Wireless Fidelity, or 802.11b protocol. See
Notes from 2002
Surprisingly, not a great standard for compatibility: there's lots of complaints of various mixes of hardware (card vs hub) not talking.
Not very secure right now.
Going to be competing with 802.11a soon.
For reviews of products, etc. see Practically Networked
Notes from 2003
OK, time to buy a hub. (Friend gave me a card, which I've confirmed works, now I want to use it at home instead of at StarBucks. Discovered someone in my building is running an open connection, but I can't receive it, damn concrete highrises...)
The Belkin F5D6230-3 sounds reasonable, except for the 50% reduction in throughput when using WEP (the access-point-only F5D6130 doesn't have this problem). But 45% negative reviews (out of 18 users).
UMAX/Max Gate 3300. The review (3/2001) notes that it wouldn't work with an Orinoco/Lucent card, which makes me nervous. And 75% negatives.
The LinkSys W11S1 sounds OK, but Practically Networked review says WEP causes 50% throughput decrease, plus says it only supports 40/60-bit WEP instead of 128-bit, contradicting other sources including Glenn's matrix (actually, the original review was 3/2001, and it notes that a later firmware upgrade added 128-bit - but they didn't re-test throughput effects - might they be even worse at high level of encryption?)! And gets 42% negative user reviews.
- the W11P1 gets lower performance. 69% negative.
SMC Barricade 7004AWBR: 45% WEP hit. But only 25% negative! But Glenn's matrix notes that they require you enter (at client sign-in) 14 pairs of hex digits while hiding what you're typing, which makes it easy to make typos and go nuts. It also got a Pc Mag Editors' Choice nod, for whatever that's worth.
Netgear: 50% negative. 50% WEP hit.
3Com: 60% negative
The SMC is sounding like my choice, for the moment... OK I ordered it from buy.com.
Aug'2004 update - SMC died (lights still worked, but no more wifi) - walked over to Staples and bought the Net Gear, and have had no problems.
Sept'2004 - in Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday read about someone wearing a WiFi detector as part of her bracelet. But didn't find any such gadget that would be small enough for that. And the Smart I D unit gets much better reviews, but is quite ugly compared to the Kensington.
find it's locked at Channel6 - there are other people in the building using the same channel, so I'd like to switch to something else. There are also sources using channel 11, so I'll try channel 1. I think the channel-6 lock is related to special higher-performance protocols like Super G.
- if I go to the "Advanced/Performance" menu I can change the Super G options. "Static Turbo" keeps the channel-6-lock. "Without Turbo" lets me change the channel.
Later still: I think I swapped again since then, but I'm not even sure. These hubs get hinky over time. Good luck with Municipal Wifi.