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By Carol Ellison  |  Posted 2004-10-29 Print this article Print

: Zeroing Out "> The two pair of computers in my system tray that indicate active Wi-Fi and VPN connections had both disappeared. I clicked into iPass, which Id used to log on. No sign of a wireless network in the vicinity. So I rolled up my sleeves and invoked Windows Wireless Zero Configuration to reset. No soap. Reboot? I tried it. Nada. Just for grins I clicked on iPass to see if somehow it could identify the network when Windows couldnt. It did. I was good to go for about 45 minutes—and another cup of coffee, this time accompanied by a scone— and then gremlins entered the Net and kicked me off everything but AIM. "The networks down. Whats the problem?" called out the customer next to me who sat at his laptop with a cup of soup of the day, a grilled turkey sandwich and a stack of books he intended to buy.
What, indeed? Wi-Fi access should be as plug-and-play as anything else on a computer, and it isnt. Believe me, nothing makes the counter helps eyes glaze over faster than mention of the phrase, Zero Config. I ordered another cup of coffee, instead.
I suggested to my neighbor that he might want to reboot. "Ill just go across the street to Panera Bread," he said, "they have free Wi-Fi over there and the lattes free on Mondays." "But the Wi-Fis not working," I told him. "Yes it is, I just came from there," he said. "So why did you come here?" "I like the soup." With that, he left, stopping by the cashier to pay for his books. Evidently, whatever had been wrong at Panera had been fixed, so I closed up the Vaio, ordered a cup of coffee to go, and stopped by the magazine rack on my way out. I couldnt leave without checking out the latest CD and DVD offerings. Now wouldnt you know, there was the collected first-and-second season of televisions best-ever commedy—"The Office"—just begging to go home with me and, around the corner, that Classic Sinatra CD Id been wanting happened to be at the listening station and, well, it sounded so good. When I got to Panera Bread, sure enough, there was no signal. I resisted the temptation to tell my fellow traveler Id told him so and ordered lunch instead. Back to Borders. Hey! Hey! Hey! Everything worked. I celebrated with a cup of coffee, contemplated heading to the strip mall down the street after work to check out the shoe sale at Lazarus, and tallied this latest hot-spot experience:
  • Bagel: 79 cents
  • Coffee (four cups): $14.76
  • "The Office, The Complete First and Second Series": $59.99
  • "Classic Sinatra, His Great Performances, 1953-1960": $15.29
  • Smokehouse Turkey Panini with diet soda: $4.39
  • Wi-Fi without resorting to Zero Config: priceless. More from Carol Ellison: Check out eWEEK.coms Mobile & Wireless Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis.

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    Carol Ellison is editor of's Mobile & Wireless Topic Center. She has authored whitepapers on wireless computing (two on network security–,Securing Wi-Fi Wireless Networks with Today's Technologies, Wi-Fi Protected Access: Strong, Standards-based Interoperable Security for Today's Wi-Fi Networks, and Wi-Fi Public Access: Enabling the future with public wireless networks.

    Ms. Ellison served in senior and executive editorial positions for Ziff Davis Media and CMP Media. As an executive editor at Ziff Davis Media, she launched the networking track of The IT Insider Series, a newsletter/conference/Web site offering targeted to chief information officers and corporate directors of information technology. As senior editor at CMP Media's VARBusiness, she launched the Web site, VARBusiness University, an online professional resource center for value-added resellers of information technology.

    Ms. Ellison has chaired numerous industry panels and has been quoted as a networking and educational technology expert in The New York Times, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio's All Things Considered, CNN Headline News, WNBC and CNN/FN, as well as local and regional Comcast and Cablevision reports. Her articles have appeared in most major hi-tech publications and numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor.

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