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A bit about Wi-Fi

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It's been awhile since I blogged and a lot has happened since the 23rd of May or whenever it was since I last posted.

I say a lot has happened, but not really. Diane, Nickolas and myself traveled to our spot at Deer Creek Motorcoach resort, the one in Galax, Virginia, not Florida. Barry, the owner and developer, asked me to point that out.

While there, I did my best to improve my golf game and beef up our Wi-Fi. The golfing was fun ... more about that later.

A bit about our Wi-Fi.

It is not an easy thing to do, cover an area the size of a driving range, which is what Deer Creek used to be, and allow owners to log on from inside their coaches. Most stock Wi-Fi devices, be it a router or access point (it's a bit complicated to explain the difference), cover a 100-foot radius well.

I am not trying to cover a radius at Deer Creek. I am trying to project the signal in a half circle uphill with some coaches sitting higher than the one in front of it. In a few spots a coach blocks the line of sight of the coach behind it to the Wi-Fi router. I fixed this by adding a third access point with a high gain antenna on the roof of the clubhouse. This plugged my coverage holes, but still I need a bit more punch to get to the far corners of the resort. That will be fixed by adding an inline antenna amplifier to the mix.

That will be taken care of during our next trip out there. As well as making a change to beef up "Internal security."

Let's talk about public Wi-Fi for just a minute. A lot of RV parks, including the one next to Deer Creek Motorcoach resort, offer free Wi-Fi. Some of these networks are unsecured, meaning you don't have to have a password, or network key, as it sometimes called, to get onto it. If it does require a security key, the only thing that key does is keep some people without one from getting onto it. Let me tell you something else that the key may not do. It will not protect you from other people in the campground, or at some other public Wi-Fi who are logged on with you.

Public Wi-Fi works a bit on the honor system.

You could be sitting at a restaurant logged on to a hotspot with an encryption key and thinking you are as safe as if you were on your home network. However, the person two tables over could be looking through your files. You see, if you have your computer set up to share a printer and or files, you could be exposed. You should turn off printer and file sharing when you don't know if you are connected to a network with client security.

Vista and Windows 7 will ask if you are connecting to a public hotspot and will turn that feature off if you tell it to. Xp also will let you turn off file and printer sharing, but you have to know where to go to do that.

I know what most of you are thinking: I don't use file and printer sharing, and I renamed my Windows workgroup, so that helps secure me also.

The first part is mostly correct. The second part isn't. Renaming your workgroup to something else doesn't help at all. Renaming only hides computers near you from showing up in a certain screen and keeps you from showing up on other XP computers. But, and this is important, if you know where to look other users still can be found. The connection is still there.

It comes down to this. Most public hotspots are provided by the use of small, inexpensive routers and access points, most of which do not provide isolation from one user to another and it is up to you to look after yourself.

If you have a network in your coach with multiple users, it becomes a bit harder to do this. If you disable printer and file sharing, your laptop will no longer talk to your desktop, or you and your spouse can't communicate, and your laptops won't communicate to each other. To fix that you may need to get your own wireless router and set it up to repeat the public signal. That way you stay logged on to your own network and you can isolate it from the rest of the RV park.

RV parks spend more time trying to get coverage and keep unwanted people off their WI-FI network as opposed to trying to protect their guests from each other.

Remember this: When it comes to public Wi-Fi you have to look after yourself.

Maybe that should be a rule!

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