Hello Hot Spots: Wi-Fi Sniffing
Do you need hassle-free WiFi & Bluetooth connectivity? Of course you do (so do we, come to think of it!) and Hiromasa Takato, product manager at Toshiba’s Global Strategic Planning Group, claims that their ConfigFree software will soothe you into a seamless WiFi connection wherever and with whatever Bluetooth-enabled device(s) you have at hand. WWJ took Hiro, his Pocket PC e805 PDA, his laptop, and a Toshiba A5504T (au) cellie for a test run — and a beer — in downtown Shinjuku. With hotspots multiplying like tribbles and all the buzz about VoIP and Bluetooth-enabled keitai about to boom, this is definitely a WWJ peek at the future — right here and now. Subscribers read on to get the full skinny!
On the eve of DoCoMo showcasing its 3G FOMA/WLAN-combi N900iL handset next week (Yes, WWJ will be there, and you’ll get the lowdown, patience!), ConfigFree, which has been out since 2003, actually did live up to our expectations.
ConfigFree works, easily passing the man-in-the-street (or bar) test. What we particularly liked is that the browser interface to the software actually seems to make the product look more complicated than it really is. Obviously Hiro, who helped develop it, is a dab hand, but we estimated it took about an average of 30 seconds to complete each new task we set for it.
About the only disappointment of the day was not being able to actually get into the Hyatt’s swank high-rise and high-price bar where Lost in Translation was shot. But since we are not has-been, middle-aged Americans and actually don’t think the Japanese are aliens in their own country, perhaps we would have been out of place… and we found that the system worked well enough with cold lager in the basement as opposed to overpriced champagne in the penthouse.
Here are the most salient points.
- ConfigFree offers a “radar GUI” that looks a bit like the old 80s-era Asteroids game, but is in fact user-friendly and really helpful. Officially, it’s a ‘Wireless Connection Visual Browser’ that scans for WiFi Access Points and scans and connects to Bluetooth devices. The point is… it does!
- The launch pad, showing WLAN and Bluetooth, just pops up. To connect, just point.
- Connectivity Doctor: This troubleshooting interface, unlike crummy MS wizards, rocks! Again, officially, the good doctor is the real McCoy: it helps to identify, analyze, and resolve network connectivity issues, enabling you to actually and easily switch between network configurations. The CD also shows network information with just a flick of the mouse/stylus.
- Troubleshooting: The Doctor shows wired and wireless network devices, router/hubs/bridges, access points, link speeds, and signal strength and locations. When, for example, the wireless communication switch is off, the software pops up and a warning appears telling you where the problem is.
As hinted above, with DoCoMo now pushing FOMA into WLAN with the N900iL, these sorts of solutions are just the ticket!
— The Editors