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Deck the Halls, Not the WAP

Those red and green decorations could give the blues to your wireless network

4:50 PM -- Sure, you say the stockings were hung by the chimney with care. But did you check to see how far the chimney is from the closest wireless access point?

In a true state of grinchiness, wireless network technology vendor AirMagnet Inc. issued a report yesterday stating that holiday decorations could impede wireless LAN performance. In fact, shiny objects and multicolored, flashing lights could reduce signal strength by as much as 25 percent, the company says. Signal deterioration could be increased over distances by as much as one third, the company reports.

Rumors of social engineers breaking into companies and maliciously decorating their WAPs have not been confirmed.

Now, I don't want to make wireless vendors mad at me, but I'd have real trouble betting my company's business on a technology that can actually be degraded by a flashing plastic Rudolph. "Interference from twinkle lights" just doesn't look good on a trouble ticket. If I have to explain a network problem to my CEO, I'll take backhoes for $1,000, Alex.

Perhaps more importantly, I have to wonder which Ebenezer thought up the idea to do this research. Was AirMagnet getting more helpdesk calls during the holidays? Did a big foil snowman fall on an engineer's WAP during the testing phase? Did the company get paid off by some Scroogey executive who wanted an excuse to put the kibosh on Kris Kringle in the office?

Officially, AirMagnet advises putting decorations -- or any other electrical or light-reflective object -- at a respectable distance from the WAP. But that's not the point. They're restricting us, trying to limit our freedom of expression.

I say, "Prisoners of wireless unite! Get out your tinsel and your glow-in-the-dark antlers and go find your closest access point! We have nothing to lose but 25 percent of our signal strength!"

Whew. I feel better now. You can go back to what you were doing. Unless you were stringing popcorn and cranberries onto your Cat 5 cable, that is.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

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