It is the best of times it is the worst of times, at least for a freelance writer like me. That’s because I primarily work out of my home office in New York City. It is the best of times because my wife and I are in the process of moving to a new apartment. It is the worst of times, because in addition to the hassle of buying one apartment while selling another (not to mention changing addresses, packing our personal items, and arranging the actual move), I have to pack up my home office.
I also met with the buyer of our apartment who as it happens works with computers. When my multitude of PCs, printers, scanners, hubs and other hardware move out, his will move in. During a recent visit to make arrangements, the buyer said to his architect, “I don’t think I’ll need to lay down CAT 5 cable after all.”
That joke hit home because while I never used CAT 5 cable, I have been coiling up what seems to be miles of RJ-45 Ethernet cable. This is because I’ve never actually embraced wireless in my home. So when the buyer’s architect said, “Why do you need cables, when everything is wireless,” I gave him the most confused look, and I wasn’t alone. The buyer seems to have an understanding of my anti-wireless stance.
Wireless sounds wonderful. It frees you from the tether, but in a small office or home office situation you need to think whether you really need to cut the wires in the first place.
For a PAN, Personal Area Network, wireless technology such as Bluetooth is great. I love Bluetooth…in concept anyway. It is great for letting me use an earpiece or other headphones with my mobile phone. Bluetooth is also good when I want to print photos from my mobile phone. Again, I love that I could do these things if I wanted to, but I actually never do. Maybe in time I’ll embrace Bluetooth more, and I do see the need for Bluetooth in situations where you need to go handsfree.
Yet, on the flip side I’ve never been all that pleased with Wi-Fi. I know that for many users it is the next best thing to sliced bread (and I should add I rarely eat sliced bread either). And don’t get me wrong, Wi-Fi is great for those times when you are using a laptop at a Starbucks, or need to check e-mail at an airport hotspot. However, as a home application—or even one in a hotel—I’ve seldom been satisfied with the results. Finding that exact spot where I get the desired “strong signal” can be annoying at best, and downright frustrating at worse. Drop offs while filing a story or using IM makes my blood boil. Let’s also not forget that security is an issue that oftentimes remains unresolved.
When meeting with the buyer of my apartment I mentioned that if you turn on a laptop in my current living room you’re likely to find a dozen or more wireless networks, many of them fully accessible, and none of them mine. Using them is technically illegal, and since I have RJ-45 Ethernet cable tucked under my couch I never feel the need to hijack any of these networks. Moreover, I’ve avoided wireless because if I can see those networks, chances are my thousands of neighbors would be able to see my network. And how do I know there isn’t some rogue hacker with nothing better to do than see what I’m doing on my Wi-Fi LAN?