Mobile & Wireless UPDATE--brought to you by the Windows & .NET Magazine Network http://www.winnetmag.com
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May 22, 2003--In this issue:
1. MOBILE & WIRELESS PERSPECTIVES - WPA: 802.1x Security for SOHO Users?
2. MOBILE & WIRELESS NEWS & VIEWS - New Test and Measurement Support - Send Handwritten Messages and Graphics - Powerful Mini Notebook
3. ANNOUNCEMENTS - Get Windows 2003 Active Directory Answers in a New eBook - How Can You Reclaim 30% to 50% of Windows Server Space?
4. INSTANT POLL - Results of Previous Poll: Enterprise Application Access - New Instant Poll: Warchalking
5. RESOURCES - Tip: Use a USB-Serial Adapter Cable - Event Highlight: 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo Spring 2003
6. NEW AND IMPROVED - Provide Wireless Access Internet Services - Calculate Your WLAN ROI
7. CONTACT US - See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
* WPA: 802.1x SECURITY FOR SOHO USERS? In the May 8, 2003, edition of Mobile & Wireless Perspectives, "802.1x at Microsoft and Elsewhere," I wrote about the use of 802.1x (not to be confused with 802.11x) on the Redmond campus and beyond. I wondered about the role that 802.1x might play in the small office/home office (SOHO). Responding to that commentary, reader David Miller wrote, "Linksys already announced Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) support by the end of May for its existing Wireless-G products, and maybe even earlier Access Points (APs) and network cards. The company's price points are already very competitive, bringing enhanced wireless security to the SOHO."
Actually, the Linksys press release ( http://www.linksys.com/press/press.asp?prid=116&cyear=2003 ) doesn't promise WPA support by the end of May. Rather, the press release states that the company will offer firmware upgrades for Wireless-G products "when testing is completed," and adds that Linksys expects to "provide WPA enhancements for many of its popular Wireless Dual-Band A+G products and Wireless-B products" sometime this summer.
Miller's comment is nonetheless well taken, and he raises an interesting point. Although 802.1x seems to be aimed mainly at enterprise users, WPA adds a crucial set of features that have the potential to provide much better security to SOHO users.
WPA, a subset of the IEEE 802.11i draft standard, incorporates the 802.1x Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) and Dynamic Key Distribution models, along with a Message Integrity Check feature. For SOHO users, WPA includes a preshared key option (i.e., matching passwords), which eliminates the need to authenticate against a Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) server. In contrast to the static, manually entered keys that WEP uses, WPA provides automatic key distribution and cryptographically strong keys distributed on a per-user, per-session, and even per-packet basis. Server-based authentication is relegated to enterprise use.
The features sound great, but beware of a huge catch: To deploy WPA, you must have compatible APs and clients. On April 29, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced the first certified WPA-compatible products, including APs (and AP reference designs) from Atheros Communications, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, and Intersil; and adapters from Intel and Symbol Technologies. Upgrading existing AP and adapter firmware to support WPA might also be possible (as Miller pointed out with respect to Linksys), but we won't know which devices from which vendors will offer WPA support for a while.
A series of white papers about WPA is available at the Wi-Fi Alliance's Protected Access Web site. Go to http://www.wi-fi.org/opensection/protected_access.asp .
* NEW TEST AND MEASUREMENT SUPPORT Datastick Systems, a company that specializes in hardware and software that turns Palm PDAs into test-and-measurement devices, announced support for the Meazura, a modular industrial-use PalmOS-based device from Aceeca ( http://www.aceeca.com ), a New Zealand-based manufacturer. Datastick will offer versions of its low-speed and high-speed analog multichannel data-acquisition modules to fit the Meazura's proprietary MZIO expansion slot, as well as software for data acquisition and analysis. The company hasn't yet announced pricing and availability. http://www.datastick.com
* SEND HANDWRITTEN MESSAGES AND GRAPHICS Electric Pocket announced a new version of its Pixer software for PalmOS devices. Pixer MMS offers multimedia messaging services for PalmOS 3.5 and later PDAs and cell phones, letting users send handwritten messages and graphics. Pixer MMS is already shipping in the Asia-Pacific region with Palm's Tungsten W devices. The software supports the open NowMMS service ( http://www.nowmms.com ), which enables graphical communication between users of Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM)-enabled wireless phones. Pixer MMS costs $29, and you can download a free demonstration copy from the company's Web site. Electric Pocket also offers a version of Pixer for Pocket PCs. http://www.electricpocket.com
* POWERFUL MINI NOTEBOOK Proving that the Handheld PC (H/PC) form factor isn't dead, NEC announced the NEC MobilePro 900. Like other H/PCs, the MobilePro 900 is a mini notebook, weighing less than 3 pounds. The device runs Windows CE 3.0 and offers a 400MHz Intel XScale CPU, 64MB of RAM, 32MB of ROM, and 32MB of Flash ROM. It has an 8.1" STN color display that runs in half-VGA (640 x 240) resolution, with VGA-out support for resolutions as high as 800 x 600 on an external monitor. The MobilePro 900 costs $899. http://www.necsolutions-am.com/mobilesolutions/products/mobilepro/900
* GET WINDOWS 2003 ACTIVE DIRECTORY ANSWERS IN A NEW EBOOK! The first chapter of Windows & .NET Magazine's latest eBook, "Windows 2003: Active Directory Administration Essentials," is now available at no charge! Chapter 1 delves into Windows Server 2003 and focuses on what's new and improved with Active Directory. Expert Jeremy Moskowitz discusses which AD features might be important to you (and why). Download it now! http://www.windowsitlibrary.com/ebooks/administeringad/index.cfm?pc=adupd
* HOW CAN YOU RECLAIM 30% TO 50% OF WINDOWS SERVER SPACE? Attend the newest Web seminar from Windows & .NET Magazine and discover the secrets from the experts. We'll also advise you on how to reduce storage growth and backups by 30% and how to reduce storage administration by 25% or more. There's no charge for this important Web event, but space is limited so register today! http://www.winnetmag.com/seminars/precise
* RESULTS OF PREVIOUS POLL: ENTERPRISE APPLICATION ACCESS The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's Mobile & Wireless Solutions nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Can you access enterprise applications from your mobile device?" Here are the results from the 24 votes: - 46% Yes - 54% No
(Deviations from 100 percent are due to rounding error.)
* NEW INSTANT POLL: WARCHALKING The next Instant Poll question is, "Has your building ever been warchalked as insecure?" Go to the Mobile & Wireless Solutions Web site and submit your vote for a) Yes, so I just washed off the chalk, b) Yes, so I took steps to make my wireless LAN (WLAN) more secure, c) No, or d) What's warchalking? http://www.mobile-and-wireless.com
* TIP: USE A USB-SERIAL ADAPTER CABLE (contributed by John D. Ruley, [email protected])
Tablet PCs, like many new notebooks (and a few desktops), are "legacy-free" devices; they have USB ports, but they don't have conventional serial or parallel ports. Eliminating serial ports is necessary for the support of "surprise undock" and full-function standby and resume; however, it causes a problem when you need to connect a legacy serial device, such as an older PDA synchronization cable or Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver.
One workaround is to purchase USB-to-serial adapter cables, which are available from a variety of vendors. I purchased a Prolific PDA USB Adapter cable at my local CompUSA for about $29. The cable has a USB connector on one end and a female DB-9 serial connector on the other. The adapter cable came with a CD-ROM that contained a serial port driver.
When I installed the Prolific driver on Motion Computing's M1200 Tablet PC, the driver defaulted to the COM5 port, which wasn't compatible with the software I wanted to use with my GPS. And the adapter's documentation wasn't clear about how to reconfigure the port. After some Web research, I discovered the following procedure.
Go to the Control Panel System applet and open Device Manager. On the Hardware tab, select Ports and right-click Prolific USB-to-Serial Comm Port (COM5). Select Properties from the resulting pop-up menu, go to the Port Settings tab, and click Advanced. At the bottom of the "Advanced Settings for COM5" dialog box is a list selector, with which you can select the COM port number to use. I switched to COM2, and everything is working fine. The procedure might vary for other vendors' adapter cables but will probably be similar.
* EVENT HIGHLIGHT: 802.11 PLANET CONFERENCE & EXPO SPRING 2003 June 25 through 27, 2003 Boston
At 802.11 Planet Conference & Expo Spring 2003, 802.11 industry experts and business innovators converge to exchange ideas and strategies and chart new paths through this transforming technological landscape. Learn how to build a high-gain antenna, a turnkey wireless LAN (WLAN) installation, and a multihop network. Learn about security, public markets, multimode networking, and value to the enterprise. For more information, go to the following URL: http://www.jupiterevents.com/80211/spring03/index.html
For other upcoming events, check out the Windows & .NET Magazine Event Calendar: http://www.winnetmag.com/events/calendar
* PROVIDE WIRELESS ACCESS INTERNET SERVICES ZyXEL Communications announced its ZSG-100W Wireless Service Gateway. The gateway combines an 802.11b wireless Access Point (AP), router, four-port switch, and wireless service gateway in one box for ISPs, integrators, and commercial hotspot retail owners to offer wireless access Internet services. Pricing is $649. Contact ZyXWL Communications at 714-632-0882 or [email protected] http://us.zyxel.com
* CALCULATE YOUR WLAN ROI The Wi-Fi Alliance recently added a wireless LAN (WLAN) Benefits Calculator to its Web site. The calculator can help you determine what your Return on Investment (ROI) would be if you invest in WLAN technology. Built using Microsoft Excel, the tool calculates ROI based on the productivity gains associated with increased access to the corporate network. You can download the calculator at the following URL: http://www.wi-fi.org/opensection/wlan_calculator.asp
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