Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Summary:The future's not so bright if you're a lawyer with a wireless network and a fondness for roast chestnuts.

Monday 18/11/2002
Ah, wireless. It's so nice when one's personal obsession segues so well with one's work -- as Dr Shipman doubtless often murmured to himself. Today alone has seen news on the spread of Wi-Fi across the English landscape, with public access points sprouting up like so much giant hogweed, while a report from the US says wireless chipmaker Agere has demonstrated a 162Mbps system. I'm getting details of 'new, improved, best ever' wireless networking standards about once a week at the moment, and it shows no signs of slowing down. I say, chaps. It's a genuine boom. But with the good side of massive excitement and investment come the same old sins. Incompatibility, hyperbole and more than a sniff of snake oil are all readily discernable, with people keener to get their bright idea out there than to make sure it plays well with others. Wireless isn't like any other computing technology: it has the potential to mess up other people over quite a wide area, computer users or not, and as more and more gadgets and other devices crowd onto the airwaves there will be some head-on clashes. In the old days, this was avoided by the governments of the world keeping a very tight rein on things. You couldn't transmit anywhere unless you stuck to the rules, and the rules were set in stone. Break the rules, and grim men turned up at your door equipped with a scowl and a copy of the Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1949. These days, tuning around the FM band in London makes it sound like you can't get arrested for anything short of transmitting Photoshopped pictures of the Queen dancing naked round a flagpole over the top of the News at Ten. The day will come, and it won't be long, when little Johnny's illicit downloads on his home wireless network get into the computer of the charming old lady next door. It'll be tabloid heaven -- but meanwhile, you'd best check the security on your own 802.11b wireless broadband gateway.

Topics: Tech Industry


Rupert has worked at ZDNet UK, IT Week, PC Magazine, Computer Life, Mac User, Alfa Systems, Amstrad, Sinclair, Micronet 800, Marconi Space and Defence Systems, and a dodgy TV repair shop in the back streets of Plymouth. He can still swap out a gassy PL509 with the best of 'em. If you want to promote your company or product, fine -- but pl... Full Bio

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