4g · Uncategorized

Linux WLAN (WiFi) tools under inspection

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A diagram showing a possible WI-FI network.
Image via Wikipedia

I’m checking out wireless LAN tools for Linux. The reason that I do this is because I want to be ready for the multitude of different networks that are available soon. Already the electromagnetic spectrum, which means “the whole space of frequencies” is occupied quite tightly by different kind of transmission.

4G is going to be the next revolution in wireless mobility. It is aimed at mobile hosts, like phones, and small mobile computers. The nominal speed is 100 mbit/s from host to host, anywhere in the world. This is very ambitious goal.

In near history, the difference between MS Windows and Linux networking was, that certain tasks were an order of magnitude more difficult under Linux. Then Linux got more coder’s effort in networking, especially when the tools for Wifi (WLAN) networks were united, and things were manageable. There are so many kinds of users in both camps.

Basically, networking is a tricky beast. For the end user, the legendary Average Joe, network “just is”: they really couldn’t care less about the details of setting up and understanding networking.

Joes just demand a ubiquitous network and they’re ready to bark any administrator into graveyard if the network has downtime. But the reality of networking is that it is one of the most detailed, complex and unanticipated areas of computing. Networks, both fixed (wired), and wireless (radio) are prone to outages caused by several reasons, some of which are out of reach of the ISP (network provider):

  • networking hardware end-of-life (goes OFF)
  • hardware failure, like one LAN port dies
  • overheating machines
  • antennae failure (storms, ice..)
  • someone plugs off a machine’s electricty supply by accident
  • a caterpillar chunks ground and cuts cables
  • fire
  • …and so on

So both the radio and physical fixed networks are at risks which can only be statistically controlled. No one can totally prevent failures at these multitudes of components.

Fear not! The situation is not as bad as it might seem. Administrators working on networks gain experience all the time, and they are usually extremely cautious and advance-thinking people. Admins make delicate choices and their job is to react to failures. Networking is fun, with a big twist of responsibility.


Standalone systems and cyborgism

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A standalone system is something that can live “by its own”. This is how I see the boundaries could be defined (of pieces of technology).

Let’s see; a car? Is a car such a standalone system? In a way, it is. With its tens of thousands of patented and non-patented parts, you can drive a car for hundreds of kilometers before it requires anything. Usually what stops the going is lack of gasoline. Take a break at a gas station, and you can repeat such a journey again.

A computer requires electricity; both laptops, desktops, embedded systems, mobiles – all of these can be seen as computers of varying shapes and complexity, but what binds them together is the need for electricity. Electrons (the stream of which is electricity) flow in a computer in certain predictable patterns, so that the machine can very quickly do logical calculations.

What about the practical side of independence and standalone systems? What I dream about is a kind of semi-automated world, in which you would not have to constantly operate machines in order to achieve things. For example, if you want to be “independent”, ie. not to be stopped by any barrier, you paradoxically usually have to carry technology with you: payment cards, keys, maps, notes, and so on. You have to memoize PIN codes, etc. It’s quite a dreadful load on the brain.

I can only speak for Finnish culture. I have been a lot in Europe, one trip to Asia, and one into United states; but I guess basically all these societies are slowly going in the same paths, with different schedules. One country innovates something, and it spreads into other territories, too.

There’s wide variety in peculiar things — the things you’d never actually imagine could or should be done in different ways. For example, tickets and in general paying methodologies are implemented in culturally-bound ways. What is always both a little stress but also gives the curious mind pleasure, is to see how for example subway tickets look like; what kind of automation or manual work is involved with the gates; and so on.

Big cellular manufacturers are dreaming of liberating people from the excess “warez”. Nokia for example wants to deliver mobile payment systems and virtual money. Do you remember the times before cameras found their way to phones? With cameras we don’t necessarily have to carry an external camera, though the quality issue remains. There’s always probably going to be a gap between mobile and real camera’s picture quality.

One of those central pieces of new tech that I have been hunting for years is the Eyetap technology. You can take a more detailed look at it in here:
It is a mobile computer of sorts, but what is cool about it, is that it augments reality. It can fade away, alter, or enhance the scene that you are looking at. You can record voice or video (or both, ie. picture and sound) with the device, and check out information about places (Eyetap has network connection). Is it about cyborgism? You bet!

Looking forward to hearing more about it,


The new schedule: regularity

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it’s a time for some selections in lifestyle. I have always been the one who almost goes
around the clock. Computers can be fascinating to the extreme, although many consider
them as tools, text editors, communicators, and mostly in the role that computers actually
did a break-through in the 1970s: calculators.

With regularity I want to achieve things which weren’t possible with the previous,
prevalent lifestyle. By regularity I mean getting up at around the same time, be it 8 sharp, 7:30
or 7:00. It’s a challenge especially here in Finland, where the natural lights are going deeper
into the darkness as the mid winter approaches. Shopping malls (maybe with gyms) were
probably one of the first places where increased light was applied.

Can you picture this easily: a hacker stares at a blue, glowing screen, his face just slightly
illuminated. He stares the picture for hours on end, sips energy drinks, makes fast gestures
with the mouse hand, and engages in several communications at once? The room is decorated
with piles of computer science books, forming bridges, arches, and sometimes collapsing.
Yes; that’s the old picture.



Sales and level of customer care

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Locally here in southern Finland, the gut feeling tells that many private clients (citizens) are in need of customized IT services. It means that still many are left in a gap between the hardware vendors, resellers, and consultants. In English: When your PC is glogged up (software settings set up wrong, or hardware failing) the first point of contact might not be able to give care.

Finland has a total population of about 5,200,000 people as of 2010. There are millions of PCs (laptops and desktops) in the country. The southern segment is about 1/5 of the whole population.

Consumer electronics are selling very hotly. Usually PCs last for about 2-7 years, after which they are replaced. The trend is a little bit worrying sometimes. Due to increasing sophistication of hardware (smaller components, which are harder to replace – the same kind of development that happens with cars) there seems to be a mentality of use and replace; electronics engineers with handcraft skills and tools good enough to do repair are rare.

The clockwork engineering -tradition has been turning into modular bulk engineering, where whole motherboards or other large entities are changed at one time, even without a lot of discretion and analysis of the situation. Why? Because both on private and business sector, time is money. People don’t want to wait. I wouldn’t want to wait either for my PC to arrive from the maintenance.

I personally encountered a facade of a big company. It was quite frustrating. I had a product which clearly did not work as it should have. It gave me an output worth zero euros. I had to run to the seventh customer care rep to talk my way into nullifying the invoices and returning the product.

The 7th! Had I been left to my own devices and just given up in the first place, it would’ve cost me almost 1000 euros. For nothing.

So; for private clients: be persistent. Talk, explain, and visualize. Do what it takes if you have a faulty product. And for the vendors: in the long run, good customer care is perhaps THE biggest factor that guarantees good sales figures.



A little extra care!

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Back in business!

Thanks for all readers, if you’ve been wondering where the new stream of articles dipped; well, it went to sick leave. But after a couple of weeks, I’m well now and checking out the business world anew.

One tool that I love to have and which really helped me recover is US-based LastPass.com

Thank you very much for the company for providing an innovative software solution plus good customer care. I was once having a trouble with it, and just posted a Tweet (via Twitter). The company caught my ramblings and immediately responded. Proactive customer care? Yes. It’s possible, and it felt very good. It felt like you were really served a little extra, taken care of.

Until the next time,
yours Jukka