Thursday, June 10, 2004


I know you've heard of Wardriving, Warwalking, even Warflying - three methods of scoping out various Wi-Fi access points around the globe. Last night I tried Wartraining - i.e. running an anaylsis program on my PC to discover wireless hotspots while riding on a train.

So I turned my laptop on while riding home on the Metro-North Commuter Railroad home from NYC to white plains. I wasn't sure what to expect, but in all, I only discovered 3 APs - two seemed to be average joes with linksys routers - in fact they didn't seem to have changed any of the defaults. I also discovered a pretty strong signal at around 125th street that actually was detecable beond the river. The SSID was NYCHA (maye the New York City Housing Agency?) and it was protected with WEP. My guess is the NYCHA has staffers with wireless devices servicing the projects that it manages. Once NYCHA dissapeared just a minute or two north of the east river, I didn't turn up a single hotspot until getting off the train. I wonder if speed had anything to do with it? (White plains is about 25-30 miles north of the city, and the trip is about 35 minutes, so figure about 45 mph is the average speed of the train, but if you take out the stops, its closer to 50 or 60 mph). From a more practical note, once you leave the city (for the most part) , the distance to most buildings from the tracks is generally a couple of hundred feet - reaching the distance limits that standard off-the-shelf wi-fi units are capable of handling. I guess from that angle, any train would be in a similar situation - which makes wartraining all that much less appealing.

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