometimes that's intentional, other times it's not. The article mentions some of the well-known public wireless projects consume.net and Seattle Wireless, but what about your city? It would be interesting to find out and map where else folks have found (or founded) pockets of free bandwidth.
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Free Wireless For Fun And No Profit

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Listen, ok?

    All your wireless networks are belong to whoever owns them,
    All your 802.11 cards are belong to their owners.
    All your bandwidth are belong to no one.

    Move on with your lives... this joke is about as new and refreshing as a week old bottle of flat diet pepsi.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here's a cool idea that could turn the Internet into a truly free and anonymous network..

    Everyone who wants an Internet connection buys at least a 802.11 tranceiver. Anyone who needs the highest speeds will likely still get a hard line from a traditional ISP, of course. Then, instead of the ISP's being the primary providers of bandwidth and routing, we create a loose P2P wireless network all across the country. So everybody is not only a user but provider of Internet access. To make the network private, all communication is encrypted. Sorta like a "wireless Freenet" in design. For this to work, encryption must be built-in and as transparent as possible so that even newbies will be forced to use it as default. Hmm.. I think IPv6 would be necessary as well for a gigantic IP space as users would end up switching IP's and subnets as they roam.

    Now think of all the benefits.. Suddenly, we have Internet access anywhere for free. We have total privacy. We have free sharing of culture and ideas with absolutely no way for corporations to come in and stop it whether legal or not. And being wireless lends to portability--it can also replace all our cellphones / pagers / messagers / radios / etc. (Not to mention reduce our radiation exposure because transmission is shorter distance)

    I'm sure there would be a lot of technical issues to resolve, but hey, that's what engineers are for, right? (-: Lets start brainstorming this..
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Drive-by spamming. Imagine the possibilities.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 22, 2001 @01:47PM (#346181)
    This is anonymous for a reason.

    One of the problems with running an open wireless network (and Seattle Wireless thing which I have accidentally become part of -- see below) is "what if a bad guy starts using your network to do illegal things". Everything that goes out of your NAT router comes from one (fixed) IP address that has your name attached to it. So if you get an "unwelcome guest" who start using your network as a jumping off point what do you do if get the knock on the door from the police saying "we grabbed these from your network connection and we want to talk to you"? Tell them its not you but someone using your wireless connection?

    I was made aware of this sort of problem a week ago on my own network at home.

    I thought I'd closed down my Airport (make the network name hidden and use MAC address authentication to prevent other than my machines from attaching to my network) but I screwed up and my Airport has been running open since I got it last May (and I think of myself as a security expert). I noticed some odd activity on and off during this time (and put it down to AppleTalk being chatty) until last week I sniffed some of these HTTP request packets on my network. I didn't like the look of the URLs. Someone was using wireless access to my broadband network connection to download illegal content. Of course its difficult to trace something like this (the IP of the intruders machine is given out by DHCP from the Airport) and I don't have any direction finding gear for 2.4GHz.

    I've since properly secured my Airport but I wonder if the people who are enthusiastically setting up an open to all metro scale 802.11b networks have fully thought through who will be responsible if something like this happens on their connection. You may see yourself as a free ISP but you may have problems convincing law enforcement of that if something like this happens to you.

    Similarly what if you just don't know much about wireless networking and leave your system with the default settings. I wonder about the people who just buy and Airport and connect it directly to broadband net connections without closing it down.

    I'm also convinced that if you want to put an 802.11b router in the open you need to put a firewall on it and maybe a proxy too and you should certainly log the packets that come over the WiFi connection. You might want to make your policy open to users of you connection (but how you might do this is unclear -- there is no infrastructure to do this yet).
  • Not that I now of, but I would love to see one in Brampton!
    >~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • by Pilchie ( 869 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @01:38PM (#346183) Homepage
  • And people were worried about the ne'erdowells out there snooping on cable/broadband networks...

    Oh my!

  • Is anyon, or has anyone heard of any areas in Sacramento, CA? Down the road a bit I'm thinking of starting a bit of a movement here with the aim of setting up a web site that shows easy ways to connect to a free wireless network for the Sacramento area, much like the ones we are seeing crop up in the UK and Seattle.

    I just don't have the time or extra $$$ to do it now.

  • by David Gould ( 4938 ) <david@dgould.org> on Thursday March 22, 2001 @02:22PM (#346186) Homepage

    I know this is talking about short-range omnidirectional signals, but it also gets me thinking about how it could possibly be used in conjunction with longer-range line-of-sight systems as bridges between these "pockets of packets", making the party even bigger. I don't know much about such systems -- the equipment would almost have to be much more expensive, but just how out-of-reach is it? Wasn't there a story a while back about some people "recycling" satellite dishes from a defunct TV service for such purposes?

    For example, my house is in the Hayward hills above the San Mateo Bridge and with a view across the Bay of downtown San Francisco. If any of the people involved in this over there have a corresponding view, maybe we could set up a pair of directional antennas and bridge me in (drop me a line if interested). I can also see a lot of Hayward, San Leandro, and Oakland, so if there are any more LAN pockets there, then with another pair of antennas, I could serve as a bridge between them and SF. It's even possible that I could see someone in or close enough to Berkeley to form a chain between SF and the UCB campus, which is when it would get seriously cool.

    David Gould
  • I've been at that corner before. I really could have used a WAP close to highway 17 when I wast stuck in traffic every day on the way to high school.
  • Actually, I heard (may be apocryphal) that Nokia moved into a new glass-walled office building. It turned out that the tint applied to the windows effectively blocked the frequencies that cell phones use.
  • Implements new technology without thinking of the consquence this is what happen. Can you imagine that these people have access to those companies network automaticly. The network admin needs to be shot.
  • If I were setting this up (which I've been thinking about doing), I'd throttle people's bandwidth at 50Kbps or so. It wouldn't be fast enough to leech MP3s, but just fine for e-mail, browsing, etc.

    -Waldo
  • I was having that Deja Vu too [shmoo.com]
  • There's another effort around Cambridge / Somerville, Massachusetts, that seems to be making a transition from 9600bps traffic to 802.11 cards.

    Check out http://205.159.169.11/ [205.159.169.11].

    Farther afield, it's too bad that only this Swedish group [www.abc.se] seems to be doing much with the point-to-point 10Mbps [qsl.net] link.

  • I tried them, one place is called Aironet or something like that. I live in the South End, and they did come to the house to install it. It turns out the reception was too weak. I volunteered to install a "cell" on my roof, but I haven't heard back from them yet. It sounds pretty good. 1.5Mbps symmetrical, no static IPs though. Of course you share that bandwidth with everybody in your cell. When they've got enough cells installed in the city, you're supposed to be able to get by with just a PC card, so you should be able to walk around town with your laptop, and stay connected.
  • Except that your ISP's TOS doesn't exactly allow you to become a "public carrier" (imagine if your neighbor was a spammer!).

    Not to mention the real security problems that corporations face. The fact that you can stand in SF's financial district and get on some finance companies network is sorta scary from a security standpoint. (These guys are probably facist about analog phone jacks, but haven't clued into the fact that someone's iMac could be a huge security hole.)
    --
  • How long until the RIAA and the MPAA sue these carriers for allowing people to get online for free and download Movies and MP3's

    The Nerve!!

  • Oh, I am a Troll now.

    Who gave the RIAA Mod Access!?!?!

  • What you say?

    sorry...had to ;)


    -dk
  • MAC adresses can be changed. On a Sun workstation you do it from the boot prom, which is easily accessed at any time. You might have to do ifdown le0;ifup le0 before the MAC address change comes through, but that's not really a bother.

    I don't know how to chage MAC addresses on a PC, but switching network cards would do the trick for sure. It is probably possible to set an adapter's MAC adress with software of some kind, too. You may have to write that piece of software yourself unless some hax0r beats you to it on the prospect of getting access to free wireless bandwidth.
  • by redhog ( 15207 ) on Friday March 23, 2001 @01:59AM (#346199) Homepage
    Setting up a VPN currently, I got an idea for kind of a solution to this: Make the Air network a separate, masqueraded one, have an evil firewall only allowing ssh out. In addition, you may want to look at the ssh-connection and only allow ones that uses ssh-identity authentification, not password. Then let everyone tunnel his/her traffic to his/her home-box via a ssh-channel. This way, the only thing coming out of your box is an encrypted channel to some other box, and all possibly illegal, unencrypted stuff comes out of that box... You still have some problems, but not at all as much as before (for example, you can prove you can not know the content of the packets, and thus can not be required to filter them for RIAA-member-copyrighte-songs, pr0n or whatnot. The only problem you have left is if someone mannages to get into a box which is not his/her own, using ssh with ssh-identity... Which basicly means they have had to craxor this box from somewhere else before, and that's not your problem...
  • A group of geeks in Portland, Oregon are doing this themselves. They're looking for volunteers!

    PDX Wireless [pdxwireless.com]

    -James

  • The IEEE is working on a new set of standards that specifically address so-called Metropolitan Area Networks. They're talking about using an unlicensed band in the UNII 5-6Ghz range. You can read about it at WirelessMAN [wirelessman.org]
  • Yes, Cliff Skolnick of "BAWUG" - the San Francisco Bay Area wireless interest group mentioned in the article - has such a database (for the Bay Area) online here [toaster.net]. (See the "map" links for latitude/longitude coordinates that you can enter into a GPS receiver.)
  • Right - but terms of service are a contract between you and your provider. If someone violates TOS, it is a civil matter, not a criminal one.
  • Question: Do you think it's remotely possible that someone who is doing this is a neighbor or something and doesn't know? perhaps they have their own airport and think they are using it?

    Plainly... if you want to put up some 802.11b gear without proper security.. you should know what you are doing.
  • I shared my AirPort for anyone in the neighborhood. Then I thought for a while.

    What happens if somebody sends spam to my ISP's SMTP server through my wireless connection? Properly configured SMTP servers will not relay messages from outside their networks. This protects the ISP from spammers. But once someone connects to my wireless connection, the SMTP server would let them right in because they're now inside the network. Right? The spam came from my IP address so I get my service terminated. Suddenly I have no high speed connection. Ouch!

    Isn't there something called authenticated SMTP? Would this help?
  • are you talking about richochet [ricochet.com]? i've got it in the dallas area, and it works pretty good. easy to set up, although a little pricey for the speed. the good part is that it's service area spans everywhere in the city i go to, and i've never had a problem getting connected. easy to get setup too, i went to a local dealer, bought it, and had it running in less than 15 minutes.
  • Which ISP is that? Do they operate in Melbourne? :)
    --
  • I have a 802.11b radio link from my ISP, which is 6km away from my house, over about 3km of water.

    It works beautifully, with far better stability than my old ISDN 128K connection, with a few caveats:

    1. Total install cost was about Australian $6000 (US$3000). This included two dishes, two wireless LAN cards, cabling and professional installation in both locations and a Cabletron wireless gateway in my house. You could get away with cheaper equipment, but I chose this setup because it was tried and tested by my ISP already.
    2. There is a significant loss of bandwidth due to reflections from the water (I tend to get about 5MBit out of a theoretical 11MBit connection. But, hey, I'm not complaining.)
    And this means I have escaped the telco charges -- total costs are approx Aus$55/month plus bandwidth charges (the phenomenal 19c/meg, incoming data only, that Australians still have to pay*).

    * For those Aussies on fixed-price cable or ADSL contracts, those on per-meg contracts are subsidising you. Apparently these costs should be coming down significantly in the near future.

    In Canberra, people are using the old Galaxy pay TV aerials, with minor modifications, to create a wireless CAN [air.net.au].

  • So what would it take to start one? I'd love to help, but all I have to offer is time, a little (small) tech knowledge and bandwidth.
  • Ok...i just set this up 1 minute ago
    Yahoo Club - Toronto Free Wireless [yahoo.com]

    I did this so the topic wouldn't get lost in moderation.
  • This isn't a new problem. Public libraries offer anonymous internet access that can be used for illegal activities. If someone commits an illegal act using the libraries internet connect, the library isn't liable for that persons action because they fall into the public carrier category.

    Likewise, running a open wireless network could shield you from legal prosecution. It would be difficult to prove any action was commited by yourself rather than a 3rd party.

  • Actually... I'd rather prefer to keep the bandwidth unrestricted and just block out the abusers. I think the wireless net devices can block based on MAC addresses, although I'm unsure if those addresses can be modified or not (I'd assume not). That way, the only way to get back into the network would be to get ahold of another device, which would get costly after a while.

    I'm not really concerned if someone leeches ONE mp3. I'm worried about the individual(s) who use this as their own private internet service instead of a momentary convienence for those who are mobile, as intended.

    -Restil
  • by Restil ( 31903 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @01:54PM (#346213) Homepage
    I can't see any real problem providing free wireless access to my neighborhood, especially if I was using it anyways. A good chunk of my bandwidth goes unused anyways, and bandwidth is a use it or lose it resource, so it might as well get used.

    However, its important that this service does not get abused. It needs to be used for WIRELESS access, not 24/7 mp3 leeching or commercial services which are better and more convienently used with wired connections. However, for convienent mobile access while sitting in a coffee shop or in the car, this makes a LOT of sense. A lot more sense than a 128kbps $79 a month option from a company that has one foot in bankrupcy court.

    Everyone who spends money on the wireless interface probably already has a similar setup at home, and most likely has a high bandwidth internet feed. If they provide the same public access service, then everyone will benefit.

    -Restil
  • by adavidw ( 31941 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @01:58PM (#346214)
    A nice package that I could install... A firewall/802.11b combination. I plug in the cable modem ethernet in one port, and in the other 2 ports, my local protected network, and then a place to put in the 802.11b base device. That way those around me can have internet access through my connection.

    Check out the LinkSys BEFW11S4 [linksys.com], the D-Link DI-711 [dlink.com] or DI-713 [dlink.com], or the 3Com 3CRWE50194 [3com.com]. They all have the physical specs to do what you're asking. It's just a matter of finding out if their built in firewall abilities are flexible enough for your specific needs.

    -Aaron

  • They said


    A nice package that I could install... A firewall/802.11b combination. I plug in the cable modem ethernet in one port, and in the other 2 ports, my local protected network, and then a place to put in the 802.11b base device. That way those around me can have internet access through my connection.



    Your wish is granted:


    http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?prid =1 73&grid=5


    and the review at:


    http://www.practicallynetworked.com/reviews/link sy s_befw11s4.asp


    You're welcome

  • and it wasn't intentional either I'll bet. The tint in many windows blocks this as does some of the coatings used to prevent infrared from getting in - I've got this on my windows and it helps prevent the sun from heating up my home. (shrug)

    If you really want to stop RF then it's possible to stretch thin copper mesh between panes and ground it - can you say Tempest? Yes, I've seen this done in a real building and it wasn't cheap.

    Heck, the bronze colored stuff they put on the windshields of some luxury cars to be used as a defogger (no lines) blocks out radar detectors so I'd assume it would stop or "slow" a low powered transmitter too.

    Heh, enough examples? :-)
  • I waited for 2 years for someone in my area to pull their head out so I could get "broadband". I had to bug the living daylights out of the phone company to get my setup done by a 3rd party since the phone company STILL has their head stuck someplace. So, no biggie I don't goto jail but I lose the connection I fought for?! Yeah, sure glad it's not jail time.

    Heck, I'd love to participate in a network like this especially if there was some way to aggregate multiple lower speed connections like mine (144K IDSL). But not at the risk of some loser screwing it for me. Bad enough I have to suffer attacks on my own machines, I don't need the grief of explaining to my ISP and the (FBI?) that it was some random jerk not me that whacked a .GOV site....

    Any of these networks based in the Northern VA area? and where can we get wireless cards that don't cost a mint? $500+ for a base station and card is pricey! (sigh) I can get something from Linksys just under that but not by much - it just so happens I've got a provantage catalog on my desk today :-)
  • Perhaps I wasn't clear. The public has certain public interest requirements in the regulated spectrum in question through the ITFS service. ITFS licensees use the regulated spectrum it shares with MDS (and now MMDS) to provide instructional television services, these licesees are nonprofit entities.

    I meant to suggest that as that spectrum is being redeveloped from 1 way video delivery to 2 way broadband networking that the public retain public interest requirements in that spectrum by revisting ITFS licensing. Mr. Shirky raised the issue of a public wireless network. Since a minimum of public interest is being served by the ITFS service and much of the spectrum is being leased to Sprint and Worldcomm anyway, it seems that a better use of spectrum already set aside for public benefit would be to create such a public network.
  • by akb ( 39826 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @02:11PM (#346219)
    Shirky isn't referring to services such as San Francisco's Ricochet, a wireless Internet access network provider from San Jose's Metricom. He wants to know whether citizens will be given free or subsidized wireless access, as if it were a municipal utility like water. He muses, "In New York, we have laws that give zoning variances for skyscrapers in return for creating public spaces. These public spaces could easily include 802.11b networks."

    A better solution for Mr. Shirky's (slashdot interview [slashdot.org]) proposal would be to use the adjacent regulated spectrum that is being used for MMDS [sprintbroadband.com], a new broadband wireless service that is being rolled out.

    The MMDS service occupies the same spectrum as ITFS [fcc.gov] (warning government website, design will make you cry), a service underutilized by universities to provide public service. The FCC is allowing these licenses to be snatched up by MMDS providers for gaining the licensees much ($40 [itfs.org] according to itfs.org [itfs.org]) and the public for which the service was created nothing.

    Seems to me that putting some real public interest obligations on those licenses in the form of providing public wireless access would be a better use of that spectrum.

  • What's potentially interesting is how this sort of thing impacts on future 3rd generation cellular technology.

    All across Europe telcos have been spending vast sums of money to secure access to frequency spectrum for 3G services based, essentially, on the increased functionality made possible by high-bitrate mobile connections.

    If, however, 802.11 becomes a unbiquitously available data connection in high population areas I can see it damaging a lot of the market forecasts for 3G takeup in the future.

    Soon as someone produces a mobile device with inbuilt cellular and 802.11 access I can see some interesting new markets developing..
  • I've been using the "by carrier pigeon" example for years to try to get junior engineers to think about the difference between transport and protocol. Nice to see I can now quote an RFC number to go with it :-)
  • Check out GAWD [shmoo.com]. It's a DB of lots of wireless AP's. We've got "generic" mapping capabilities, but nothing fancy. We're trying to improve it currently. However, many ppl don't know their lat/long, so only a fraction of the AP's actually map to somewhere valid.
  • by bgp4 ( 62558 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @02:08PM (#346223) Homepage
    The Shmoo Group setup the Global Wireless Access Database (GAWD [shmoo.com]) not too long ago. Heck we even got /.'d for it. It's a public DB of access points all over the world.

    The AP's are all user contributed, so if you've got one, or know of one, feel free to add it.
  • by Twid ( 67847 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @01:26PM (#346224) Homepage
    If you're ever at the corner of route 9 and bear creek road in Boulder Creek, California, you may be in range of my house right around the corner. We're kind of isolated up in the mountains, and it's about 45 minutes from san jose, but we're on the way to Santa Cruz, so you can stop mid trip.

    It's 802.11 on an Orinoco Residential Gateway. No network name or encryption. All my MP3's are on the debian server under /usr/music.

    Have fun! 8-)

  • Don't forget bawug.org (Bay Area Wireless Users Group).

    BTW. My NAP is fully open. Anyone on my block can use it if they want. If you live in the Inner Sunset SF drop me a line!
  • Anything with a DMZ port along with the WAN and LAN port will do ya. I use a 3com officeconnect firewall for a similiar setup.
  • Being able to get on the net from wherever you are sounds great, but there's a few problems -

    1- most ISP AUP's won't allow this
    2- what happens when somebody abuses the
    connection? It'll come from YOUR IP address, so
    you'll get blamed for it. Naughty things they
    could do include :

    - sending spam
    - sending threatening emails to the President
    - posting copywrited stuff to Usenet
    - hacking remote systems.

    You get the idea. The authorities would come after you, and you wouldn't even have any way of knowing who did it (does the wireless ethernet spec have the equivilent of MAC addresses? If so, that might provide a unique identifier, but even so ...)

    3- the least of the problems, they could use up all `your' bandwidth :)
  • is here: http://www.counterpane.com/crypto-gram-103.html#10 Interesting stuff. Jason
  • It appears to be blocked from direct linking.
    Go here and check out the latest version:
    http://www.counterpane.com/crypto-gram.html [counterpane.com]

    Sorry,
    Jason
  • With all this bullshit about 'free' wireless what if someone wants to run a legitimately private network on these frequencies? All these freeloaders running around will have totally saturated the available bandwidth. Worse yet, what happens when one of these 'free' access points starts acting up and ruining the neighboring cell of a private customer? Or overlaps one that's already present? Get some air folks, wireless is a mess and 802.11b is not ready for this kind of use. But, you'll learn...
  • There are several classes of "illegal activity" you can worry about, it you like to worry about that sort of thing, such as (more serious) crackers and (much less serious) downloaders of politically incorrect materia[l, but the problem that may cause the most interference is abuse by spammers. They're not the Four [shipwright.com] Horsemen of the Infocalypse [miami.edu], but everybody understands them, everybody hates them, and they're not very clever but they won't go away, because there are suckers born every minute. Part of the interference will be the spammers themselves, but much of it will probably be the measures people take to prevent them that will make real wireless freenets harder to deploy than they should be.
  • Some of the web mapping programs can tell you lat/long given a street address. One of them is Mapblast.com [mapblast.com], which used to be my favorite mapping site before it got redesigned with megaclutter (:-).

    It will also tell you where the nearest Starbucks is, which could be useful depending on how open their wireless lan access is (intentionally or not :-).

  • So, this brings up the question of how to support an Airport.

    You thought it was secure, but were mistaken. Eek! What did you do wrong?

    Base station passworded & hidden, network password on Airport, WEP encryption, possibly with uprated Orinoco card, (although that might be of dubious usefulness, considering the state of WEP security,) and otherwise just good network security upstream, (first a private subnet for the wireless users,) but What else can one do?

    I do like the SSH tunneling idea. That seems to discourage both hitchhikers and eavesdroppers, but might be a little unweildy.

    Other suggestions, particularly airport & wireless specific please. I have done a search, but haven't been very impressed.
  • If PacMan had affected us as kids we'd be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to electronic music

    Sounds like a rave to me...

    -jerdenn

  • by iso ( 87585 )

    this topic was already mentioned on slashdot a few weeks ago but this gives me an opportunity to get in before the topic gets too long ;). has anybody set up anything like this in the Toronto area? maybe i'll get an Apple Airport card afterall :)

    - j

  • Reminds me of the case where someone was descrambling DirecTV signals without authorization and the courts ruled that since DirecTV was sending those signals through his property he had the right to do with them as he pleased.

    I suppose that could apply here where if they were sending their signals into public property or your property you automatically had a right to tap into them. It's interesting what you would consider your reciprocal signals going back into their private property, though.
  • Sorry about that. With some research, apparently I was wrong about the argument about the signals trespassing your property being held up in court.
  • I'd bet if you walked around St. Andrews Station you'd be sure to find some networks.. theres more then enough networks there.. I wonder if work would let me set one of theses things up.. I'd be able to sit in the Trent Severn waterway surfing the net.. not that'd solve my stress problem..
  • i am loathe to start a flood of speculative, uninformed posts, usually begining with "IANAL, but...", but one thing that came to mind is the potential liability that a kind-hearted access provider opens themselves up to. suppose i set up a free wireless access point and someone taps in to my network and begins hacking M$, or worse yet, spams me. i imagine the authorities would ultimately hold me responsible.
  • Anybody found a spot in NYC?
  • Nice idea. Makes sense. But if it's encrypted, how can you tell if the connection is ssh authentication and not password? And why would it matter anyway?

    If I still had the mod points I had no use for yesterday, I'd give you a +1 interesting though

    Rich

  • warning government website, design will make you cry

    Actually, the INS website is pretty nice. Which makes me wonder when they said that my visa application would take so long to process because they were underfunded.

    Rich (in the USA now.)

  • Copied straight from the worlds first and most famous wiki (no link on purpose) Also sums up why I have recently aquired an interest in wikis:


    The WikiWikiWeb works because:

    • Any and all information can be deleted by anyone. Wiki pages represent nothing but discussion and consensus because it's much easier to delete flames, spam and trivia than to indulge them. What remains is naturally meaningful.
    • Anyone can play. This sounds like a recipe for low signal - surely wiki gets hit by the unwashed masses as often as any other site. But to make any sort of impact on wiki you need to be able to generate content. So anyone can play, but only good players have any desire to keep playing.
    • Wiki is not wysiwyg. Contra TheDumbingDownOfProgramming, it's an intelligence test of sorts to be able to edit a wiki page. It's not rocket science, but it doesn't appeal to the TvWatchers. If it doesn't appeal, they don't participate, which leaves those of us who read and write to get on with rational discourse.
    • Wiki is far from real time. Folk have time to think, often days or weeks, before they follow up some wiki page. So what people write is well-considered. Wiki participants are, by nature, a pedantic, ornery, and unreasonable bunch. So there's a camaraderie here we seldom see outside of our professional contacts.


    So that's it - insecure, indiscriminate, user-hostile, slow, and full of difficult, nit-picking people. Any other online community would count each of these strengths as a terrible flaw. Perhaps wiki works because the other online communities don't. --PeterMerel

  • The Mikado would probably insist on a tin of SPAM but even if the punishment should fit the crime the tin woulod be too smooth for discomfort.

    LOL! Especially as I'm listening to the Mikado at the moment. Of course, if the tin were open, it probably wouldn't be too smooth...

  • And I live in Miami, but I'll like other places in the US to be as progressive and cutting edge... oh well, I would move if it wasn't that I like it here.
  • Me and a partner are setting up a system to provide (at a cost) wireless access from boaters. We live on the great lakes, and have many rich boaters here in the summer. We've been doing some system testing lately, basically driving around and pointing a yagi around to test signal strength. At just about every location we stop at, after testing we set the SSID to 'any' to see if anyone has open systems around. There are TONS! Several large retail outlets, several homes, and even a few systems on large towers that we couldn't for the life of ourselves figure out what they were for. On some systems I tested to see if I could get a DHCP lease, and was generally successful. We run our systems to not allow 'broadcast authentication', and we authenticate based on MAC. But, there are a lot of people around, even a 'Wireless ISP' in our area, that have completely open systems. Major retail stores certainly should know better! If you get an AirPort, or any other base station, take some time and configure it correctly.
  • You were thinking right, but the guy was Canadian. There was no way he could legally subscribe to the service, therefore he wasn't stealing what he couldn't buy.

    --
  • by susano_otter ( 123650 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @02:13PM (#346249) Homepage

    From the article: A more capitalistic venture is the Starbucks-Microsoft deal announced in January of this year, which may lead to wireless access for customers in Starbucks coffee shops.

    I think The Onion [theonion.com] already has the scoop [theonion.com].

  • But assuming people list their access points, how do you get an IP ? DHCP ? Are you supposed to sniff the traffic and grab a static? Is there something in the protocol that allows this?
  • Just wondering, aren't there Infrared/Microwave Wireless systems also, eg like the way Palm Pilots talk to each other. The article only mentions radio. Can I assume that IR wireless won't work as well here simply because radio waves diffract around large objects better?? Or can IR based wireless devices be use here as well? And what of these [emperorlinux.com]? Can they be used for tapping into publicly available networks also? Thanks.
  • Seems to me that things like this are a natural outgrowth of the controls and limitations that are set on the Internet by various governmental agencies that feel that they have the authority to regulate virtual space.

    Let's call it AdHocNet. Figure between ham radio geeks and computer geeks, there's going to be some overlap somewhere. Eventually, you'll see a new Net spring up around something the government can't tax or regulate (without mega- and giga-watt jammers)...this being radio waves. The FCC? Don't make me laugh.

    Technology has become cheap enough where it's VERY feasible for the Geeks to say, "Screw you guys, I'm goin' home," and to build their own damn Internet using the materials that are available at any half-assed computer store. So the question is: why aren't we doing this?

    That people are setting up their own access points and sharing them freely is a great first step. I'll probably set up something in my area with the same thing.

    Until launch costs for satellites drop precipitously, I don't think AdHocNet would ever be able to cut its ties to landlines, but it's nice to think about...


    ----------------------------------------
    Yo soy El Fontosaurus Grande!
  • At the bottom of the Seattle Wireless Page there is an option that says Edit Text, which when done, changes the text for that page permanently. Almost like that link was given from someone who had editor access. Now all of Slashdot has it. I'm sure I'll be coming back to find some interesting writing.
  • Actually, the cost isn't the dish but the amps. For a simple 802.11 11mb system, the dish only runs $150-$250, a card around $150...and the amp around $600. The amp has to be finely tuned, bidirectional. It can't add interference to the signal it's boosting.

    The equipment for a 100mb (5 GHz) link runs about $20,000 per side. Most of that goes into the transevier and the amp.

    Another cost for making links is renting tower space. In Oklahoma, it runs around $600+ per month. I don't even want to guess how much it is in CA.

  • Having yet to find any other projects starting in Manhattan, I would be interested in starting/contributing to a Free New York City wireless network. Manhattan would be a perfect city for a free wireless community due to it small size and dense concentration.

    I'm looking for other people that would be interested in organizing and contributing to this effort. Particularly needed are people with access points that are willing to make them publicly available. I already have two wireless locations that I would be willing to open for limited bandwidth public access. I'm sure there are many more NYC dwellers out there that wouldn't mind doing the same.

    If you are interested or know of any other groups who are already involved in this email me:

    tux172spambegone@earthlink.net remove 'spambegone'

  • Maybe the guy at http://www.toaster.net/wireless/aplist.php would be willing to include other cities in his list.

    Might be worth asking...
  • However, many ppl don't know their lat/long

    If you are the type that knows your lattitude and longitude at any given point in the day without the use of a GPS, I'm worried for you! ;)

    However, I did check if there were any networks near my work and home.. didn't find any.. :(

    Thanks for the info though!
  • I just installed an SMC 802.11b/firewall combination (SMC7004WBR). You plug the WAN device (DSL in my case) in one port, internal network devices in another, and let wireless devices connect to it. It's a nice little box and seems to be working just great so far. However, the 802.11b network is on the inside of the firewall, which probably isn't what you had in mind.

    On the other hand, it does have some access controls built in, so you can control what IP addresses (and ports, I think) different internal IP addresses have access to. It might be possible to configure this in such a way that IP addresses handed out via DHCP are prohibited from talking to anything else on the internal network. This would be a stretch since those access controls were designed for things like "don't let Junior's computer connect to FTP", so might not be up to the task of protecting different machines "inside" the firewall from each other.

  • by Saint Aardvark ( 159009 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @01:16PM (#346259) Homepage Journal
    And you're all welcome to join. Just check out RFC 2549 [faqs.org], IP over Avian Carriers with Quality of Service. After all, those wireless LAN cards can be pretty pricey...

  • Adds a new meening to collisions!
  • I have an 802.11b compliant access point running on a DSL line. I'd love to open it up to public use, but I have one concern. It's on a VPN to my office.

    Would using DHCP and then setting the router to not allow those IPs to use the VPN be a safe way to do it?


    T. Bradley Dean
  • I copied a clean source for the front page and reposted it to keep the front page clean as much as I could.

    z
  • A nice package that I could install... A firewall/802.11b combination. I plug in the cable modem ethernet in one port, and in the other 2 ports, my local protected network, and then a place to put in the 802.11b base device. That way those around me can have internet access through my connection.

    Obviously, there's lot of things that can be done. Perhaps a free-net situation where I have to fill out a form with a copy of my driver's license to an address and then I get my Radius username and password. Hello? Universities? Computer User Groups? I guess now is the time.

    How's about all those nifty HAM operators who wanted to collectively put up repeaters? This could be cheaper.

    ----

  • take a look at consume.net and email me if you'd like to ( join that | start something similar ) in the dallas area.
    ---
  • by Timodious ( 178572 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @02:35PM (#346268) Homepage
    Two VeriSign ID's for "Microsoft Corporation" available cheap... PCMCIA 802.11 card included.
  • Well, one way to prevent this would be to make sure every mail relay you can ping has authenticated SMTP. Not too pleasant for Joe DSL Guy with an Airport, but it could work if you had a mini-firewall (block port 25 when not sending to an accepted, authenticated SMTP server)...

    (p.s. Hey Bill!)

  • Would using DHCP and then setting the router to not allow those IPs to use the VPN be a safe way to do it?

    Maybe. If you have a PC originated vpn (ipsec client) you shouldn't have trouble, because the other IPs won't ever get into it. If you have a hardware based vpn, on the other hand, just permitting/denying access by IP is probably dangerous, because the k14413$ would figure out what the other IPs on your subnet are and try them too.

  • SF Telecommunications Commission is useless. Good thing we don't look to them to provide anything except torn-up streets from all the fiber being laid...
  • Call me crazy, but if someone mistakenly leaves their wireless network open, and you hop on and use their bandwidth...couldnt they sue your pants off for stealing from them? And isn't stuff like that a crime, anyway?

    There may be some that intend to let people share their bandwidth so they leave it open, but I'm sure that's not the case for most....

    . . .

  • It's already started... [techweb.com]

    heaps more to read over on google [google.com].

    cheers, swgn

  • Similarly what if you just don't know much about wireless networking and leave your system with the default settings. I wonder about the people who just buy and Airport and connect it directly to broadband net connections without closing it down.

    Are you trying to imply that Mac users might not know what they are doing when it comes to wireless networking?

    Shame on you!
  • It was intended that way on purpose

    Brought to you by the fine folks at the Department of Redundancy Dept.

    People who deface the a publically editable website rank among people who snatch candy from babies, deface public property, destroy historic landmarks and take over channels on IRC.

    Strange... I never considered "destroying historic landmarks" and "taking over channels on IRC" to be remotely the same thing.
  • by robdeadtech ( 232013 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @01:44PM (#346286)
    One thing that needs to be realized about wireless is that while hardly anyone has a wireless card in their home, you can drop one in a old boat anchor and bam, now your favorite record store --which was never wired up before-- is now an access point back to your rougue wireless switch.

    Stay tuned for free wireless coming to the Wicker Park area of Chicago around April 27th.

    Also an "outernet" running on this network of webservers resolving the domain names of an artists choosing. Web artists get to be their very own mircosoft.com or ebay.com or whatever. If you have a site you'd like to submit to this outernet just drop me a line.

    This is part of the Dept. of Space and Land Reclamation project

    Check out deadtech.net [deadtech.net] and DSLR [www.counte...stries.com] for more info on this project

  • by Maskirovka ( 255712 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @01:49PM (#346300)
    ...but wouldn't it be easier if you just collected the GPS coordinants of each base station in an online database? Now combine that with a gps equiped handheld...hey maybe someone could start an open wirless project. But then again I'm pobly just dreaming.

    Maskirovka
  • by CaseyHaxor ( 323376 ) on Thursday March 22, 2001 @02:22PM (#346312)
    Seattle Wireless uses Wikiwiki, which allows anyone to edit any pages on the site. This allows me to add relevent information to the site or correct spelling or gramatical errors that others may have without hounding a single webmaster. Its the way the entire web should be. However, there is a problem. The maturity level of some internet users would spoil it for the rest of us. SeattleWireless decided that the benefits of having a publically editable and accessable page were far more then the occasional lamer who thinks he's hacking the page or thinks that it was left there on accident. Im sure that same person went around their home and neighboorhood later that day and spray painted their name over everything. People who deface the a publically editable website rank among people who snatch candy from babies, deface public property, destroy historic landmarks and take over channels on IRC.
  • Well I have been running a 'legitimately private network' wirelessly for 6 years here in Colorado. Both closed and private, and as a wireless ISP. And I see no technical reasons why 'free' local wireless networks cannot co-exist with both commercial and private ones in the same area. (in case you didn't know it there are over 1,000 wireless ISPs across the country).

    The only thing that suprises me is that all these new-found 802.11b users - who have become instant darlings of the press - have so little technical knowledge of how wireless networks work, and what it takes to set them up and make them as open, closed, or mixed as wanted. Buying an Airport does not a wireless guru make. Even Apple is a johnny come lately to this.

    I just may set up here in Old Colorado City a 'free access' network alongside my wireless ISP network, just as 20 years ago I set up the first free 'Rogers Bar BBS' here so people could chit chat about local public issues - while I was still running the first subscription ISP service (UUCP!) in the same neighborhood. So learn your wireless onions. Being only 'free' or 'commercial' is a false dilemma. (I have so much excess bandwidth that wireless gives me, I can afford to give some away for 'community' purposes)

    The ONE great value of wireless is that it bypasses the Evil Telephone Company local empire. THAT makes it worth it whether free-open, commercial ISP, or closed private! On that I think we can all agree.

    Dave Hughes
    Cursor Cowboy

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