Well, I took the plunge. What good is credit when you don’t use it, right? I didn’t want to run CAT5 Ethernet cable everywhere and I didn’t want to spend hours playing with Linux drivers for phone-line networks that have been in beta for a year. Especially not with what few Usenet posts mention those drivers also mentioning kernel panics. No thanks.
Dan Bowman pointed out that JustDeals had good prices available on wireless gear. So I picked up a plain-old access point for $70 (I don’t want a combo access point/router/switch because I want something I can turn off when I’m not using it–can’t beat that for security) and a PCMCIA NIC for $29 and a pair of USB NICs for $29. That’ll let me put a computer in the front room and a computer in the spare room and it’ll let me wander around with my work laptop.
Dirt-cheap prices, no rebate hassles. Gotta love it. CompUSA’s prices on Netgear kit are good, but there are rebates involved, which is always a pain.
My plan for security, besides powering off the access point when I’m not using it, is to turn off DHCP, hard-code it to my NICs, turn on 128-bit WEP, use obnoxious passphrases, and place the access point as far from the outside wall as possible. That should give me acceptable security, especially considering the physical location of my house. Neither of my next-door neighbors has a wireless LAN, and I seriously doubt the neighbors behind me do either, and they’re pretty far back and might even be out of range anyway. I’m at the end of a street deep in a residential area, so most wardrivers probably won’t bother. And if they do, I’ll be home and I’ll probably see them.
One thing I learned today, which reveals my ignorance yesterday, is that most wireless NICs accept the “Any” parameter that we used to get a Linksys NIC talking with a 3Com access point so we could configure it. But your documentation may or may not mention it.