Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rhapsody killer?

Last year we wrote an article about RealPlayer Rhapsody, a service from Real Networks that introduced a subscription model to music downloads to compete with the pay-per-track system available from Apple's iTunes. While we fully understood that Apple's iTunes and their iPod music players possessed a "cool factor" not likely to be taken down by Rhapsody, the point of the article was to demonstrate the cost effectiveness for consumers of a subscription model compared to paying for each track. While we did not come right out and say it, we concluded that it would be unlikely that Rhapsody would be able to take a large piece of market share from Apple- not because a subscription model does not make for a good business model, but instead because Real Networks was not as big a player as Apple.

Now a new player has entered the market with a subscription model, and they are playing to win. That player is everybody's favorite whipping boy, Microsoft. Bill Gates and company are not new to the music market. They launched their "Zune" music player as a competitor to Apple's iPod in 2006, and quickly found that Apple was not going to be easy to overtake. The Zune was just one in a long line of handheld music and video players being offered by dozens of companies. Key to Apple's success was the popularity of iTunes, the service which provided content to iPod users (iTunes of course provides content to computers as well). The Zune never amounted to much because it lacked this type of service- until now...well until this past September anyhow.

In September Microsoft launched Zune 3.0, and this fall has been dedicated to marketing the project. While we don't want this to read like an advertisement for the service, we do need to explain what the service does in order to detail how it plans to compete with iTunes. Much like the aforementioned Rhapsody service, you pay $14.99 a month and you can listen to unlimited songs in the Zune library on your PC or a compatible MP3 player. The songs are not DRM free and cannot be copied to CDs. There is one big difference between Zune and Rhapsody though, and that is that included in the $14.99 monthly fee are ten free DRM-free MP3 downloads, which would cost $9.90 over at iTunes. So if you would normally buy at least ten songs a month on iTunes, with Zune you will be paying just five bucks more each month for the added bonus of being able to listen to any song you want on your computer or MP3 player at any time.

What's missing from this service though is the same thing missing from Rhapsody, and that is the "cool" factor that Apple brings to every product it creates. Critics have dropped bombs all over Apple TV, a weak attempt from Apple to enter the home entertainment market, but several bloggers have noted that there are enough Apple fanboys out there to keep the product afloat. Apple's iTunes service is a far superior product compared to Apple TV and already has a strong foothold in the music download market. To unseat it, Microsoft will need to do more than just bring added value to the industry. Perhaps they should change the name from Zune to Mojave? Oh, that's right...

It will certainly be tough for Microsoft's Zune to knock iTunes off of its pedestal. But Zune will more than likely keep them sweating over at Real Networks as Rhapsody suddenly looks like a dated concept. In addition, Microsoft has staying power and multiple channels through which they can promote Zune. It will be an interesting battle ahead, but witnessing the last ten years, we wouldn't bet against Steve Jobs right now.

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Product: Low loss RP-SMA to N Male extension cable/pigtail

A lot of folks have asked us if we will begin carrying an extended line of WiFi accessories such as pigtails, cables, and outdoor antennas. The answer is yes, and we have already started to get in some new items. New this week is our special low loss RP-SMA to N Male extension cable.

This cable is 5m in length with an impedance of 50 OHM. But what sets is apart from the crowd is its special low loss cable which limits the cable loss factor experienced when using antenna extension cables. This cable has an RP-SMA connector on one end which connects to many of our USB and PCI wireless products. On the other end it terminates into a N male connector for hook up to a wide array of outdoor and long range antennas.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

There is no possible way for RokMan to resist the Weather Dominator! Or is there?

Introducing RokMan, the super-awesome WiFi adapter for Linux. When he's not out riding waves or fighting crime, RokMan enjoys being connected to your computer so he can get bring wireless access to you. RokMan is a product of years of genetic engineering. He comes with a USB connector that allows him to be hooked up to any laptop or desktop computer with an available USB port. While he works with Windows and Mac operating systems (see full specs for specific version compatibility below), RokMan's greatest attribute is that he works great in Linux, in fact he is plug and play in BackTrack 3. RokMan is an 802.11g standard wireless adapter with top connection speeds of 54 megabits per second (mbps).

This adapter is plug and play in BackTrack 3. We have tested it as compatible and we have also confirmed it works with many of the programs in BT3, such as SPoonWep, Airsnort, and WiCrawl. Click here to go to the item page on our web site.


Legal Disclaimer: The RokMan shown in the picture above is a human manifestation of the actual product you will receive. The actual product you will receive (see images on item page) will look just like RokMan but without any human or cartoon features, including but not limited to hair, ears, eyes, arms, hands, feet, a nose, or a mouth. While you can share your innermost thoughts and secrets with RokMan, it is unlikely he will share back. RokMan can do a lot of things (he has been known to moonlight as a DJ), but most likely he will only function as a wireless adapter for you when you are awake. Oh, and just for those who haven't picked up on it, this purchase is for a wireless adapter for a computer and not a plush toy. Also, if you accidentally swallow RokMan please contact emergency medical service immediately. The movie rights to RokMan are still for sale, please contact us with offers. Inquiries from Dreamworks will move to the top of the list.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Mac users, check out Qumana

Just this past week we acquired some new laptops running Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard). We already have a number of Leopard systems used for testing and development of the many Mac compatible wireless adapters we sell. These new laptops were our first foray into adding Macs to our general line of computing. One machine that was switched over to Mac was the computer we used for marketing- to write blog posts, press releases, etc. The computer runs OpenOffice.org for Mac and runs it well.

We noticed one hurdle at first though- we really liked using Live Writer from Microsoft to create RokBlog posts. But it is not Mac compatible. We searched around and found a paid alternative that we were considering trying, but then we found Qumana. In fact we are writing this very post using Qumana. For those of you on Macs looking for a Mac compatible alternative to Live Writer, we highly recommend you give it a try.

Powered by Qumana

Thursday, October 30, 2008

RokAir, Alfa, and Kismac

As you may know, we sell a lot of Mac compatible wireless USB adapters, including our popular RokAir adapter and the Alfa AWUS036H 500mw adapter. Recently we have been getting more questions about compatibility with Kismac.

With the newest versions of Kismac (starting with Kismac trunk r309), the chipset in the RokAir and AWUS036H is now compatible with Kismac.

However, as explained in the Kismac documentation, any time you are using a supported USB adapter in Kismac, whether it be a Ralink or Realtek chipset device, the Ralink or Realtek drivers cannot be installed on the Macinstosh. This means if you are buying the RokAir or Alfa AWUS036H adapter for use in Kismac (which both have Realtek chipsets), you cannot install the Mac drivers for the device. This of course means you will not be able to connect to the Internet with the adapter. To connect to the Internet, you must install the Realtek drivers for the adapter and follow the configuration instructions. Once you do this, the device will work as an Internet device, but will no longer work in Kismac. To be able to use the device in Kismac again, you will need to uninstall the Realtek drivers using the uninstall command on the included CD.

If you only plan on using Kismac once in a while, or you already have another way to get on the Internet on your Mac (such as with an Airport card), this should be no issue for you. If you plan to constantly go back and forth between Kismac and the Internet, this would be quite an inconvenience. In this latter case, what we would recommend is buying the RokAir exclusively for use with Kismac, and never installing the Mac drivers for it. Then get our RokIt adapter, which has a different chipset that is not Kismac compatible. This way you can use the RokIt for Internet access, and connect the RokAir when you need to use Kismac. Then you don't have to worry about constantly installing and uninstalling drivers!

Is there one USB adapter that can work in both Kismac and as a wireless Internet adapter on the Mac at the same time? Not at the time of this writing.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Answers to iAtkos, Kaliway, & OSX86 questions

As we sell a lot of Apple Mac compatible wireless (WiFi) USB adapters, we have been getting an increasing number of questions asking if our adapters will work with Mac OS X running on PC platforms.

We can confirm that most of our Mac compatible adapters will work with regular Macs running 10.3 and later and also with genuine Intel Macs running full versions of OS 10.4 and OS 10.5 Leopard. Some of our Mac compatible devices require OS 10.4 or later, so please be sure to check individual item descriptions for compatibility information.

As we are not familiar with unofficial Leopard installations on PCs like iAtkos and Kaliway (commonly referred to as Hackintosh systems) we cannot confirm compatibility with those types of platforms. While some customers have reported luck, the different ways in which these platforms interact with hardware depending on the motherboard, patches, and various settings, we expect the vast majority of customers would have problems. We will not be able to support these platforms and have no plans to check for further compatibility with future versions.

We are glad to support official versions of Mac OS X (10.3 and later for most adapters, 10.4 and later for the iRok and RokOn adapters) running on genuine Macs and genuine Intel Mac platforms. We also support Windows installations.

Monday, October 13, 2008

We are Rokland Technologies

It's not what you'd file under "breaking news", but we are adding the "Technologies" back to the end of our name. We were originally founded as Rokland Technologies in 2002 as the result of a merger and dropped the "Technologies" from the name, primarily because at the time we were solely a retailer of hardware and services, and not a developer.

In the last year we have made significant strides in the product development arena, particularly in the Apple Macintosh market where our RokAir Wireless-G USB adapter has captured a large market share, especially after Leopard drivers were released in March. This past summer we launched the RokN Wireless-N adapter, an 802.11n draft device that not only works with Macs, but is plug and play on Backtrack 3 and other Linux distros as well. These two items are just some of what we developed, and we haven't rested. We've got some exciting new products coming out in time for the holiday shopping season.

Because we are much more than a retailer, we felt it appropriate to add the "Technologies" to our name again. We don't expect to make the front page of CNN (or our local newspaper for that matter), but figured we might as well explain the reason behind the change.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

See our improved Product Review section

This weekend we completed some revisions to our Product Review section which customer feedback indicated was a bit tough to follow before.

Now from the main Rokland.com web page you can click the Product Reviews link over on the left hand navigation menu (at the bottom) to see all product reviews left for items bought through our web site. Anytime you a viewing an actual product page, down at the bottom on the same line as the Add to Cart button is a Review button so you can see if there are any reviews. Clicking on it will show reviews for that product (if there are reviews for it) and will display a link to write a review if you would like to write one. If there are no reviews for that item, there will also be a link to go directly to the main Product Review page.

We think these improvements will allow customers and potential customers to read and write reviews for products more seamlessly than in the past. We also want to encourage those who have bought a product to come back to our web site and write a review about it once they have received it!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Apple to cut new Macbook prices?

There is a new report today that possibly due to the economic downturn Apple will begin offering Macbooks starting at $800.00.

This is $300.00 below their current lowest priced model. No doubt this will make the Macbooks more appealing to budget minded consumers if it is true, but at $800.00 the machines would still be almost twice the price of entry level PC laptops from Compaq and Toshiba that can be found on sale and rebate specials in big box retail stores. Mac afficianados will likely reply that the hardware and performance you get from a Macbook would be worth the money. This may well be correct, but if the economic crisis really plays on peoples' wallets as expected, it is going to be a hard sell to make even with the lower Macbook prices taken into consideration.

New category structure at Rokland.com

Today we introduced a new category structure to our web site http://www.rokland.com. You can see it over under the products menu on the left of that site. Previously we had all of our wireless products in the "Wireless Networking" section, broken into subcategories. While we have left that entire category and all of its subcategories in tact for those who are used to navigating the site that way, we have created a bunch of new WiFi-related top level categories since we sell so much various wireless equipment.

To make it as easy as possible to find what you are looking for, we have cross-referenced most products, so most of our items are now in multiple categories. Our top selling 802.11n wireless USB adapter for Macs and PCS, for example, can be found in the following categories:

  1. Macintosh/Apple
  2. WiFi > 802.11n
  3. WiFi > USB
  4. WiFi for Macs

We hope this makes navigating our web site even easier than before.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Late Summer Update- FireFox peaks, IE drops!

Back in July we published this blog post denoting how we had noticed FireFox's marketshare was rising vs. Internet Explorer, at least in terms of visits to our own web site. While the data is not very scientific (considering official marketshare numbers for FireFox are around 20% while Internet Explorer is at about 70-75%) we thought it would be interesting to post some more information about what we have witnessed since that time. So here goes:

The number of visitors using FireFox has crept up, while for the first time in our company's history, FEWER THAN 50% of visits came from Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browser. Here are the stats from September 2008 (so far) and August:

September (1st-16th)

Explorer 46.8%
FireFox 36.4%
Safari 9%*

*we sell a lot of Mac equipment, so Safari visits will be much higher than average, and this no doubt impacts the Internet Explorer number as well.


Explorer 51.7%
FireFox 34%
Safari 6.4%

It will be interesting to see if the launch of Google's "Chrome" web browser last week will chip away Microsoft's lead even further. We don't believe that our stats programs will register Chrome visitors as actually using Chrome though, probably their visits will show up in the "other" percentage column. We should still be able to get some good data from that column though, considering visits from "other" browsers currently register at just 0.2%. Should that column spike, we can likely attribute that to Google Chrome.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Have you tried Google Chrome yet?

Okay, we're in the tech field and we get excited whenever some new Web 2.0 product or service comes along, but the excitement is usually short lived. Whatever product it is, whether it is a new social networking site or a new email program, usually has enough flaws to keep it from getting more than once glance from most people including us.

This past week Google launched their own web browser called "Chrome" as a competitor to other browsers on the market (Internet Explorer, Mozilla FireFox, and Apple's Safari browser). Google says the browser is enhanced for Web 2.0 activities like watching videos and viewing photos. We had a chance to take the browser for a test drive recently, to complete basic tasks such as going to various web sites, search engines, and of course completing activities on eBay.

Our conclusion? We didn't use the browser for all the Web 2.0 things that Google says it would be great for, so we are not really qualified to give an indepth review of the browser's features. That being said, as far as basic Internet use, the browser definitely has more of a "Web 2.0" look to it than other browser on the market, but other than that the functionality and speed are about the same (except when compared to Internet Explorer of course, which is a known memory hog).

Have you tried Google Chrome? What do you think about it?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

R.I.P. Steve Jobs...wait, "What???" says Jobs

We thought this article may be of interest to Mac fans out there...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Can Jerry Seinfeld save Windows Vista?

If you've given Windows Vista a try, you may be one of the many who has already gone back to using Windows XP. Or perhaps you have decided to give a Macintosh or Linux system a try. The folks at Microsoft are well aware of the problems presented by Vista, and it appears instead of trying to fix the operating system, they are going to launch a massive PR campaign starring Jerry Seinfeld to convince people that Vista is good, not bad. Here are more details from the Wall Street Journal via HuffingtonPost.com.

So the question is, if Jerry Seinfeld turns out to be funnier than John Hodgman and Justin Long (the two guys in the "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" ads for Apple on television right now), will you:

A) Give Vista another try (or a first try if you haven't used it yet)
B) Stay with the operating system you have, no matter what comedian is doing the pitching
C) try and watch the ads on YouTube to see if they are funny because you'll never see them on TV thanks to your TiVo, but you still don't think the ads will affect you
D) possibly upgrade to Vista, but only if Microsoft launches a campaign where Paula Poundstone tells you to

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The RokN: not just for Macs!

If you follow our new product offerings (often written about here on our blog), you know we recently launched an 802.11n draft standard wireless USB adapter called the RokN. It is compatible with Apple Mac OS 10.3, 10.4, and 10.5 (Leopard).

It works very well with Macs, but it also works great in Linux too.

(note: the following statements are made based on testing in BT3- BackTrack 3- if you have a different Linux distro all statements may not apply or be correct for your particular version.) If you are a BT3 user, not only is the RokN plug and play, meaning you don't need to install drivers, but it can operate in monitor mode. The fact that it is plug and play is especially invaluable if you are running BT3 from a bootable CD and you don't have the ability to install and save drivers to a hard drive.

In today's environment of liability lawsuits, if you have an access point in your home or business, you need to make sure it is secured. A court in Germany recently found an access point owner at fault for illegal activities someone else conducted via his access point (see this blog entry). And sometimes simply enabling WEP encryption won't be enough to stop intruders. But how can you detect vulnerabilities? Well getting into the nitty-gritty of it all would take pages and pages of text and a lot of trial and error, but fortunately everything you need to know is freely available on the web, in places like the forum section at Remote Exploit (the makers of BT3). But you have to take the first step of getting a wireless adapter that is not only Linux compatible, but that is also compatible with some of the programs that come with BT3, programs like Aircrack and SPoonWep.

Using both of these programs and the RokN, we were able to detect network vulnerabilities in several test WEP-enabled networks we created here for the purpose. We we also able to tweak our own office wireless access point to make it more secure. Newer WiFi security protocols are less prone to cracking then older ones, but it is only a matter of time before those become exploitable too. Having the knowledge and ability to detect vulnerabilities is a must for any business owner, CTO, or IT worker and will come in the handy both now and in the future. So whether you are familiar with Linux or not, the first step is to get a wireless adapter that is plug and play with a Linux distro like BT3, and fortunately the RokN is just that. But it also plays nice with many of the programs in BT3, something that cannot be said of all wireless adapters on the market today.

One final thing that Linux users might appreciate about the RokN- you can achieve true 802.11n connections when using with an 802.11n draft standard router. Some 802.11n adapters have chipsets which only allow them to work in G mode when used on a Linux computer, thus limiting your connection speed to 54 mbps. With the RokN you can connect at the same speed in Linux as you would on a Windows or Mac computer.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lock up your networks!

No one likes it when other people leech onto their open WiFi signal to do things like download large files which tie up bandwidth and slow browsing speeds. So many folks already secure their home wireless networks. Yet most of us at one time or another have probably been guilty of accessing an open WiFi network somewhere without the owner's permission. After all, we NEED to check our email, and it isn't really hurting anyone, is it?

Well, now you may expect even more people to begin securing their home or office WiFi. Why? A court in Germany has ruled that the owner of a WiFi network was responsible for illegal activities conducted over his network, even though he didn't even know what was happening.

Yes, that's in Germany and this is the USA. But often times in cases without precedent, judges look to examples from outside the country to see how similar cases have been decided.

Here's some more information about the German case.

New Product: Senao/EnGenius EUB-9701EXT2 Wireless USB Adapter with DUAL SMA ports

At Rokland we never stop looking for the newest and greatest wireless equipment for our customers. And we don't stop negotiating with suppliers and manufacturers until we can bring you this technology at an affordable price. We are excited to be offering the newest long range wireless product from Senao/EnGenius- the EUB-9701EXT2. This is a new wireless USB adapter that is 802.11n draft compatible and also features not one but TWO external SMA antenna connectors.

Senao/EnGenius is a name folks have come to trust in wireless networking going back to the launch of the NL-2511CD PLUS EXT2 PCMCIA card years back, one of the first WiFi PCMCIA cards to feature dual antenna connectors. Now they have launched the EUB-9701EXT2, one of the first WiFi USB adapters to feature dual antenna connectors. But the best part is, as noted above, this is an 802.11n draft compatible adapter, so when used with an 802.11n draft router, you can achieve speeds up to 300 mbps (that's almost 6 TIMES speeds you get with standard 802.11g devices) and markedly increased range as well.

Click here to view the item on our web site and see more details about the product and some pictures as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The value of the admin password...

A helpful tip for those in the market for a used Apple Macintosh computer. Whether you are buying from a retailer or individual seller on eBay, be sure to ask if the seller knows the computer's admin password before buying.

The admin password is needed on most all Macs to install a number of hardware devices including wireless adapters. You will be prompted for this information during the installation process, and if you do not have it, the only way you can reset it is with the Mac OS installation disk (which is usually not included with used computers). If the seller is the first and only owner of the system they should be able to provide you with the information. If the seller is a retailer of many Mac systems, if they do not know the password they should be able to reset it for you using an install disk before shipping your system.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

FireFox visits exceed 30%

While the official market share numbers for Mozilla's open source FireFox web browser stand somewhere around 19-21%, we have noticed an interesting trend in visitors to our own web site Rokland.com.

Vistors using a version of FireFox have constituted 31% of our total page visits going back to March. There seems to be steady growth as well- the numbers have climbed each month to a peak of 33.6% so far for July.

While analysts expect FireFox's share to continue to grow vs. Microsoft's Internet Explorer (which stands globally at about 74%), the question is, will it ever become more popular?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Attention Windstream customers...

In April of 2008 Windstream Corporation began distributing 2wire brand home networking devices to consumers of their broadband delivery services. 2wire is one of the most trusted names in networking today but the name is not as known as some other brands since they generally do not distribute their products through big box retailers.

Rokland has inventoried 2wire products for several years and our customers have reported the products to be as reliable (if not more so) as better known and more expensive brands.

If you have Windstream service and need to replace a wireless device on your home network, look no further than our 2wire product page. 2wire wireless products also work with any 802.11g standard wireless network, you do not need to be a Windstream customer in order to buy.

We currently offer both 2wire 802.11g wireless PCMCIA cards (for laptops) and PCI cards (for desktops), and will shortly have the USB model online in the same section. If we can assist you in your 2wire purchasing needs, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Summer happenings at Rokland

I've always felt that in times of real or perceived economic downturn, it is never a good idea to forgo things you need. I am not talking about luxury items you may want, such as the newest and biggest TV, but rather about what you need- items that can help you increase your productivity and help you turn a quicker profit. Sometimes companies and individuals take a pass on new technology products when the economy sours, but is it really wise?

You wouldn't revert back to dial-up Internet in this day and age because you know the loss in productivity and capability would cost far more than the small monthly savings you'd get. So why hold on to that prehistoric wireless adapter which only works 20 feet from your wireless router and at speeds that sometimes seem like dial-up?

This summer at Rokland we are doing a bunch of great new things, and chief among them are some new product launches designed to keep you moving right along in these potentially turbulent economic times. While we know you can't afford to lose your competitive edge, we also know you can't afford to pay a whole lot for new equipment. That is why we have developed some great products while making sure to keep the sale price in check. We've got three awesome new products right around the corner for Apple Macintosh computers. One of them is an 802.11n wireless USB adapter that is far below the price of the Apple Airport Extreme-N adapter.

We've also got a new Mac-only web site coming that will allow our Mac customers to easily compare products to decide what is best for them. And because we know you don't have a lot of time to devote to tech support, we are putting our entire knowledge base online in a wiki format so that users of a product can communicate both with us, and with other customers of the same or different products.

We'll have more on all of these things in June, be sure to check here on our blog, and of course our web site Rokland.com

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ning: a good idea, but “infinite growth”?

I recently read an article in Fast Company about Ning by Adam L. Penenberg. Ning is a web site from Gina Bianchini (the chairman is Marc Andreesen) that has received quite a bit of press lately. Penenberg boasted that the site has a discovered a model for "infinite" growth. According to the article, the site, which allows users to create their own (free) social networks, has grown from 60,000 networks last June to over 230,000 in April. The article is pretty convincing in showing how "viral" the site's growth has been and will likely continue to be in the absence of competitors.

The reason I say "in the absence of competitors" is simple. Ning is not the same as a social networking web site like Facebook or MySpace. The latter two have established such a large market share that barriers to (successful) entry are very high. Newcomers like Pownce and Yahoo's Mash may be able to get some users through marketing, but Facebook and MySpace will always be dominant because that is where most of our friends already have profiles. Why get crazy with Pownce when all my friends are already on Facebook?

Ning offers a great service, and as long as there are no real competitors they will probably see viral growth. If you want to launch a new general social networking site to attract lots of new users, you need more than marketing to take users away from kings like Facebook since users already have all their friends on Facebook and have no real reason to leave. If you want to launch a competing site to Ning, all you really need is marketing. Of course you need smart people and other things as well, but at the end of the day there is no inherent reason to start your own social networking site at Ning vs. an emerging competitor since you still have the work of attracting your own users either way.

True, because Ning has 230,000 networks already, there is value to beginning your own social networking site on Ning since there are no doubt Ning users who browse the site for other social networking sites to join. But that in and of itself is not enough of a barrier to entry for Ning to be able to count on being king for long.

Viral growth? No question. Infinite? Well, until a competitor comes along anyway.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

New Product: Wi-Fire USB Adapter (HFWFG10)

Okay, it's not quite new as we did carry this once before. RokBlog readers may remember this post from February of 2007 where we raved about the Wi-Fire, which we did sell at the time. So why did we discontinue carrying it, and why are we offering it again now?

When we carried the Wi-Fire at the beginning of 2007, it was a brand new product, and hField (the manufacturer) was a brand new company. No one had heard of the Wi-Fire, and though we felt it was a revolutionary product and we did our best to spread the word, demand was low. Plus the price point last year was over $100.00 at most places, making it difficult for the product to gain market share (in our opinion).

Well, a lot has changed in the past year. The Wi-Fire has received coveted media attention wide and far, and demand is peaking. Customers are asking us why we, a company known for long range wireless networking products, don't carry the Wi-Fire. Well, if we listen to anyone it certainly is our customers. Plus (bonus in 3...2...1...) hField has helped out by lowering the price point of the product all the way down to where we can afford to sell it for just $79.99 plus shipping. Not bad at all for a 500mw USB adapter with a 10 dBi gain directional antenna. Not bad at all. Oh, and did we mention it is not only compatible with Windows XP and Vista, but Apple Macintosh OS 10.3, 10.4, and 10.5 (Leopard) as well?

Click here to view the item on our web site and see more details about the product and some pictures as well.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More new stuff...Auctiva in our eBay listings

We are making quite a few changes to both our web site and our eBay auctions. As discussed in this blog post here, we are beginning to post item-specific feedback comments in item descriptions of our eBay listings. Now we have added another great feature to our listings thanks to Auctiva.

Auctiva is an auction management service which has a number of special features, chief among them an auction scroll box that now appears in the top of our listings. This self-scrolling box displays other eBay auctions that we have for sale and you can click on the boxes to be taken to that auction.

We deal primarily in wireless networking technology, and as you may know, in this industry one size does NOT fit all. One item that is not enough for one person's needs may be overkill for another person. With this scroll box, if you click into one of our auction listings via Google or an eBay search, you can see other items we have for sale right from that same page, and because we have so many various products for sale, we are confident that you will find what you need. But if you don't, remember to use the "Ask seller a question" button on eBay item pages to let us know what you need and we will certainly do our best to help you.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A reminder to us all to be careful of what we consider to be true knowledge on any subject...

It's not about wireless networking, but a fitting read I think for us 'travelers' of the blogosphere...

New Social Bookmarking Features

We've added a new feature to our item pages at Rokland.com which allows visitors to submit any of our product pages to social bookmarking web sites like del.icio.us and reddit. If you see a product on our web site that is a very good price or is hard to find, you can help us get the word out by bookmarking that product page to any of several social bookmarking web sites.

When I am online shopping for a product, I add lots of items from other online retailers (even if they are not what I am looking for at the moment) to del.icio.us because in my opinion it is a superior way of bookmarking compared to what we are used to in our web browsers. Then weeks later if I want to get something that I recalled seeing on a web site a few weeks back, I have an easy way to find it.

To bookmark a Rokland.com product page, look for the site-specific icons on the bottom of each product page directly underneath the "Add to Cart" button.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New Feature: Item-specific feedback viewing for our eBay auction listings

We are beginning to add a new feature to our eBay auction descriptions and want to tell you about it.

This feature would be for sellers that sell a quantities of the same item, such as retail items, as opposed to sellers who sell unique items that are one of a kind. Basically, we get emails from buyers asking about the quality of a product, and at the end of our response we always tell them to check our eBay feedback profile to see what other buyers have said about the same product. The only problem is they have to sort pages of comments about other products in order to find comments specific to the product they want. Using the RSS Reader Widget from SpringWidgets along with an RSS feed we created, we are now able to include recent product-specific feedback comments directly in the item descriptions of a product. We have only done this on one product so far, our RokAir wireless USB adapter for Macintosh computers. You can see the feature after the first paragraph of the item description in this auction here:


The feature is not automated, in that it will not automatically update comments in the widget box for that product each time a new feedback comment is left for the product on eBay. However it's input is a single RSS feed hosted on our server, and so all we need to do is every few days update the RSS file with new comments and those new comments will automatically appear in every auction we have online for that product (so there are no tedious auction description revisions for each product that have to be done when you want to update the comments- what a relief!).

Our goal is to provide buyers with unfiltered views of other feedback comments buyers have left for the same product they are looking at, even if the comment is neutral or negative. We hope this will give potential buyers an easy and reliable way of evaluating products pre-purchase, and also better enable them to compare one product vs. any other that we sell.

Thanks for reading this blog entry, and feel free to let us know what you think about this feature. If any of you are interested in incorporating it into your own auctions at some point, drop us a line.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

New product- LONG RANGE 600 mW PCI Wireless-G Desktop Card Engenius EPS-3601S

If it seems like it has been too long since we have added a new product to our lineup, don't worry, we've got a great one today and quite a few others coming down the pipeline.

Today I'm writing about a new offering we have from Engenius, a manufacturer you've come to trust for long range wireless products in large part because of their 200mw EL-2511CD PLUS EXT2 wireless card (also available as model numbers SL and EL-2511CD PLUS EXT2 from their overseas company name "Senao"). You may have read on our blog about our very high-powered 500mw Alfa USB adapter, well this PCI card from Engenius has a max output of 600mw. This card is a PCI card so it is exclusively for use in desktop computers. If you are looking for a high-powered solution for laptops, we do strongly recommend the Alfa 500mw adapter (AWUS036H).

But for the desktop, this model EPS-3601S is an excellent solution, not only because of its extremely high output power, but because of its sensitive chipset and LOW LOW price! We put this head to head with the Linksys WMP54G wireless PCI card, which is a pretty good quality adapter that sells for about $40 or so at your brick-and-mortar electronics store, and as you can see on the product page for the Engenius card, it was no comparison at all.

If you are in the market for a long range solution for a desktop computer, I have never seen a better performer. The stunning 600mw of output power means you'll have no problem running this to an outdoor antenna and being able to take full advantage of said antenna (perfect if you have a desktop PC on your boat or in your RV!

Friday, April 04, 2008

Cleaning the new Mac keyboard

Apple launched a new keyboard a short while back, you can see it here:


I decided to buy several for our office here after checking them out at a local retailer. They are very comfortable to type on, and the $49 price tag for the wired version is extremely reasonable (was the second cheapest keyboard at the store not factoring in the $9.99 entry level generic ones).

It dawned on me after buying it that the white keys would become brown and dirty over time- it is bound to happen no matter how clean your hands are when you type. Heck, it should have dawned on me when using the floor model at the store since many of the keys were brown and marked up.

Well, we've been using the keyboards for several weeks now and none of them have gotten dirty. Except yours truly dropped a pen on one, which managed to put ink lines on several of the keys. I went to wipe them off with regular electronic cleaner, it didn't even lighten the ink color. I then tried a basic all purpose cleaner, and still the ink marks were as dark as always. Before giving up I decided to try applying some Expo white board cleaner, recalling how I had once accidentally used a permanent marker on our white board and was able to remove it with the same cleaner. What do you know- it worked like a charm on the Mac keyboard. It took the ink off in seconds, the affected keys look just like new.

I am not cleaner savvy, so to some of you this may be obvious based on solvents or something. But for those of you like me, if you mark up your new Apple Mac keyboard, try putting some white board cleaner on a cloth and applying it to the keys. I have only done it one time and it did not affect the letters on the keys. However I should note again I am not cleaner savvy, so who knows, maybe the white board cleaner could have some adverse affect like rubbing off the letters if used to often. So be cautious. But it definitely removes ink stains!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easy way to get POP3 email on a BlackBerry using T-Zones

We have a couple of smartphones here we use when traveling, just so we can stay in touch with our inboxes. We have used T-Mobiles T-Zones service for this which is $5.99 a month as it allows for POP3 mail access.

We recently upgraded to some BlackBerrys and found out that you cannot get email on them with T-Zones, you have to pay for their $20.00 monthly BlackBerry service. We were just going to switch to another model smartphone that allowed POP3 access through T-Zones because the extra expense was not worth it to us, then we figured out how to use POP3 on the BlackBerrys. This is not a hack or anything like that, nor does it allow for push email like the regular BlackBerry service.

Basically all you need to do is (assuming you already have T-Zones) open a browser and click the scroll button and select Go To. Then input this link:


This will allow you to download the LogicMail POP3 and IMAP client for BlackBerry. Once the install is complete, the LogicMail icon will appear in the Applications folder of your BlackBerry. Again, this does not allow for regular push email (won't notify you of new incoming messages), it is just a mail client where you can view your inbox and send/receive mail. But this is exactly what we want to be able to do- just check our inboxes from the road. Mission accomplished!

***note: this was done on some BlackBerry 7105t phones but should work on other BlackBerry models we assume***

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Is Steve Jobs doing a 180 about iTunes subscriptions?

Just under a year ago I wrote this article about Realplayer Rhapsody's subscription model which allows customers to listen to an unlimited number of tracks in the Rhapsody library for a low monthly fee. In the article I discussed how Steve Jobs shrugged off that model, saying it was not something that "consumers wanted", even though a cost-per-track evaluation shows it would be a lot cheaper for consumers who listened to more than just five or ten songs a month.

So it was surprising to read this article from FT.com today which suggests that Apple is attempting to negotiate a subscription model with major music labels. The plan would charge a premium for the music players (much in the same way a Rhapsody-equipped Sansa MP3 player costs quite a bit more than an identical Sansa player that cannot play Rhapsody songs) but allow customers to pay a low monthly fee to listen to unlimited songs, or pay an even heftier charge for the device up front but get unlimited songs for the life of the device (this is a model being used by TiVo for their DVR consoles).

What struck me the most was this statement in the FT.com article:

"Detailed market research has shown strong appetite among consumers for deals bundling music in with the cost of the device, or in exchange for a monthly subscription, executives said."

Maybe this is Jobs' "duh" moment, because it seemed evident even a year ago that there was consumer demand for these things even though Jobs said otherwise. Either that, or Jobs thought the iPod's "hip" factor would fend off less-hip competitors (like RealPlayer) and simply miscalculated.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. One thing is for sure though. I titled last year's article on RealPlayer Rhapsody "The iPod Killer?". If Jobs does take iTunes to a subscription model, that might well make the service the Rhapsody killer, as Realplayer would have a very hard time competing against Apple if both were offering the same service model.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Check out all of our Apple Mac Leopard compatible wireless USB adapters

As you may know, we carry a number of wireless (WiFi) USB adapters for Apple Macintosh computers. These devices have been compatible with Mac OS 10.3 and 10.4, and now we are excited that they are all Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) compatible thanks to new driver releases. We decided to promote this by doing a brief write-up below about each adapter and also linking to the new Leopard-compatible drivers for each one. If you buy one of these after the date of this post, it will ship with Leopard drivers. If you already own one of these devices and you have upgraded your operating system to Leopard, you can download the Leopard drivers for each device right here in this post.

The first adapter we want to mention is our RokAir wireless USB adapter. This is a really cool adapter because it has a built-in heat sink and also 100mw of output power (that's more than 3x the popular Orinoco series of wireless adapters!). This is a great adapter for in-home use and is very portable in case you go on the road a lot. You can download Leopard drivers for it here.

The second adapter we want to mention is our Apple Mac Wardriving kit, now nicknamed the RokOn (as in "rock on", just in case you missed it). The RokOn is the next step up from the RokAir because it features an external SMA antenna connector. This is great for folks with longer range wireless needs. It allows you to upgrade the antenna to whatever strength you require. It also includes two high gain external antennas so you can get a very good range right out of the box. You can download the Leopard drivers for the RokOn here.

The third adapter we want to mention is the RokIt (as in "rock it", or "rocket", take your pick). The RokIt has a slightly lesser range than the RokAir, but weighs in at a slightly lesser price. The RokIt is also ultra-portable and is a nice basic wireless adapter. Leopard drivers for the RokIt can be downloaded here.

Keep in mind that all three of these offerings are also compatible with Mac OS 10.3 and 10.4 (Panther and Tiger), and they also work with Windows operating systems from Windows 98SE all the way up through Windows Vista, as well as Linux (kernel 2.6.6 and later).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

10.5 Leopard Drivers for RokAIR Released!

We now have Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) drivers for our RokAir wireless USB adapter. Effective Monday, March 17th, we will ship these drivers with every RokAir sale. If you already have the RokAir, or the item is currently in transit to you, you may download the Leopard drivers by clicking here. (**The manufacturer changed the driver URL recently, this link has been modified with the new location- if you attempt to download and the link does not work, please contact our support department at www.rokland.com).

Friday, February 29, 2008

Wireless for Apple Mac Leopard (10.5) is Here!

We are excited to announce the offering of Apple Mac Leopard compatible wireless WIFI USB adapters. We have fully tested these on several 10.5 systems, and they work great. They come with drivers and instructions. They do work with OS 10.3 and 10.4 as well, and are also Windows and Linux compatible.

In the coming days we will be launching a new Rokland-branded in-house USB device that is Leopard compatible and features an SMA antenna jack. The price point on that will be about $44.99 or so. This particular device we are offering starting today is $24.99. It has a built-in antenna but no SMA jack.

Immigration and Business

I don't like to get political here, so I am not going to. But for those interested in immigration policy and how it impacts businesses and the economy, I would highly recommend this podcast from Jack Welch. I'm not claiming everything he says is right, but he addresses some points that I think are sometimes missed in wider discussion of this subject.

It's one of those things where we can listen to it and make up our own minds about what he discusses- but the more information we have, the better decisions we can make.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Location, Location, Location

When it comes to buying online, even though the Internet brings companies far away right into your home, the location of the merchant is still important. This is especially true when it comes to the purchase of computer and technology items.

We strongly recommend buying from a merchant in the USA when you can. Not just because it helps our nation's economy, but because it also helps you- the consumer. Some things to keep in mind about location when buying online:

1. Transit time- Merchants overseas may sometimes have an item a couple of dollars cheaper. But it may take a lot longer to receive the item as International Post tends to take a lot longer than regular domestic shipments. Check to see what method of shipping the merchant uses and go to the shipping company's web site to check time in transit. Also find out if there will be a tracking number or if you just have to check your mailbox each day.

2. Customer service/language- Some US companies can give poor customer service too, I know that from experience, so always check any seller's online feedback before buying. Keep in mind that in some countries where English is not the primary language, you may have difficulty getting the customer service you need. This could result in some headaches for you. Also take note when buying from a US company that outsources their customer support to overseas contractors who don't speak English well.

3. Return policies- often times products from outside the USA do not have the typical 14 or 30 day return policy many US companies have. If they do, check the fine print to make sure you aren't responsible for the shipping costs both ways. While many US merchants, including Rokland, don't refund shipping costs on returns unless due to merchant error, merchants overseas with the same policy may mean that you pay a high price if you need to return an item. It also means if you do have to return due to a defect, because of long transit times there and back, it could be several weeks before you have a working product. Also, on more expensive purchases, remember that when buying in the USA you can take actions against the merchant if there is an error on their part they do not resolve (consumer affairs, or a BBB report for example). With overseas merchants, unless they also have locations here in the USA, generally these outlets are not available.

3. Piracy and fraud- while many overseas vendors are good companies, products that come from some areas of the world may not be legitimate, or the sale may be fraudulent. This can be the case with some companies in the US too, so always do a background check on any company before buying, but again as noted in point #3, there are outlets available if you encounter an issue with a purchase made in the USA that are not available to you when you buy from other countries.

Sometimes buying outside of the USA might be the best way to go. More often than not though, a US company is more attractive for consumers living in the USA.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What's on tap for 2008

2007 marked another exciting year here at Rokland, as we continue to see our company grow. We look forward to many new things in 2008, including the addition of new technologies to our primary web site, Rokland.com. When it comes to e-commerce, flashy new technologies aren't always the best, because sometimes they can get in the way of a customer's ultimate goal- ordering what they need quickly and easily. So we like to keep things simple, however we do have some new features we will be unveiling which will not only make purchases quicker and easier, but will make finding what you need easier too.

One of the main concerns customers have noted over the year is that as UPS continues to raise their rates and hike up their fuel surcharges, in some destination zip codes it can now cost upward of $10.00 to ship a small Ground package. We want to reiterate that we do not inflate UPS rates, we charge the exact amount plus a 50 cent handling fee on all web orders. The 50 cents is primarily because UPS fuel surcharge increases aren't reflected in the rate calculator right away, so generally you end up paying the actual shipping cost. What we will be doing toward the end of the first quarter this year is offering US Postal Service options on our web site, in addition to existing UPS options. Many smaller items can be sent through the US Postal Service much cheaper, and will arrive just as fast. We will post more details on that soon, but please keep in mind that if you currently wish to have an order go via the US Postal Service, even though our web site is currently set to only offer UPS options, you can email us for a rate quote for US Postal options on any item, and if you wish to select one of those options, we can manually adjust the shipping charge and method in the system.

In regards to product offerings, in 2007 we saw some major new additions to our product line, including a series of wireless adapters for Apple Macintosh computers- both general connectivity and long range setups. In November we officially launched our RokAir wireless adapter, which, as I like to say, is the "King of Compatibility". In addition to working with Mac OS 10.3 and 10.4, it also works on all Windows operating systems from Windows 98SE up through Vista, as well as Linux (kernel 2.6.6 and later). Its built-in heatsink and 100mw output power make it, in my opinion, superior to any of the usual suspect pen-style USB adapters you can buy in stores. We'd like to thank MacNN.com for writing about this adapter, you helped many of your readers find out about this low-cost Airport alternative, and we have had many happy emails from customers who purchased.

In 2008 we look forward to more additions to our product line, including a larger selection of 802.11n devices, as well as more options for Macintosh users including a wireless adapter that is Kismac compatible, and some that are Leopard compatible as well.

We'd like to thank all of our customers, suppliers, and contractors for making 2007 a great year, and we hope we helped make it a great year for you too. We look forward to continued relationships for the year to come, and if you have any questions, concerns, or would like more information on any of our current or planned offerings always remember to check here on our blog or email us.