Pings & Packets from eWEEK Labs - 17

AirMagnet finds sources of static ... FeedStation serves up RSS on MP3s ... With Mathematica 5.2, 64-bit adds up.

AirMagnet Finds Sources of Static

Anyone managing a wireless network will tell you theres a lot of interference mucking up the signal, particularly in the 2.4GHz band. Aside from the massive proliferation of Wi-Fi devices, interference from cordless phones, microwave ovens and Bluetooth devices can all sabotage a wireless networks performance and stability.

To get a better handle on the levels and causes of interference in our San Francisco offices, I recently tried out AirMagnets $3,995 Spectrum Analyzer, which started shipping in June. Based on hardware technology from Cognio, Spectrum Analyzer provides an in-depth look at the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio bands from any Windows XP-based laptop using a special PCMCIA adapter.

Spectrum Analyzer detected a couple of nearby microwave ovens, a Bluetooth device and other unidentified transmitters, listing the time the signal was detected and the affected Wi-Fi channels . The Channel Summary screen also identifies whether Wi-Fi traffic is detected on each channel.

With the Device Finder, I could plot the location from which offending signals emanated, but the process takes more time and data samples than finding a Wi-Fi device would with a regular wireless analyzer.

For more information, go to www.airmagnet.com.

--Andrew Garcia

FeedStation Serves Up RSS on MP3s

It seems as if everyone from NASA to my ExtremeTech.com colleagues is podcasting these days.

To keep up with all this content, Ive installed FeedStation, the podcast receiver from RSS aggregator NewsGator Technologies. Announced in June, FeedStation lets users download podcasts and vlogs (video blogs) automatically to a portable device.

FeedStation is free to subscribers of NewsGator Online, a free consumer RSS aggregation service. The feature will be available to enterprise users of NewsGators client-based Outlook edition with its next release.

Although you can use NewsGator Online from any computer with Internet access, youll need to install FeedStation on any computer you use to load audio files into your portable device.

Just as I use NewsGator Online to search for RSS feeds, I could find and subscribe to RSS- encapsulated podcasts. When I found a podcast I wanted, I added it to the My Podcasts folder in NewsGator Online. FeedStation then automatically downloaded it to my iPod, based on a schedule I set. I didnt have to be near my iPod to load audio files, either, as long as I left FeedStation running at home.

Because NewsGator is Web-based, I could locate podcasts while at the office and then go home to an iPod with the audio files already downloaded and ready for listening. More information can be found at www.newsgator.com.

--Anne Chen

For Mathematica 5.2, 64-bit Adds Up

Many still question the value of 64-bit computing for all but the most massive server-based applications, but one can see the difference made by 64-bit capability in Version 5.2 of Wolfram Researchs Mathematica, released last month.

Mathematica 5.2 advances along two dimensions of processor improvement with its ability to put multithread calculations on multicore CPUs and use a full 64-bit address range.

Modeling the propagation of a tsunami over an irregular ocean floor, a Wolfram demonstration shows the dramatic reduction in the number of computing artifacts that results from a larger available address space for such complex numerical tasks. Manufacturing applications such as automobile crash simulation and health care applications such as molecular interaction modeling may be among the early beneficiaries of the improvements.

Also included in this release are interfaces with desktop search tools such as Apples new Spotlight, which now almost instantly finds math expressions or documentation strings in the Mathematica notebooks on my PowerBook.

More information is available at www.wolfram.com.

--Peter Coffee