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New social and personal dynamics are being created every day because of wireless. This book attempts to examine the practical exploitation of wireless networking. The projects here will help you get an understanding of the driving force behind the revolution...
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Buy Wi-Fi Toys

ISBN 0764558943

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Welcome to
Wi-Fi Toys: 5 chapters free online, 10 more to go
Posted by Mike on Thursday, September 14th, 2006 @ 01:24 pm [Book Items]
One third of Wi-Fi Toys is available for download as PDF or adapted for the web. If you're new to Wi-Fi, Chapter 1 is a great start. Even if you don't want to make your own cables, it gets you quickly up to speed on why good cables makes all the difference.

All the other projects are great fun and useful too!

Chapter 1, The basics and making a cable
Chapter 3, Build a Wi-Fi cantenna
Chapter 5, Wardriving intro, setup, and discovery
Chapter 11, Citywide games using Wi-Fi Access Points
Chapter 13, Go long with Wi-Fi (10 miles or more!)

Find them all in the Contents.

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Boosting cell reception with an amplifier
Posted by Mike on Thursday, August 31st, 2006 @ 01:40 pm [Hardware]

I've been spending more time on EVDO lately, what with highway-speed availability and in-car use. Cellular is supposed to cover the city and highways that we drive on most. But due to mountains, hills, and buildings, dropped calls are still common. Having a weak signal is particularly frustrating while using cellular internet because it means s-l-o-w-e-r speeds. That's where a cell amplifier can come in handy. I took a look at a few different applications and different amplifiers and wrote up this "How 2.0" for Popular Science.

By the way, to really see the signal on your cell phone (or RSSI) check out this PDF for your phone's field test debug mode. It doesn't list some phones like mine. So if you have a Palm Treo 700w type "#*#33284" and press the green Send/Phone button. Memory hint: You might notice that 33284 spells out DEBUG on a touch tone keypad.


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Exploring the impact of a wireless renaissance in Tibet
Posted by Mike on Friday, August 11th, 2006 @ 02:25 pm [News]
Hacking the Himalayas is a four part series on NPR from tech journalist Xeni Jardin. She explores how Tibetan exiles are reconnecting with their past and embracing the future partly from a growing wireless mesh network. Technicians have to monkey-proof the system. Literally from monkeys swinging on antennas! Meanwhile, buddhist monks are emailing each other from their temples and others are reaching out internationally with websites telling their story.

One monk speaks about the interconnectedness of all things and how wireless further enables that concept.

"Communication is very good."

Read Xeni's press journal for a closer look while listening to each story.

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Marconi and the early years of wireless: SOCALWUG Meeting July 27th 2006
Posted by Mike on Monday, July 24th, 2006 @ 03:25 pm [News]

This Thursday is our monthly So. Cal. Wireless Users Group meeting. And this time we are looking back at wireless history with a presentation by Frank Keeney on wireless pioneer Marconi...

"Guglielmo Marconi in 1901 proved that wireless waves were not affected by the curvature of the Earth, he used his system for transmitting the first wireless signals across the Atlantic between Poldhu, Cornwall England, and St. John's, Newfoundland.

I'm sure most of us remember the centennial celebration in 2001 of Marconi's achievements.

On a recent trip to Cornwall England last month, I visited both the Marconi Poldhu and Lizard Point wireless stations where Marconi performed his early experiments. In order to make this transmission over the Atlantic tremendous obstacles needed to be overcome."

Join us in person or by internet video at the So Cal Wireless Users Group this Thursday 07/27/06 at 7pm (Pacific).


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Lowe's Wi-Fi Hacker Gets 9 Year Jail Term
Posted by Mike on Wednesday, July 12th, 2006 @ 02:45 pm [News]
It was one of the first data intrusion arrests related to the use of Wi-Fi. Albeit as a conduit into a network to commit a crime, not in and of itself.

The two hackers in this story went wardriving back in 2003 and found an open Wi-Fi network in a Lowe's store. They went back later and, using the Wi-Fi network, installed a program that would collect credit card numbers, eventually, from all the Lowe's stores.

This Wired news article recounts the incident and tells how one of the hackers, Brian Salcedo, was sentenced to 9 years in prison just for the attempt. They didn't succeed since the FBI was watching the parking lot the night they installed the credit-card-stealing code. Ealier this week an appeals court upheld the sentence saying that the intention to steal a lot of card numbers and sell them was severe enough to warrant the longer sentence, even though they didn't actually see any credit card numbers.

We haven't had a high profile hacker in jail since Kevin Mitnick. I wouldn't be surprised if "Free Brian" stickers should appear on laptops and car bumpers this summer.

Link to story

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San Francisco Municipal Network Hearing Alternatives
Posted by Mike on Tuesday, June 13th, 2006 @ 06:25 pm [News]
Yesterday, a Special Meeting was held by the city of San Francisco to revisit the plans for their city-wide Wi-Fi project. Testimony was heard from Esme Vos of Muniwireless, Greg Richardson of Civitium, Emy Tseng from TechConnect's Digital Inclusion Program, and "members of the public": Ralph Muehlen and Tim Pozar of SFLan; Bruce Wolfe; Andre Chan, UC Berkeley; Doug Loranger, SNAFU; David Fierberg, SEAKAY; James Chaffee; Carlos Rios, NextWLAN; Kimo Crossman; Bill Colquitt; Peter Warfield; Chris Ruth; Ron Vincent, DTIS.

A few key points that were brought up about the current plan for a Wi-Fi network:
-Frequency issues and interference problems inherent with Wi-Fi on the unlicensed 2.4GHz band
-Net neutrality and future device support
-How to handle changing standards and obsolescence?
-Can it reach 90% indoor coverage?
-300kbps speed is too slow
-Fiber-to-the-home options
-Needs analysis or business case study should be performed
-Accounting for city use, public safety, etc.
-Should the network be city-owned or city-controlled? If so, should the city own it and outsource operations?
-Testing with a pilot program before a major rollout

And here's a very interesting point related to privacy... Would the Google/Earthlink targetted advertising proposal be similar to, say, outsourcing city library functions for free in exchange for checkout records? (We noticed that people who checked out books by Ann Coulter ultimately bought books by Anne Rice.)

The meeting runs for about 2 hours, is packed with information, and is well worth watching.

Watch the full hearing on SFGTV video archive. (Via the SOCALWUG mailing list)

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RFID Toys: Unlock your front door with a wave
Posted by Mike on Tuesday, May 9th, 2006 @ 02:33 pm [Hardware]
Make your own contactless deadbolt. This free chapter from the ExtremeTech book "RFID Toys" shows you step-by-step how to add RFID to an electronic deadbolt resulting in a door you can just wave your keys past to unlock. Neat!

(via Digg)
Download PDF

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WeyeFeye sign
Posted by Mike on Tuesday, April 11th, 2006 @ 05:45 pm [News]

In the wake of Sean Bonner's cloud of controversy over the blog gangsign, and ensuing wiki sign, I wanted to make up a WiFi sign. Sean's wiki sign requires 2 people to collaberate in wiki fashion, of course. And is admittedly more legible, if unsafe for daytime TV. But hey, wifi nomads rejoice, we're all mobile, independant, and, while not driving, can show the love.

(via boingboing)

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Warflying in the New York Times (as an aside)
Posted by Mike on Saturday, March 4th, 2006 @ 07:04 pm [News]
Remember Warflying from a couple years ago? Back in 2004, some pals of mine performed a few Wi-Fi experiments over Los Angeles for the now off-air Next@CNN (WMV video). During the flight we not only scanned for networks, but we created the first ever air-to-air Wi-Fi video conference. Well, the map we made using Netstumbler is featured in this Times article on "piggybacking" on neighbors' Wi-Fi networks.

The map clearly shows the route the airplane flew over Los Angeles. But the GPS "breadcrumb trail" is actually made up of more than a thousand individual wireless access points discovered on the flight. These things are pretty much everywhere in LA. (via WNN)

Link to story.

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SOCALWUG video online and ready to download!
Posted by Mike on Wednesday, February 15th, 2006 @ 10:50 am [News]
Here's the latest video from SOCALWUG.

In the January 2006 meeting, Frank Keeney and Mike Outmesguine opened the meeting talking about the Suitsat ham radio project, VOIP phones, RFID, and the MB-8000 EVDO/Wi-Fi mobile hotspot running the meeting's internet uplink.

We continue with a presentation from author Carl Weisman from 5G Wireless Solutions chatting about all things wireless and discussing his company's technology and participation in the growing municipal wireless trend. We close out the meeting with Baron Miller from Signalwide showing us one of their cellular boosters and talking about how it works to draw in weak cellphone signals.

Download WMV file (95 MB, 1 hour 30 minutes)

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So. Cal. Wireless Users Group hosts 50th meeting!
Posted by Mike on Monday, January 16th, 2006 @ 05:35 pm [News]
Fifty, 50, L, 110010, 0.5c, 0x0032, nun.

However you express it, this month marks SOCALWUG meeting number fifty! I never imagined what started as a wild idea posed by two Wi-Fi enthusiasts would become practically an institution spanning several years. Frank Keeney and I hosted the first meeting in May 2002. See a list of all the events.

For our next meeting, we lined up 5G Wireless to showcase their muni- and campus-wide Wi-Fi solutions. 5G promises in-building coverage and wide area access from a single pole mounted installation. They will tell us how they achieve this feat and will give us a glimpse into their plans addressing the growing municipal wireless trend.

Every Fourth Thursday
7:00pm to 9:00pm (Pacific)
Thursday 08/25/04 7pm

Pasadena IHOP Restaurant (rear meeting room)
3521 E. Foothill Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91107

Location map link.
Wireless SSID:
GPS: N 34 09.032 - W 118 04.645

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Vivato Ceases Operations
Posted by Mike on Friday, December 16th, 2005 @ 11:42 am [News]
A Vivato spokesperson confirms the ceasing of operations with Glenn Fleishman over at Wi-Fi Net News. Vivato is best known for the switched access point that was designed using phased-array technology and beam-steering to communicate intelligently with outdoor clients over 1 kilometer. There was also an indoor switch that would theorectically light up an entire office floor with a single access point panel. Although the technology and early demonstrations were very promising, the company could not meet performance and price demands in the fast-changing Wi-Fi market. Competitors quickly adopted 802.11g and MIMO to meet the increasing wireless bandwidth demands of enterprise users.

Vivato engineered an awesome technology for the private sector (phased-array is most often used in military radar systems) but it just never quite took off.

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MSNBC Blogads buy and video teaser
Posted by Mike on Wednesday, December 14th, 2005 @ 04:21 pm [News]
Last Saturday morning, everyone in the blogosphere woke up to the news that MSNBC had purchased advertising on 800 blogs. This was the largest single blogad buy in history. The promotion is for a special day of TV programming taking place on Wednesday, December 14th.

The Wi-Fi Toys site was included on the ad buy, you can see the snazzy neon graphic under our "Sponsors" heading.

Although MSNBC's intent in purchasing the blogads was to gain TV viewers, most of the press around "Digital Day" has been about the massive blogad buy and not about the content of the shows. To help raise awareness of the topics being covered on December 14th, MSNBC has put together a special video teaser tape for Digital Day in iPod and Sony PSP video formats. It starts with "I'm Keith Oberman. Thanks for downloading me." (snigger!)

The subjects being covered on Digital Day range from viral internet videos and the So. Cal. pr0n industry to more serious topics like Internet addiction... (Is one addicted when it becomes a way of life?)

You can download the MSNBC "Digital Day" Teaser in iPod or PSP MP4 format via the popup-infested links below:

* MSNBC Digital Day Teaser: iPod Video (17.5 MB)
* MSNBC Digital Day Teaser: Sony PSP Video (11.2 MB)

It's like the Internet(s) but on TV.

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RFID book Spychips review and rebuttal
Posted by Mike on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005 @ 10:44 am [News]
RFID is evil and will destroy your privacy and standard of living.


RFID will make things cheaper, more plentiful, and keep store shelves stocked full of new Xbox360 games.

There are two sides to the RFID story. RFID == EVIL is the stance taken by privacy advocates and is the premise of the new book 'Spychips'. While RFID == GOOD is touted by the RFID industry and big box stores. Of course, reality lies somewhere in-between. But until RFID is proven and/or disproven in the marketplace, the debate will rage on. 'Spychips' and 'Spychips-Rebuttal' (PDF) is but one baby step towards an answer.

Read a review

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Gamers take note, Xbox 360 gets hardcore fansite
Posted by Mike on Monday, November 21st, 2005 @ 04:31 pm [Hardware]
If you are into gaming, you surely heard that the Xbox 360 is about to hit store shelves. But the folks over at have gone one-up on their 48-hour geekfest and started a fansite that also happens to redefine the meaning of fanboy to be gender-neutral. is heavyduty Xbox news. They've already started talking about hacking the embedded TSOP chip, getting into long-tail economics with HD movies, and, oh yeah, I think they talk about games.

With all of the media-convergence potential that Microsoft will bring into the digital living room via the Xbox 360 (it's their first serious play into home invasion since WebTV) you can bet I'll be paying attention.

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Recent Entries
Wi-Fi Toys: 5 chapters free online, 10 more to go (Sep 14)
Boosting cell reception with an amplifier (Aug 31)
Exploring the impact of a wireless renaissance in Tibet (Aug 11)
Marconi and the early years of wireless: SOCALWUG Meeting July 27th 2006 (Jul 24)
Lowe's Wi-Fi Hacker Gets 9 Year Jail Term (Jul 12)
San Francisco Municipal Network Hearing Alternatives (Jun 13)
RFID Toys: Unlock your front door with a wave (May 9)
WeyeFeye sign (Apr 11)
Warflying in the New York Times (as an aside) (Mar 4)
SOCALWUG video online and ready to download! (Feb 15)

re: Do forensic printer marks slow down printers? (3)
re: 2005 Acura Bluetooth and XM Traffic Demo Video (1)
re: New World Record for Wi-Fi Distance: 125 Miles (32)
re: Police Seize 23 TB of Pirated Content in Raid (2)
re: Cognio Laptop Spectrum Analyzer (3)
re: Mike O's Lab: Ambient Devices Digital Dashboard (2)
re: Popular Science goes really mobile with the Voltaic solar pack and Junxion Box (20)
re: Latest Bluetooth vulnerability sounds kind of bad (1)
re: From The Shadows goes 2.4 crazy (1)
re: Mad skillz from 9 year-old RC helicopter pilot (5)

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