Feedback, March 10
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Thursday January 13, 2005
David McCandless may be deluding himself and readers that siphoning off someone's Wi-Fi internet service is legal (Neighbourhood Wi-Fi watch, January 6). In the 1990 Computer Misuse Act (CMA), "computer" was deliberately left undefined. Thus, when you use someone's wireless access point (Wap), you could be making an unauthorised access for the purposes of section one of the CMA. An adventurous prosecutor could also look at section one of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and suggest an unlawful interception (is some of the data you are receiving actually intended for the owner of the Wap?). The hijacker's main protection will probably be the difficulty in obtaining evidence, and the fact that hi-tech police and prosecutors have more noxious adversaries to deal with.
It is worth noting that the ease of setting up resource sharing networks with Wi-Fi can be seen as a feature, not a bug. Across the UK, many communities, such as www.burngreave.net and www.manchesterwireless.net, are connecting themselves by taking advantage of this simplicity. Also, breaking into WEP protected wireless networks is an almost trivial task that can be completed in minutes using tools such as Aircrack.
Rather than using the weak default security protocols provided by most domestic Wi-Fi equipment, the community wireless groups have been developing ways of allowing people to connect with real security and privacy, using techniques such as virtual private networking, NoCat and 802.1x, while also allowing managed roaming open access.
Perhaps McCandless could have done better by contacting his local wireless community group and sharing his resources with his neighbours, rather than attempting to confine them with paper-thin walls.
Fair deal for Macs
I disagree that Macs are more of a cultural phenomenon than a computing platform (Mad for Macs, January 6). I have been using Macs alongside Windows PCs for more than 15 years in a professional office environment and at home.
I make my living from helping businesses understand how computing and communications technology can support their businesses better and be maintained more cheaply. If Macs were as widely deployed as Windows machines, I would be out of a job.
There is a pervasive perception that Macs are not serious computers, one result of the propagation of articles such as yours. It would be nice if organisations and people had more support from the press at large to try Macs and see. In terms of maintenance and associated costs, the Mac wins hands down.
I read with interest Dave Birch's take on the amount of email stored by the civil service (Second sight, January 6). I suspect he is grossly underestimating the amount of storage needed. What with the round-robin emails telling you about so-and-so's leaving do and the relentless memos from on high, usually packed with unnecessary graphics. 500K a day? You must be joking. More like 50MB.
I sympathise with your correspondent who found his Xbox online experience marred by people calling each other "bitch" etc. My experience in online gaming via the PC is that rap culture has created young people on both sides who are homophobic and try to give the impression they are black "gangstas" when most are probably middle-class white kids. Many will grow out of it, but others will become entrenched in patterns of misogyny and homophobia. It isn't quite what the internet promised us.
Host of problems
I have been with the same web host for the past five years. Last year, the company - Nicnames - was taken over by Iomart. Although the service is basically OK, there are a few niggles that have never been satisfactorily resolved. I decided to move to Fasthosts because I could take advantage of web hosting and broadband connection when my account expires.
However, when I went to transfer my domains I found it would cost me £49 per domain. Customer services said this was standard practice. This is outrageous. Have you heard of this problem before?
Thanks to Danny Webb (Feedback, January 6) for highlighting the shortcomings of Wanadoo broadband. I work at a small company that signed up for Tiscali's Business Broadband and have had nothing but problems. The service first went down after only 24 hours but we are locked in to a minimum one year contract. I am looking to install broadband at home and wonder whether there are any providers who offer a decent service.
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