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WiFi Seeker, Finder, Detector Roundup

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the beat-me-to-it dept.

Wireless Networking 168

captainJam points to this review at handtops.com of five reasonably priced hardware WiFi finders. A snippet: "If you're not using a WiFi enabled PDA, you either have to turn on your handtop or laptop, or wake it from standby just to check if there's a network in the area. While a WiFi Finder / Seeker won't make a connection out of thin air, it will conveniently tell you whether there is a WiFi network in the area."

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168 comments

fp (1, Troll)

Icyfire0573 (719207) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940453)

i used this device to find a wireless hotspot to get a first post from!

Lil Fli pSucks (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940464)

PPP in this bitch first post eat shit homosexual.

Lil Flip sucks TI's dick.

Re:Lil Fli pSucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940716)

GAME OVER!

Woo... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940474)

For less than the cheapest one ($24.99), you can buy a USB 802.11b adapter and not only detect networks, but actually connect to them and do something useful.

Re:Woo... (2, Interesting)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940512)

umm, did you forget the $1000 laptop to connect the USB to? that usb adapter by itself is very useful i hear!!

half the /. posts so far are people bad mouthing these things, claiming their bsd/linux laptop does so much more! well of course it does, it is a frickin' laptop! these are nice little devices to have when you don't want or need a laptop with, but still would like to know there is a network there for 'future use'...

not exactly... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940867)

hey guys,

i'm not sure exactly what i'm doing here. so...bear with me!

i clicked "geeky" on my match.com personals profile, thinking that i'd maybe get hooked up with somebody who was into math or some kind of toy train hobby or something...boy howdy was i in for a shock! i went on 4 dates with guys who all got on match.com because of osdn personals from slash-dot! 4 guys!

anyway, it didn't really work out with any of them, because it seemed like they were all under some kind of mind-control robot or something! i was like "what do you think about office? office 97 is enough for me, but there are some things about xp that are cool too...." the first guy i asked that to exploded on this tyrade about how office was evil, and that it uses html that's invalid...blah blah blah, whatever...i figured "ok, this guys a freak, but i'm not giving up that easily." so guy number two and i are having dinner, and just as a test i bring up office, and he says the *exact* *same* *things* the first guy said! it was like he was reading from a script! i'm thinking to myself "is everybody from slash-dot programmed to say the same thing or what?" i decided to do a bit of investigation.

i actually surfed over to slash-dot and read some of the articles...mostly they were pretty boring, and the comments were just like i expected judging from my previous past experience: scripted!!! just when i was about to completely write the whole thing off, i found a post from some guy who's with anti-slash, some kind of anti-slash-dot website. i mailed him and was all "i so agree with you guys, look at what sheep these slash-dot people are!" he wrote back and made some funny comments (funny and so *true*!...that is soooo the best kind of humor...but i dirgress...) and guess what? this weekend i'm supposed to meet him for dinner :) if you're reading this, i look forward to meeting you in person, john!

anyway, that's my story. ladies: if you're looking for the real cool geeks, check out anti-slash [anti-slash.org]. and fellas, you should check it out too and maybe use to to break out of your mind-control suits!

ok see ya later,

cyndi

In Soviet Russia (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940476)

In Soviet Russia, finder WIFIS YOU!!!

Re:In Soviet Russia (3, Funny)

stevenvi (779021) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940652)

Wouldn't it have been funnier as "In Soviet Russia, WIFI finds YOU!"?

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940781)

I'm just trying to mangle the grammar as much as possible to keep the whole 'retarded repetitious humor' vibe alive.

But, it's a lonely battle keeping the mangled soviet russia jokes alive. Back in the day, every 3rd post was a lame attempt at it. But now...*sigh*...I just do what I can.

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940669)

It was funny in family guy and it was funny the first few times i saw it here, but hasn't this been said enough here? Its getting old.

Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940753)

Family Guy? I don't get it. Care to explain the reference?

[OT] Re:In Soviet Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940811)

Actually, the parent doesn't seem to have a clue about the true origins of "In Soviet Russia..." stuff. The originator of these was Yakov Smirnoff, more information than anyone should care about (as well as a collection of "In Soviet Russia" jokes, the vast majority of which suck) can be found here [c2.com].

A conversation regarding my WiFi detector... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940477)

My girlfriend's dad once asked me what I was doing with my curious little LED encrusted black box... "It's a WiFi detector" I said.

"A wife detector?" He replied.

"Erm, no. Would be a good hack, though".

Re:A conversation regarding my WiFi detector... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940557)

Let me introduce the WiFe Detector 4000

Picks up gold diggers in a 100 meter radius in the 2-5GHz band.

does not guarantee a wife

Re:A conversation regarding my WiFi detector... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940772)

My girlfriend's dad once asked me...

Ya right.. we know you are lying because you would never have a girlfriend.

New fangled methods! (5, Funny)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940480)

What ever happend to licking your finger and feeling for which way the wifi is blowing?

Re:New fangled methods! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940496)

Someone was electrocuted, so he sued his parents for producing faulty fingers. Now everyone's afraid of the litigation.

Re:New fangled methods! (2, Funny)

Soko (17987) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940498)

IME WiFi sucks, it doesn't blow.

Sok[LOST_IP_CONNECTION_ON_WLAN0]

furry porn (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940483)

lol [bayou.com]

Application? (-1, Redundant)

FiReaNGeL (312636) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940484)

Aside from the obvious (and illegal?) wardriving, is there a useful application for this kind of stuff?

Re:Application? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940501)

There's a free wifi service at the mall down thar. *points*
My point is: Not all wireless networks are private, so I suppose that's where these come in.

Re:Application? (3, Informative)

revscat (35618) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940502)

Wardriving isn't illegal. I had one of these when I went to San Francisco and used it to tell which restaurants/cafes/coffee shops had free wifi access. Sometimes they advertised it on the window, sometimes they didn't. If I got a ping I at least knew I was on the right track.

Accessing a network you don't have permission to access is illegal (and, frankly, immoral). I never once did that, even though I very well could have.

my experience with slash-dot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940857)

hey guys,

i'm not sure exactly what i'm doing here. so...bear with me!

i clicked "geeky" on my match.com personals profile, thinking that i'd maybe get hooked up with somebody who was into math or some kind of toy train hobby or something...boy howdy was i in for a shock! i went on 4 dates with guys who all got on match.com because of osdn personals from slash-dot! 4 guys!

anyway, it didn't really work out with any of them, because it seemed like they were all under some kind of mind-control robot or something! i was like "what do you think about office? office 97 is enough for me, but there are some things about xp that are cool too...." the first guy i asked that to exploded on this tyrade about how office was evil, and that it uses html that's invalid...blah blah blah, whatever...i figured "ok, this guys a freak, but i'm not giving up that easily." so guy number two and i are having dinner, and just as a test i bring up office, and he says the *exact* *same* *things* the first guy said! it was like he was reading from a script! i'm thinking to myself "is everybody from slash-dot programmed to say the same thing or what?" i decided to do a bit of investigation.

i actually surfed over to slash-dot and read some of the articles...mostly they were pretty boring, and the comments were just like i expected judging from my previous past experience: scripted!!! just when i was about to completely write the whole thing off, i found a post from some guy who's with anti-slash, some kind of anti-slash-dot website. i mailed him and was all "i so agree with you guys, look at what sheep these slash-dot people are!" he wrote back and made some funny comments (funny and so *true*!...that is soooo the best kind of humor...but i dirgress...) and guess what? this weekend i'm supposed to meet him for dinner :) if you're reading this, i look forward to meeting you in person, john!

anyway, that's my story. ladies: if you're looking for the real cool geeks, check out anti-slash [anti-slash.org]. and fellas, you should check it out too and maybe use to to break out of your mind-control suits!

ok see ya later,

cyndi

Re:my experience with slash-dot (-1, Offtopic)

GeorgeWBorscht (814022) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940895)

I commend your ingenurity. This troll post was much better than the other anti-slash troll posts. Good job, and stay the course. It's harrrrd work. I's harrrd. But the Internet is safer with slashdot removed from power.

Re:Application? (4, Informative)

aaza (635147) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940508)

1. "Hmmm, I wonder how far I can get from the office, and still be connected to the network..."

2. "I wonder if someone else has a WiFi connection in my appartment block that is causing problems with my laptop connection to my home network" (do they interfere? Or can you just choose which to connect to?)

3. "Does this library have WiFi?" (Yeah, I know. Ask at the desk. But what kind of self-respecting geek asks, when he/she can find out for him/herself?)

Laugh. It's funny.

Re:Application? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940551)

1. "Hmmm, I wonder how far I can get from the office, and still be connected to the network..."

And you can tell its YOUR network how?

2. "I wonder if someone else has a WiFi connection in my appartment block that is causing problems with my laptop connection to my home network" (do they interfere? Or can you just choose which to connect to?)

And you can tell its not your network how?

3. "Does this library have WiFi?" (Yeah, I know. Ask at the desk. But what kind of self-respecting geek asks, when he/she can find out for him/herself?)

And you can tell its the library network and not the people nextdoor how?

Re:Application? (3, Funny)

aaza (635147) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940617)

1. "Hmmm, I wonder how far I can get from the office, and still be connected to the network..."
And you can tell its YOUR network how?

Well, it lets me log in with my username/password, so I should see my home direc... Nuts. I just gave my work username/password to the identity theif that runs this network next to ours.

2. "I wonder if someone else has a WiFi connection in my appartment block that is causing problems with my laptop connection to my home network" (do they interfere? Or can you just choose which to connect to?)
And you can tell its not your network how?

"Hmm, what does this switch on the back of my WiFi hub do?"

3. "Does this library have WiFi?" (Yeah, I know. Ask at the desk. But what kind of self-respecting geek asks, when he/she can find out for him/herself?)
And you can tell its the library network and not the people nextdoor how?

Fire up laptop. Attempt to connect. "Well, it says 'pulic library WiFi hotspot' in the connection name. Must be them guys at the coffee store next door.
Seriously, though - in this case it doesn't really matter who owns it if it is a public hotspot - but if you are next to Starbucks (or someone who is known to have hotspots), ask at the desk anyway. They might not like it if you use their connection without buying a coffee.

I never said that they were good uses, or that these uses will work, they are just examples.

NOTE TO MODs: This is humour (yes, I'm Australian. We spell it like that). Not flame/troll.

Re:Application? (1)

petecarlson (457202) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940738)

1. "Hmmm, I wonder how far I can get from the office, and still be connected to the network..."
And you can tell its YOUR network how?

If you set your SSID to linksys you can go rather far. I was doing some consulting work for a company last week who had their ssid set to linksys... Wide open. Sometimes they could connect to the internet but not their Exchange server on the local network... wonder why. Anyway, I set my laptop to connect to "linksys" and was running netstumbeler. I left the laptop on for the ride home. getting back to the Jabali, I discovered that not only was I still connected, but netstumbeler showed a good connection for the entire drive back.

Re:Application? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940787)

but if you are next to Starbucks (or someone who is known to have hotspots), ask at the desk anyway. They might not like it if you use their connection without buying a coffee.

I've just learned that my ISP has city-wide wifi coverage, and it is accessible from a certain cafe I frequent. I'm tempted to go there off-hours with a full laptop battery charge (thus not using their electricity) and not necessarily consume coffee while accessing my ISP.

< costanza > should I not have done that? Did I do something wrong? < /costanza >

Re:Application? (2, Insightful)

rgriff59 (526951) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940634)

Quickly looking for WiFi where it should NOT be seems like a good application. With access points at a nearly trivial cost, even a well intentioned but clueless employee can potentially compromise a private LAN. Even the best thought out policies could fail due to $25 in equipment from Best Buy in a lunch sack.

Re:Application? (1)

DAE51D (776260) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940760)

My company makes a product that detects exactly this scenario: http://www.lockdownnetworks.com/products/wireless. php

easier than firing up a laptop... (2, Interesting)

aaza (635147) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940485)

...or PDA.

These could be a great idea if you live in an area that has some WiFi, but only sometimes. Also great for when you are out and about, or in another city/state/whatever.

If you are somewhere that you know has WiFi (office, known hotspot, Starbucks etc), it is not much use.

Re:easier than firing up a laptop... (1)

Intruger (637870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940650)

I agree, a PDA would be easier to detect a WIFI signal. But if these WIFI detector were to work passively in the background instead of having to press a button to scan for a signal, they would be much more useful.

Re:easier than firing up a laptop... (1)

periol (767926) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940674)

If you are somewhere that you know has WiFi (office, known hotspot, Starbucks etc), it is not much use.

erm, don't forget all of New York City (well, except for Harlem).

Re:easier than firing up a laptop... (1)

lagnoid (646617) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940730)

Not exactly true. My local library has WiFi, but the signal was quite weak where I last set up my laptop. Next time, with PCTEL in hand, I'll know where to sit to get good signal.

Home Depot selling these? (3, Informative)

Linuxathome (242573) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940490)

You know WiFe technology has really been commoditized and has hit the mainstream when Home Depot [homedepot.com] is selling the stuff. I wouldn't be surprised now to see them stock these WiFi detectors, a great tool for the homeowner who wants to optimize his/her home network. They sell meters for just about every other wired products (RJ11, RJ45, etc.)

Re:Home Depot selling these? (2, Funny)

double-oh three (688874) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940549)

Yes, but WiFe technology is still only availible as a commodity from Russia. /resisted in-soviet-russia joke

Re:Home Depot selling these? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940938)

"You know WiFe technology has really been commoditized and has hit the mainstream when Home Depot is selling the stuff."

Yay! Time to go get me a WiFe.

(Runs off to Home Depot to pick up a WiFe detector/finder)

time (4, Interesting)

Suburbanpride (755823) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940492)

Its takes less than 7 seconds from the time I open the lid on my powerbook untill I can browse available networks. The wifi dector doesn't even tell you if you will be able to connect to the network or not. I don't really see the use for these devices

RTFA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940513)

If you took the time to actually read the WHOLE article, you'd see that the last device DOES tell you if the AP is open or not.

Nice karma whoring.

Re:time (3, Informative)

saitoh (589746) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940527)

Ever go sniffing in places that are... well, less then suitable to carry around a laptop (or conceil one while sniffing)?

No, these don't tell you if you can connect, but it at least brings us one step closer to wether there is a network at all.

Re:time (1)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940752)

Ever go sniffing in places that are... well, less then suitable to carry around a laptop (or conceil one while sniffing)?

what good does knowing a network exists do you if you cant pull out your laptop to use it?

Re:time (1)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940824)

You can use that information as a basis for strength maps, which may help you find a spot that's concealed but still gets you onto the given network.

Dear Sniffer (1)

Letter (634816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940854)

Dear Sniffer,

Usually my Internet connections at home and work suffice. But I guess if you're getting a sucky-fucky at the whorehouse and want to see if next time you should bring your laptop to browse /. then a WiFi detector is useful.

Letter

Re:time (2, Funny)

rzebram (828885) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940542)

You can, yes, but don't you think it would increase your chances of ever getting a date if you could just pull a small device out of your pocket instead of whipping out the laptop? No? Me either... Unless, of course, you find a girl in a bar where you're checking for WiFi access who happens to be amused by LEDs and shiny objects.

Re:time (3, Informative)

wpc4 (169892) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940605)

Well, as the article says the Canary device does indeed detect SID/Channel as well as if WEP is enabled.

Re:time (4, Insightful)

Erwos (553607) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940614)

Have you ever tried to take out a laptop and do something useful with it while walking?

I could easily press a button on a keychain while walking. Hell, even that $50 fancy one looks easy enough to manage. There's NO WAY your laptop is going to be as easy to use.

If I am hunting for a WiFi signal, I don't want to stop, find a place to rest a laptop, spend thirty seconds setting it up, and then clicking a couple times to see if, indeed, there is a signal even ONCE. Screw doing it over and over.

"I don't really see the use for these devices"

Stop being so self-centered, and maybe you would.

-Erwos

Re:time (1)

sheddd (592499) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940901)

Good point but I'll argue anyway :)

I spent ~6 hours helping do a site survey with my 14lb laptop... that sucked...

But a little 3lb laptop set to remain awake with the lid closed, and netstumbler (or similar app) set to beep when it picks up the hotspot would be as easy as these devices.

I have the SmartID WiFi Detector. (2, Informative)

eeg3 (785382) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940504)

I got it from ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com]... it was reasonably priced (Only $25). It's very well designed, and it's pretty compact.

While it wasn't the #1 in the comparison, i'd recommend it to anyone.

encrypted? (5, Informative)

VE3ECM (818278) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940505)

Well, only one [canarywireless.com] of the devices is able to detect if a node is running encryption.

At about 2X the cost of the cheapest one (50 vs. 25 bucks), it's easily worth the expense.

I dunno about you, but the amount of time it would take me to get my laptop out of my bag, fire it up, and try to connect isn't minor.

The ability to show if I'm wasting my time or not is worth the extra 25 bucks.

hidden message (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940818)

Are you tired of slashdot's editors? Check out anti-slash [anti-slash.org]!

While you're there, check out the database tool here [anti-slash.org]. With the database tool, you can quickly gain karma by reposting highly-moderated slashdot posts, and secure the +1 bonus for future jihad operations.

By decreasing /.'s already low signal to noise ratio, you can force /.'s editors to come clean about their ethical lapses, and have a great time doing it!

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jihadi_31337


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This makes me wonder... (4, Funny)

brxndxn (461473) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940511)

I think our generation is gonna be walking around the city with these things when we're old like the old people at beaches with metal detectors..

*my* generation... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940831)

Are you tired of slashdot's editors? Check out anti-slash [anti-slash.org]!

While you're there, check out the database tool here [anti-slash.org]. With the database tool, you can quickly gain karma by reposting highly-moderated slashdot posts, and secure the +1 bonus for future jihad operations.

By decreasing /.'s already low signal to noise ratio, you can force /.'s editors to come clean about their ethical lapses, and have a great time doing it!

Thank you for your support,

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| _ __ | |
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(_) o

Hm.. (5, Informative)

kaitou (789825) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940519)

That sort of thing would probably be pretty useless here in NYC.

The problem is, that a lot of networks -seem- open, but require a login once you are connected, and around here, you are never far from a signal, so I just never found it worthwhile to plunk down the $30 or so they ask for them.

The only one of them that I find interesting is the Canary one, which actualy has an LCD that shows you the SSID of the network. But I am not sure it's worth the $50 to me, but it's a much better value then any of the "if the light blinks, you got WiFi" ones.

NYC not as wired as you might think... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940841)

Are you tired of slashdot's editors? Check out anti-slash [anti-slash.org]!

While you're there, check out the database tool here [anti-slash.org]. With the database tool, you can quickly gain karma by reposting highly-moderated slashdot posts, and secure the +1 bonus for future jihad operations.

By decreasing /.'s already low signal to noise ratio, you can force /.'s editors to come clean about their ethical lapses, and have a great time doing it!

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(_) o

Encryption and Access (2, Interesting)

CoolSilver (794518) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940534)

The only downside to these devices, encription and B or b only networks show up as any other. They are existant or not and signal strength.

You found a AP in the area. Great, but it is an encrypted airport commercial network for say e-ticket kiosks. You wouldn't know unless you powered up you laptop, draining you battery further and have to wait for windows to start up and shut down. Even hibernation saves login time but not time for windows to load and dump ram.

Re:Encryption and Access (3, Insightful)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940547)

The point is to save you the trouble of opening the laptop if there is *NO* wap in range.

Perhaps (1)

hdd (772289) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940572)

you should learn to stand by...boots up in a second, and you can config it in such way that only hiber/reboot required password.

Re:Perhaps (1)

CoolSilver (794518) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940696)

Standby still drains battery power keeping your programs running in ram. Hibernation completely dumps ram to the hard disk for reload after post. Power is completely off once dump is completed.

Re:Encryption and Access (0, Troll)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940678)

but it is an encrypted airport commercial network for say e-ticket kiosk. They have e-ticket rides at the airport? Cool.

Would be awesome... (1)

Fry-kun (619632) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940564)

... if the HWL1 had an antenna connector: then it could be simply connected to your laptop's wifi card for a much better signal.

Expensive but excellent solution. (5, Interesting)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940566)

The best solution by far that I've found is my Palm Tungsten C running NetChaser [bitsnbolts.com]. Not only does it detect the networks, it will let you know their SSIDs, the last time you saw them, their MAC address, and a pile of other information. It can alert you by a tone or by using the Tungsten C's vibration function, and can operate with the screen off. It can even initiate a WiFi connection to a selected network.

I've had mine set-up to operate with the screen off, and vibrate when an unencrypted network is encountered. I can walk around with it in my pocket and can silently know when I'm within range of an unencrypted wireless signal (it just logs the encrypted ones without vibrating). At that point, I can either connect from the T|C, or whip out my PowerBook.

It's been fun walking around the neighbourhood with it in my pocket looking for open networks. I seem to hit upon one ever 2 or 3 houses. It's nice to know that if I'm really hard up for cash I can probably print up a bunch of fliers and distribute them around the neighbourhood where there are open access points offering to secure their access points for cash :).

Yaz.

Re:Expensive but excellent solution. (0)

qualico (731143) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940608)

I like the idea of using this with a PDA.
Better yet, one that has phone capabilities like the Treo.
Would be great to connect to a network download some MP3s, check email, makes some calls or read a book.

[rant]
I need a mod refill.
Please mod this up someone. The modding on this forum so far has been dismal.
[/rant]

Re:Expensive but excellent solution. (2, Interesting)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940680)

Would be great to connect to a network download some MP3s, check email, makes some calls or read a book.

That's about what I'm setting myself up to do -- I'm going to go with a 100% mobile workplace. I have my Tungsten C with built-in WiFi and my 12" PowerBook with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth -- in the next few weeks I'm planning on adding a Bluetooth-enabled GPRS cell phone with a data service package. It's three devices, but I'll have flexible data access from virtually anywhere, along with phone and fax capabilities.

WiFi is my preference, but there are many time I'm working outside of WiFi range. With the devices I already own, I'm two thirds of the way there :).

Yaz.

Re:Expensive but excellent solution. (1)

emptybody (12341) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940788)

which phone?
I was thinking of the sprint pcmcia cellular card.
I really need reliable net access from anywhere that is within Cell range. I also need to be able to join into concalls with vendors.

Re:Expensive but excellent solution. (2, Informative)

Yaztromo (655250) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940866)

which phone?

Well, first off I'm in Canada, so the carrier is probably going to differ from your available choices (as I'm assuming based on your selection of Sprint that you're in the US).

Secondly, I'm currently lookig at the Sony Ericsson T610. From my limited research thus far it appears to be less expensive than a lot of other Bluetooth-enabled phones, and will sync via iSync with my PowerBook.

I would prefer to be able to get a phone without a built-in camera, but most of the current crop of Bluetooth-enabled phones have one.

However, being a primarily data guy, I'm fairly new to the world of cell phones. I've never owned one, and really don't want people calling me wherever I might be. I'm just not tied to the telephone like some many other people in this day and age. So what I'll probably end up doing is going to a cellular retailler and grilling them to try to find the best phone and plan to fit my needs.

With all that said, based on my own research I'm thinking of going with Fido here in Canada, as they have a $50 unlimited data plan, whereas all the other providers have data plans that are more expensive. One of my concerns is to not pay an arm and a leg each month, but I also need to be able to do more than just check my e-mail (in fact, my primary need as a developer will be CVS access. As evil as it is, I can see myself starting to use -z9 :) ).

Yaz.

What about the signal strength (1)

p0 (740290) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940583)

What if the signal is too weak for the small detector to detect? What if your real laptop can see it and your gadget will not?

Re:What about the signal strength (1)

nick0909 (721613) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940615)

Then your gadget doesn't see it and your laptop does. But just because the gadget is small doesn't mean it has worse receive capabilities... an antenna and internal components can be as big as a house but still be crap.

Re:What about the signal strength (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940645)

yeah, I have tried these gizmos and the cheaper ones are all deaf as a post, a waste of money

mod this up

So what's inside? (4, Insightful)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940589)

With prices ranging from $25-$50, I can't help the obvious thought: what needs to be inside such a WiFi finder, and... what should a simple thingie like this cost?

Duhh.. antenna (cheap), plastic box (cents), couple of LED's/switches (cents), batteries (included?), small PCB (cheap), some dedicated IC's (???, anyone got some info here?), design/packaging/retail etc. (large portion of street price?)

Easy to build yourself as hobby project? Estimated price a couple of years from now?

I disected one of these things once... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940847)

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Strength is the key ... (3, Interesting)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940624)

One of these would be great for situations I frequently find myself in ...

... many college campuses are "WiFi Ready" or whatever catch phrase the IT department wants to use to talk about 802.11x access.

Thankfully poor planning, lack of funds, etc will cause there to be many upon many of blind spots in the buildings, these would be much more useful than carrying around a laptop and watching the indicator on the screen.

Especially useful when the AP's are "hidden" to be more asthetically pleasing.

Laziness (0, Redundant)

mr deprecation (834102) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940627)

This seems to me to be an incredible waste of money. Is it really that difficult to just turn on your laptop and check? I mean, is the 10-30 second effort worth $30? I really don't think so. Also, if you think about it, what about all the times when you do find a Wi-Fi signal? You're gonna have to pull out your laptop anyways. Guess what, I would have already beat you to it by just turning it on in the first place.(yay) You also have to figure that most people travel the same route over and over again and once you find out where signal is, why would you ever use it again?

Re:Laziness (1)

pmazer (813537) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940743)

But what if you're in say, a park? Are you going to want to walk all through the park, opening your laptop every 5 minutes to see if this place has WiFi yet?

Re:Laziness (1)

mr deprecation (834102) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940782)

If I wanted to use the Internet in a public area, a park is the last place I would ever try. I thought a park was a place to go and..well, be with nature or something? And personally, the idea of wi-fi in a park is a bad idea. We need to have areas where technology is kept to a minimum so we don't forget the [cheesy]simpler things in life[/cheesy]. If you really need to check your email that badly, then don't go to the park in the first place.

Re:Laziness (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940865)

I've actually done that before. The only problems you can run into is battery life. I use NetStumbler http://www.netstumbler.com/ [netstumbler.com], put it into the auidble mode, put my laptop into power-save mode so it doesn't completely destroy the battery, and leave it in its case. It can be a hassle, but if it isn't something you do too often it's not too bad.

Re:Laziness (1)

Stinking Pig (45860) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940800)

Most people do, yes, but many people do not. I travel more often than I'm home, and when I'm travelling I could be anywhere. I'm not likely to buy one of these since the Blackberry handles most of the things I would do with a hotspot, but I can understand the attraction.

WiFi-B-Gone (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940694)

Will the next generation combine the WiFi-detector keyfob with the TV-B-Gone [tvbgone.com]? Press the button and within a minute all WiFi in the area goes down...

Been Around (0, Redundant)

ReeprFlame (745959) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940719)

I have seen these around. If only they were a bit more powerful and useful. Such as if they decoded a ESSID and displayed it on an LCD screen with the signal strength and if it was encrypted. Maybe thats the next project for me...

Do you think they sell one of these at ThinkGeek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940734)

Yeah they do [thinkgeek.com].

Create maps of hotspots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940755)

Use a service like Plazes [plazes.com]. And yes, they offer web services, are friendly developers, and will be probably adding some Semantic Web output in too.

For instance, I'm sitting right here [plazes.com].

WiFi detectors only do half the job ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940789)

So there we were in New Orleans, staying in an older hotel in the French Quarter with absolutely no broadband (It was being installed for our meeting the following day).

Were we interested in partying - no way. One of the meeting participants from Germany needed his daily shot of freshmeat while another needed his daily shot of slashdot. So we pulled out our Smart Id WiFi detector, purchased at ThinkGeek and proceeded to walk the streets, laptops in backpacks, Wifi detector in hand.

Lo and behold, a few blocks from the hotel we found our first wifi hotspot, only to find it was secure. We walked on only to find another secure hotspot. After walking the French Quarter for the next 2 hours we had found several hotspots, but none that we could tap into. Now we realized that we really should have been partying.

Why can't someone build a WiFi detector that finds the hotspot, flashes if its open and blinks if it can be subscribed to?

What I saw while reading the article... (4, Informative)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 9 years ago | (#10940872)

So we pulled out our Smart Id WiFi detector, purchased at ThinkGeek and proceeded to walk the streets, laptops in backpacks, Wifi detector in hand.

Lo and behold, a few blocks from the hotel we found our first wifi hotspot, only to find it was secure. We walked on only to find another secure hotspot. After walking the French Quarter for the next 2 hours we had found several hotspots, but none that we could tap into. Now we realized that we really should have been partying.

Why can't someone build a WiFi detector that finds the hotspot, flashes if its open and blinks if it can be subscribed to?


From the article:
Out in the field, the HS10 works very well. If any networks are found, it stops scanning and then scrolls the SID / name, its strength, whether it is encrypted or open and the channel the network is on. Pressing the button again will continue scanning.


No other WiFi finder gives you this much information. Knowing whether there are any open networks in the area can save you from powering up / waking up your handtop/laptop, only to find out the network is encrypted. Detection is quick and range is above par, from 300-610 feet.
The only thing that seems to be missing is detection of whether the network is locked down by MAC address. Isn't the device described above approximately what you are looking for?

elsewhere sco site got hacked! predictable? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940885)

well, the open soruce guys will surely get the balme - thats the sad part.
http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/ 11/29/0 28207

How about... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10940894)

just asking: "hey, is there a wireless internet connection available here?"...
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