Thursday, December 20, 2007

RokAir Mac wireless USB adapter, no Leopard drivers yet

On December 3rd we announced the launch of the RokAir wireless USB adapter for Macs (it also works with Windows 98SE through Vista and Linux too). The product has been a great success, with many units sold in the first two weeks of availability, in fact more sold than any previous product on our site in its first two weeks.

The heatsink, sensitive chipset, and high output power (100mw), have proven to be a winning combination as customers have commented that they have been happy with the range of the product and its overall ease of use with Mac OS. We also want to thank those media outlets such as who have written about our product.

We have received several inquiries regarding Leopard (Mac OS 10.5) compatibility. As noted in the item description, right now this is compatible with Mac OS 10.3 and 10.4. We do not yet have a Leopard driver available for this and are awaiting the development of one from the chipset manufacturer. We are hoping this will come very soon in Q1 of 2008, and once the driver is released, we will post it here on our blog and in the drivers section of our web site, once we have been able to test the driver and make sure there are no bugs/glitches.

If you are looking to purchase a wireless adapter for immediate use with OS 10.3 or 10.4, the RokAir is the way to go. If you are looking for one to use immediately with Leopard, the drivers are not yet available for the RokAir. If you have 10.3 or 10.4 now and plan to upgrade, the Leopard driver should be available soon, but again we do not know for sure exactly when. There always exists a small possibility that the chipset maker opts not to release one for some reason, so at this point we cannot guarantee future compatibility with Leopard.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Find out if Santa is naughty or nice...

This comes from Shows us how embarrassing technology blunders can be for the companies responsible. But they can also be entertaining for the rest of us...

Monday, December 03, 2007

New Product: RokAir Wireless USB Adapter for Apple Mac

We are excited to formally announce the launch of a new Rokland branded product, the RokAir wireless adapter for Apple Macintosh computers. This is an excellent alternative to the Airport line of wireless adapters, and with 100 mW of output power, it provides superior range performance compared to other adapters on the market. Below I have included our full press release announcing the launch. A PDF of the product spec sheet is available here. You can buy the adapter here.


Gainesville, FL -- 12/3/2007 -- Rokland LLC today formally announced the launch of RokAir, a new Apple Macintosh-compatible wireless USB adapter. The RokAir is an 802.11g/b device with a high 100mW (20 dBm) of output power and a built-in heat sink which allows for extended use. It also features PSP X-Link support and can run in AP mode. But what sets this device apart from most others is the fact that it is compatible with Apple Macintosh laptops and desktops and serves as an Airport alternative. All you need is an available USB port and Mac OS version 10.3 or 10.4.

"We've been in the wireless networking market for over six years," said Rokland spokesman Jason Opdyke. "We've carried various products and brands going back to the days of frequency hopping and RF wireless technology. This is one adapter to which we are very comfortable attaching our own brand name."

The RokAir is a pen-style USB device which also works with Linux operating systems in addition to the usual Windows suspects like 98SE and XP, as well as Windows Vista and the Mac operating systems noted above. "We have listened to our customers and they have told us what they want is a device compatible with a wide array of operating systems like Mac OS and Linux, but that is also portable and yet of very high power," continued Opdyke. "This device operates at 100mW of output power which is more than three times that of the popular Orinoco line, and twice that of Cisco b/g cards. And yet with the built-in heatsink, users can run the device for a long period of time."

The RokAir is poised to be one of very few Mac-compatible wireless adapters available to consumers this holiday shopping season. "If you know any one with a Mac computer, this would be a great gift for them," commented Opdyke. "You can even link up wirelessly with an Apple TV."

The RokAir wireless USB adapter from Rokland is available online at with a special holiday street price of $27.99 plus shipping. A product spec sheet is available at

Friday, November 30, 2007

Check out our new eBay Store About Me page

As some of you may know, in addition to selling product on our web site, we also sell product on eBay. Our eBay "About Me" page has long been our primary way of telling eBay buyers about who we are and what we do. But as with any web page, it can become stale over time. We have livened it up, with an electric new logo, and a cool new widget that shows all of our current auctions in real time via RSS. You can also see recent feedback ratings from our customers on the same page.

Check it out here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving schedule for orders

This is our Thanksgiving shipping schedule for

Orders made at the web site, or via phone, are shipped via UPS. UPS will be closed on Thursday 11/22, Thanksgiving Day. UPS will not be picking up or delivering Ground shipments on Friday 11/23. Because the bulk of orders are shipped via UPS Ground, to give our employees time with their families we will not be shipping any products via UPS on Friday 11/23.

The cutoff to have your shipment sent out on Wednesday 11/21 will be 4:00 PM EST. Orders placed after 4:00 PM EST on Wednesday 11/21 will be shipped on Monday 11/26.

This means if you place an order for Next Day delivery at 8:00 PM on Wednesday 11/21, the order will be shipped on Monday 11/26 for Tuesday delivery. As a courtesy to customers who choose an expedited shipping method during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, we will email you after your purchase to make sure you are aware of this holiday schedule.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Try our Alfa 500mW USB Adapter with an 8 dBi gain antenna

In late October I mentioned a new addition to our product line, the high-powered Alfa 500mW USB adapter with SMA connector, model AWUS036H. They come with a 2 dBi gain antenna in the box, but we now also carry both 8 dBi and 9 dBI gain rubber duck antennas on our website.

Personally I like the 8 dBi a little better because it is smaller and lighter than the 9 dBI antenna yet still gets a nearly comparable range (the 9 dBi is somewhat better overall- it really depends on if you need the most range or want something a little bit more portable). In any event, here is a comparison of this Alfa adapter with an 8 dBi gain antenna connected compared to an internal Centrino wireless card in an IBM laptop. As you can see, it is really no comparison at all, the Alfa setup gets nearly 3x the signals, and this is in an area where the buildings are pretty spaced out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Product

Sorry for the lull, we've been busy getting new inventory in for the holiday season. One product we just got is a high powered USB adapter from Alfa. This is a really cool item, especially for those looking to get a longer range on their desktop, or those with laptops that don't have a PCMCIA slot.

It is model AWUS036H and features 500mw of output power. I've seen it on other web sites in the $69.99-$79.99 range so I think we have a pretty competitive price for you guys right now. It has an SMA jack and comes with a 2 dBi antenna in the box. Later this week we'll have some 9 dBi RP-SMA antennas you can hook up to these which will really give them fantastic range.

Throughout the rest of this month and November as well we will be attempting to get back to doing some product reviews here on our blog, and also will try and provide additional information, such as use in Linux and things of that nature.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shameless Plug: Checkout

Visit if you get a moment.

This is a new football news and fan networking site that some of us here at Rokland are involved in. We have been working on some software initiatives and this is one of them. It is powered by Pligg, and is a fun site for any football fan.

The site is currently in open beta. As you know we love sites like Digg, and I know there are some out there that think the voting system used in Digg should not be duplicated on other sites ("COPYCATS!!!"), but I disagree. I think the "Digg" style of content rated by users is a step forward in content management and distribution, similar to the way blogs took online journals to a new level. I read a lot of sports news sites and found that even though they were very informative, I missed a lot of stuff from a lot of good publications around the country and the world.

The idea behind is to bring content diversification (sorry for the buzzword but it fit perfectly, lol) to football fans and also let them choose what should be displayed at the top of category pages and on the home page by way of voting for their favorite articles.

There is a section for NFL, college division I, division II, high school, and also a separate section for video which is my favorite. But what I like most about the site thus far is how we have incorporated the aspects of a cooperative blog into it. This means that you aren't limited to submitting content from other web sites. You can also write your own articles or editorials and post them where others can vote on them. The discussion area that each submission has, along with the ability to add friends and view their submissions via RSS feed gives the site more of a community aspect than a typical sports news web site.

Check it out and let us know what you think.

Review of Yahoo Mash Beta

I had a chance to check out Yahoo Mash beta (if you want your own beta account, check our previous post for instructions on how to receive an invite) and it is a pretty cool service. It is extremely easy to setup, I really see the interface as possibly leading the way of future web design. That may be a bit much of course, but I do like how easy it is to update your page (and your friends' pages if they allow for friends to make updates on them).

That said, I am not sure how well this project from Yahoo will do. I am not a hardcore social networking site user and really have not gotten into all the MySpace, Facebook, etc. hoopla. Not because I don't think they aren't cool or aren't worth the time, but I myself just have not really had the time to spend updating my profiles and staying "social". So I may not be the best judge of the service. I did notice that many of the folks who requested beta invitations from us have really gotten into the service, adding pictures and graphics, articles from their blogs, and more. So people do seem to want to use Mash. I will most likely be observing from the sidelines as I don't plan to get into it too heavily. Will be interesting to watch though.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Want a Yahoo Mash Beta Invitation?

Update 3:15 PM 9/17: You need to have a Yahoo account in order to claim the beta invitation we will send you. If you don't have one you will need to create one at Yahoo.

Our Yahoo Mash beta account gives us the ability to invite other people to the service. I saw some other folks on Digg offering free invitations to the service so thought I would share the wealth. If you would like one, we just need your name and email address. You can post in the comments section, but if you post your email make sure to use userATserviceDOTcom to avoid those web spam crawlers. Also, if you post your email I should note our comments section will be visible by others. If you don't want to post it, just send us an email to salesATroklandDOTcom (note rokland is spelled without a C) and make your subject line Yahoo Mash Request and put your first name in the message body and we will send you an invitation. We don't mind doing this for people until we get tired of doing it, or unless Yahoo tells beta users to stop open invitations.

Update on Yahoo Mash Beta

Just managed to secure an invitation to Yahoo Mash first glance nothing blows me away but I haven't tried to use any of the features yet. Will try to get around to it and maybe write about it here tomorrow.

Yahoo's Launches Mash, Where's the Hype?

Update 3:07PM 9/17: Found out why invitations aren't on eBay and probably won't be- unlike Google which restricted invitations to just a few per beta user, apparently Yahoo Mash beta users can send out unlimited invitations...

Yahoo has announced a beta launch of their new social networking service to compete with Facebook, MySpace, Pownce, etc. (oh goody, another one!). I can understand why Yahoo wants to get into the social networking game, and to those who say the world doesn't need another site like this (myself included), you might be right but don't forget how late Google got into the email game with their Gmail service. When they did, many were singing the same tune about not needing a new email service. Yet Google has done very well with Gmail. So I get why Yahoo wants to enter the social networking game, especially considering they already have millions of registered Yahoo users they can provide with a free account.

What is interesting about Yahoo's service though is that just like with Gmail, the beta is invitation only, meaning you have to know somebody to get an account. But Google launched their beta with much anticipation and buzz from users who coveted an account, so much so that accounts were being sold for over $100.00 each on eBay. The Yahoo Mash beta has only been open a very short period of time, but as of today no accounts are being auctioned off on eBay at all. Simply put, the hype for Mash is nowhere near what is was for Google's Gmail launch.

We'll see where Mash is in a few months before we judge it though (we haven't yet secured a beta account, but if we do we will discuss it some more here).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Comments on Interview With SCO Group CEO Darl McBride

This comes from via a Digg post from user moojj:

The SCO Group case is one I have written about before, and it is interesting (amusing in some cases) to read responses from SCO's CEO Darl McBride regarding questions to which many people have long wanted answers.

McBride defends himself as a fighter for what is right, someone attempting to defend his company's property despite the unpopularity he knew it would garner.

While I have followed the case somewhat closely, I have not followed it in enough detail to give specific legal arguments about whether SCO's case had any legal merits. Noting that most of my friends in the Linux community don't believe it did, I will say (and have said before) that regardless of the legal issues at hand, the measures SCO took were simply losing ones. SCO was attempting to do what any business does, and that is make money. But they went about it the wrong way. Even had the most recent court decision gone the other way, and SCO ultimately prevailed on legal grounds, it would have been a short term victory. They would have made some money off licenses, but the Linux community would have found a way to develop future versions of the software which required no payments to SCO. When licensing fees ultimately dropped to zero and SCO attempted to shift to other projects for revenue, they would have had the displeasure of carrying a tarnished brand and reputation with them- one of a company that bullies its potential customer base rather than allying and cooperating with it.

Put simply, in the long run SCO could never have succeeded. McBride's attempts were shortsighted, and to add insult to injury, SCO won't even be profitable in the short term- the day after the most recent court decision, their stock lost 75% of its value.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Man Arrested for Setting Fire to Burning Man too Early

For those of you not familiar with Burning Man, you can read about the annual event here.

A San Francisco man was arrested for setting fire to the event-centric statue days early. It is not reported what his motive was, but the article correctly labels it as a very selfish act.

A Look at Google's Planned Phone

Apple's iPhone dominated media coverage for months, and all during this time there were some whispers that Google may get into the smartphone business to compete. Well, the rumors seem to be true, and Gizmodo has some pictures of the prototype. Though the official name is not known, most are naturally referring to it as the gPhone.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

About the Digg Box

Though we introduced it in a blog post last week, we have received some emails asking about the "advertisement" on the right side of our blog, as it contained some stories not related to technology.

That box is in fact not an advertisement, but an RSS feed widget which displays all stories that our employees have "dugg" under the username rokland. Digg is a news and social bookmarking web site which allows editorial placement of articles to be determined by users. You go to the site and browse the content, and if you see something you like, you "digg" it, which means you vote for it. You can also submit new articles and web sites you find interesting so that others can digg them. One of my favorite things about Digg is that you get a wider array of articles and stories vs. a traditional news web site. As such, we have decided to place this Digg box on our blog so that you can view the articles we found interesting. While we mostly digg technology stuff, occasionally you may see a funny or different article about something unrelated. While this is our company blog, it is by no means a stuffy corporate controlled atmosphere. We like to have fun and Digg is a fun web site. This widget is our way of sharing that with you.

The widget shows the ten most recent posts we have dugg. To see all posts dugg by us, go to

**note: we do not receive payment or any type of compensation from Digg or anyone else for including this widget or writing about the service here. Though is more than welcome to send us money if they feel so inclined :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

iPhone Unlocking Delayed to Possible Legal Threat

I wrote hear last week about the first person to claim to be able to unlock the iPhone, George Hotz of New Jersey. His method involved both hardware and software modifications. As you can imagine, with so many people having worked since June to unlock the iPhone, his method was bound to not be the only way to do it. In fact, two companies now claim to be able to unlock the iPhone through a software-only fix.

One of the companies, Uniquephones of Northern Ireland, had planned to make the unlocking program available on their web site this past Saturday, but founder John McLaughlin claims to have received what he interpreted to be a legal threat on behalf of AT&T before the planned launch. Though the details about this published by were vague, McLaughlin says the caller was an attorney who said he could be sued for "copyright infringement and for dissemination of Apple's intellectual property" if his company were to proceed with the unlocking software launch. Uniquephones then decided to "delay" the launch, evidently to sort out this new hurdle.

I am no lawyer, and AT&T/Apple may very well have some legal basis for their claims, I don't know. What I do know is that nearly every GSM phone can already be unlocked, so I would guess AT&T in particular would have a difficult time standing on any legal ground due to the fact that the unlocking of phones has never been strongly challenged by providers before. More importantly though, even if they do have strong legal footing for their actions, any action made by AT&T or Apple about this would fly in the face of the direction where interactive technology has been headed for some time.

Open source is becoming dominant, and not just as a software license, but as technological ideology.

Customers have demonstrated time and time again they do not want proprietary solutions that lock them in with one provider. Microsoft is finding this out each day as the market share of Linux distributions continually rises. Open source is becoming dominant, and not just as a software license, but as technological ideology. AT&T may argue that they have a business interest in preventing unlocks in order to keep customers from changing service providers and still being able to use the iPhone. Customers don't care about business decisions like this, they care about a good product. If AT&T is the best provider out there, people will stay with them. If AT&T service declines, customers should be able to go elsewhere. That is the real business decision that both AT&T and Apple should be concerned about.

AT&T may win the first few rounds of any legal battle that takes place. But they will lose in the long run.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Great, Yahoo, but You're Missing the Key

Yahoo has announced some cool new features for email users. Among them is the ability to type text messages on a computer and send them directly to a user's cell phone.

I always applaud innovation, but one of the key critiques I have heard about Yahoo email (and experienced myself) is their overzealous server side spam filters. In the e-commerce world, a larger percentage of customers with Yahoo accounts are left out of the loop on the status of their order compared to users of other email services (with the exception of Hotmail) because often times emails sent from retailers about their purchases get incorrectly filtered out as spam before the customers have a chance to see them.

When people tell me which free email service is the best, I always tell them Gmail, simply because their messages will get to them. Yahoo may be forging ahead with new technology, but until they come up with a better way to make sure their users get the emails they need, I will continue to suggest Google's Gmail service when asked.

The Rokland Taiwan USB Adapter & Linux

We are very excited about a product we recently added to our inventory, the Rokland Taiwan USB Wireless kit which can be seen here:

This devices used the Zydas ZD1211b chipset, which is now known as the Atheros AR5007UG. It is compatible with Windows 98SE and later, including Windows Vista. It is also compatible with Mac (OS 10.3 and 10.4) and Linux releases as well. Drivers for Windows (including Vista), Mac, and Linux are included with the device.

We have had some inquiries about the use of this product in Linux, and decided to post about this here in our blog.

When using in Linux, in most newer releases driver installation will not be required, though you will need to configure the device to connect to an available access point. Rokland does not provide support for use in Linux, however we will help you if we can. What this means is that if you purchase this item for use in Linux and cannot get it to do certain things that you need, you are more than welcome to ask us for help and we will do our best to help, but we cannot promise a resolution to your particular issue. Basic compatibility is assured, but use beyond that may well require some research on the customer's end, which is common when attempting to do various things in a Linux environment.

We can say upfront that in most releases the default driver loaded for this device is not rfmon (monitor mode) compatible. We have read several reports of a release of a community developed driver for this item that supports monitor mode, as well as a patch that does the same.

The driver package can be downloaded here.

The patch file is here.

Please note that we have not attempted to use either of these packages with the device at this time, so seamless installation/operation is of course not guaranteed.

If you want to use this item in monitor mode, so that you can use programs like Kismet, it is highly recommended to do a Google or Yahoo search for the following term sets:

zd1211 monitor mode
zd1211 kismet

By doing these searches and reviewing the results of the articles and forum pages that appear, this will give you a better understanding of what kind of legwork you may expect to have to do to get the device configured in Linux the way you would like. It is also advisable to add your particular linux release as a search term to narrow your results (example zd1211 monitor model kubuntu 7.04).

A note about packet injection: we have not done any packet injection testing with this device but came across the following at this web site

"* Chipset: zd1211
* Notice: After updating aircrack suite to aircrack-ng 1.0 dev. Monitor mode and packet injection supported."

For further information regarding packet injection and this device, it is recommended to do a search as explained above for the terms zd1211 packet injection.

Again, Rokland does not support the use of this item in Linux which means we cannot guarantee anything beyond basic compatibility. However we will be glad to try and help in any given situation so feel free to email us your questions, and our technicians will be doing more testing in the coming months in order to enable us to provide better Linux support of this and other products.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Apple iPhone Finally Unlocked

It took more than a month, but according to the Associated Press, the first reported case of "unlocking the iPhone" has taken place. The AP reports that George Hotz, a 17-year old New Jersey kid has broken the software lock on the phone that prevents it from being used with any other carrier than AT&T (Hotz is reported to be using it with T-Mobile). It won't be long now until eBay is full of unlocked models (at a premium) so that folks who do not have AT&T service (and people living outside of the US) can get a working iPhone.

The unlocking of a locked phone is nothing new- virtually every phone on the market has been unlocked. There really never was a question as to whether or not the iPhone could be unlocked, the only question was how long it would take. As the iPhone launch came in June, I am a little surprised it took until August for the first report to surface. But that's not a knock on the folks who tried- it takes me more than two months to learn how to use most phones, let alone figure out something as advanced and sophisticated as unlocking one!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Anybody Know What Happened to Openserving?

The purpose of this post is just to see if any of our "in the know" tech readers have any information regarding the Openserving platform from Wikia. The service was announced last December to quite a bit of blog fanfare, and in our opinion was a very cool service. We had looked into developing a content site using the platform and had registered for an account, but never heard back from Wikia. Internet searches reveal several others who had experienced the same thing, due to a possible backlog of registrations for the service. If any folks have any information about the Openserving service, post it here if you like.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A New Look and a Digg Widget

We have changed up the look of our blog, for no other reason than we felt like it. After a while, the look of web sites becomes a little stale, so mixing it up every now and then, in our opinion, is a good thing to do. We chose a design somewhat similar to our last one so that the feel of the site remains the same.

The major change is, as you can see, the addition of a widget over on the righthand side. For those of you not familiar with Digg, it is a very cool news and social bookmarking web site where users provide the content and also collectively determine editorial placement. Each user can "digg" an article, and the more diggs an article has, the higher it appears on the web site's category pages. We are not affiliated with in any way, nor are we receiving any payment for the placement of the widget or our writing about the site. We just think it is a really fun and exciting service- some of us have been using Digg since it launched several years ago.

The Digg widget allows us to show you which stories we have dugg. It is basically an RSS feed of the stories dugg by Rokland worker bees, and generally contains stories related to technology that we believe are worthwhile reads. The widget is updated instantaneously with new stories the moment we digg them. So check back every day- even if we don't have a new blog post for the day, there should at least be some cool new stuff for you to check out in the Digg widget.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Nokia N95 beats iPhone in Test

The Nokia N95 smartphone recently beat Apple's iPhone in a head-to-head comparison test. The N95 is similar in concept, using the Safari browser, and it has a digital camera with three times the resolution. The one thing it lacks is hype. Despite all its features, that may be enough to keep it from seriously competing with the iPhone.

Thursday, July 26, 2007 Digs Microsoft

We have witnessed many interesting alignments and many interesting face-offs in the tech industry this year, highlighted last month by a shoving match between eBay and Google regarding Google's new payment web site, a competitor to eBay's PayPal service. EBay pulled their advertising from Google, but resumed relations after one week. Now has abandoned Google in favor of Microsoft. Digg had been using Google to display advertisements on their popular content sharing and social news web site, but decided to change to a platform from Microsoft, explaining that Microsoft offers a higher level of customization.

Though it may seem small, this is a much needed victory for Microsoft. As of late, they have witnessed their share of both the browser and office software market decline, and in addition to continued anti-trust battles with various governments around the world, they have been (in my opinion) hemorrhaging support among computer users due to their decision to pick a fight with Linux users by claiming that Linux and other open-source apps violate a number of their patents. Microsoft has been attempting for a while to gain a foothold in the online advertising arena, and with Digg's reported 17 million visitors per month, this should help them do that.

I do wonder how Diggnation co-host Alex Albrecht (an avid Mac user who probably would not be caught dead wearing a Microsoft t-shirt) feels about the deal.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Update on eBay San Dimas

On June 12th I wrote about the eBay San Dimas beta program and also noted I would write about the program again if I were to become a beta tester. I did in fact get a beta invitation a week or two ago, installed the program, but could not get it to work. Though I was logged in and had Internet connectivity, I could not get the program to do anything. Every option was grayed out and there was a red X over an icon which meant to me there was a problem somewhere. As time is not easy to come by around here, I tabled the program figuring I would get back to it and when I did, hopefully it would work. Well, I got back to it today, and there was an upgrade it told me I had to install, and after doing that everything worked fine. So onto my review...

San Dimas is basically a desktop gateway to the world of eBay. It presents users with a new interface through which they can search for and buy products, as well as save information about auctions they have viewed. It is nothing revolutionary, but it is a lot more "web 2.0" in appearance and interaction than eBay's actual web site. That being said, I ran the application on a dual processor machine running Windows XP with 2 GB of RAM installed and a 9 mbps pipeline, and the program was slooooow. It reminded me of when I had to navigate eBay while on the road earlier this year with only a dial-up connection available. Nothing like clicking on an option and then thinking about what you will do next while the page is loading. I don't know what is to blame- I did browse around eBay's site in between using San Dimas today to make sure it was not a problem with the Internet connection or my PC. I won't judge a beta on speed, but if the official release of this program is as sluggish as it is right now, it will be hard to get users (especially those on Vista, which is a memory hog itself) to want to use the program when using the eBay web site interface is much faster.

These were my initial reactions to the program. Despite its slowness I will attempt to utilize its features some more this coming weekend and report about it back here early next week.

Update on Safari for Windows

Apple released Safari 3.0.2 a short while ago, which was a version updated from the one we reviewed here back on June 17th.

I went ahead and installed the updated browser on a laptop, and the problem I reported in my first blog post in regards to not being able to access some secure areas of a web application was fixed. So far it seems I can use the browser to do my normal activities without issue. But I did notice one other thing that bothered me that I did not really pay much attention to in my first look at the program.

Apple uses their own font rendering algorithm inside the browser, so that if you are looking at text that is Arial 10pt, it will look different than the same size font in Internet Explorer or FireFox. Several tech web sites have done screenshot comparisons showing the difference of the text. I am not going to go into that much detail here but if you want to see some images, do a Google search for Safari font rendering. When I first used the browser back in June, I did notice the difference but figured it was just a setting that I could adjust. It was not until I took a further look while using Safari 3.0.2 that I found out that this way of displaying the text was built into the browser and could not be changed.

I have no problems with Apple having their own font rendering process. It is hard to say if their process is better than Microsoft's or not. Ask either company (or their respective fan bases) whose is better and it is not difficult to guess their answers. I do know that you cannot always judge a process based on first glance. Your eyes need time to adjust. When I first enabled Microsoft's ClearType in Windows XP a while back, I remember thinking the text had lost crispness and seemed too blurry. A colleague of mine encouraged me to leave it be for a week and then reevaluate, which I did. Since then I have always used ClearType and now when I am on a computer that does not have ClearType enabled, it looks too pixelated and light to me- I now prefer ClearType. So it is very possible that if I were to use Safari for a while, I would come to like the Apple font rendering. While I cannot at the moment conclude who has the better process, I can conclude that it is very annoying to my eye to be working in Safari with Apple's font rendering and then switch over to a Windows application where the same size fonts look quite different. When you work on a PC quite often, as I do, you need font consistency. Using Safari on Windows disrupts that consistency. I understand Apple wants to open up the world of "Apple greatness" to PC users (no sarcasm intended), if you will, but they really do need to build in an option to let users choose Windows font rendering for text. Though I like the speed of the Safari browser, I could never use it on a regular basis inside Windows due to this issue.

Back to School...

August is almost here, and many retailers (us included) have launched or are planning to launch back to school specials. In the computer industry you often see steep discounts on laptop and desktop computers. Often times these are loss leaders, designed to bring customers into the store where they will buy additional peripherals and software which have high margins. One allegedly "great" deal I read about online is the debut of a sub-$300 PC at Wal-Mart from Everex. The system does not have an Intel or AMD chip- instead it uses a 1.5 GHz chip from Via, called the C7-D. Instead of trialware (preinstalled software which commonly expires after 30, 60, or 90 days unless you pay retail price for it), this Everex machine comes with the open-source office software suite, a package which is dually compatible with its Microsoft counterpart (you can read and write to Microsoft Word and Excel files using It runs Windows Vista, but I have not been able to find out how much RAM comes with it- my guess from other budget systems I have seen is it will be 512MB, which is not sufficient to run Windows Vista comfortably.

Back to school deals are tempting, but if you already have a decent computer, buying one may not be much of an upgrade. As I mentioned, these systems usually have minimal RAM, which means you won't see the speed you'd expect from a brand new box. Having on this system is a great feature, but you can install it on your existing computer by downloading it free from the web site, or by buying it from a community distributor like us for just $3.00 including shipping.

I would recommend upgrading your own RAM, defragmenting your hard drive, and updating your software first- this would be cheaper than even a $300.00 PC upgrade. Spending a few dollars on peripherals is another great way to save. If your computer does not have built-in WIFI, we offer internal and external options for laptops and desktops starting at $9.99. I don't mean to throw in shameless plugs, but just want to demonstrate how much cheaper it may be to get new life out of your existing system.

If you do decide to buy a system from one of these back-to-school offers, if you believe the old adage about teaching a man to fish, you can save quite a bit of money by getting the base package from a PC maker and then upgrading on your own. For example, many PC makers offer several models of the same base PC at $100 to $120 intervals. Often times the only difference is the amount of RAM and maybe 0.2 GHz of processor speed. If you see a $499 system with a 1.4 GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, and the same system with the same chip running at 1.6 GHz along with 1GB of RAM for $619, it may be a good idea to go for the $499 system. You can get great RAM deals on eBay (but be sure to check your manual so you buy the correct type of RAM), 512MB upgrades for newer systems can be had for as little as $20-$30.00, which in the end would give you virtually the same system for $100.00 less.

At the end of the day, just ask yourself two questions. Does my system do what I need it to do, and would I be more productive if the machine was faster? If you answer yes and no respectively, you're good right where you are. If your answers are different, then decide on the cheapest path to achieving the answers you want. Will it be an upgrade to what you already have, or something new?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

First Look at Safari for Windows

Over the weekend I downloaded and setup Windows Safari on a Pentium 3 HT system running Windows XP with 2GB of RAM. After checking out a few sites, I did notice that pages tended to load faster than in other browsers. I figured I would use the browser for a couple of weeks, check out some of its features, and then make a decision if I liked it better than FireFox or SeaMonkey, which are the browsers I like most (I chucked Internet Explorer a long time ago due to the CPU resources it uses compared to FireFox and SeaMonkey).

Then I attempted to access my company's e-commerce system to check on new orders. This of course is a secure URL, and I was not able to get to it in Safari. After entering in my login information, Safari would freeze, and an Microsoft error box came up which asked if I wanted to report the error to Microsoft. I attempted to login several times, but experienced the problem each time. I then decided to try to login to the same secure system on a G4 desktop with Safari, and I had no trouble. So evidently the problem is not within Safari itself, but in Safari's interaction with Windows. I did report the bug to Apple, and thought the ability to report bugs along with screen shots was a great feature. Obviously I could not take a screen shot of the actual freeze, but that would be a useful tool for other problems.

Being that I must access this secure area on a semi-regular basis, I would not be able to make a permanent switch to Safari until this was resolved. As there are many other businesses that use this same e-commerce program, I would guess that it is an error that would be worthy of fixing. Having said all of this, I was very impressed at the page load speeds in Safari, it definitely is better than Internet Explorer, and in the limited browsing I did, it gave FireFox and SeaMonkey a run for their money.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bye It Now?

An article in the Associated Press today reported that Virginia based MercExchange LLC is asking for a permanent injunction against eBay to prevent them from using "buy it now" and "Fixed Price" options on the auction web site. MercExchange claims that eBay continues to violate patents they hold related to the "buy it now" technology. In 2003, a jury did decide that eBay was in violation of MercExchange's patents, but last year the Supreme Court ruled that did not mean MercExchange could get an automatic permanent injunction.

For their part, eBay responded to MercExchange's request by saying that they have already developed a work around so that they are no longer in violation of any patents.

The article did not address what might happen to eBay sellers if MercExchange's request was granted. Would eBay be forced to disable their "buy it now" and "Fixed Price" features? It seems it could be a possibility, but due to the revenue loss that could cause both eBay and many sellers who list primarily in "buy it now" or "Fixed Price" format, one would have to think that eBay would be able to work out some sort of licensing agreement to be able to continue using the technology.

One of eBay's main complaints against MercExchange is that they don't seem to have any other business purpose than to collect and sue over patents. This is not the first case of this. What do you think about businesses that operate this way? Is the US in need of patent reform?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

eBay's San Dimas Beta Begins Today

In case you didn't hear back in April, eBay is entering the desktop arena with a forthcoming program dubbed "San Dimas" which allows users a venue other than a web browser through which they can access eBay. Personally I am in favor of this type of application, and I hope it opens eBay's mind a little bit in terms of allowing third party developers to create add-ons that make it easier for eBay users to find and buy what they are looking for. Not too long ago eBay thwarted an attempt made by a third party to crawl their index of products so auctions could be displayed to users and managed in methods different from the traditional eBay results pages. I know eBay wants people to come to to view auctions and probably aren't thrilled about other companies profiting off their search results, but at the end of the day, the more people you have buying and selling through, the better profits will be, So I believe that opening up to developers will increase interest and activity at the site.

I digress a bit though. The purpose of this post was just to let you know that beta testing for San Dimas has begun, and you can still sign up to attempt to be a beta tester at

The first beta accounts have already been handed out, so it may be to late. I was a bit late to the game myself, if I end up becoming a beta tester, depending on the terms of the licensing agreement, I will share what I can about the program here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

New Price Point for Open Source Products

As you may know, we have distributed several open source products via our web site for some time now. We do charge a fee, which covers the cost of making the product and the labor involved. It also covers the cost of shipping, as there is no shipping charge added on to the software product cost.

In the coming weeks we will be adding a number of new titles to our offerings, and to get ready for that we have established a new price point for our open source titles, a flat $3.00 which still includes shipping. The reason for this price drop is because we have been able to cut material costs, and also have experimented with smaller shipping containers which has allowed us to cut costs there. Additionally, we will no longer be adding an additional amount for labor, the time it takes to create, package, and mail the CDs will be our contribution to the open source community.

Right now we have two titles available on our web site, both for $3.00. Check out our and Mozilla package at:

and check out Knoppix at:

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Web 2.0 Customer Service

I have noticed an annoying pattern in companies that claim to be Web 2.0 oriented. They seem to be copying the poor customer service techniques of the Web 1.0 generation.

In the last several weeks I have contacted the customer service department web sites of three different companies, which I will leave nameless. I did get a response from each one, but none answered the specific question I asked. Instead, whichever "representative" was in charge of responding to my request gave a response which merely included text that related to my question. For example, one question I asked was where to find out how miscellaneous "fees" charged to an account were calculated. The representative responded with a block of text explaining that from time to time various fees will be charged, and it listed what the names of the fees along with a brief definition of each one (all of this information was already present on their web site FAQ page by the way). But there was no explanation of how they were calculated, which is what I had asked in the particular request, since that information was not answered in their FAQ.

Why have companies decided this is an acceptable way to handle customer service? It's almost as if during training representatives are told "whatever you do, don't answer their specific question- instead, just give them some information related to their inquiry." Imagine if you just moved and you called your phone company because you couldn't remember your new phone number. What if instead of telling you what it was, they just told you that the Yellow Pages is a helpful place to find phone numbers you need? It sounds ludicrous, but that is the unfortunate approach that original Internet companies took to customer support, and it seems a number of Web 2.0 companies are prepared to let history repeat itself.

I understand we live in a world where it seems the customer is no longer always right. But does that mean customers need be treated like idiots? I don't know, but as a part of Rokland LLC, the parent company of, I know we would never even think of treating our customers in this manner.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A Coffee Table Computer About Coffee Tables?

Maybe that's something we'll see when Cosmo Kramer gets a look at this new device from Microsoft.

Monday, May 28, 2007

On this Memorial Day...

...we give a heartfelt thanks to all of the women and men who have served our country, past and present. May everyone have a blessed Memorial Day, and our prayers are with all soldiers and their proud families.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Microsoft's Plan to Profit from Open-Source

Our CEO Weighs In-

I've always wondered what the plan in Redmond was to deal with open-source. There is no question that open-source solutions have been cutting into their market share in recent years, and having witnessed Bill Gates' ability to corner markets before, I expected at some point Microsoft would emerge with a strategy to use open-source to their financial benefit. I had no idea they would take the "SCO Group" path of intimidation.

Microsoft knows that you can bully all of the people some of the time, and you can bully some of the people all the time. But evidently they have decided to try and bully all of the people all of the time. For those unfamiliar with the situation, Microsoft has announced that (according to them and them alone) various open-source projects violate 235 of their patents. They want users of the software to pony up by way of licensing agreements with Microsoft, or face the possibility of expensive lawsuits. To be clear, a patent violation does not necessarily mean that someone has swiped Microsoft code somewhere and put it into open-source programs. It generally means that a patented "process" is being used without permission. A process, of course, is a way of doing something. When new ways of doing things on the Internet are discovered, the inventors usually get a patent. After patented their process of serving up ads in search engine results, Google found themselves on the business end of a lawsuit when they launched their own similar process at Google settled the dispute.

What is happening here though is that Microsoft has come to the table with nothing other than words. They have not named any specific infringements, nor pointed to any actual code they feel may be in violation. Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, summed this issue up perfectly in a recent article by Charles Babcock of InformationWeek.

"Naming them would make it either clear that Linux isn't infringing at all (which is quite possible, especially if the patents are bad), or would make it possible to avoid infringing by coding around whatever silly thing they claim."

In Babcock's article, Torvalds went on to make an interesting statement about Microsoft, saying
"It's certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does. If the source code for Windows could be subjected to the same critical review that Linux has been, Microsoft would find itself in violation of patents held by other companies."

So Microsoft has decided that they cannot join open-source (and make it profitable) so they are going to try and beat it. Much like with SCO Group, the strategy here is to hope that enough large businesses will determine that it is cheaper to pay Microsoft licensing fees than to fight them, while enough small business become so fearful that they abandon (or avoid) open-source products altogether, sticking with expensive Microsoft "solutions".

As the CEO of a company heavily involved in the use and distribution of open-source software (and the development as well though to a lesser extent), I can say without hesitation that Microsoft has severely underestimated the open-source community. They may get some companies to bite, as SCO Group did, but in the end they will create a new generation of enemies, and the negative buzz surrounding their actions will only help their competitors. Alienating and scaring one's customers is simply not good business practice. It may work for dictators of third world countries where the "customers" are citizens with no ability to fight back. The open-source community, and consumers of software in general, can and will fight back.

Jason Opdyke
CEO- Rokland LLC

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

802.11n Draft Coming This Summer

Sorry folks, it's not a new beer, but it is pretty exciting. The newest wireless standard, 802.11n, is coming. 802.11n draft products are expected to hit store shelves this summer. Though 802.11n will not become a ratified standard until 2009, 802.11n draft products will be a big step up from the current 802.11 "pre-N" products you can currently buy in stores. Though the technology of each is based on the 802.11n standard, which supposedly provides speeds up to five times greater than 802.11g WiFi products (and does a better job rangewise as well), 802.11n draft products will work with other brand 802.11n draft products, and will also work seamlessly with older WIFI gear. Currently, most pre-N equipment does not play nice with other brands, and is not necessarily backward compatible with WiFi stuff you already have. Once the products hit the shelves, you can of course find them here at Rokland.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Where Do You Get Your WiFi Information?

As you may know, at and we sell a lot of wireless networking equipment. We are compiling an information list of where people go to find the information they need about wireless networking. What are your favorite sites about wireless technology? How do you find information you need such as advanced details about products, the location of drivers, etc.? Do you generally use a search engine to hunt the information down? Do you have a favorite forum web site where you like to post comments or ask for help? Please let us know by adding a reply to this blog post. Thanks!

Friday, May 04, 2007

The iPod killer?

When I was a young man, I loved getting a new tape cassette to put in what we kids referred to as a ‘ghetto blaster.’ When CDs became all the rage I traded in my tape collection a few pieces at a time to get the CDs of as many musicians as I could afford. At the time I was using an old 286 PC from IBM, and as I tried to think of what might replace the CD someday, I never thought about music on a PC. But I do remember thinking one day, as I changed CDs in my stereo, how awesome it would be to have a box that had every song every recorded inside, and all you had to do to listen to any song you wanted was simply select the song title and artists from a simple visual interface. The device I had in mind back then looked more like a big juke box, and the thought seemed on par with hovercrafts and personal jet packs.

Of course we all know how music has since progressed- computers turned songs completely digital, and now we have a wave of competing MP3 players on the market, chief among them the iPod. In all the buzz the iPod received when it launched, I was never really that interested. Not because I didn’t think it was a good product, I just felt there was something better and cheaper that would come along. And by cheaper I don’t mean the cost of the player, but the overall cost of listening to a lot of music month after month. At 99 cents a download, listening to one new song a day via iPod/iTunes came with a price tag of $30.00 a month.

When RealPlayer Rhapsody launched several years back, I was happy because here was a product that gave access to hundreds of thousands of songs, including most all newer artists, and the cost was just a flat $9.99 a month. That meant I could listen to 5 new songs a day, and my cost would be $9.99 via Rhapsody vs. $150.00 at iTunes. Of course the original Rhapsody service had its drawbacks. If you wanted to burn a song to a CD or MP3 player, you had to pay for the download (though it was only 79 cents a track). I loved the product primarily because my job required me being at a desk for long periods of time, so I could listen to music often, and could do so very cheaply. But I could see why Rhapsody had not replaced iPod/iTunes. Though it’s downloads were a little cheaper, it wasn’t a revolutionary product considering most people preferred to listen to music on a stereo or take their music with them (via CD or MP3 player) and not be tethered to a computer. People would rather pay 99 cents a track with no monthly fee than $9.99 a month and 79 cents a track. Plus the iPod was a part of pop culture and a lot of folks wanted an iPod just to be in the “in” crowd. But the iPod as a fad will eventually give way to another coveted device. The question is, which device will it be?

Here we are in 2007, the iPod is still the top dog, the CD is taking its last breath, and RealPlayer has launched Rhapsody to Go. Ladies and gentleman, I have seen the iPod killer, and it is this. This product is revolutionary. You can download any song to your PC (via the Rhapsody music player) or MP3 player without paying a download fee per track. You pay $14.99 a month. The Rhapsody MP3 player (from Sansa), which is the only compatible player for this service, looks a lot like an iPod (though a wee bit thicker and heavier), and comes in 2GB, 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB flavors, with more on the way. It plays video as well. So you can put 500 songs on your Rhapsody MP3 player, listen to them while jogging, in a car, or anywhere else for that matter, and all you pay is $14.99 a month. Using a simply auxiliary cable you can connect the device to your home or car stereo and get full digital sound. You can save the songs to your computer too. There are no individual download fees unless you want to burn the tracks to a CD (but who does these days?).

Naturally I thought Apple would not be far behind, and would simply adjust and make RealPlayer Rhapsody a short lived service. Evidently Steve Jobs (and a number of music journalists) just don’t get it. Or more likely Jobs gets it, but wants to buy some time before admitting it. This article from Wired shows why.

According to Jobs, Apple won’t offer a subscription service like that of RealPlayer Rhapsody because “customers don't seem to be interested in it…The subscription model has failed so far." That was a quote from Jobs. The article’s author, Leander Kahney, added “Jobs is right. There's no mainstream demand for music subscriptions. The music business isn't built on long-term rentals; it's built on one hit after another. It's confectionary. Tunes are addictive for a while and then discarded. It's like the drug business: Users are always looking for the next hit.”

I can see why Jobs is downplaying the subscription model- because his company doesn’t plan on going in that route yet, and he wants to help deflate any buzz other services might get in the press. But the concept that a subscription model is “renting” music vs. “buying” just doesn’t fit. Primarily because no one actually ever “buys” a song- the song always belongs to the record label. When you download a track from iTunes you are merely renting that song until you accidentally delete it, reformat your hard drive, or possibly until iTunes cancels its service or changes their file formatting on a future device.

What Kahney says about songs being “addictive for a while and then discarded” actually hurts his argument since subscription services allow you to listen to the next new tune as soon as it launches without any additional cost, whereas with an individual download you have to pay more money for each tune you want to hear, all while knowing that you paid 99 cents a track for a bunch of tracks that you already have, as Kahney would say, “discarded.”

A pay-per-download model will in theory allow you to amass a library of songs you can continue to listen to in the future without paying, but it all comes back to the cost. Want to compile a library of 10,000 songs? That’ll be $10,000.00 on iTunes. It’ll take 667 months, or 55 and ½ years before I spend that much on my RealPlayer Rhapsody service. I remember how much I spent to amass my collection of tape cassettes only to trade those in and spend more money to amass a collection of CDs, only to have since sold many of them online for a fraction of what I originally paid. In 55 years no one will be listening to an iPod, we can assume that much. So is it really worthwhile to spend all that money to amass a collection of songs you may only listen to for a few years? If 10,000 is too high for you, even downloading 1000 songs would cost the equivalent of 5 and ½ years of Rhapsody service. And in that 5 and ½ year period, while you can only listen to the 1000 songs for which you have paid, I can listen to hundreds of thousands via Rhapsody to Go. The subscription model simply makes sense, and this most recent attempt by Jobs to dismiss it seems like he just wants to buy time until Apple is ready to publicly accept this reality. With all I know about him, I cannot imagine for a minute that Steve Jobs really believes the pay-per-download model is the wave of the future.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Welcome Aboard Mac USB Wireless Adapter...

Our CEO recently got his first Macintosh, and he is loving it. Our first order of business was to find him an outstanding wireless adapter that would be easy for him to use (he is a Mac newbie afterall), but that would also be fast and get great range. He also wanted something he could use on his laptop, which is a PC, not a Mac. That ruled out many products, but then he said he didn't want to spend more than $30.00. Not being eager to let the boss down, we went digging long and hard for an adapter that would please. When we finally found one, we discovered we could get it cheaper than virtually any other retailer on the market. So we got a few of them (one for our CEO, and a couple for us to play around with), and we were so pleased (as was our CEO) we decided to officially begin retailing these adapters so that other Mac and PC users could experience this low cost wonder.

We have not integrated it into our web site yet, but have a quantity listed at a special sale price via our eBay account. Click this URL below to go to the auction page now before this special ends soon:

If you don't have an eBay account or don't want to buy on eBay, fear not, we will have them available for sale on our web site very soon.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

RokEdit Text Editor from

This is by no means groundbreaking, but we uploaded to our server today a simple program we created in-house to assist us with tasks related to photograph and spreadsheet editing. It is called RokEdit and it is a simple text editor that was designed with two purposes in mind. If you have ever tried to copy text from, say, a web site into a spreadsheet or photo editing program, you may notice that today's technology makes it so the text maintains the size, font, and color that it had on the web page. This can be convenient, but it can also make adding data to pre-existing text formats somewhat difficult. There are ways to change the text inside the destination applications, but this causes disruptions when you actually want to keep the formatting.

RokEdit was designed to allow the user to copy and paste text from any web site or program and have the formatting automatically removed so it is just plain text. While the Windows notepad acts similar, we beleive RokEdit is better because it also has automatic word wrapping, and includes an email button. With just one click, the text you have in your document will automatically be put into a new message in your email client- all you have to do is enter the destination email address and subject line and click send. RokEdit is a simple program, but a useful one.

RokEdit is completely free for personal and commercial use and will debuting on CNET's web site on April 10, 2007. But you can get your advanced copy by clicking here:

Monday, March 19, 2007

Net Neutrality

If you had the chance to listen to any of the broadcasts in our beta podcast project this past fall ( you may remember having heard yours truly talk about something called Net Neutrality. For those of you not familiar with it, Net Neutrality is a bill that would basically outlaw ISPs from setting up what I call a "tiered Internet" whereby web sites with money would get precedence in bandwidth and availability vs. web sites that could not afford to pay the ISPs for this type of premium access. I discussed the basics of Net Neutrality but never went in depth on the problems it would create for consumers and businesses alike down the road. A great article in this week's eWeek magazine by Jim Rapoza provides some excellent analogies which demonstrate why this legislation is so important.

Click here to read Mr. Rapoza's article

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vista Compatibility Testing Update- Linksys WPC54G

We continue our Windows Vista compatibility testing project this week with the Home Basic version of Vista. We tested the Linksys WPC54G Wireless PCMCIA card for laptops, which can be found by clicking here.

We are happy to report that not only is this item Vista compatible, but the drivers are built into the operating system so it installs automatically. So you don't need the CD included in the retail box, which is great for future reinstalls since, if you're like me, you tend to lose install CDs after time.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The Wi-Fire Revisited

In December of last year we introduced a new product to our web site, the Wi-Fire from hField Technlogies (, available in our store by clicking here.). The Wi-Fire is a wireless USB adapter that boasts of long range connections and fast speeds. Most of the time when we get a new product, we add it to our web site and that's it. We were so impressed with the Wi-Fire after doing some comparison testing vs. other wireless products on the market, that we featured it on our weekly podcast (twice).

As we have sold more of these adapters since that time, we wanted to take a moment to re-review the product and provide some feedback we have received from folks who have purchased the item. In mid January, I took a trip to visit a relative, who I have visited before. She lives in an area where homes are few and far between, where few people have broadband, and where WIFI signals are virtually nonexistent. In past travels I have taken some of the best wireless cards on the market, but was never able to detect any access points and was stuck working via dialup access for my whole trip. This time I took the usual suspects in my laptop bag, but also decided to take the Wi-Fire, to see how it handled a real life experience. The first night I was there I hooked up the Wi-Fire to my laptop, and was thrilled to detect several access points, one which was a public WIFI signal from the next town over. I assumed that broadband and wireless service increased in the area since my last visit, so just for comparison, I hooked up some of the other long range options to my laptop to see how they performed. Only one card detected the public WIFI hotspot, and it could not get enough signal to even get a connection. Simply put, had it not been for the Wi-Fire, I would have been stuck using dialup again.

hField Technologies advertises the Wi-Fire as being a long range adapter, capable of ranges up to 1000 feet. In the testing I have done, and the different scenarios in which I have used this item, I have been able to get a better range than this myself, but the range others experience could be better or worse, as wireless range depends on many outside factors, including the strength and quality of the access point to which you are connecting, as well as interference and channel crowding. One thing I can say though is that in all the sales we have had of this item, no one has requested to return the item because it did not meet their expectations. In fact, several customers, who were initially hesitant to buy the item because they had not heard of it before, actually came back to buy more because they were so happy with the performance.

So I am saying this just because I want to sell as many Wi-Fires to people as possible for my company, right? In fact, truth be told, we make a smaller pure dollar profit off the sale of this item than we do some of the other long range kits we sell. The reason I am promoting it is simply because it is the best. It is up to you to decide if it will fit your needs- maybe you don't need as long a range and would prefer a cheaper option. But if you are like me, a person who relies on wireless access when travelling, and range is the most important thing, the Wi-Fire is definitely the way to go.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Introducing Cisco Legacy Products

This week we have some new products including the hard-to-find Cisco 350 PCMCIA card (PCM352) for laptops. The Cisco 350 is a 100mw card that provides very good range without the need for an external antenna (for clarification, no external port is on the card). To get drivers for the card you will need to register for a free account at the web site and then download them from their support area. Drivers are not included on disk.

Click here to view the product.