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Windows Client UPDATE--108Mbps Wireless Ethernet--January 6, 2005

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1. Commentary
- 108Mbps Wireless Ethernet: Better, Faster, Stronger?

2. Reader Challenge
- December 2004 Reader Challenge Winners
- January 2005 Challenge

3. News & Views
- Microsoft Ships Public AntiSpyware Beta

4. Resources
- Tip: Read-Only USB Storage
- Featured Thread: Wireless Network Setup Wizard

5. New and Improved
- Calendar Creator
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!

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==== 1. Commentary: 108Mbps Wireless Ethernet: Better, Faster, Stronger? ====
by David Chernicoff, [email protected]

During the past year, I've received quite a few reader requests for information about the 108Mbps wireless Ethernet offerings currently available. I had planned to cover some of the technologies, but the release of Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP 2) caused compatibility problems with many of the devices so I decided to hold off for a bit to give vendors time to release updated drivers and fixes for their products.

In the preholiday season, the requests for information about 108Mbps wireless Ethernet started again, so I finally picked up a router and a set of client devices--PC Card, NIC, and USB device) to see what the hoopla was about.

After installing the 108Mbps devices, I tried to connect to legacy 802.11b (11Mbps) and current 802.11g (54Mbps) networks. Backward-compatibility worked fine on these older standards, even with wireless routers from different vendors.

Setting up an end-to-end 108Mbps network resulted in a noticeable performance improvement when pulling large files off of my network when compared with the 54Mbps network, but performance still wasn't as good as the wired 100Mbps connection. I had expected this result because overhead on a wireless network is significantly greater than on a wired network.

Internet access performance was unaffected, regardless of network type, because the throttling point is the net connection--which in my office rarely exceeds 3Mbps--not the local network.

In day-to-day use, 108Mbps wireless Ethernet technology showed no clear advantage. Although a noticeable speed difference exists between 802.11b and 802.11g, doubling the 802.11g speed didn't seem to make the network any faster.

However, there was one advantage that might make the entire 108Mbps technology worthwhile to many users: The coverage area of the 108Mbps router was significantly better than that of the 802.11g router, even when used only for G connections. Areas of my office that were unreliable for wireless connectivity suddenly had a decent signal strength and reliable wireless network access.

So would I pull out an existing 802.11g network to use the faster technology? Not at this point, but if I was adding wireless connectivity from scratch or upgrading an 802.11b network, the 108Mbps technologies are worth considering.

On a related wireless note, I recently found myself doing some unintentional war driving, which is the practice of driving around looking for wireless networks. While slipping my PDA into its car mount (I was using it to play music in the car), I accidentally enabled the device's internal 802.11b wireless networking capabilities. You can imagine my surprise when, while driving through a residential neighborhood close to home, I was alerted to the presence of no less than a dozen wireless networks over a distance of about a mile.

Now I realize that many people don't disable broadcast notification of their wireless networks, but half of these networks were still using the default network name (linksys) and, as I found when I pulled over to check, were unsecured and allowed me Internet access via their networks.

I didn't try accessing the administrative functions of the open routers, but my experience has shown that when wireless routers are left in the default state, the owners usually don't bother to change the administrative password on the device, either.

I wonder how many of those home networks were used to connect to corporate networks via VPNs. If you use VPN access to let your remote users access corporate network resources, have you explained to these users how to secure their home networks? It's worth your time and effort.


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

December 2004 Reader Challenge Winners
Congratulations to the winners of our December Reader Challenge. First prize, a copy of "Google Hacks, Second Edition" (O'Reilly Associates Publishing) goes to James G. St. John of Valhalla New York. Second prize, a copy of "Running QuickBooks 2005 for Nonprofits" (CPA911 Publishing) goes to Harris H. Siegalson of Ardmore Pennsylvania. Visit to read the answers to the December Reader Challenge.

January 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 January 19, 2005. You must include your full name, and street mailing address (without that information, we can't send you a prize if you win).
I choose winners at random from the pool of correct entries. 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 January 20, 2005.

The January 2005 Challenge: You've been assigned to the Help desk today (sorry, somebody has to do it), and a user calls your extension. The caller complains, “This computer is taking forever to shut down. And when I tried to use Task Manager to end a frozen application, Task Manager took forever to complete the shutdown of the application”.

The frozen application is, of course, a problem, but that's not the focus of this Reader Challenge. Instead, I want to know how you explain to the user what's going on. To explain the delay, you need to know a few things. Do you know them?

1. How long is “forever?” That is, what's the default setting for the amount of time Windows takes to close an application (including one that needs to be shut before the computer can shut down).

2. What is the technical name of the delay that Windows will put up with when it's trying to close an application? (After this delay, Windows uses brute force to end the application, which can have negative consequences.)

3. True or False: You can change the length of “forever.”

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

Microsoft Ships Public AntiSpyware Beta
Late Wednesday night, Microsoft shipped its public beta of Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware, which is based on the antispyware application that Giant Company Software developed. Microsoft purchased Giant in December. Additionally, Microsoft announced that it will soon ship the first monthly installment of a malicious software removal tool that will help customers remove malware such as worms and viruses. The first version of that tool will appear January 11, the same day Microsoft issues its monthly security bulletins. For the complete details, visit the following URL:

==== Announcements ====
(from Windows IT Pro and its partners)

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==== 4. Resources ====

Tip: Read-Only USB Storage
(contributed by David Chernicoff, [email protected])

If you've been concerned about the possibility that users in your Windows XP environment might plug in a USB storage key and walk away with hundreds of megabytes of proprietary corporate information, XP Service Pack 2 (SP 2) lets you make USB storage devices read only, removing the possibility of leaking data via a USB key. To configure USB storage for read only, perform the following steps:
1. Launch the registry editor.
2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control
3. You should see a key called StorageDevicePolicies. If it doesn't exist, create a new key with that name.
4. In the StorageDevicePolicy key, create a REG_DWORD value called WriteProtect.
5. Set the data value of WriteProtect to 1.
6. This value will make USB storage read only. To enable read/write over USB, set the value to 0.
7. Exit the editor.

Make sure that you aren't using other USB storage devices such as hard drives or a CD/DVD writer before you set this registry value.

Featured Thread: Wireless Network Setup Wizard
Forum user TJ Brennan writes that after deploying Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), the "My Network Places" now has a link to setting up a wireless network. He doesn't want the company's users playing with this feature and wants to know how to remove it. If you can help, join the discussion at

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==== 5. New and Improved ====
by Barb Gibbens, [email protected]

Calendar Creator
Briggs Softworks has released Calendar Commander 2.04, a calendar design and printing tool for Windows XP and earlier. Users can customize and print any of three dozen ready-to-use calendars or design their own with the built-in editor. Calendar Commander produces daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly calendars in a variety of styles and supports all paper sizes from postcards to posters. The new version supports timed events, phases of the moon, and importing schedules from Microsoft Office Outlook. The software costs $34.95; multi-user site licenses are also available. To download a trial version or for more information, visit the vendor's Web site.

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