WiFi, the word was created as a “catchier name” than its technical name IEEE 802.11. In all of its iterations, 802.11 a, b, g, and n, WiFi has enabled this modern age of connectivity. Sure 3G, make that 4G, cellular data dominates the headlines, but where would have we been without good old WiFi?

Two recent problems come to mind when I think about wireless LANs as much of my time the last few weeks has been spent trying to work them out.

Valley Falls

The wireless access point seemed to constantly need a reboot. I am currently knocking on wood, hoping my time up in the ceiling (with the itchy insulation) running cables will make a difference, and they won’t have as many hair pulling mornings in the future. A little reliability goes a long way.


Down in the basement of the old Carnegie building there would be no connecting to any wireless access points.  After way too much trial and error (err troubleshooting), the wireless cameras were finally proven to be the culprit. They take up the whole allowed 2.4Ghz spectrum wiping everything else out. Turn those cameras off and boy you can connect to anything down there.

The Verdict

I remember the geeky delight I felt the first time I pulled out my Playstation Portable, and rode the bus to work reading the local paper on the device. I was connected through WiFi radios on traffic poles. It wasn’t long ago the idea of networking without wires seemed like fantasy.

With that said a solid physical connection be it over copper or channeled light is better.  There is less interference (in the case of fiber optics, no interference). Loss of signal is not as common. The end user doesn’t need to worry about managing the connection. So for now, if you have the choice to go with the wire or wireless, choose the wire.

Follow Up

Ironically after this week’s surge of lightning storms, the only computers in Carbondale that could connect were those on WiFi. Upon actual inspection it was revealed that the switch connected to the Linksys Gateway had been ruined, i.e. “bricked”. Chalk one up for WiFi.

Photo Credit: “Ethernet Cable” by plfy under a Creative Commons License