Saturday, June 17, 2006

WEP is working

If my Billion 7402VGP-based WLAN had been up for seven days in my last post, it's now been up for 21. That's by far the longest uptime my WLAN has achieved—good news in the sense that I have not had to power-cycle my router in three weeks, but bad news in the sense that WEP is an inferior security protocol to WPA, and the router claims to support WPA, but clearly doesn't.

Sunday, June 4, 2006

WEP is in the house

Having purchased a new Palm TX last week, I wrote that "wireless worked without a hitch." As I noted at the time, though, that's not the whole truth. The true part is this: with no setting up required beyond selecting the appropriate SSID, and entering the password, the Palm TX was on the WLAN, and I was surfing with Blazer, and checking email with VersaMail. The bit where I kind of lied, because I was in denial, was this: my household WLAN (based on my Billion 7402 VGP ADSL router), which has given me no end of trouble, became even less stable. On the first afternoon with the Palm TX and the PowerBook G4 both using the WLAN, I had to power-cycle the router two or three times. This was unprecedented instability, and it made me sad.

A day later, I had an idea. I changed the WLAN from WPA2 to 128-bit WEP. Now, technically this makes my WLAN less secure, as there are known attacks against WEP. I think the risk is acceptable, though. The traffic on my WLAN is generally not particularly sensitive, since I use SSH for most inter-machine communication anyway. I guess my web-browsing habits are at risk of leaking. And if you happen to be war driving down my street and just want to steal some bandwidth, go nuts. (In fact, if you sweep some leaves off my footpath while you're out there, I'll give you the 128-bit key.)

Anyway, the WLAN has been up for seven days. It's certainly stayed up for seven days before, but I'm reasonably confident now, given how many times it went down when the Palm TX joined the network. It looks like I can finally blame the Billion, too. So, flimsy risk analyses and jokes aside, does anyone think I'm crazy for using WEP on the WLAN?

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Don't steal my focus!

Craig Turner mentioned to me elsewhere that he's been using Missing Sync to synchronise his Sony PDA. Craig noted that if you tell Missing Sync to remind you to synchronise your devices, "it randomly pops up a box that steals focus from everything else telling you that you haven't synced recently." I noticed this yesterday when I got my first three-day reminder. I was typing away, eyes off-screen, only to realise about half a sentence had been dropped on the floor because Missing Sync stole my focus. For the love of god, software authors, don't steal my focus! Craig wondered why it couldn't just put an alert in, say, the menu bar at the top of the screen. Or wherever it would be most Macintosh to put one. I mentioned recently that the OS X Address Book has a habit of losing focus as well. Try this:
  • Add an address record somewhere alphabetically in the middle of your existing list.
  • Start entering information. Try to be constantly typing for a few seconds.
  • When Address Book decides it's time to re-sort the list, and your new record moves, you'll notice that the cursor suddenly jumps to the Notes field.
In the case of Address Book, it's clearly a bug. With Missing Sync, it's apparently a feature. A really annoying feature.