Moving from wired to wireless

Running around in my head for ages has been the issue of network connectivity.

You see, while I absolutely love my Powerbook, one of the most frustrating aspects of any laptop is that switch between desktop and laptop modes. When the laptop is on my desk, it’s connected to the network by a cable, and when it’s away from the desk, I use Airport. Nothing strange here you are probably thinking.

In most cases the migration from desktop to laptop is not a major problem. OK, I might lost some network mounts, and if I’ve been stupid enough to have an open file across a network drive, I might have trouble with that too. Email and web services don’t really cause a problem. Unless I happen to be downloading some large file at the time, in which case I generally have to stop and restart. In general the majority of modern network services are connect-transfer-disconnect style services that are never open for long enough that a change in network connectivity would cause a problem.

The area that is more difficult though are those permanently on services like iChat or IRC. Disconnect your network cable in the middle of these and you’ll lose your connection and have to start again. When ‘idle’, it’s not a problem, but in the middle of an important conversation it can be a real pain.

Why don’t I use wireless all the time? Because even at 54MBps, the speed sucks for anything but basic web browsing and email. Have to transfer any large files (and I frequently transfer 5-10GB of stuff to or from this laptop every day) and you realize just how slow wireless really is.

There is a solution though. Applications could be developed where you could select the network interface that you want to use. It actually isn’t that complicated to do, just requires a little leap of faith.

Of course, a better solution still would be to eschew wired connections altogether and just have faster wireless connections, but they seem a long time coming…


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