Wireless Home Network…just a phase?

I didn’t get a chance to blog about this, but a few weeks ago a local wholesaler had a two-day sale of computer parts, so I went and stocked up on a few niceities, one of them being a Cnet Wireless-G Router.
Now I have little exposure to setting up wireless networks, all I’ve ever been was a user of wireless networks, not an administrator. I was, as far as I knew, the ONLY wireless laptop user at UWI utilising Linux, since before SimplyMepis 3.3 and Knoppix came out with their automated configuration scripts for wireless cards I was manually and semi-successfully configuring NDISWrapper to work with my Linksys Wireless-G card.
So I stepped into the role of WLAN administrator for the first time. Quite frankly, I was impressed by just how easy to use today’s routers have become. A little knowledge of networking is helpful with configuring one of course, since you do at least need to know what your DNS settings are. DHCP usually takes care of the whole assigning IP addresses problem, and a built-in DHCP server has become quite a common feature of many routers. Because of my security requirements at this moment, as well as my lack of knowledge of wireless security protocols, I chose not to integrate WEP or WPA (as yet) because that would require entering keys on every PC I wanted to hook up to the Internet. At the time of setup I just wanted to be up and running quickly. I chose instead to simply hide my WLAN’s SSID. The SSID is simply the name that identifies the wireless network running and which all PCs wishing to access the WLAN must know and be configured to use in order to utilise the WLAN.
Now that I have successfully been running the wireless network for a few weeks, the benefits I realise are still only niceities rather than necessities. I can surf while relaxing in the recliner of my older brother’s air conditioned room while watching cable on the only television in the house equipped with it. The cooler environment of his room has always been a better environment for my laptop, if my house was better designed for it I would have had a unit installed in my room too, and eventually I will have to, given the equipment I’m hoping to acquire in the coming months.
Back to the topic of WLANs though, I have realised that the signal from the WLAN router is quite strong, stronger than I had expected. Despite the relatively small size of the router and the isolated corner of my room in which I have it set up, I can reach the edge of my house, some 4 walls and about 50 feet away I’d estimate and still have an excellent quality signal showing up on my laptop, something which makes me wonder just how many neighbours are within range of my WLAN’s signal.
As far as I know I don’t have any hacker neighbours, and my house is remote enough that I should avoid any possible war-drivers (and believe me, Trinidad has them), so I think that should buy me some time while I learn about wireless security. My laptop is also turned off when I’m not on it, and the router has an indicator for WLAN activity and LAN activity, so if I see any lights blinking that shouldn’t I think I would have an indication of the time when stronger wireless security precautions becomes a high enough priority.
So now, a few weeks later, here I am, still at my brother’s PC typing away, while my laptop sits idly upstairs. Why? I think it’s the discipline I just developed over time of sitting at this particular desk, in the chair I’ve sat on for so many years, in the room that has been my access point to the world since I took up Internet access at home again. Finding a new spot to be just as productive is not going to be easy, I think other spots in the house may be good for occassional idle browsing, but for me, the discipline of productivity is only acheivable where I am comfortable (hence why I also cannot study at home for UWI exams, only at UWI). Perhaps that is why I never really felt the urge to be productive outside of the office in Barbados, although I had the time to acheive so many personal goals…my comfortable learning spot was still in Trinidad. Hmm…things to ponder :)
So we shall see in the coming weeks (if my ISP stops screwing up and gets its service back to 100%) if this is just a phase or whether I can adjust to my new found freedom of wireless surfing at home.

GreenDot really showing its greeness

Greendot is my current ISP. I was very much
pleased with their Customer Service for the first two months, and
hence I had no problem recommending them to friends considering an ISP
alternative to TSTT, the only other affordable DSL provider (Lisa is
just ridiculously priced for a home user).
Sadly, they’re showing their greeness more than ever since for
approximately one week now I have lost my ability to utilise FTP, P2P
or Torrent networks. I chose their service because I am a power
Internet user, I do things and utilise protocols most normal users do
not even bother with, and Greendot seemed to be willing to help work
with any problems I was getting. However, I believe because the
company has now started to grow to a new level of popularity it is
starting to lose that personalised feeling I got when they were fresh
and hungry for customers….*sigh* they’ve followed the typical
business model for TnT apparently.
I did get a call from their technicians, as I usually do, however
whereas I would’ve expected a call the moment the problem arose, it
took 4 days of my calling and a very harsh criticism of their service
to a CSR on a Saturday morning at 8am for a return call to be made
several hours later.
I was told basically that my service would be non-existant for a few
days at the very least, and even if they found their “problem” P2P
would be one of the last services to come back online. I consider just
HTTP and Mail traffic a non-existant ISP service since I can get these
for free at both work and at UWI, I had this P2P problem with them
before, they have so dropped below a 1 in my five star rating of ISP
service right now, especially since they could have given notice of
testing before they started, rather than started testing and then
inform me after I had to call to complain about a drop in Internet
services.
sigh I will e-mail the link for this rant to GreenDot, I know they
have realised the seriousness of their drop in service right now, but
perhaps they can take note of this for historical reference. I have
been caught with serious foot-in-mouth syndrome for referring you to
at least 2 friends I know about who have taken your service and are
also experiencing TSTT-like quality of service. That hurts most of
all, the trust you gained from me by my recommending you to others, is
now gone. It will take at least several months of high-quality,
non-interruptable service for me to even consider referring you to
anyone. Your service is just a necessity for me now, because I do not
own a phone line and you are the only ISP with service that do not require
one, so I will continue to be your customer. However, I will now
caution anyone who asks about your service, rather than recommending
you outright, because what has transpired with your service within the
last week has been more than dissatisfactory for me to say the least.