Showing posts from December, 2004

Caller ID spoofing a la carte

Caller ID spoofing a la carte is now available, thanks to Camophone's "Privacy Guard" service. This extends to the private individual what call centers, telemarketers and other users of large phone systems have had for years, as well as illustrates the Caller ID data on your phone may be right, but if it's vague, it's probably not your Aunt Minnie calling.

More PDA advice: Latest PalmOne PDAs not suitable for amateur packet radio, or to cable to cell phone for Internet service

Earlier this month, I posted a few tips about PDAs. I had a question today at about PalmOS connectivity which leads me to enhance my earlier suggestions. Someone asked about using the Tungsten E from PalmOne to connect to a cellphone, so they could get e-mail and browse the web.

The T|E* does not have PalmOne's Universal Connector, or the serial connector of earlier Palms. It only has a USB connection (with a mini-USB socket), plus does not have adequate intelligence on board to control a USB device, such as a USB-serial adapter.

Therefore, unless PalmOne's support line can tell you another way to do this, the T|E, or any PalmOne device with the mini-USB connector, does not seem suitable to cable to a cell phone for connectivity, or to a TNC for packet radio. This also applies to the T|5.

Any PalmOS device which has a serial hot sync cable should, AFAIK, work. These include many models of the Zire, and Tungstens up to the T|3.

Now, browsing from a Palm is …

Free MobileDB for PalmOS

PDA software distributor Handango is offering free software (registration is required for the download), and this week's offering for PalmOS is Mobiledb, a database with a decent rep and significant presence.

There are over 1,800 databases available for download at the publisher's home web site and a small Yahoo Group for informal support has spring up.

Packet interface for HT and featherweight notebook PC

I've got a one-kilo featherweight notebook, a Fujitsu P1032 (700 MHz Transmeta CPU, about like a Pentium III-450MHz) I picked up for travel. It has no serial port, and the thought of adding a serial->USB adapter plus a spendy TNC has kept me from adding packet to my Yaesu VX-5R. I'd have to tote around:
1. HT
2. HT's power brick
3. HT's antenna
4. Cable into HT
5. Laptop computer
6. Laptop's power brick
7. USB to serial adapter
8. Serial cable to TNC
9. TNC
10. TNC's power brick

I suppose I could add the $67 Tigertronics Signalink ( QST review here with its cable kit and then add the fitting for the four-pole 3.5mm connector and a $10 power brick for it... but I wanted portable operation.

There's a comparison chart of other sound card interfaces here and here. The $80 USB RigBlasternomic appears to be the simplest but does require a USB-serial adapter as well as a tangle of cables plus an adapter cable for the four-pole Yaesu VX-5 cable.


WiFi security: WEP no longer very secure (updated)

WEP is the simple security method of closing your wireless network to outsiders, advocated by the well-meaning popular press. That was then, but this is now, and WEP is no longer enough.

Robert Bruce Thompson, author of O'Reilly's PC Hardware In a Nutshell, revealed this morning cracks for WEP security of WiFi wireless networks are, if not trivial, easy enough for crackers with rudimentary skills (i.e., anyone who has studied cracking for over an hour- Ed. note). After explaining some (not all) of the most dire implications of poor network security, he refers to a Security Focus article which documents the process and tools involved.

Thompson advocates moving from WEP to WPA as a security solution, which may require updating the 'firmware' in your WiFi cards and routers, or replacing them. Therefore, if you are planning to buy wireless gear, make sure it offers WPA.

BTW, There's another WPA: Windows XP Product Activation. We're talking about Wi-Fi Protected …

Major National ISP tells FCC BPL not "Commercially Viable"

from the ARRL (paraphrased for brevity):Officials of Internet service provider EarthLink told the FCC that broadband over power line (BPL) cannot compete with the dominant cable or DSL technology today or in the near future. EarthLink President and CEO Garry Betty and other company officials met November 16 with FCC Chairman Michael Powell and Commission attorney Aaron Goldberger to deliver an ex parte presentation on several Wireline Competition Bureau and Common Carrier Bureau proceedings.

"EarthLink discussed that it has invested in and is in trials with several potential 'third wire' broadband transmission paths to the home, including WiFi, WiMax, MMDS and broadband over power lines," EarthLink Counsel Mark J. O'Connor informed FCC Secretary Marlene Dortch in a November 17 letter. "However, EarthLink pointed out that cable and DSL still account for virtually all consumer broadband connections and that none of these alternative technologies offer a commer…

Updated: Freeway Speed Map

The ODOT Freeway Speed Map is now available (or, you can just use a shorter link, A full-scale version's also available.

I had been hoping for something like this, and have a version for my PalmPhone which works for the Seattle area. Fortunately, the ODOT version does, too, although the Washington equivalent is clearer on my PalmPhone, with wider color stripes. You can also see when comparing desktop versions the version for Pugetopolis offers more detailed speed information.

Also, here's another traffic link, for the PDXinfoNet Traffic Report web page, a plaintext page easily read by cellphone browsers.

Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet

May I commend to you all, one of my favorite comics the Oregonian does not carry? Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet.

PDA advice

Thinking about buying a PDA? Here, have some free advice.

If you are willing to buy used or 'factory reconditioned' ( and eBay come to mind, as does Craigslist), then virtually any PDA can be had for less than retail.

I prefer the PalmOS, but must admit Windows Mobile 2003 (formerly known as Windows CE and Pocket PC) is less sucky than its predecessors (although it still has a long way to go). PDAs with other operating systems (i.e., Linux and Symbian) just don't have the wide diversity of programs available for me to recommend them to a new user.

Avoid the Blackberry and the Sidekick. They have *very* limited software available, and Blackberry's company just lost an important court appeal which will slow down its acceptance further.

FreewarePalm.Com is a great source for free programs for PalmOS PDAs. There are Palm-compatible PDAs from folks other than PalmOne (over a dozen makers), and I will recommend them to many folks based on need, as they al…

Some darned good suggestions for personal computing safety

From an article originally posted at C|Net, Some darned good suggestions for personal computing safety.I am regularly asked what average Internet users can do to ensure their security. My first answer is usually, "Nothing--you're screwed."

But that's not true, and the reality is more complicated. You're screwed if you do nothing to protect yourself, but there are many things you can do to increase your security on the Internet.{snip}

Wi-Fi Cloud over Umatilla raining profit?

WiFi update

Thinking about adding WiFi to your gadgetry?

Best wireless base station/router: Linksys WRT54G, because you can easily upgrade the software. More software is info here, and web pricing here.

Best wireless network adapter: The Buffalo USB external? Prices

Best really cheap antenna: A wok scoop with 15db gain.

Grant expanded for Bone Marrow testing for Hillsboro FD doc

The grant to cover the costs of Bone Marrow Registry signup I mentioned Wednesday over on Clackablog for the Hillsboro FD doc has extended to cover all the costs. This is slated for next Wed. evening; let's all do our part!

New Forum for Support at PalmOne

PalmOne, the folks who created the Palm series of PDAs, now has a new support forum which will make it easier for Palm users to find answers. When added to USENET's comp.sys.palmtops.pilot and the other support websites, PalmOS PDA users have excellent support choices.

And, BTW, if you haven't heard, PalmSource (the independent spinoff from Palm which does the PalmOS operating system), announced today future versions of the PalmOS will run on top of the Linux core OS. This is insanely great news for Palm users and folks about to buy a Palm, as it assures the long term domination of Palm as the leading PDA system.

Need WiFi really, really, urgently?

Dropzone has created IntelliEdge, a WLAN in a box; a Linux server, but with the unnecessary bits of Linux stripped of, for an extremely reliable (many more times than Windows) host for communications. It distributes Internet access by WiFi (802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, et al.) over a local area.

It connects back to the Internet by WiFi, WiMax, 3G cellular and other kinds of connections, and only needs 9W at 12VDC. There's a solar-power/battery option, and multiple can be solar powered.

Applications can be run on the server, with its own GPS, so you could mount one on a 4X4 doing SAR work, and let it not only provide data connectivity, but keep feeding map updates (e.g., showing which sectors have been searched) to wireless PDAs and notebooks.

PDX now free WiFi hot spot

Most of Portland Airport is now a free Wi-Fi hot spot. That means anyone with a wireless-enabled portable device (laptop, Pocket PC, Palm handheld, cell phone or whatever) can access the Internet, e-mail or corporate networks in 70 percent of the airport terminal's main level. Using the service requires an 802.11b-capable wireless network card. PDX says the service will remain free for at least one year. The service provider is XO Communications of Reston, Va.

Wired travelers can find dial-up Internet access, for a fee, at service centers on concourses A, B, C and D; at the PDX Conference Center and at an Internet kiosk on the terminal's upper level. Questions? Call PDX Customer Service at 877-739-4636.

PDX has company in offering free Wi-Fi. Here's a Web site that lists airports with free access.

Fighting Crime Smarter, not harder

Here's a good example of recent research into automating the search for patterns of criminal behavior. Crime data is analyzed by software which looks for patterns, and then maps the linkages between evens visually for detectives and crime analysts to see.

This is the kind of thing a regional task force, or even the Oregon State Police, might use to connect-the-dots and point to criminals operating in multiple jusisdictions.

For the Aquaman who has everything

The SwiMP3 and the The SwimMan are solid-state MP3 players with waterproof connections and earphones. If you've got $250 and already have fins or gills, this looks like an interesting gift.

MP3 players which work from USB memory drives

Found a few MP3 players which work from USB memory drives. Here's one I bought, and its review.

It works well in her '99 Subaru Impreza. My '95 Toyota 4Runner has too much RF noise for it to work well, but, then, as a ham, I have a few more transistors in that truckette than many third world nations.

Here's an earlier version, reviewed.

And, BTW, here's a very neat stocking-stuffer kinda gizmo I'm asking Santa for.