Wi-Fi Nightmares

After posting yesterday about my flaky wireless network, I find John Dvorak in PCMag has similar thoughts.

(Lingo Alert: 802.11 is the protocol used for wireless nets. RJ-45 is the plug on network cable. One end plugs into the network card on your PC, the other end into the router. Once you’ve done that you are wired, rather than wireless.)

The biggest joke about 802.11 is that nobody uses any of these encryption schemes anyway. I can drive into any city, park my car on any downtown street, and pick up dozens of networks. Maybe a quarter are secured; the rest are wide open.

What is the reason for this? Technology tends to be so disappointing and buggy that when something works at all, nobody wants to mess with it—let alone get fancy.

Indeed, configuring the popular LinkSys Wireless-G for MAC addressing and encryption, both of which are needed for a secure net, takes some serious geek tweaking.  The process is convoluted, complicated, not even slightly user-friendly, and beyond the expertise of most users. So, most people install their wireless nets with the default options, not knowing these leave their net available to anyone in range who wants to use it.

Plus, as happened to me, you can have everything configured correctly only have the PCs on it either not find the wireless net and/or lose connection to the Internet, all for no discernable reason. 

This is essentially a black hole of confusion, similar to the one created for the old modem market with all its names for various speeds and protocols. I don’t even want to get into a discussion about how many of these supposedly compatible Wi-Fi systems do not work well together when you mix brands, despite what we are told.

I love the idea of moving around the world wirelessly. But if I had a choice between going wireless and plugging into an RJ-45, I’d take the RJ-45 with the hard wire anytime. It just works. It’s faster and better.

And that’s just what I did. Went back to wired.