Wireless Hacks, 2nd Edition

Paladion
By Paladion

May 15, 2006

This time, we are departing from our tradition of doing software book reviews. 'Wireless Hacks' doesn't focus on security either. But we want you to read some of the most interesting books we have flipped through.

Wireless Hacks 2nd EditionThis time, we are departing from our tradition of doing software book reviews. 'Wireless Hacks' doesn't focus on security either. But we want you to read some of the most interesting books we have flipped through. Hence this review.

The title of this book is actually misleading. This book is not about 'hacking' or breaking into wireless networks. So all you wannabe crackers will be very dissappointed. On the other hand, this book is all about real 'hacks' – tweaking wireless networks for your benefit and for some pure geeky pleasure. Yes, this book will appeal to the geeks in all of us. It gets down dirty to the practical wireless stuff – bluetooth & GPS setup and tweaks, passive network monitoring, wireless network security, 'Pringles' can DIY antennas, DIY access points, flashing your Wi-fi routers, Wi-fi network design, and lots more.

The first chapter deals with the Bluetooth and related hacks. The most interesting hack (Hack #11) that I learnt of was setting up a participatory slideshow using bluetooth phones and a machine. Project your screen on a wall and allow anyone to send photos to the machine using Bluetooth which are then instantly displayed. The variety of the hacks is amazing—Bluetooth setup in Windows, Linux & MacOSX, controlling the PC using Bluetooth, slideshows, blogging from mobile phones and playing with GPS.

The next section is for the wardriving crowd. Discover wireless networks, monitor activity on your home wireless network, scan your network for rogue machines, monitor network performance and tweak it, so on. With screenshots on each of these hacks, this section makes a complete reference for network monitoring. If you get too worried about someone stealing your wireless bandwidth, Chapter three tells you how to deal with it. It covers wireless network security, secure configurations, authentication on network, encrypting data and tracking wireless users.

Chapters four and five cover the real hacks—hardware and software tweaks which will help you fully utilise your wireless equipment. An interesting hack (Hack #62) listed in the fourth section is setting up Wi-fi in a toy remote-controlled car and controlling it through the PC. Quite the stuff for geeks. It even includes the photos of assembling the wifi router in the car and the program used to control the car. Software hacks help in extending the functionality of your hardware.

Among other things, section six shows you how to build your own Wi-fi antenna using household things. Build roof mounts for your antenna and drammatically increase the range of your wireless network. Ideal for a wireless LAN party in your neighbourhood and from the comfort of your homes.

Chapter seven takes the right approach to wireles snetwork design. You will wonder why you never thought of elevation profiles, line of sight, antenna polarization when you last set up your wireless network.

All in all, the book is a very interesting read. However you need to be passionate about technology to appreciate the effort. It is not for the light hearted tech reader. Even if you don't use the hacks listed in the book, it definitely gives you a direction to take in the DIY land.

My opinion: Highly Recommended for geeks!

by Nilesh Chaudhari.


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