Tips for Securing Your Home Router
Seemingly minor and easily overlooked settings can still have profound security implications. Here are some steps you can take to make sure your wired or wireless home router — and by extension, your network — is as secure as possible.
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3Com Bluetooth PC Card
Author: Tim Higgins Review Date: 8/17/2001
- Nifty antenna design
- Not a lot you can do with it!
- Iffy Win98SE support
Patented "XJACK" antenna that pops
out and swivels to a vertical position
and Basic features
Well, it took a long time coming, but 3Com has finally started
to ship their Bluetooth PC card! It's a 16 bit PC card design
(not CardBus), and is based on version 1.1 of the Bluetooth
The card's physical design is one that I'd like to see used on
802.11b cards, but there's little likelihood of that, since the
XJACK design is patented. It's a push to open, push to close
design that slides out to reveal a little, blue, swing-up antenna.
The only downside of the design is that it's a little hard to
push the card into your PC card slot without popping open the
does have an 802.11b XJACK card, but it's a different design!
The 802.11b's card still has a pop-out antenna, but it doesn't
swing up to get a better, vertical polarization to match
most Access Points.
There's one LED on the card edge, which I couldn't find described
in any of the rather sparse documentation. It shines steadily
when the card is plugged in, flickers under light network activity,
and seems to go out (maybe it's just flickering really
fast) during long file transfers.
Since this is my first Bluetooth review and I'm fairly ignorant
about the details of the technology, please forgive (and correct)
me if I make some incorrect assumptions or observations about
Installation went smoothly on my Win98SE Compaq 1650 laptop,
but it did take awhile, so be patient! Bluetooth
uses a networking model that is based on virtual serial COM ports,
so the installer creates a number of these ports (shown in the
screen shot below...click for a full-sized view). Each virtual
port is used for a different type of client communication.
The installer will ask you for permission to make
copies of all your DUN profiles, and the best thing to do it let
it do it. You can always delete them later if you don't
want them, but you can't create them automatically later without
rerunning the installer.
The other important question the Installer asks
is whether to start the Connection Manager (CM) each time you
boot. If you're going to use Bluetooth regularly, answer
Yes. This is because Bluetooth functionality is
only provided when the CM is running!
One thing the installer doesn't ask you is
to name your Bluetooth device. It also doesn't automatically
pick up your Computer Name from your Network properties.
This caused some confusion when I first viewed the network in
Since I didn't have two laptops with PC card slots handy
and since 3Com doesn't ship a Win CE 3.0 or PocketPC driver
with the card (only Win98SE, 2000, or ... give
me strength.. Me!), I used a PCMCIA adapter to install
one of the cards in one of my Win98SE desktop machines.
I first tried a Netgear MA301 which froze during installation
in two different machines. A BuffaloTech WLI-PCI-L11 at
least installed ok, but wouldn't let the Bluetooth card install
correctly. I finally scored with an old RayCom RIS
100 ISA slot PC card adapter that I salvaged from a Webgear
Aviator 2.4GHz networking kit (hey..whatever works!).
a Strange new world...
Once the installation smoke cleared, I launched the CM on both
machines and after a minor amount of futzing around, was rewarded
with the screen below
Actually, I didn't really get the screen above, but instead the
CM window on each machine showed ONE icon titled "My Bluetooth
Device". Hmmm, did the icon represent the machine that
the CM was running on or was I actually connected? Turned
out (with no help from the docs) that each CM was showing
the client that it was connected to. (You don't get an icon
that represents the machine that the CM is running on like you
do in Network Neighborhood.) Once I found the "Friendly
Name" feature, I changed the name of each machine to something
more descriptive and I was off and running... sort of!
I found myself getting confused when trying to set up connections.
The Tutorials in the on-line Help didn't do much to clear up the
situation either, although they tried to be helpful. Being
a complete newbie in Bluetooth networking, I needed some examples,
diagrams, and explanations of what I was trying to do. Unfortunately,
3Com hasn't provided any of that, either in the on-line Help or
woefully inadequate PDF User's Manual on the CD. The "Tutorials"
are more "do this, then this, then this", which I just
After doing a little bit of research and reflection,
I think I know why I had such a hard time getting anything other
than the File Send feature to work:
The ReadMe (which is probably the most useful
documentation that 3Com provided) notes that Win98SE doesn't
work reliably when trying to establish Bluetooth Direct Cable
Connections (which of course was one of the things that
I was trying to do). Win2000 is the way to go if you want
to use DCC.
The COM Port clients that the installer sets
up are intended for use with BLUETOOTH DEVICES, NOT
with another Windows computer with a Bluetooth card in it.
So when I was trying to use the regular dialup modem on my
Bluetooth equipped desktop via the DUN client (or Serial Client)
COM port, I was trying to do something that wasn't supposed
The CM didn't seem to automatically register
new clients when they came into range, but only refreshes
on a schedule that you can set in 5 minute increments (the
default is 30). You can force a manual refresh, however.
The card is not considered a Windows Network
adapter, so there are no entries in the Network Control
panel. The Device Manager shows the Bluetooth card as
its own device category.
There's no TCP/IP or NetBEUI stack available,
just those funky virtual COM ports (PPP is used to support
Dialup type connections).
So here I was, all dressed up with Bluetooth and
nothing to do except send files back and forth between machines
using the Send File service...which did work well, I'll
But try as I might, I wasn't able to set up a network
connection between other machines so that I could browse and transfer
files, or connect to the Internet. It appears that I needed
a Bluetooth Access Point for that, which I didn't have and 3Com
doesn't offer (although other companies do).
Since I couldn't establish a network connection, the only thing
I could do to check performance was to use the Send File
feature. So I did, and here's what I found:
Send File Transfer
[1.2 Mbyte file size]
- 4 feet
- same room
- 25 feet
- same floor
- 2 walls
- 35 feet
- same floor
- 3 walls
In range, but no connection made.
- 12 feet
- floor above
In range, but no connection made.
Comments: Given the description of Bluetooth
as a very short range technology, I was surprised at the distance
that I could go and still get an "In Range" status.
I found that I could get an "In Range" reading at
pretty much every place that I normally perform 802.11b product
testing! However, I found that the "In Range"
indication could be misleading.
In both Test 3 and 4, although the Status showed
as "In Range", the Send File would fail while trying
to set up the connection. (Actually, it would show "Connecting"
for about 10 seconds, then the window would go away, with no
indication of what happened!) I made sure to Refresh each
time I changed position, since the CM doesn't do that for you
when a client's status changes.
The transfer speed didn't seem to vary much with
distance, but it's about one third the 1Mbps raw bit rate,
and about 40% of the highest obtainable rate quoted by this
It's always an adventure to test something new, and putting 3Com's
Bluetooth card through its paces was no exception. In the
end, the card worked well for the limited things...make that thing...
that I could do with it. But my lack of other Bluetooth
equipped devices to test it with made for an unsatisfying overall
It's nice to see Bluetooth 1.1 products finally starting
to ship. But the long delay to market has caused this technology to
lose precious time in the wireless networking market share battle.
Unless other products come out quickly and are cheaper than their
802.11b equivalents (the 3Com card isn't setting a good precedent here
with an on-line price of around $120), Bluetooth may just become another
footnote in the wireless networking history books.
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