802.11n, the still-in-draft WiFi standard, makes it a snap to get faster wireless connections, but it still has the power to baffle and confound.
My scenario is simple enough. My office is about 280ft from my house, close to the limit of 802.11n’s effective range. Between the two windows are one woodframe dwelling and a victorian redbrick; no water-filled trees, but a few inches of wood and maybe a foot of brick. I get a signal – iStumbler reports about 30% with 20% noise – but in practice, its kinda funky. It’s slow, drops completely now and again, and seems to be causing parallel computing misbehaviors as applications’ net connections segue in and out of reality. It’s my first day at BBG, and I’ve spent most of the morning cursing, rather than writing about, Der Gadgets.
To welcome me and help me not get fired, BBG readers, recommend me one of the following solutions:• A directional antenna for my router, pointed at the office.
PROS: Likely to fix the problem, unless the problem is deflection from a hidden metal wall or lead-lined roof.
CONS: Difficult to install on the Airport Extreme 802.11n, which must be opened up with torx screwdrivers to access antenna ports; directionality will kill the signal inside my three-storey house, necessitating two routers.
• A USB WiFi adapter inside a parabolic reflector (“WokFi”) pointed at the router
PROS: Cheap. May work with 802.11g USB WiFi sticks already in the drawer. $2 mesh salad bowl only required upgrade.
CONS: Will sully Mac. Might not work at all.
• Just get DSL hooked up in the friggin’ office
PROS: Guaranteed to work (as far as anything springing from Verizon’s corporate loin is, anyway)
CONS: $50 a month, and it wants $100 for the modem. No deals: I’ve asked nicely.
• Take a step into the 21st Century and buy WWAN
PROS: Internet goes with me wherever I go; comes out no more expensive than DSL
CONS: Have to do business with a cellular provider; 2-year contract; speed not all that hot in practice.
• Make my own directional antenna for the router
CONS: I end up with a Pringles can slung under the lintel in my living room window. Allegedly harder to get working than WokFi at the other end.
• Return to the state of nature
PROS: Nakedness and barbarity
CONS: Disease. Lack of Ciabatta bread bacon sandwiches.