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Windows Client UPDATE-- Troubleshooting Wireless Performance Problems--March 31, 2005

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1. Commentary
- Troubleshooting Wireless Performance Problems

2. Reader Challenge
- March 2005 Reader Challenge Winners
- April 2005 Reader Challenge

3. News & Views
- Back to Bland: HP Finds Post-Carly CEO

4. Resources
- Tip: Tip: Using Multiple IEEE Devices with Windows XP
- Featured Thread: Are Rogue Programmers Running Rampant in IT?

5. New and Improved
- Secure Remote Desktops
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary: Troubleshooting Wireless Performance Problems ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

In a recent business organization meeting, I found myself in a group of small business owners discussing wireless networking. The group members had the usual litany of complaints and concerns, and in my role as the token computer "expert" I gave them my basic lecture on securing and properly configuring their wireless networks. Although the basic lecture addressed the concerns that the group had been lamenting, two of the business owners cornered me later in the day and started asking about their perceived performance problems.

Both business owners had moved from wired networks to wireless and were concerned because the 54Mbps wireless connection seemed slower than the 10Mbps hard-wired networks that they had replaced. Both had similar stories: They believed that they were sufficiently computer-savvy to handle the network upgrade themselves, they had between 15 and 20 client computers, and they had gone to the local electronics superstore to buy the equipment that they needed to upgrade their networks.

I agreed to call the owners at their respective businesses because the questions I needed to ask to diagnose their problems required that they have the hardware in front of them. As is often the case, they were both suffering from almost the same set of problems.

They had been careful about setting up security and access controls on their wireless networks and had carefully followed the manufacturer's directions. If they weren't sure about a question, they let the manufacturer's default setting stand while configuring the network, which meant that both networks were running in mixed mode, attempting to support both 802.11g and 802.11b. One of the men was able to simply reconfigure his network to 802.11g only, which he claimed gave him an immediate performance improvement; the other was concerned because the built-in wireless technology in his rather expensive notebook was 802.11b. I gave him a few options to consider, of which he took the simplest: He bought an 802.11g PC Card to use in the office and saved the built-in networking for home.

The second problem that both businesses had came to light when I asked the owners to inventory their computer hardware. Although their networking equipment was brand new, their computers weren't, and both, for reasons of simplicity, had elected to use USB-connected wireless devices to bring their computers into the wireless world. After walking them through how to use Device Manager, neither was happy to learn that at least half their computers would need a different wireless connectivity method to obtain the speed available to their 802.11g networks.

Apparently the electronics superstore salesmen had neglected to mention that connecting a 54Mbps wireless card to an interface that runs at 12Mbps (USB 1.x speed) would result in a connection that couldn't take advantage of the network's performance. Both men were quick to grasp the concept that all USB devices aren't created equal, but neither was happy to hear that they would need to open the cases and install cards. I did suggest that rather than installing wireless networking cards, they install inexpensive USB 2.0 add-in cards so that they could use their existing wireless network adapters and have potential for future growth. What bothered them wasn't the prospect of spending the money, it was the necessity to open up half their computers and install new hardware and drivers. Both asked if I would do the upgrades; neither was willing to pay my hourly rate. I sent them to a local PC repair shop I've dealt with that has PC techs who make house calls.


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==== 2. Reader Challenge ====
by Kathy Ivens, [email protected]

March 2005 Reader Challenge Winners
Congratulations to the winners of our February Reader Challenge. First prize, a copy of "Securing Windows Server 2003" goes to Dan Vespa, of Ontario, Canada. Second prize, a copy of "Windows Server 2003 in a Nutshell," goes to James St. John of New York, New York. Both books are from O'Reilly Associates Publishing. Visit to read the answer to the March Reader Challenge.

April 2005 Reader Challenge
Solve this month's Windows Client challenge, and you might win a prize! Email your solution (don't use an attachment) to [email protected] by April 13, 2005. You must include your full name, and street mailing address (without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win, so your answer is eliminated, even if it's correct).
I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. I'm a sucker for humor and originality, and a cleverly written correct answer gets an extra chance. Because I receive so many entries each month, I can't reply to respondents, and I never respond to a request for a receipt. Look for the solutions to this month's problem at on April 14, 2005.

The April 2005 Challenge:
Branch offices and other remote sites, combined with the increasing number of employees who telecommute, have increased the number of VPNs that administrators need to set up and maintain. This month's Reader Challenge tests your knowledge of VPN configuration settings.

Question 1: Which Windows service do you use to set up a VPN server?
A. Routing and Remote Access Service (RRAS)
B. Desktop Connection Server services

Question 2: When external clients connect to a VPN server, how are IP addresses managed?
A. The existing IP address of the external client is automatically accepted by the VPN server, and the client unique name is resolved by a DNS server (which might also be the VPN server).
B. The VPN server is a DHCP server, which assigns a new IP address to the client, and uses a DNS server (which might exist on the VPN server) to resolve the client name.

Question 3: On the client side, how is a VPN connection created?
A. Using the Dial-Up and Network Connections feature.
B. Using the Create a VPN Connection feature that must be installed as a Windows component.

==== 3. News & Views ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Back to Bland: HP Finds Post-Carly CEO
Less than 2 months after casting controversial Carly Fiorina out of the company, HP has selected NCR veteran Mark Hurd to be its next CEO. Hurd, unlike Fiorina, is a bland and traditional chief executive with a record of cost cutting and fiscal stability. Hurd had been CEO of NCR since 2003, but he joined that company 25 years earlier. You can read the entire story at the following URL:

==== Events and Resources ====
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==== 4. Peer to Peer ====

Tip: Using Multiple IEEE Devices with Windows XP
(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])
I recently added a new IEEE 1394-connected hard disk to my desktop system. Although I've been using this connection method for an external drive for the past few years, this was the first new device I had added in about 2 years. The device seemed to work fine, but I found that when I rebooted the computer the older IEEE device would rarely be recognized. Restarting the device would sometimes let it be recognized, but in most cases the disk was unavailable.
The problem is in the way that Windows XP handles multiple IEEE devices on the same chain. During the power-up stage, XP triggers a reset of the 1394 bus. The workaround is to place the older disk on its own 1394 connection, which unfortunately means I have to run another long cable, rather than simply daisy-chain one disk to another. This setup does, however, let me use both devices without a problem. This problem won't occur if all your devices use the most recent (i.e., 1394-2000) IEEE specification.

Featured Thread: Are Rogue Programmers Running Rampant in IT?
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