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ADSL virgin seeks warm, friendly...

...installation of wireless networking

Ain't misbehavin'

Since it seems to be the operating system that is misbehaving, I start with the Microsoft update site, reading fascinating articles on the wonders of WPA and how to configure it. I duly download and install the appropriate patch and go back into my network settings to pop in my WPA key, except it still only supports WEP. Now what?

I now move on to checking the wireless LAN drivers under the Windows Device Manager. Conveniently, there is an option to update the driver - except when executed I am informed that I already have the latest driver.

A bit more searching later and I track down an article from the Wi-Fi Alliance stating that the router I am using and the Intel Pro/Wireless LAN 2100 3B Mini PCI adapter in my laptop definitely support 11g and WPA. So what can be wrong? I’m sure I have done everything possible by now.

A couple more ever decreasing circles later and I end up back at Windows help (now updated courtesy of Windows SP1). There, lo and behold, the help page more or less describes my symptoms and points me to the Intel website suggesting that there may actually be an updated driver after all. Sure enough, I am informed on the Intel website that my existing driver does not support WPA and that I need a newer driver, except Intel doesn't supply them - it lists links to three PC suppliers, but not Fujitsu Siemens.

Half an hour later I manage to track down this illusive driver - it doesn't actually tell me it will fix the problem - but it's quite new, so I hope that it will.

Halleluiah, it works! The driver is installed and at last my laptop supports WPA-PSK, I enter in my shared secret and off we go. The connection is secure and it's stopped offering me alternative networks; but what an experience.

Since wireless networking is only an incremental step, it seems incredible that the support structure appears to collapse so easily. Configuring my wireless network was no mean feat.

Yet it would be so easy to offer that unified experience: connecting the driver update tool to the Intel support page would have been a nice start. Actually, finding real objective information about wireless networking and the security pot holes to be avoided could also have been much easier.

The whole system seems to be aimed at the security specialist - not the person who has the need to utilise the system. To the small business for which this router is positioned, the likelihood that these businesses would understand the security implications, let alone have the ability to configure it, seems fairly slim. Yet the implications of an unsecured wireless network are just as real.

In fairness I suppose I should at least be grateful that all of the components were actually available, the 3COM ADSL router was very easy to use and configure, even if it the help does offer little more than dictionary definitions. Once the appropriate patches were in place on my laptop, Windows help did point me in the correct direction and Fujitsu Siemens did have the updated driver that I needed. Yet the entire experience didn’t exactly hang together. This experience can only get easier. Can't it?

Copyright © 2004,


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