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Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed, nearly by accident
Authored by: maggard on Jun 05, '07 10:52:22PM

The “article” is trash.

It’s got a few good points, but it’s also hopelessly wide of the mark on others.

Yes, WEP security is cooked, has been for years, see “Airsnort”. All WEP does is keep out the clueless. Any goober can download software that’ll automagically crack it like it’s ROT13 (Google that if you don’t know the reference.) A coupla minutes and you’re hotspot-city.

The suggestion to find an uncongested channel–d’uh! As is not to block transmissions with walls, books, metals, masonry, water, and other stuff that blocks radio waves, again, d’uh!. Next they’ll suggest to plug-it-in (oooh, never woulda thought of that!)!

What the article’s author didn’t know about was other devices that transmit in the same frequencies and cause interference. Like microwave ovens. 2.4 GHz phones (non-DECT). Many wireless cameras and security devices, including baby monitors. Bluetooth. Yep–I’ve seen a single wonky Bluetooth adapter jam every WiFi device in a small office building. So, turn it all off if you’re not needing it.

For what to tune to, in North America we’ve got channels 1-11 for use in the ISM band at 2.4 GHz. However 1, 6, and 11 are the primary ones, the the rest just interfere/get-interference from those. But for our flat-living limey mate he’s got 1-13, and in Japan it’s 1-14 (check the regulations for your nation, some exceptions may apply).

But Multicast–someone didn’t read their help files. Multicast isn’t about running 802.11a/b/g/n simultaneously, it’s about allowing packets to go across the entire network, kinda likes, oh, say, Rendezvous! Yep, no multicast and suddenly can’t find shared iTunes, AppleTV, mebbe your printer, etc. Big wrong hint there.

What the article is confusing MAC filtering with is isolation, keeping traffic going in & out but not across the network, sorta like making everyone dial direct instead of allowing party lines. Isolation is great in an internet cafe–no sneakily checking out the other folk’s machines. But in a home or office network that’s exactly how we find servers, printers, and other shared resources; a good thing!

Back to MAC filtering. A “MAC address” is Media Access Control, a number burnt into every Ethernet devices’ firmware (nothing to do with Macintosh computers.) Filtering it on a WiFi router just means that there’s a list of MAC addresses that are allowed to connect, or not connect, or a list for each.

Thus MAC filtering is a primitive way of managing who can do what, but it’s trivially defeatable. Again, any goober in the area can listen in to your router’s broadcasts, pick up what MAC addresses are marked as good, and spoof them. Again, sans skills, just download the right automated software and good to go in 30 seconds.

So MAC filtering has nothing to do with traffic, just a feel-good/doesn’t-work/waste-of-time/false-sense-of-security thing old-wives-tale. Oh, same with “hiding” your SSID, the name your router broadcasts. Yeah, broadcasting “I’m not here”, “I’m not here”, “I’m not here” is sooo much more secure then simply sending out “Wilton’s Router”.

Feh. What next? Write on your CDs with a green marker to make ‘em sound better? A nickel bit of foil that suddenly improves your cellphone signal (because the manufacturer wouldn’t a put it on themselves if it worked)?

What can you do to improve your signal?

Your stock WiFi antenna is omnidirectional; that means it is broadcasting in a big flat pancake pattern, slightly umbrella-ish. So if everything your router connects to is in one direction then all of that other 300-some degrees of energy is wasted, and just as bad the signal from anything in those directions is a distraction. So get a directional antenna, or invest 5 minutes and a pie tin in making a reflector for your router (astonishing results!)

If you work in the round then invest US$20+ and shop online for a better omnidrectional antenna. Plug one of these into your router and suddenly you get signal down the block.

Then there’s the up-your-power. This won’t work on any Apple routers, but for ones based on Broadcom chipsets (like many Linksys & Buffalo models) you can increase the transmitter power significantly. Of course louder doesn’t always improve things, after some point you’re just amplifying the noise in these cheap little systems. It’s just like turning speaker all the way up to 11, more sound but you can’t make out the lyrics better, indeed it gets worse. But below that cutoff yes, things can get better.

Lastly, turning down your router is a good thing. It saves power. Less heat. Your device will likely last longer. You’ll be a good neighbor. Your security will improve–the radius of casual interception goes down by the square. But anything to do with anyone’s health? No, the exact same physics that makes this all work also sez the BBC transmitters have more effect then any WiFi router in the room, and I’m speaking for those who live far far away from Britain’s radio towers.

(For those shrilly crying “but just in case!” keep in mind that all sorts of radiation is sleeting through us every second–and the sort and energy level used by a WiFi router is trivial compared to any of that. You get more radiation from your car’s electrical system then from sitting next to your router.)

I enjoy Mac OS X hints, but please, stick to those, not bogus WiFi router tips. For those wanting more information, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wifi is decent.



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Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed, nearly by accident
Authored by: wilton on Jun 06, '07 02:42:52PM

You didn't really read the 'article' did you ?

I never implied MAC was mac/pc, I know perfectly well what it is. By filtering it you get less automated traffic trying to authenticate with your router. You know that windows by default checks the nearby routers every 2 minutes. This is not necessarily malicious, but better to keep it off the network. You just need to add the MAC id once for each bit of wifi equipment.

I specifically said MAC filtering is NOT for improved security.

Regarding choosing an uncongested network, this is something that 90% of users have no clue about. It is worthwhile at least raising awareness if this.

The multicast rate I was talking about has nothing to do with stopping rendevouz or streaming. This is concerning the router gradually decreasing the wifi speed to get a reliable signal. If you have a good signal, you can increase the lower limit.

Perhaps you should read what was said, and not what you think the article said.



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Possibly improve wireless reliability and speed, nearly by accident
Authored by: nick12345678910 on Mar 04, '09 11:24:20PM

hey guys. i have a mac, with wireless, connected to an airport, which is connected to my broadband modem....how do i improve my internet speed?????



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