Wireless Networking

D-Link DSM-750 Media Center Extender (FAR better than Linksys!)

I’ve just setup a production DSM-750 Medialounge Media Center Extender. This new extender streams everything over Wireless 802.11n Draft 2.0 (using a DGL-4500 in 5GHz mode) including High Definition Live and Recorded TV from a Vista Ultimate x64 box with two DCT (OCUR) tuners.

Some unboxing and setup images can be found at one of my websites.

Out of the box, the DSM-750 blows the dinky Linksys DMA 2100 out of the water. Solid construction and a nice looking peripheral that doesn’t look like cheap plastic in my living room. The DMA 2100 has no optical SPDIF (RCA flavor digital SPDIF only) and worse, does not see Atheros based 802.11 Draft 2.0 N SSID’s and probably some other brands. The DMA 2100 only has two antennae. D-Link has all the ports and three antennae, which really helps with wireless connectivity .

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D-Link integrates network setup with Extender setup and it is a real easy task to get up and running. While I admit to having had experience with a beta engineering sample, the engineering sample was wired only without the 802.11n dual band capability. I was really impressed with how well it worked and how integrated it was. D-Link has tons of experience with something like 6-7 previous versions in the Medialounge wireless media player line. This experience shows.

The Linksys takes forever to connect to the host Vista machine while the D-Link connects seamlessly and far more rapidly.

In my opinion, if you have a choice between the Linksys DMA 2100 and the D-Link DSM-750, the D-Link is well worth the wait. Linksys was first to market, but the race is not always to the swiftest.

Wireless Networking Gear-The Softer Side

I’ve got this great DAP-1555 Draft 802.11n “Xtreme N Duo Mediabridge” that I use to wirelessly enable my Xbox 360. (You can buy these in pairs to add to existing networks. And if you want to use your 360 wirelessly, you’ll definitely want “N” speeds.) The device itself supports both the 2.4 and the 5.0 Ghz bands. In my wifi oversaturated neighborhood, the 5 GHz side is truly a neccessity!

My only beef was that the stark white color made the device stick out like a sore thumb. I stumbled on a page on D-Link’s web site that showed some skins for the DIR-655 router. Since the form factor for the DAP-1555 is the same, I decided to go for it. I went with a color scheme that sort of matches my Xbox 360.

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BBC’s Panorama Investigative Show Thinks WiFi is Unsafe

The basis for all of this nonsensical conclusion is apparently some unsubstantiated leap between mobile phone technology and equipment and a theorized similarity to WiFi equipment. Say what?

Someone at Panorama is WiFi phobic. My long standing opinion of the BBC as being grounded in meticulous research and analysis has crashed and there are no survivors.

 

 

How to bolster wireless security away from home

If you travel with a laptop and connect wirelessly, you need to take extra precautions. Most public wireless providers and hot spots use no security at all. Everything you send and receive is sent in the clear with no encryption. If you are using a VPN connection to your office, you will have the protection of an encrypted tunnel. There are several methods of implementing VPN. For more information, see Charlie Russel’s column Connect to Your Corporate Network from Home with Windows XP. You can also use the information in Charlie’s column to connect while you’re on the road. If you can’t use a VPN tunnel to your office, consider using a Remote Desktop connection to a computer you’ve left running at home. You can use Vista Ultimate or Business (32 or 64 bit), Windows XP Professional, Media Center Edition or Tablet PC Edition as a Remote Desktop host machine but not Vista Home Premium or Basic and Windows XP Home. Vista Home Premium, Vista Basic, and Windows XP Home, however, can be used as the remote client. If you are going to do this, you really want to use a router/gateway (and honestly, you don’t ever want to connect a computer directly to a broadband modem). You’ll need to forward port 3389 to this computer (see the router docs). To make this easy to do, get yourself a free domain on www.dyndns.com and get a router that has easy transparent support for DYNDNS. I recommend the D-Link DIR655 (Circuit City is stocking these as of 5/1/07) or the older D-Link DGL4300. For details on using dyndns, see:


http://www.dyndns.com/services/dns/dyndns/howto.html


and


http://www.dyndns.com/services/dns/dyndns/


Take additional security precautions when using public networks outside your home. Follow these additional steps to make your wireless connection more secure. When connecting to a new public network (hotels, municipal, etc.) be sure to specify Public when prompted.


Configure the Vista or Windows XP SP2 Firewall to be on with no exceptions.


To do this in Vista:


a. Right click the wireless icon in the notification area

b. Select Network and Sharing Center

c. Click Firewall on the lower left

d. Select Change Settings

e. Acknowledge the UAC prompt

f. Select Block all incoming connections


To do this in XP:


a. Right click the wireless icon in the notification area

b. Select Change Windows Firewall Settings

c. Click Don’t allow exceptions and then click OK


Vista users should also turn off all file and print sharing in the Network and Sharing Center window. If you are using Windows XP Home edition, turn off file and print sharing on your laptop when you travel. If you are using any other version of Windows XP, turn off Simple File Sharing.


Don’t visit any website or use any program that lets you send passwords, account numbers or other sensitive information in the clear. Use SSL connections for email. If you don’t know how to configure Outlook Express or other email client for SSL or if your ISP does not support this, it is probably your ISP has a secure SSL based webmail application that you can use. If in doubt and there is a choice for secure or encrypted versus normal or non secure, always select the secure version. SSL sites normally have URL’s that begin with https://


Use online banking with care. Most banks offer SSL online access. Read the fine print carefully.


Only use online merchants who provide a secure SSL site. Internet Explorer and most other browsers will display a padlock icon on the bottom status bar when accessing a SSL secured site.


 


 


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