About macficionado

Middle-aged married man with two teenage kids, living in the UK. Mad about all things Mac. I have established a social enterprise.

Wi-Fire is no more!

Image representing hField Technologies as depi...

Image via CrunchBase

Sadly, the hField Wi-Fire is no more. hField Technologies ceased production a while back and so I am no longer able to source any more  stock. It was largely due to the lack of a fix for a bug that rendered the adapter unusable with Mac OS X Lion and above. The Wi-Fire still works with Windows XP and Mac OS X up to Snow Leopard (and most version of Linux available up to 2010).

Apparently hField couldn’t solve the driver issue and both Apple and Atheros (maker of the chip that provides the wi-fi signal) were unable to help resolve the issue either.

Its a great loss as the Wi-Fire was one fo the best (if not the best) high power wi-fi adapters on the market. Certainly the fact that its no longer ion production has meant the end of my own business as the Wi-Fire was a big part of it and the main reason I set my company up was to market it in the UK and elsewhere. I still get enquiries about the product but sadly have no stock to sell anyone. I also still get the odd call for support, which I gladly give where I can though as the company no longer trades I am not able to accept returns. Its a while since I sold the last unit anyways and certainly more than the 12 months guarantee period. As long as you are using Windows (up to XP for sure or OS X up to Snow Leopard) the Wi-Fire still works as well as ever.

There remains the possibility of a new product from  hField though I have no firm details. I will certainly post the news here if anything comes of it.

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London Underground plans WiFi for 120 stations

London Underground logo

After successfully running a trial at Charing Cross Tube Station, Transport for london has decided to go ahead and commission wi-fi at up to 120 stations across the network in time for the London Olympics in 2012.

The trial was was carried out in partnership with BT Openzone and was enthusiastically received by passengers. Tenders will now go out and the winning bidder chosen by the end of this year.

Research during the trial at Charing Cross Tube station found that over half of LU passengers surveyed felt that access to wi-fi would make their experience of using the Tube better.

In related news, Transport for London (TfL) and the Mayor of London are currently in discussion with mobile phone operators and other suppliers about the potential provision of mobile phone services on the deep Tube network.

Motorola Xoom comes under fire

Motorola Xoom Android TabletIf you are thinking of not buying an iPad then you may be in the market for something like the Motorola Xoom. However, before you hand over your hard-earned cash you may want to read this article by Michael J. Miller, respected blogger at PCMAG – Eight Things to Hate About the Motorola Xoom. In it he shares the things that worry him about the device (already having previously written a similar article about the “8 Things I like about the Motorola Xoom“.

Not wanting to just quote the article verbatim, let’s just say that he basically finds the device is not quite there yet, which says to me that Motorola have made the same mistake that numerous other companies have, they have tried to jump on board of Apple’s bandwagon and rushed out a product that is in no way an equal of the iPad (never mind the soon to be released iPad 2). In particular he points out that there is no Flash capability, only 16 apps are available, some of the phone apps don’t seem to work either and the SD slot isn’t functional.

Anyway, why not read both articles and make up your own mind or go straight to the full review by PCMag.

WiFi Gaming Card Released

Bigfoot Killer WiFi Gaming CardBigfoot Networks are known for their gaming networking kit and today they have announced their latest piece of kit – the Killer Wireless-N Laptop Network Adaptor. Normally we focus on mobile wireless networking and configuring your static network, at home and in the business environment. However, wireless networks are becoming much more common with many homes having several computers on a wireless network. Often these are used for gaming so kit like that which Bigfoot is known for is becoming more popular.

So, what does this ‘killer’ piece of kit have to offer? Bigfoot claims that the Wireless-N offers transfer speeds up to five times faster than those of standard WiFi adaptors. It’s claim is that this will give any gamer using it’s kit an advantage over other players by reducing lag and latency.

To achieve it’s performance, the card uses some clever 802.11n technologies that Bigfoot have developed in-house. The card also comes with the same software that Bigfoot ships with existing networking kit for desktops.

Whether all this adds up to something to write home about is another question. In the past Bigfoot’s claims have come under some criticism for not being backed up by real-world experience. Let us know if you take the plunge and share your experience of putting Bigfoot’s claims to the test.

Features:

• Cutting-Edge 11n Performance – Advanced, dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) adapter supports IEEE standards-based 802.11a/b/g/n. Killer Wireless-N 1102 enables PHY rates up to 300 Mbps over 2 stream MIMO and offers up to 5x better latency than the competition.1

• Advanced Stream Detect – Automatically classifies and prioritizes online games, HD video and high quality audio for better quality and fewer interruptions in your online experience.

• Visual Bandwidth Control – See which applications are hogging bandwidth and tune performance for each, so they don’t interfere with your online gameplay or multimedia applications. Download files or watch a video or browse the web simultaneously – it’s all possible now with Visual Bandwidth Control.

• PC Monitor – Monitor and manage the health and performance of your wireless notebook PC with graphical displays, detailed logging and an intuitive user interface.

Note: There are two versions of the card, the 1102 and the 1103.

Malware risk on unsecured WiFi networks

Security camera

Image via Wikipedia

It’s something I have mentioned previously but it’s worth reiterating…. using unsecured WiFi networks put you and your precious data at risk. This is true not just when connecting to such networks via your laptop whilst on the move. It’s just as true when using your smartphone or iPad or iPod Touch, indeed any of the various types of devices that come with a WiFi ability.

“Consumers need to realize that mobiles, whether smartphone or tablet, are mini computers,” said David Gorodyansky, CEO of AnchorFree. “This means all the vulnerabilities of a computer exist, often with a less-protected OS.”

For companies and individuals, smartphone access should be a concern when that access is via unsecured mobile networks. For banks and e-commerce sites in particular, as well as consumers,  security has become much more important now than ever before.

So, what steps can you take to protect yourself? Well, just like when using your normal PC, don’t click on links in unsolicited emails (known as ‘phishing’ emails) and don’t respond to emails that you weren’t expecting, or from sources you hadn’t signed up to and certainly don’t click on links asking you to verify your logon details, in particular ones claiming to be from your bank.

Be wary of emails that come from social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and the likes of Twitter, especially if it’s not from any of your regular contacts. Spam is a real problem at the moment with these and there are numerous scams going around the social networking world at the moment.

It’s good advice to never give out personal information via email, smartphone or on the Web, and always verify independently  any unknown text or email message, game, application or security update.

Don’t logon in the first place to an unsecured network and instead use security all the time, using a VPN to encrypt and secure your browsing.

For more on the risks of malware on wifi and other networks read http://www.technewsworld.com/story/71816.html

You may also want to check out these excellent security sites:

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Os redefines Wi-Fi with launch of Os WiFi

A diagram showing a possible WI-FI network.

Image via Wikipedia

O2 outlined it’s plans recently to offer seamless, fast and free internet for all, in venues across the country. Here is what it said in it’s Press Release:

“O2 announces it’s plans to deploy a market-changing public Wi-Fi platform in the UK, with the launch of O2 Wifi. O2’s premium hotspots will be managed through partnerships with key venue owners and will be open for all customers to access for free, no matter which mobile or broadband provider they are with. O2 is aiming to create a scaled Wi-Fi platform that will be at least double the number of premium hotspots currently offered by BT Openzone and The Cloud combined by 2013.

It will begin rollout immediately by replacing its existing 450 Cloud hotspots in its retail and office estate. It will continue to extend the reach and scale of O2 Wifi through partnerships with strategic venues, to include shops, restaurants, retail outlets and outdoor and indoor locations across the UK. The O2 Wifi service will address the many shortcomings of current public Wi-Fi offerings by being genuinely free to customers, simple, fast and secure. O2’s mobile expertise and insight, allied with an enhanced quality of network connectivity and strong venue partnerships will now deliver a significantly enhanced user experience.

O2 Wifi will introduce a new level of customer engagement, driving increased value for both the Wi-Fi hosting venue and the user by bringing together O2 Wifi with the capabilities of O2 Media and O2 Money to offer the potential to deliver relevant timely content that customers want in a format that suits them. Access to the hotspots will be through a simple sign-up process and will be free to both O2 and non-O2 mobile customers, providing seamless connectivity to a high quality network. The sign up process will be auto provisioned for all O2 customers with Wi-Fi devices by the end of the year.

All hotspots will be premium public hotspots, as opposed to using residential connections with limited bandwidth. O2 has long been a market-leader in provision of public Wi-Fi services across mobile devices, introducing unlimited Wi-Fi access included in iPhone tariffs over three years ago. Through O2’s partnerships with BT Openzone and The Cloud, adoption and growth of Wi-Fi services has been significant with customers seeing real usage benefits. O2’s New Business Development Director Tim Sefton said: “Building networks is a core capability. We have pioneered the explosion of mobile data over the last three years and know better than anyone where people are accessing data.

O2 Wifi hotspots will bring high quality public Wi-fi access to the majority of mobile users. “Only 20% of people who have access to free public Wi-Fi on O2 tariffs actively use it despite the majority of devices being Wi-Fi enabled. We know that Wi-Fi as a technology has great potential and can be a very fast service, however customers are discouraged by barriers which include complexity in activation, uncertainty of where Wi-Fi is free and the variable quality of the current experience. “O2 is integrating new layers of technology into the existing network to enable a seamless and sustained customer experience. We are technology-agnostic and driven entirely by our customers’ needs. We believe that services should be delivered in the best possible way, across multiple networks, supported by different technologies.” In addition, O2 is increasing investment in its mobile network by 25% in 2011.

These investments will allow O2 to offer customers access to a suite of layered technologies, including 2G, EDGE, 3G, 4G, HSPA+ and Wi-Fi, seamlessly, simply and at speed. These technologies will enable customers to access a new range of ‘smarter’ services and experiences. ”

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