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Friday, August 24, 2007

Is it theft to use someone else's Wifi?

The case this week where a man was arrested for making use of someone's Wifi has prompted much debate as to the rights and wrongs of leeching other people's wireless internet connections.

The law apparently sees it as stealing pure and simple - but is it? I would say that using open and unsecured wifi connections is not an act of theft at all and the law has it all wrong.

If you buy a newspaper and read it whilst sitting on a train, very often people might look over your shoulder and have a look at the headlines. They are consuming information you just paid for - are they stealing? No, of course not.

Some people may have their wifi connection open and secured because they actually you want people to share it. How can we tell what someone's intention is when they decide to transmit an open network?

I believe that broadcasting an open network is an invitation to use it. People on the other side of the argument might say "If I leave my front door open, does that mean you can walk in?". And the answer is no, of course not - but if you leave your door open with a sign above it saying "Open House - Party Inside", don't be surprised if people come in.

In actual fact, by broadcasting your connection details you are almost tampering with my laptop or wireless device. If someone set their wireless access point's SSID as the worst obscenity possible and caused that word to appear on your screen by broadcasting it to your Wifi equipment, are you in the wrong for receiving it, or are they in the wrong for sending it? Who is it that has committed the crime?

Some make the point that people may use your internet connection to access illegal content. I don't disagree and would say that's a very good reason for ensuring your internet connection is secured, because let's be clear, I'm not advocating that people do leave their wifi open - I'm simply saying that if you do decide to carelessly pump your connection out into the ether, you are making it available to all and sundry and that can't be theft.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Man Arrested for using Unsecured Wifi

According to news reports, a man in Chiswick was arrested for using someone's unsecured wireless network from his laptop. He has been bailed to return in October.

A police officer said:

"This arrest should act as a warning to anyone who thinks it is acceptable to illegally use other people's broadband connections.

"To do so potentially breaches the Computer Misuse Act and the Communications Act, so computer users need to be aware that this is unlawful and police will investigate any violation we become aware of."

This raises an interesting question of you can possibly differentiate between "illegally using other people's broadband connections" and legally using the open wifi connection of various independent hotspots, often found in cafes etc.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Mobile Internet with Web 'n' Walk

If you regularly use wifi hotspots or need internet access on the move, you might want to check out T-Mobile's Web 'n' Walk packages. From £29 a month (inc VAT), you can get unlimited internet access on the move -just sign up, and receive a USB dongle data card.T-Mobile Web n Walk

Using a BT Openzone hotspot can be expensive. A 1hr voucher is £6 and a £24 hour is £10. Compared with those prices, £29 for unlimited access - wherever you are - certainly seems favourable.

Broadband is delivered via 3g and speeds of upto 1.8mbs and offered. Devices like this previously were promoted only to the business sector, but with prices coming down and new consumer packages available, will 3G data cards spell the end for wireless hotspots?

Visit T-Mobile's website for more information.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Review: Kodak EasyShare EX1011 Digital Photo Frame with Wifi

Kodak EX1011

We've probably all seen digital photo frames by now, and how they can be a great conversation piece in any home. But why did we decide to review the Kodak EasyShare EX1011? Because this digital photoframe is wifi certified.

Upon opening the box, you'll find your digital photo frame, remote control, software, manual, and all required leads. The frame itself feels solidly built and offers a 10" (800 x 480) display. Plug it in and turn it on, and after some initial setup questions your ready to roll. It comes with a few example images onboard and you immediately see the vividness of this top quality display.

I was excited to crack on with the wireless connectivity so immediately set that up. Firstly you enable Wireless connectivity on the frame and it checks for WLANs. It had no problem picking up my access point downstairs or even my next door neighbours. After putting into my WEP key and connecting up, I then went to my PC and installed the Kodak software. Actually you can use Kodak's software or you can enable media sharing in the latest version of Windows Media Player. Returning to the photoframe, I asked it to search for media servers across the network and it instantly picked up my PC. Within a few clicks, I was displaying the photos in my designated folders on the computer.

Since I was able to share photos wireless, it would have been nice if I he photo frame could have been completely wireless and may have a rechargeable battery pack onboard, but unfortunately it has to remain attached to the mains.

So the wireless worked nicely for me - what else is the photo frame capable of? Well, the frame offers slots for a variety of memory cards (SD, MMC, Memory Stick, xD, CF and MD cards) so you can slot in photos straight from the camera. Also is has 128mb built in memory so you can connect it to your PC via USB and copy images on to it.

But the EX1011 doesn't just display images - it's also capable of displaying video files and has an MP3 player built in.

So in summing up, this is a fantastic digital photo frame with a large, widescreen aspect ratio which provides stunning virbancy to your images. It's packed with features and is easy to use, not requiring me to resort to the manual once. The RRP for this unit isn't cheap - coming it at over £220 - but I looked around online and found some great prices, with Amazon selling it for under £150

Kodak Easy Share EX1011 Price Check* £149.99

*prices accurate at time of writing

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