Thursday, May 28, 2009

What to do if a driver link is outdated

From time to time we get emails regarding a driver download link from an old blog post or old email that may now be outdated. If you are attempting to locate a driver for a product purchased from Rokland, and the link you have does not work, please check our driver page. If the link on our driver page is outdated, or the product is not listed there, please contact our support department and we will respond with an updated driver link, and also fix the link on our driver page.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Apple Snow Leopard and Windows 7 WiFi Compatibility Information

Will your Apple Macintosh compatible wireless adapter work with the upcoming Snow Leopard release from Apple? Will your Windows compatible adapter work with Windows 7?

As with any new operating system, we can't say for sure until it has been released and we have had a chance to test it. While products can be tested on betas or release candidates, that is not a good indicator of whether they will be compatible with the final version. In most cases, adapters will not be compatible until the chipset maker of the particular wireless adapter releases a new driver package.

Snow Leopard is set for a mid-June launch, and Windows 7 is supposed to be out in time for the holidays this year. Shortly after each one is released, we will get our hands on the new versions and do some testing. The results will of course be posted here on our blog.

We can say from past experience that chipset makers usually focus on making new Windows drivers first before updating their Macintosh drivers. So I guess it is a good thing the two are not launching at the same time. As a guidepost, Leopard 10.5 was released to the public on October 26th, 2007, and 10.5 drivers did not start to become available until late February of 2008. We will be working with the chipset makers to hopefully cut this time frame down a bit, but at the earliest (unless they are really on the ball), we would not expect Snow Leopard drivers to be available before August.

For Windows the turnaround time from the chipset makers is usually faster.

Friday, May 22, 2009

WolframAlpha vs. Google: a fair comparison?

There's been a lot of buzz about a new search engine called WolframAlpha. BusinessWeek wrote about it, covered the launch preparation, and it was even linked to at the top of the Drudge Report, a high-traffic political and news web site.

So we thought we'd check it out.

Just for some background, WolframAlpha is the brain child of British physicist and mathematician Stephen Wolfram, founder of Wolfram Research. Advocates of the site are quick to point out it is not a search engine in the traditional sense. It does not crawl a database of web sites and try to display ones that probably have the information for which you are searching. Instead, it attempts to answer specific fact-based questions primarily with numeric data and information. Some articles have asked if WolframAlpha is a Google killer, but a quick comparison between the two shows that both sites serve a very different purpose.

We did these same four searches at each web site:

distance to moon
mountain view gainesville
mw dbm

Here is what we found:

distance to moon

WolframAlpha: when we searched for the phrase distance to moon at WolframAlpha, the site displayed the extact distance from Earth to the moon in miles, kilometers, and also listed some other numerical information.

Google: When we searched for distance to moon at Google, a web site called UniverseToday was the first result. It contained information similar to the data displayed on the WolframAlpha site, but it was not as direct or straigtforward.

mountain view gainesville

WolframAlpha: In case we ever want to visit Google headquarters, we figured we'd better find out how far away it was (we are located in Gainesville, FL). We purposely omitted extra keywords such as distance or time just to see how WolframAlpha interpreted our search. We were pleasantly surprised that WolframAlpha displayed the populations of Mountain View, CA and Gainesville, FL, as well as the distance between them. There were also options to select different Mountain View towns, such as Mountain View, NC, and different Gainesvilles as well, such as Gainesville, GA. It had some other data too, including the local time and elevations.

Google: When we put in the same terms at Google, the first result was a web page for Mountain View Home Builders of Gainesville, GA, the second was for MountainView racing. It took a little while looking through Google results to find the information we were seeking. Of course, on the flip side, someone living in Gainesville, GA could conceivably have entered in this same query looking for the contact information of Mountain View homebuilders, and would have immediately found what they were looking for on Google. There would be no point for that person to do the same search on WolframAlpha since it is not an index of web sites.


WolframAlpha: Realtek is a company that makes chipsets found in some of the WiFi products we sell. A search for Realtek on WolframAlpha came back with "Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input."

Google: The first result was Realtek's official web site.

mw dbm

WolframAlpha: If you've ever wanted to convert dBm to mW or mW to dBm, you may have gone to a search engine and entered the above terms in order to find a conversion program/calculator. Knowing that WolframAlpha is centered around numeric data and calculations, we thought this would make for a good search. But we got the same result we did for Realtek, which was "Wolfram|Alpha isn't sure what to do with your input".

Google: At Google, the first result was a mW to dBm calculator.

Conclusion: The question has been asked is WolframAlpha really a search engine, and the answer is yes. So is Google, of course. But our comparison today reminds us that the word "search" covers a lot of ground, and that one cannot take a single approach to such a complex area. For a long time the idea of a search engine has been taken to mean a way to find web sites that have the information we need. WolframAlpha is not about taking you to web sites. Instead it attempts to answer questions of fact, questions that can be answered mostly by numbers. You would not use WolframAlpha for all of your searches. It won't be helpful in finding the hours of your local pizzeria or the career rushing yards of Barry Sanders. But it can be useful for other types of queries, much more useful than a traditional search engine like Google.

The biggest question for us is will we remember to use it? Using Google, Yahoo, and other search engines has become so engrained in our minds, that when faced with the need to find an answer about something, we have to wonder if we will stop and say "hey, we are more likely to find the answer we need faster at WolframAlpha than Google". My guess is probably not. And because of that, I doubt that WolframAlpha will ever become a large household search product like Google. But it does have a good chance to become a common name in academics and research, and a useful one at that. It is a step forward, and that is the definition of a technological advancement in its most simplest form.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Monday, May 04, 2009

New products coming soon...follow us on Twitter for launch information

We have some exciting things happening in May and June. We have some brand new products hitting the market and an open beta release of a new web site project currently in development. Here is what's upcoming:

-A "RokMan 2" (final name undetermined) which is a version of our popular original RokMan adapter for Linux with the added feature of an SMA antenna port.

-A low-cost 802.11n wireless USB adapter with SMA antenna port.

-Am 802.11n USB adapter for Macs that is so small, it is even smaller than the actual USB connector- you'll hardly be able to tell you've got a USB adapter connected to the computer.

You can get up to the minute information on all of our product and service launches by following us on Twitter.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A special note about Alfa AWUS036H 500mW antennas

We've been getting a few emails from potential customers asking how the Alfa 500mw adapter would work with 9 and 12 dBi gain antennas being advertised on some web sites, primarily eBay, for about $5.00 shipped direct from China.

We sell on our web site, and on eBay, an 8 dBi antenna manufactured by Alfa. Alfa does not make a 9 dBi model. The 8 dbi antenna from Alfa has performed very well and received great reviews from customers.

A while back we picked up a few of each type of the aftermarket antennas from various sellers, to take a look at how they compared to the Alfa 8 dBi antenna that we sell. All of the 12 dBi units we purchased were the same size and looked the same as the 9 dBi units we purchased. Additionally, while some of them performed okay, some performed worse than the factory 2 dBi antenna. Similar reports have appeared on some product review web sites. All in all, the 8 dBi antenna made by Alfa performed the best. If you have $5 to spend you can always buy an aftermarket unit from China yourself to do a comparison test, but we did read in some review forums that some customers who had purchased from other places with an aftermarket antenna did not seem to get any better range vs. their internal wifi adapter. They suggested despite other positive reviews of the Alfa adapter that maybe the Alfa adapter was not all it was cracked up to be. More than likely it is the antenna that is the problem.

If you're curious to find out, go ahead and buy an 8 dbi antenna from us that comes from Alfa and give it a whirl. If you do not find it boosts the performance compared to your aftermarket antenna, you can return it to us and we'll mail you a free Alfa carrying case for your trouble (limit 1 case per customer, offer expires 5/31/2009).