Wi-Fire is no more!

Image representing hField Technologies as depi...

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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.

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.

Malware risk on unsecured WiFi networks

Security camera

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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.

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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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The Future of Wi-Fi

A photograph of a metro Wi-Fi antenna in Minne...

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Wi-Fi is growing in popularity, according to the WiFi Alliance (but then it would say that, wouldn’t it!). However, it appears to be the case, with increasing numbers of smartphones coming with built-in Wi-Fi and one only has to think of the iPad and the iPhone sales numbers to realise that there is a growing number of wireless devices out there.

So, what can we expect from our wi-fi in the future? Well, 802.11n is becoming more ubiquitous and now the Wi-Fi industry has its sights set on increasing Wi-Fi throughput and range, with upcoming certification programs for Wi-Fi in the 60 GHz frequency band and with Very High Throughput (VHT) Wi-Fi in 5 GHz.

There is also the introduction of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct™, a certification program for device-to-device communication without a wireless network or access point. This may well see the death of bluetooth.

Certainly, the rapid growth in wireless devices (device shipments expected to reach two billion by 2015 )  means we all need to think  more about security and avoid using unsecured networks whenever possible. It’s thought that some 400, 000 of the 3.5 million hotspots around the world are unsecured and vulnerable to hacking, so beware.

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WiFi issues with Windows 7 devices

Image representing Dell as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Seems that not everything is going smoothly for Microsoft, with reports of various problems and mixed reviews for it’s new Windows 7 smartphone devices.

Already, PC giant Dell’s new Windows Phone 7-powered smartphone Venue Pro reportedly has a WiFi glitch. According to the company, a firmware glitch is the culprit behind the connectivity issue faced by some users. Dell, have confimed in the blog that the issue that was reported in blogs like Boy Genius Report and Ubergizmo is indeed genuine. 

HTC Windows 7 handsets have also been reported as experiencing problems with WiFi, atlhough HTC has remained strangely quiet on the front, for now.

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Wi-Fi Firesheep Hacking Tool Threat to Public Wi-Fi

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Firesheep is a Firefox add-on that it possible for anyone to hack into open Wi-Fi networks, such as those commonly found in public networks. Written by Eric Butler, it allows you to intercept cookies by Amazon, bit.ly, Facebook, Twitter, CNET, Cisco, Dropbox, Google and numerous others. The technique is known as ‘HTTP session hijacking’ (or ‘sidejacking‘). The programmer also says its easy for any competent programmer to write their own plugins to add to the sites that can be hacked.

The captured cookies contain the login details of the unsuspecting user of the public network and will also display their photo and name in the browser sidebar. By double-clicking on the user you can then login to the site in question, just as if you were the actual user. The potential for anyone to exploit this for nefarious ends is frightening, and should make everyone think twice about using public (open) networks at all.

Butler has said that the only effective way to combat the vulnerability his Firefox web browser add-on Firesheep takes advantage of is for the sites to use full end-to-end encryption, known as HTTPS or SSL but many sites default to the HTTP protocol because it’s quicker.

Although you can download the add-on from eleewhere I am not including any links here to it as I don’t want to encourage such activity.

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