Monday, August 04, 2003

Great New Wi-Fi Hotspot Locator from Kensington - Doesn't work!

Kensington is marketing a credit-card size Wi-Fi detector. I bought one on a lark. The theory is you whip this tiny toy out and press a button to see if there is a nearby hotspot.

So far, it's useless. I haven't been able to get it to detect a working 802.11b network in a local coffee shop, or an access point at work, or my 802.11g network at home.

So like a good customer I went to their support site. Their FAQ answer on this topic is a hilarious jumble of technobabble and personal advice. (If it doesn't detect WEP networks and if it doesn't work with 802.11g, it's pretty much useless.)

From Kensington's knowledge base:

There are 2 possibilities: 1) Your work has an encrypted network,
by design the wifi finder will not detect networks that do not want
to be detected. The wifi finder will detect a peer to peer network
at your work site but you had better check with your
helpdesk/IT manager before setting up peer to peer wireless networks -
this can compromise your companys security and maybe even your job!

2) Your work is using a recently upgraded form of 802.11g. Network
speed helps productivity so it is likely your IT manager is always
looking for ways to go faster. The wifi finder design uses a
version of 802.11g prior to that standards finalization. It is
possible that your network has been upgraded and wifi
finder does not yet know how to look for that network protocol.
Look for updated Kensington wifi finders coming soon.