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One Glimpse Of The Wireless Future 181

SemiBarbaricPrincess writes "Check out this story at about wireless networks on college campuses. The focus is on Dartmouth College." It would be great to see this kind of wireless community outside academia too.
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One Glimpse Of The Wireless Future

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  • by ekrout ( 139379 )
    Plenty of other schools [] [Bucknell, Penn State, Carnegie Mellon, Georgia Tech, U of Florida, ...] have had this stuff for a long time now.

    Yes, the article's interesting if you're into networking and/or wireless data transmission, but their explicit focus on Dartmouth makes it seem as though they're unique and trendsetting. It's quite the contrary, however, as Dartmouth was in no way one of the first handful of schools to deploy 802.11b.

    Kudos to Wired! for running a contemporary article that talks a lot about the current state of wireless/laptop/learning at top colleges, but I feel that could have at least given credit to other schools that were at least equally as deserving.

    Thanks for listening.
    • by great throwdini ( 118430 ) on Friday September 13, 2002 @12:23PM (#4251704)

      Plenty of other schools have had this stuff for a long time now. Yes, the article's interesting if you're into networking and/or wireless data transmission, but their explicit focus on Dartmouth makes it seem as though they're unique and trendsetting.

      Dude. Seriously. Did you read the article at all? Quote:

      And Dartmouth isn't alone. From Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh to UC San Diego, American University, UT Dallas, and the University of Minnesota, dozens of schools are deploying wireless networks and turning students loose ... I feel that could have at least given credit to other schools that were at least equally as deserving.

      Dude. Seriously.

      • D'oh! The following was part of the OP, not the article:

        I feel that [Wired] could have at least given credit to other schools that were at least equally as deserving.


      • Being a student of UCSD, I have to say we have a pretty bad-ass wireless network. It extends well beyond the campus itself. UCSD has a lot of staff and student commuters, so in order to accomodate them, all of the off-campus shuttle routes (from Hillcrest in Uptown to the Sorrento Valley train station) have wireless network access. It's pretty cool.

        I hear they're pretty unsecure, too, if you wanna nab some bandwidth while in town.
  • Security (Score:1, Redundant)

    by I_am_Rambi ( 536614 )
    Going wireless takes on huge security issues. How is Dartmouth going to deal with tightening down security? I know of people that drove down through a city with a laptop and pringles cans and picked up alot of wireless networks (including a state lottery wireless network). So that would be the biggest concern for me.

    I would rather be wired and go gigabyte than go wireless and be stuck at speeds less than 100 megabytes. Wireless is nice, but it is also more expensive than staying wired.
    • Going wireless takes on huge security issues. How is Dartmouth going to deal with tightening down security?

      I'm sure they have some sort of authentication/encryption scheme worked out. You don't have a bunch of techies spend that kind of money without security entering into the equation.

      But they've also got something else going for them: Dartmouth sits on a tiny town in New Hampshire (Hanover), where almost everyone is associated with the college. Not much incentive to put up walls that block 1 or 2% of your daily users...

      • I'm sure they have some sort of authentication/encryption scheme worked out


        No password on the network. All the reporter needed was a subnet name, and apparently it never changes.

    • Re:Security (Score:3, Informative)

      Going wireless takes on huge security issues.

      Garbage. Don't believe the hype. Where are banks being robbed? Where are spammers using other people's networks? (hint: whatever you've read, there's not been a single case so far, there probably will be eventually, but there hasn't yet been.).

      How is Dartmouth going to deal with tightening down security? I know of people that drove down through a city with a laptop and pringles cans and picked up alot of wireless networks (including a state lottery wireless network). So that would be the biggest concern for me.

      There's plenty of technologies out there that can lock down a network. I set up a network that used VPN software. Anyone could connect to the network. Wouldn't do you any good if you didn't have a password though.

      I would rather be wired and go gigabyte

      Gigabyte? Not gigabit? Gigabyte has not been deployed anywhere as far as I know. You can actually buy wireless networks. Gigabit has huge issues, the range is in feet, unless you go fibered, and that's expensive still, more than wireless.

      than go wireless and be stuck at speeds less than 100 megabytes. Wireless is nice, but it is also more expensive than staying wired.

      The wireless cards are currently about twice the price, but NICs and hubs are one of the cheaper components in a system, and they're coming down rapidly.

      • Re:Security (Score:2, Funny)

        by Beatbyte ( 163694 )
        I hate to bring you the bad news, but, VPN Passwords aren't secure on a wireless LAN or a hubbed network.

        It would only take a good cracker about 45 minutes to get the password.

        And if RFMon was used, you wouldn't even know it.

    • Re:Security (Score:2, Informative)

      by nevershower ( 587070 )
      I don't know about Dartmouth, but at CMU, you have to register your MAC address. To do that, you need to have a campus username and password. If you didn't register, you the DHCP server doesn't give you an IP.
      • NCSU works the same way, also we dont run WEP encryption under the philosophy that its so easily cracked, its not worth the extra overhead
      • On my PowerBook, I can simply boot and go. No limitations whatsoever. When I first got on the wireless network in the '98/'99 year, I had to register my MAC. When I got my Mac, though, it just worked and I never bothered registering.
    • I don't know what it is now, but everything was wide open when I was there. When I can just walk into the student center and plug into the ethernet it doesn't make much sense to restrict the wireless either. Plus, Dartmouth's presense reaches well beyond the 802.11 footprint they cast.
    • I agree, the security issues of wireless, means we should never do more than read email jokes over the wireless web.
      People who do banking on wireless networks are fools. You know what they say about fools and their money...

      My campus is going wireless. The UofR has several areas available right now. If your NIC's MAC address is in the DHCP server, you get an IP, and away you go. Ready to access lab notes, or have your hacker friends screw with your life...
      • When you bank on a wired network, do you use SSL? Why do you use SSL? Is it because otherwise someone could intercept your packet and get your banking info? Do you think, if you were using a wireless network, you would continue to use SSL? Do you think SSL would continue to protect your banking information from anyone who could intercept your packet?

        Ok, thought so.

        Stop believing the wireless 'non'security hype!
      • uhm... ok, so let's just say that you sit on the network, sniff a few packets, learn the IP ranges and subnets, set your box to a IP and subnet on that range you are are good to go, I know from experance, this is NOT hard to do.

        You also avoid the DHCP server getting your MAC. Now if the gateway to the internet is also MAC restricted for say the wireless ip range, then you limited to the local network. I personally find the local network fun. the things that you find on shares...

        good times

    • Security concerns over 802.11b usually resolve around people plugging access points directly into a corporate network. That's not the case here. Think of the wireless cloud like the public internet. I see three security issues, two of which are easily addressed.

      1) security of the end users machine. Most of us would shudder at the though of connecting a desktop windows box directly to the internet. Since the average student is only online for 16 minutes at a time, there's enough of a moving target to make this easily as secure as 85% of dialup usage.

      2) privacy of the data. There is none. Neither is there once your packets leave your wired ISP. Deal with it, or use GPG.

      3) abuse of the network. Drive-by spammers, kiddie-porn downloaders, and so on. MAC addresses can be snooped and reused. Possibly the triangulation tools they were talking about can help you prove that it wasn't you downloading live goat porn in the lecture hall in the middle of Prof. X's lecture, even if it was going to your MAC address.
      • 1) security of the end users machine. Most of us would shudder at the though of connecting a desktop windows box directly to the internet. Since the average student is only online for 16 minutes at a time, there's enough of a moving target to make this easily as secure as 85% of dialup usage.
        WTF? I don't know where that 16 minutes at a time comes from, but it certainly doesn't apply to Dartmouth. The average student at Dartmouth is online all the time that they're in front of there computer, and if they have a desktop computer, all the time that they're not, too. Think hours at a time. But this isn't really an issue that Dartmouth needs to deal with. All of the computers they sell to students have antivirus software, and I would presume are set up to be secure (since I don't use a Dartmouth supplied computer, I can't say for sure). But really, it's not their problem if a student's computer is cracked, and there's no difference between the wireless network and the wired in this example.

        2) privacy of the data. There is none. Neither is there once your packets leave your wired ISP. Deal with it, or use GPG.
        This is very true. Dartmouth is working to fix this with a new PKI [] infrastructure they're developing.
        3) abuse of the network. Drive-by spammers, kiddie-porn downloaders, and so on. MAC addresses can be snooped and reused. Possibly the triangulation tools they were talking about can help you prove that it wasn't you downloading live goat porn in the lecture hall in the middle of Prof. X's lecture, even if it was going to your MAC address
        This is a problem, but it's not that serious, and was present even with the wired network.
        • The 16 minutes figure came from the article. I imagine most students are hibernating their laptops while they walk around, then resuming them to check email, etc.
    • What security issues exactly are you referring to? The one main one I can think of is people stealing our bandwidth. Well, guess what: the whole town of Hanover is Dartmouth and people that provide services for Dartmouth professors, students, and administration. Oh, and a couple of companies founded by former Dartmouth students. There's really no other industry in Hanover to employ people, so there's not enough people out there to steal a significant amount of bandwidth. In a large city, the story would be different.

      All other issues of security on the network existed before we moved to wireless. You could walk up to any frat, dorm, or other building, find a free ethernet jack, and plug in, and no one would be the wiser. Because of this, systems have never relied on security based on whether or not you're on the network. To do anything serious you'd have to crack the Kerberos authentication that most things are secured with.

      Of course, we still currently have all email in plaintext, and the encryption built into the 802.11 protocol is laughable. But this is an issue that existed with the ethernet network, which had no encryption at all. There are several research projects [] in the CS department, at Kiewitt (Dartmouth's IT department), and in other places at Dartmouth to improve this situation, through a strong public key infrastructure [], among other things.

      So yes, security is definitely being considered. Right now, it's no worse than it was beforehand, and a hell of a lot more convenient for everyone involved.

  • Ahhh.. now I can download mp3's, leech off Kazaa, and listen to online radio while sitting in some boring lecture.. this is the life! :-)
  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Friday September 13, 2002 @12:22PM (#4251699) Homepage

    Sooner or later, it's going to hit its saturation point. Just like with any other network.

    The only problem with 802.11b is that you only have a relatively small range to work within. It doesn't take much to have so much traffic in the 2.4 GHz band that smaller wireless devices become useless in anything but Ad-Hoc mode. The future may not so much be in providing wireless technology as Dartmouth suggests, but in developing technologies that control the manner in which these devices communicate (e.g. some way to tell a client to use a different channel, switching, trunking, etc.)

    Ich liefere Ihnen Licht und Kraft
    Und ermögliche es Ihnen Sprache, Musik und Bild
    Durch den Äther auszusenden und zu empfangen
    Ich bin Ihr Diener und Ihr Herr zugleich
    Deshalb hütet mich gut..
    Mich, den Genius der Energie.

    • Roaming (and automatic handoffs) are one of the features that sets Cisco/Symbol/high-end Orinoco APs apart from many cheaper ones (Note: Such features are quickly drifting downwards to lower-priced units, I believe some Linksys APs now support roaming too).

      Hopping from cell to cell (AP to AP) is the key to cellular phone systems having such high capacity. Need more capacity? Can't afford more spectrum? Drop your power level down and pack the cells more closely together.

      If Dartmouth has 460 APs, that means that they are running at relatively low power levels, i.e. their network is quite segmented to distribute the load.

      Still, some APs (like those in cafeterias) could be a little overloaded.
  • It would be nice to see this *in* academia, too. The main thing holding it up (insofar it is currently held up) is price, which is certainly something students are concerned with.

    While I obviously expect that it will get a bit cheaper, are there any companies out there that truly do focus on 'same bang, less buck', or are they all just trying to up both these factors at the same time?

    Speaking from a student's standpoint, obviously.
  • My experience is that a generic 802.11 solution out of the box for a generic user drops more packets than a large-twisted-bitten-cornered UTP cable.
    If you want good perfomance you have to mess with antenae, wires, pringles-eating and that sort of things... (I will not talk about security and war drivers, just in case ;D )
  • by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Friday September 13, 2002 @12:27PM (#4251741)
    Here at University of Maryland at College Park, the Office of Information Technology has been pretty quick in rolling out 802.11b throughout campus. We're not at the magical 100% coverage point, but you can walk into most any building and find a spot with coverage. The entire outdoor mall is wireless, too - laying out on the grass on a sunny day while coding a CS project and doing some IM on your laptop is really nice :-).

    I think that technology like this could be astoudingly useful in the classroom, and it saddens me a bit that we haven't really made any serious attempts to integrate it... money I suppose. Zapping notes and due dates into PDAs would be nice, at the minimum - cuts down on communication errors.

    I predict we'll see serious usage of these technologies in 10 years - gotta give traditional educators some time to cope with them.

  • Im in the "Wireless Pilot Program" at the college of engineering at nc state and we dont have nearly this much coverage, just some of the buildings have partial coverage, and the only outdoor coverage I know of is at "The brickyard" which is traditionally the most trafficicked spot on campus. I think the library has full wireless coverage as well.
    • Just give it time. Hopefully it will just be a matter of time. As a Dartmouth alum I can tell you that what you describe is pretty similar to what I was experiencing at Dartmouth two years ago (and yes, I know that Dartmouth was by no means the first school to embrace 802.11b, and I didn't choose to write this article about my alma mater).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here at UC Berekeley they've been running a pilot program called AirBears. Basically they outfitted a few facilities (library, some cafes, etc) with 802.11b access points. Because it's a pilot program, it wasn't publicly advertised. People who are using wireless do so because they heard about it through word of mouth from other users. They're running software to track access leves at the various points around the campus, and it seems the number of users is in the mere dozens (although its increasing). And those few users account for a lot of traffic. I can only imagine what would happen if hundreds of people started using the same access points. The system would probably break down and become unusuable. Has anyone here experienced a densely used WiFi network?
    • It reminds me of the olden days when universities would often only have a small bank of modems (again, unadvertised) for dialup into shell machines.

      At one school (I wasn't a student), there were 4 modems for 30,000 students. As word of mouth caught on, it went from always available and an open telnet prompt to constant busy signals. (knowing the other people who used it, we got into the habit of calling their home numbers so the call waiting would bump them offline). Eventually the open telnet prompt was gone (would only go into the universitys student Vax machine or library).

      It took them years to upgrade, and when they finally did everything was PPP. I have a feeling these days someone like UCBerkeley will be a little more responsive to demand.

    • It's just a matter of rolling out more Wi-Fi access points - this is exactly what happens with mobile phone networks. The great thing about such 'cellular' (in the technical sense) networks is that you can just subdivide cells and get more capacity quite easily. Eventually cells reach a minimum size but you can go quite a way with this approach.

    • Has anyone here experienced a densely used WiFi network?

      Opening day of MacWorld NY 2001. The access points on the main floor were so full that most of the time you couldn't even access the network and if you could it was slower than dial-up. There were other access areas (downstairs near the seminar rooms) that had better access and speed.

      That said, as mentioned before, this can easily be alleviated with a few (hundred) extra WAPs. Dartmouth doesn't have that many students so full campus coverage with usable bandwidth for all is relatively easy to come by. Wiring it up so that every UCB student (or UT-Austin) who wanted it could have full throughput speed might be a bit on the expensive side.

  • Wireless networks are widely used outside of acadamia. I don't understand why you think they're not. Cruising around any metro city you're likely to fine numerous wireless accesspoints.
    • A lot of corporations frown upon 802.11 due to its security isses.

      Small corporations, not as much (due to ignorance). Large corps, majorly different story, even thought they could potentially benefit from it more.

      That said, the article doesn't just talk about Dartmouth's coverage, it talks about how much 802.11 has been integrated into Dartmouth lifestyle.

      I went to Cornell, by no means a backwards school. But laptops were few and far between and Red Rover (Cornell's network) sucks coverage-wise. It's also far more closed than Dartmouth's network.

      The writer mentions that it took a day or two of being present at Dartmouth before he saw someone using a cell phone - That shows just how much impact cell phones are having on life at Dartmouth. At Cornell, if you go for more than an hour or two without seeing someone yakking on a cell phone, it's impressive. It's especially true for the younger incoming classes (those who were sophomores when I was a senior, for example) - My upstairs neighbors were all sophomores, and to picture them NOT being attached to their cell phones is unimaginable.
      • This dates back to long before Dartmouth went wireless with the network. I graduated from Dartmouth in 2000 and people were using Blitzmail (Dartmouth's email system) as a replacement for the telephone long before I arrived on campus. With all the public terminals on campus it was far easier to find someone by blitzing them than by calling them. I don't think I found out that our dorm phones had a different ring for calls coming from other on-campus phones than from off-campus phones until my senior year.

        This, combined with the fact that cell coverage in the greater Hanover region is mediocre, slowed the adoption of cell phones. Most of my classmates seemed to get a cell phone and start using it within months of graduating, but there was just no need in Hanover.
  • by PureFiction ( 10256 ) on Friday September 13, 2002 @12:41PM (#4251818)
    This is a great example of how pervasive, open wireless hotspots can empower individual communication in unexpected ways.

    It will not be long before this kind of saturation is common in all the metropolitan areas (previous studies have placed wireless growth at double the current deployment by 2005)

    The biggest potential uses and applications are centered around peer network integration that support the style of personal, interactive communication people crave.

    There are a few projects working towards this goal like the Janus Wireless Project []. This will provide not just increased internet access reliability and throughput (using multiple AP's and simultaneous associations) but also tight integration with common peer network services, like file sharing, music broadcasting using a broadcast FEC transport and playlists, even Voice over IP.

    This kind of infrastructure has to be built by philantropist coders, as the business model is lacking, however, this makes it all the more tuned to what users will want, and the resulting networks in full control of those who generously provide the hardware and network connectivity (such as the Personal Telco Project [].

    I can only begin to imagine the possible applications of a robust, open wireless network coupled with integrated peer network services and good internet connectivity. This will be one of the most interesting and innovative areas of growth in the near future.
  • At my school [] we have full wireless coverage. Granted, it's a residential school. Are there any other high schools, residential or not, that have wireless networks on campus?
  • I have read a few articles on the new specs and it appears there always will be away to hack into wireless networks. They look promising for speed and less interference with 2.4Gig (802.11a that is.)
  • Actually, there's an underlying trend here.

    Wireless is pretty useless if you have a desktop machine. Ever since we got the wireless network here at CMU, the percentage of students with laptops has increased steadily. That and it's very convienent to do assignments when every one has their laptop with them.

    Also, we just built a new wing to one of our building. In each seat in the classrooms, they put an ethernet port. I've never seen anyone use them, since wireless is so pervasive.
    • Requiring the laptops pretty much sucks and further pushes post-secondary education into the hands of the haves.

      University texts have long been a scam. One class on OS theory/design I took had a book on the M68k processor as required reading. It cost us all 80 bucks each, as being a first print, there were no used copies to be found. We didn't crack it once all semester.

      But what a coincidence! The author was none other than the professor teaching the course.

      Some of the 'minimum requirements' that schools require for their laptops are brutal. Alot of the time you can only realistically meet them at the campus Computer Shoppe, another shocking coincidence.

      I'm not talking about required equipment for computer science, but they're starting to force the crap on everyone.

      Now you have to buy a 2 grand laptop instead of a 500 dollar desktop, because its ever-so-important that your english lit TA be able to AIM you the reading assignments. Bah.
      • Um... I never said that laptops were required.
        • I never said you did.

          Many schools do, and its wrong because there's no cause for it. Now, more will, citing the 'gee-whizness' of wireless as a good reason.

          Universities shouldn't be in the business of forcing any product on students without a valid educational reason.

          It's like requiring SegWay scooters because they 'revolutionize' walking from class to class.

          Just an opportunistic rant, don't be offended.
  • Just drive by Harvard... MacStumbler finds at least 5 access points along Memorial Drive. Harvard Business School on the other side of the Charles has at least 4. None WEP encrypted (yeah yeah, WEP's not secure. But it _is_ a deterrant). You would HOPE that universities (especially Harvard) implement some sort of protection on these things. Sure a college kid could give out the password to 100 people, but if it isn't there to begin with, anyone can jump on the network. Sad.


    • Yup, none of them are WEP encrypted. But did you try getting in? If you *actually* accomplish it (and I doubt you will), send them a nice email explaining how you did it (anonymously of course).

      There are other ways of securing WLANs these days, not just use of WEP.
    • In the article about Dartmouth they note that Dartmouth's network is intentionally left wide open, in the true spirit of academia.

      Harvard could likely be intentionally wide open, or they could be like Cornell's Red Rover service. You can associate, you can get an IP, but good luck getting your packets routed beyond the gateway unless your MAC is registered.
  • Page 2... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Publicus ( 415536 ) on Friday September 13, 2002 @12:52PM (#4251878) Homepage

    They're right about nobody knowing how this revolution will come about.

    Read page 2: Female initiating sex, now that's revolutionary!

  • I'm a student at Drexel University [] trying to get a Computer Science Degree. When I started in the Fall of 2000, they were praising themselves as being the first (and possibly only, at that time[?]) University in the world to have a wireless network accessible from anywhere on the campus, which spans several city blocks. This includes the educational buildings, which are mostly centralized, and the dorms, which are spread out over a few blocks.

    Sadly, though, they got smart about a year ago and started registering the MAC Adresses of the wireless that are permitted to access the network. As a student, I am more than welcome to use the network, all I have to do is register with the right people. But all of the residents in the area that were popping in on it, plus any guests you might bring to campus, they're all locked out now.
  • As a Dartmouth alum, specifically of the Masters Electro-Acoustic Music Program, I can wholeheartedly say that Dartmouth has traditionally led the pack in technology and computing. Since the 1960's Dartmouth has pushed computing and technology to its students. Basic was developed there by a former president of the college.

    The Electro-Acoustic Program [] merges CS, EE, and music composition into a program that is perhaps the best of its kind in the world.

  • and all I have to say is:
    AAGGHHHHHH my eyes, they burn!!!

    I can't wait for a day when I can walk down the street, and have every business within 1 mile try and push advertising onto my devices.
    • and all I have to say is:
      AAGGHHHHHH my eyes, they burn!!!

      I can't wait for a day when I can walk down the street, and have every business within 1 mile try and push advertising onto my devices.

      Then stop using IE and switch to Mozilla, silly! :-)

      Really - there has never been a better case made for Embedded Linux than this - we can keep out spam by auditing and checking for ourselves that "The SPAM Channel" has been turned off, or that you only recieve stuff from sources you trust (how hard can an access list be?), not those embeded by a Palladium type system. Think about that before you buy that Palm or Casio PDA.

  • ...from my Stats classroom, about 15 minutes before class starts, on my laptop, via the University of Akron's wireless connection.

    I used to think this kind of stuff didn't matter. You use it once, and then after that, you wonder how you ever lived without it. No worrying about transferring files from lab computers back to my home computer, no worrying about missing messages, the ability to actually be productive during time when I'd normally just be waiting for stuff...

    It's an incredible thing. What else can you call an innovation that lets a person read Slashdot at any time, from anywhere on campus? ;)
  • Coverage at UF (Score:2, Interesting)

    by numatrix ( 242325 )
    We have a few hundred AP's on campus at UF, that cover a fairly large piece of a very large campus. The coverage map (mostly accurate) is online [], as well as instructions on connecting.

    The nice thing about the network here is that no mac registration is necessary. The wireless network is seperated from campus by filters that can only be broken through via VPN connection to the campus VPN server, or authenticated with their campus 'gatorlink' login. When we first developed the system, no commercial products existed to do what we needed (though today there are many); any web traffic is automatically redirected to the authentication server that allows the users to login with their campus login, and their mac is added to the auth table after a successful login. This makes the service easy to use, transparent, and compatible with just about every platform you can think of. Of course, no encryption by default if people choose to take that route, but that's why we offer the VPN as well.
  • Yesterday (in fact) I realized that there was wireless coverage in my politics class at Rochester Institute of Technology []. They have been rolling it out in common areas (library, study lounges, etc) for the past year and it's finally starting to spill over into classroom space. We were discussing a court decision in class and I went and pulled up the full opinion on my laptop in seconds. He mentioned something and I was reading things about it while listening.

    Of course, it can be distracting when you aren't paying attention in CS class and you are talking on AIM and checking your e-mail.

  • by foxtrot ( 14140 ) on Friday September 13, 2002 @01:13PM (#4252004)
    Or is a story on wireless networks run by Wired magazine just a bad idea to begin with?
  • One of the first to do this was Buena Vista University [] (a private school in Iowa... check out []).

    Under Buena Vista's model, every student and faculty member receives a Gateway Solo laptop with a wireless network card with the laptops being swapped out for new ones every few years.
  • Rochester (Score:4, Funny)

    by ceejayoz ( 567949 ) <> on Friday September 13, 2002 @01:17PM (#4252019) Homepage Journal
    The University of Rochester now has wireless in the library, the academic quad, and the commons building. Anyone can connect to the access points but you have to log in (via an HTML page) to the URNET with a userid/password. Very nice system.

    On a semi-related note, I set up a linksys AP in my room... one of my suitemates discovered he can now get connectivity on the toilet. Oh, the places we'll go! :-p

    My wireless card can't pick it up in our lounge (20 feet away), but for some odd reason I could get it across campus (half mile, and no LOS that I could see) - anyone know what the hell is going on there?
    • My wireless card can't pick it up in our lounge (20 feet away), but for some odd reason I could get it across campus (half mile, and no LOS that I could see) - anyone know what the hell is going on there?

      Chances are your dorm is built with the standard Masonry block with steel reinforcement construction, which plays havoc with the 802.11b. There could also be plumbing (a killer) in the walls or poorly placed wireing. Which just kills the signal.

      On the other hand, the signal seems to work OK with little loss out of windows, which could explain the distance outside (assuming there are no obstructions).
    • On a semi-related note, I set up a linksys AP in my room...
      I could get it across campus (half mile, and no LOS that I could see)

      Wow, half a mile with a Linksys? You must tell us the hacks you did on it to get that kind of range! Seriously, I think Linksys advertises a 300 ft range on the WAP11.
      • I don't understand it either. I went to meet with my advisor, plugged the card in (expecting to get no connectivity, as that building isn't connected yet) - instead, it connected to my AP (which is NOT using the default "linksys" SSID).

        It's just a stock access point, no hacks, and an Orinco (Lucent) NIC.

        I'm not complaining, of course :-p
    • What dorm are you in? Towers? Where is your advisers office?
    • The University of New Brunswick has wireless set up all over campus - partly in patches, but they're in the process of building and testing. The whole thing is on a hill, so it's impossible to get decent signal unless you have an AP on every rooftop, but...

      So far, there are three networks (student, net128, fcs240), plus an experimental network (comnetunb), which have various access permissions. The library ceilings are adorned with access points, and coverage is getting better as time goes on, though the project is underbudgeted and faculty infighting is making life a pain.

      Also, in our city, there's a citynetbn network, which we believe is tied to the city's fibre/wireless network project, as well as dozens of places downtown with APs in various states of insecurity (one can browse one's e-mail at various places downtown), and we have yet to take our laptops to the Regent Mall, but we know there's a Linksys AP hooked up to a Shaw Cable connection in Radio Shack.

      Wireless is everywhere, if you know where to look. It's actually pretty amazing; now that the APs and cards are coming down in price, people with laptops and what-have-you are starting to experiment. When we bought our D-Link AP/router/switch/print server/firewall/DHCP server, I got fed up very fast with my roommate getting up and walking around and telling me on IRC where in the house he was. Still, it's great.

      If anyone from Fredericton reads this, come visit Albert Street and see if you can find CDSlash. ;)

  • Yes. That's cool.

    But the Educational implications are way underrated. If there is homework, and you do it on your laptop and it's multichoice, the Teacher could look at the Homework due this week, see what's not understood, and help the Students understand this in the lesson.

    The ordinary feedback is way slow (student brings homework, attends lesson, teacher can apply his knowledge only one week later. So, until you really know something it takes up to 3 weeks!)

    If the Feedback loop can be shortened with technology, that'd be way cool, and this wireless technology puts the required infrastructure in place.

    Now we just need open source tools, maybe like liblearn [].
  • It would be great to see this kind of wireless community outside academia too.

    Then set one up. No one is stopping you.

  • Back in my college days, I was an alpha-geek because I could actually do programming work on our VAX systems from my dorm room. No wireless or ethernet, my computer (IBM XT-compatible, 10 MB hard disk) had a 1200 baud modem (that 1.2 kbps for you young-ins who only know of 56 kbps modems).

    Now, of course, I surf from my porch swing via my wireless network in my house connected to my cable modem.
  • Intel currently has wireless networks setup throughout some office buildings. Of course not every employee can be on (too many connections), but it works well for those who need it.

    Also, I recently setup a wireless router at home, and got an 802.11b card for my laptop. Now I can browse the internet on the couch in front of the tv, posting dumb comments to /. threads ;)

  • While not exactly at the front of the pack on wireless, Dartmouth has had a number of interesting contributions to the field:

    - DCTS/DTSS []: Dartmouth developed an early timesharing system in the late 60's
    - BASIC []: Kemeney & Kurtz, a pair of professors, wrote Beginner's All Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code in 1964. It's easy to dismiss BASIC, but a lot of people got their start with it.
    - Synclavier: Jon Appelton, currently the head of Dartmouth's electroacoustic music program, developed this digital synth in '78 at New England Digital. It was widely used through the 90's.
    - Networked Campus: Dartmouth adopted a "port for every pillow" philosophy in 1984 and wired the whole campus with appletalk. They got a lot of mileage out of that network.
    - Required computers: Dartmouth has mandated computer ownership for all students since (i think) the class of '91. Having it mandatory means students can get financial aid for their computers, if necessary
    - blitzmail: dartmouth wrote an email program in '84 (?). nothing amazing or groundbreaking, but the the widespread adoption of "blitz" in combination with the mandatory computers and ubiquitous networking had a huge effect on the campus social scene, and did a lot to bring dartmouth grads into the information age.

    I'm sure there's more i'm missing here... anyone?
    • I'm sure there's more i'm missing here... anyone?
      AI. What many people see as the birthplace of AI is the 1956 Dartmouth Conference on AI. While there had been a few independent researchers working on related projects, the Dartmouth conference is where it turned into a field.

      The reason why BASIC was developed was because Dartmouth required everyone to learn to program. I think Dartmouth may have been the first college to do that. Sadly, it's no longer required. The requirement now is that you have to take one technology related course.

      And currently, you can look at where Dartmouth is currently moving in this field. The wireless is one thing. One of the big efforts is the Institute of Security Technology Studies [], which is doing research into all kinds of information security, and the Public Key Infrastructure Lab [], which is doing research into how to set up a secure public key infrastructure in an institutional environment like Dartmouth. Now, some people might say that this has all been solved, but one of the most difficult problems Dartmouth faces is the numerous untrusted public computers all around the campus. Key distribution in this environment is quite tricky, especially if you don't want to require all users to get extra hardware.

  • It is great! (Score:2, Informative)

    I live in Hanover, NH (the home of Dartmouth College) and discovered their extensive wireless network about a year and a half ago. It is truly an impressive piece of work. There is a "green" of about two acres in the middle of town that is blanketed with 802.11, but that's not so exciting as the fact that almost anywhere in downtown Hanover an ambitious surfer can lock on to Dartmouth's connection. Eating a sandwich in out local Subway, I surf the web. Driving through town, I check my e-mail and cache Slashdot.
    The network is comprised of a vast number of Cisco Aironet access points with high-gain antennas. One can roam seamlessly on it, and the signal is consistently strong. There are, in fact, so many access points that one can pinpoint a computer's location on campus by getting latency from its MAC to three access points.
    The only problem is: the wireless network doesn't broadcast its name, so you have to know it or find it out. And I"m not going to tell you.
  • Wireless networks are nice espically at Vanderbilt University. Though the theoretical bandwidth is less, in pratice wireless is faster and has less congestion than the wired networks. On top of that you can request for a new ip after you fill up the 1gig download limit (512meg up). From what I understand our setup is just like Dartmouth with similar cisco routers and access points in many of the buildings.
  • by verch ( 12834 ) on Friday September 13, 2002 @01:46PM (#4252252)
    In my GF's school they have 802.11b in the common areas/lounges/study rooms of buildings but not in the classrooms. I wonder how they do this.. Is it just judicious placement of access points, or is there some sort of shielding you can put in the walls to block the signal out of the classrooms?
  • ... this quote:

    "Each homecoming night since 1920, members of the freshman class have built a towering bonfire at the center of the green, running a lap around the pyre for every year of their graduating class (the class of 1999 did 99 laps; not to be outdone, the class of 2000 did 100)."

    Nice, they're POSIX compliant since 1920.. ;)
  • Chicago's DePaul University [] has had one for about a year. Here's the info page []. Their only security seems to be that you need a username and password to download their 128-bit WEP key. But there are some areas that do not have any security.
  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Friday September 13, 2002 @01:53PM (#4252312) Homepage
    There's an interesting use of 802.11b technology at Vocera []. It's a small device you can hang on your shirt like a Star-Trek communicator that uses wireless network infrastructure and voice recognitioh.
  • Why? The phone man just left here after giving me the bad news that my new 7100/768 DSL circuit will never run over 5000. Why? Crosstalk in the cable pairs. Poor pair management. Wireless will eventually take over....networks using cables for the 'last mile' are beginning to degrade. Wireless will continue to improve. Once they cross..and they will..wireless will never look back.
  • I currently work for the University of Akron ( where we do have a wireless network on campus. I must say, the future is nice, but scarey! Yes, it is sweet being able to give presentations with a laptop using the 'net without having to find a network jack, but there are BIG draw backs as well. It is also cool (and a great use of time) to take a a laptop to meetings and read my email during portions of meetings that don't concern me without offending anyone at the meeting or to review my meeting notes (and take notes) without taking a pen to the meeting! However (now the bad news), anyone can pick up anything I type trough the laptop thgat is sent across the wireless net .... no encryption. Although the wireless net is nice, it isn't well protected. Security is something that most academic institutions seem to forget (damn academic freedon issues!) when using newer technologies. But ..., I do believe that your mac address has to be on record before you can connect to the campus net ... (I don't have any of my own wireless devices to try this with ... the shame!), which does help with security and network abuse ... a LITTLE ....

    I also worked for a small ISP in a small city south of Akron, Ohio. They have very little competition in the ISP market (no DSL or Cable Modem service available), but they did provide wireless access to all the businesses in the area. That was COOL! Being able to take an IPac outside (anywhere in the "city") and having instant access to the Internet was pretty sweet. It would be nice if other places near me had this available. I heard something about providing schools with newer wireless access points that have a range of 20+ miles and adding bandwidth fees to everyone's taxes, but I have a feeling that is WAY down the road ... but couldn't the future be great?!?!?! NO MORE CABLES!!!

    Of course, the only problem now is security. The world is going to have to learn about IPsec, etc ... what fun that will be!!! Hopefully informing the world about the credit card theft incident at the "outdoor" Best Buy will help convince people to secure their wireless nets a bit better .... but so far, people just don't seem to care enough (or maybe I'm just surrounded by too many people that have no idea what security is or that just don't care enough ... that is, until their credit card number *or bosses credit card number* gets swiped by some hacker in a van)
    • Oh, and I forgot ... the Universities (for legal reasons) have to be careful NOT to provide Internet access to people other than students, faculty, and staff. This is why the Universities must be careful to protect their wireless networks ... otherwise the local ISPs will sue them for directly competing with for profit business. Public institutions are not alowed to do that ... what a bummer for the guy that lives down the road from the computer center ...
  • Occidental College lets anyone with a wireless ethernet card fly on to the wireless network. Makes me want to move acros the street!
  • Back before 802.11 was a standard my company installed Lucent APs and handed out a lot of laptops and wireless cards.

    It made a huge impact on the usefulness of the computer equipment; probably the biggest immediate change was nearly eliminating paper from meetings.

    I set up a wireless net at home pretty much concurrent with the work rollout; it changed the way I used computers at home, too. One of the first things I did with it was get play-by-play of a Red Sox game while my wife watched the Mets on TV, but it didn't take long before IMDB overwhelmed Maltin's too.

  • CLEARLY these EKT girls are running a porn cam site from their sorority house...

    The sisters of Epsilon Kappa Theta are definitely up to something. The wireless cards in the sorority house's computers each move an average of 222 Mbytes of data per day -- only one other spot on campus, an administrative building, moves more than 150 Mbytes a day per card. An MP3 server, perhaps? Maybe they're watching streamed video on a big-screen TV -- or using high-bandwidth Internet radio to supply the music for all-night parties. They could be trying to corner the market on Diesel jeans via sorority eshopping excursions, or running a molecular modeling program for a pharmaceutical company. We may never know for sure. Since the college has a strict policy against monitoring student computer use unless investigating complaints, university officials couldn't tell me what's going on. The sisters of EKT did not respond to my prying emails. So for now, their secret remains safe.

    The sisters of Epsilon Kappa Theta are definitely up to something, moving an average of 1.3 Gbytes a day.

  • At FIU down here in Miami we've been making progress. We've got access throughout the library, in the student union, and in parts of maybe a third of the buildings on campus. I can get access in some of my classrooms but not others.

    One of the features I think is nice is that in the library you can borrow a wireless-enable laptop for a few hours, and the computer lab elsewhere loans out PCMCIA cards.

    As for security, you have to register the MAC address of your card (through a nice automated system that lets you get up in under 15 minutes) before being able to connect.
  • I'm a student at RIT where they're trying to roll out some 802.11 access points, they're doing it in like places that have a lot of people, like the cafteria and some choice places. Tried driving outside with netstumbler and such and found NO access points, and the AP's are open. Apparently the brick (99% of the buildings here are done in brick) so it does wonders for security on the AP's.. have to be INSIDE the building and close to the AP to get anything.

    Kind of sucks, there's no AP for outside usage.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling