WiFi in the valley
Friday, March 18 2005
Last night using my new WiFi scanning system, I'd done a preliminary survey of what I can see of the Esopus Valley (particularly the community of Riverside Park, since it lies within view 2 miles away, directly to the southeast) but it hadn't turned up any new access points. Today, though, I was a bit more meticulous and found four, most of them having the default SSID of their manufacturers: "WLAN," "Netgear," "linksys," and "elmendorf." All but elmendorf were open (unencrypted), though I could only connect to "linksys," whose provider was AOL for Broadband (aka Broadband for Dim Bulbz). As expected, it fell on the wimpy end of the WiFi spectrum, running at only a third the speed of my DSL. Still, it's supplied by Time Warner Cable, a different provider from my local neighbors, which means it might make for a usable backup provider in a pinch. (All of us at the top of Dug Hill Road use Verizon DSL, and have suffered intermittant service failures for the past several weeks).
I imagine there are probably a lot more WiFi access points in the houses that can be seen from my antenna installation, but the only ones I can detect happen to be next to northwest-facing windows. Still, in its own way it's astounding that my apparatus gives me the power to connect to a casually-placed consumer WiFi box from two miles away.
One step that was an important prerequisite to scanning the valley was turning off my own 802.11b and 802.11g access points, whose powerful broadcast might otherwise swamp the tenuous signals from two miles away. I also had a little trouble because of the blaring signal coming from a WiFi box belonging to a nearby neighbor, but I have ways of discretely dealing with that as well.
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