On the Web - A Better Wireless Experience

by Heather Mead

A while ago, I had conversations with two of my least technically inclined friends, both of whom brought up the topic of Wi-Fi within minutes. In fact, one friend, a dancer and choreographer, called me specifically to ask what he could do with “the Wi-Fi thing in my laptop”. He'd bought a shiny new laptop on the recommendation of another friend and now was confessing to me that although he knew what Wi-Fi was theoretically, he wasn't sure what he could do with it.

Fast forward to the recent 4th of July weekend, when I spent time with these friends and found out they've both figured out a whole lot they can do with wireless. The choreographer told me he is working on-line with dancers on a new production. He's also collaborating with the cellist writing music for the piece. The cellist lives in San Diego, and my friend is doing most of this work while running around Seattle and hopping on any of the many hot spots he locates thanks to SeattleWireless.net. And, although certainly not the most important function that wireless technology ever served, without cell phones with IM features, my other friend and I never would have located each other among the 30,000+ people present at the fireworks display the evening of July 4th.

For those of you who've mastered IM and who are able to locate a hot spot blindfolded, the topic of this issue is Everything Wireless, and the LJ Web site offers even more project news, advice and how-tos. Take, for example, “Getting On-line Anywhere with Bluetooth and GPRS”, by Sreekrishan Venkiteswara (www.linuxjournal.com/article/7525). This article offers an overview of how BlueZ and General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) work and explains how they can be used when designing embedded Linux products, including cell phones and PDAs. Venkiteswara writes, “Because Bluetooth supports device inquiry and service discovery, the Bluetooth devices automatically can use a nearby cell phone for Internet connectivity, without cumbersome configuration of such details as physical addresses.”

In “A Linux-Based Implementation of Mobility Using SIP” (www.linuxjournal.com/article/7380), the developers explain how they created the “first open-source SIP implementation that supports mobility” by adding mobility capabilities to Vovida's VOCAL VoIP software. They write, “The software supports seamless SIP signaling when the user moves from network to network, as well as automatic handoff if the user is in the middle of a call while changing networks.”

On the end-user side, for those of you struggling with wireless connectivity for your laptop, be sure to check out the latest installment of Doc Searls' adventures with his new IBM T40 laptop, “The Laptopia Odyssey, Part 2” (www.linuxjournal.com/article/7636). A big part of this stage in creating Doc's ultimate mobile workstation is getting Wi-Fi to work as well and as consistently as he needs. Things improved once he switched to SuSE Professional 9.1 and made a few other changes, but it's still not perfect. He writes, “Kismet seems to work, so far. It sees 802.11b and b/g access points, two of each (three here, one next door). I still need to figure out how to get the ThinkPad to switch easily from one to another.” Doc also writes about using FireWire and the browser and office applications he likes best for his laptop.

If you're doing something new and interesting with wireless or if you've improved your wireless experience, why not share it with the rest of the Open Source community? Send me an article proposal at heather@ssc.com.

Heather Mead is senior editor of Linux Journal.

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