Friday, December 13, 2002

When leaving CodeFab's office this evening, we [Ben, Jerry and I] took a cab to grand central. I have a TiBook with an Airport card and Jerry has a Pismo [G3 @ 500mhz -- the last all black model, I believe].

We decided to compare the relative sensitivity of the two machine's 802.11b implementations by wardriving using MacStumbler.

Jerry happened to be in the front seat and I was in the back, so we weren't directly blocking each other. I had the slight disadvantage of being the backseat with others, but not enough to make a huge difference.

We wardrove from 23rd Street & 6th Ave uptown on 6th ave to 42nd street [Brandt park-- more on that in a second] and then across 42nd to Grand Central.


The TiBook found 12 (3 in Bryant Park) networks. The maximum signal strength was 36 (Bryant Park), but the maximum for non-built-for-public-use networks was 15.

The Pismo found 48 (3 in Bryant Park) networks. The maximum signal strength was 45 (Bryant Park), but the maximum for non-built-for-public-use networks was 26.

Bryant park is mentioned specifically because it is wired as an open public use 802.11b hub. All three stations that were detected in Bryant park-- same ones for both of us-- gave the highest signal readings of any of the stations detected.

Of the 48 networks detected by the Pismo, 36 (3 in Bryant Park) were not using WEP encryption. Not that WEP offers any real protection.

The Pismo also detected another 15-20 networks on the Metro North New Haven line.

Clearly, the Pismo has a far superior 802.11 reception performance than the TiBook. Not exactly scientific to compare single instances of the two models in one test run. Feel free to run your own tests. Conveniently, Mac Stumbler's export format can be directly imported into Excel (or other spreadsheet apps that can eat tab delimited data).

The goal was only to detect networks-- not use bandwidth, break WEP passwords, sniff packets or do anything else nefarious. For those purposes, there are better tools than MacStumbler, but MacStumbler doesn't require the installation of a custom and somewhat buggy 802.11 driver. We simply wanted to compare the performance of the TiBook and Pismo 802.11 implementations.
9:06:39 PM  pontificate    

Classical Software released version 1.1 of TFM today. 1.1 is a misnomer -- it is easily a 1.5, if not a 2.0 kind of jump over 1.0.

TFM has quickly become an indispensible part of my OS X environment. It is the [distant] second third party package I install after LaunchBar on any system that I intend to use for development purposes. (Distant because, without LB, I'll nearly break a keyboard out of frustration that system doesn't "just do it" when I hit -!)

If you came from the NeXT world, think of TFM as a replacement for Digital Librarian (page in french, but you'll get the idea from the screenshots). DL was an absolutely incredible tool -- all the system docs at your fingertips with excellent searching and indexing capabilities.

TFM is like DL, but much, much better. Not only does TFM provide awesome indexing based navigation tools, but it also provides an excellent hierarchical navigation scheme for browing/navigating the documentation. For Java and Objective-C classes, TFM presents a hierarchy of all classes and provides inheritance based navigation if desired.

(I must admit partiality to TFM 1.1 -- the author was kind enough to provide me with some early betas and much of the feedback I gave appears in 1.1. :-)

I highly recommend downloading TFM and spending some time with it.

Ob-Python: I grabbed the Python documentation HTML tarball and dropped it into a new TFM document. It works brilliantly. I can be editing python code, select an expression/function, copy-to-pasteboard, and select the "Search in Python Documentation" menu item from TFM's dock menu (or services menu). TFM finds what I wanted just about ever time!

UPDATE: If you copy the sample docs from the disk image version of the app, make sure and rebuild the index on the docs the first time you open them.
5:43:47 PM  pontificate