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I am a qualified sysadmin. Whilst I currently am in a “I will never be on-call ever again” phase of my career (Very much like the “I will never drink again” phase of a hangover, with much the same future), the fear of people coming to your desk at 17:25 saying “The little lights have stopped flashing on my disk drive, and I’ve got a report for the board due, is this a problem?” never truly goes away. The other thing that office-environment sysadmins learn to hate with a passion usually reserved for Windows ME is this:

Wireless Networking.

It used to be a truism of security that the only secure computer was one with six inches of air beyond every port. Then came WiFi, Bluetooth, IRDA and such other mechanisms. Unfortunately, it appears that every single writer of wireless router firmware, Wireless card firmware and wireless card driver software is the type of person who go to “Information wants to be free” rallies. Everything is fine, providing you don’t, ever, try to do something as freedom-limiting as secure your wireless fucking network.

(Aside: I know of no way of fucking wired-ly, and that all fucking networks will, by their nature, be mostly wireless. I can, in fact, not think of any exceptions to this last statement and would further request that I not be educated in this regard. Aside ends)

I have borrowed a Belkin wireless router for my new flat, which I configured in no-time flat. Well, no time I was being paid for, at any rate, so in contractor terms it was free. In actual terms it was several hours of faffing with ports and cables and netmasks and reset switches and that was before I turned on the wireless network.

Then I turned on the wireless network. I configured it to be WEP secured with a 128 bit key, generated from a ten byte string set by the administrator – me. I fed this to my laptop, and it was happy. I was suspicious, because my laptop is rarely happy with anything, but I moved on.

My desktop, though it won’t be on wireless often, was also happy. I began to fear.

Sure enough, the Wii disagreed, and demanded I enter the full hex key. Since I don’t have a USB keyboard right now, I did so with the wiimote, over a Long Time.

I’ve borrowed an iPhone from work (I may get one, because (a) SHINY, and (b) I hate freedom). That required the full hex key too.

So did my Windows Mobile smartphone.

I’m beginning to notice a pattern here. Every device without a proper keyboard demands the full hex key. Every device with easy entry of such just needs the passphrase.

I hate computers.

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