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ex machina

on wireless hacks and subsidizing a community

you might might remember that the snowdeal show ® required us to move into a large 3-floor ( well, 4 floors actually, if you consider the basement ) victorian which was built in 1890. naturally, getting a solid wireless connection throughout the house has been a top priority.

initially the access point and cable modem were placed on the third floor since that's where my home office is setup and where comcast dropped the "data" cable. an initial site survey showed that the signal strength was great on the third floor ( 4 bars on a mac), passable ( 2 bars ) with holes on the first floor, and nonexistant in the basement. given this data, i was initially just going to repurpose my aging linksys BEFW11S4 and slap on some range extending antenna's , but after some additional thought, i decided to just upgrade my ap to a linksys wrt54g and take advantage of firmware hacks to turn up the power to and get a little better coverage.

while there were a few close contenders, i ended up going with sveasoft's firmware . after you load the software on the ap, you're presented with an admin screen that looks deceptively like the stock screen, but with a boatload of new features , including the ability to turn up the transmit power. . you won't be able to turn the ap into a 200mw monster, but i've found you can increase the transmit power by 40 percent over the factory settings and get a reliable 50 mw signal.

with a little more power, i could get getter signal on the first floor, with the ap on the third floor but i still wasn't getting anything in the basement. rf signal propagation is a mystery to me and i've found that theory is worthless in real world settings, so the next logical step was to unplug the ap and start moving it around. i had a hunch that if i centered the ap in the first floor floorboards ( via access in the basement ) at about the middle of the house that i'd get good coverage across all 4 floors. and indeed, after a little empirical testing i had great coverage everywhere, thanks to one well-placed ap and the community behind sveasofts . although the firmware is gpl'd, for $20 you can subscribe to get a full year of firmware upgrades and priority support. while this is a slightly controversial approach to subsidizing open source code developement, it seems like a terrific bargain to me.

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5/23/2004 05:45:00 PM 0 comments


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"it is hard to be brave," said piglet, sniffing slightly, "when you're only a Very Small Animal." rabbit, who had begun to write very busily, looked up and said: "it is because you are a very small animal that you will be Useful in the adventure before us."

the complete tales & poems of winnie the pooh

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this site chronicles the continuing adventures of my son, odin, who was unexpectedly born on the fourth of july at 25 weeks gestation, weighing 1 pound 7 ounces.

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