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War-Driving With My Sansa Connect

First, orientation for newbies: War-driving is when you cruise around with a sensitive WiFi connection hunting for open WiFi hotspots.

War-driving, though innocent, sometimes triggers stereotypes -- it gets linked with lurking, hacking and piggy-backing (a practice far less destructive than hacking, and far more widely practiced).

Another reason for the edgy reputation: War-driving is often done by the young and geeky -- and (as we all know) some adults assume there's something very suspicious going on whatever kids have unsupervised fun in mysterious, inventive, new ways.

Simple Self-disclosure:

Yes, I have sat in a public park, with my laptop running open source software, and used an antennae made that very day out of a Pringle’s can.

And yes, I have (with some clever, potato-chip-munching co-conspirators) used that very same Pringle's can to detect (and enter!) the network system of a major corporation (perched 9 stories above us in an office tower).

However (in my defense) I was at the time fully-employed by their IT department, and had been asked to perform said experiment to test their new wireless network. (Need I add: After the experiment, the red-faced security crew decided to stay with a wired office. Heh!)

And yes, I have never even considered any real hacking. I don’t even advocate casual piggy-backing -- harmless though it may seem. (Remember: While war-driving is legal, piggy-packing may be illegal where you live.)

Ok – with all that as an intro -- I have to say:

My Sansa Connect is an oh-so convenient, little, hand-held, war-driving device!

The Sansa Connect's WiFi powers aren't super sensitive and you can’t attach a pigtailed directional antennae. The S-Connect isn’t equipped connected with GPS for the great mapping project. You can’t use it for hacking, and shouldn’t want to.

Ah, but it is there, sitting right my pocket, all the time. So mobile. So WiFi capable.

You can just spin the wheel from my “Music Library” to “Internet Radio” – and it starts scanning. And -- BOOM -- there's a list of surrounding wireless networks pops up.

(“Hmmmm, I didn’t know that café had wireless. Hmmmm, this whole railroad station is a freebie!”)

Of course, for me, this war-walking didn't start intentionally.

I’m listening to the Sansa Connect in my house, over my own wireless connection – and I step outside on one of my usual long walks (to store, Starbucks or nowhere in particular).

Down the street, music streaming… And then suddenly, nothing. I’m out of range. Grrrr, I wanted to hear the rest of that song! I wanted to "zing" it and get the rest of that album, and now I don't even know the name. How cool it will be when WiFi coverage is seamless!

And then the innocent curiosity of war-walking creeps in. Would it be theoretically possible to make it to the store hopping WiFi connections?

Once urban areas are all decked out with area-wide WiFi umbrellas – war-walking will be a outdated as dowsing for water. There will be no reason to check for hotspots once WiFi coverage hits everyone -- like rain in Portland.

But, in the meanwhile, the WiFi abilities of this Sansa Connect are a great way to kill boredom – on foot, on the train or stuck in city traffic.

Read More In: News, Rumors & Trends Sansa Connect

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-5 of 5 | Latest Comment

June 21, 2007 2:54 PM

I had been wondering how the Connect would hold up when it came across a place with no WiFi. It makes me wonder if it's really worth it.

There seems to be limitations with every MP3 player. With an iPod you are able to have all your music whenever you want, but you don't have the access to listen to internet radio or hear new artist directly on your devise.

So which one is better? Having your music play whenever/wherever? Or being exposed to any music you could ever want to listen to, but only in select locations?

I think what Eric said is true. "There will be no reason to check for hotspots once WiFi coverage hits everyone -- like rain in Portland." It's only a matter of time until WiFi will be everywhere. So maybe the Sansa Connect is a good investment.

June 21, 2007 3:05 PM

Cynthia Perry said: I had been wondering how the Connect would hold up when it came across a place with no WiFi. It makes me wonder if it's really worth it. There seems to be limitations with every MP3 player. With an iPod you are able to have all your music whenever you want, but you don't have the access to listen to internet radio or hear new artist directly on your devise. So which one is better?

Well, the good news is that with the Connect you have both.

Around a WiFi connection you have Internet Radio. But you always have access to the stored MP3s on the Connect -- which has 4 gb of internal storage plus a microSD card slot for more storage. So the recorded music on a Connect can be pretty extensive.

Most places I go (obviously) don't yet have WiFi coverage -- the subway, biking on my favorite paths, whatever. One think I like: I use the S-Connect's "zing" technology to download the album of music that "catches my ear." It means that almost every time I switch from "Internet Radio" to "Music Library" I discover new albums I've never listened to before. And this happens without the middle-man of my desktop computer (i.e. i don't have to buy the album on my desktop and then transfer it to my handheld. The new music comes straight to my S-Connect whenever i hit the "zing" command -- over my home WiFi.)

To be fair to the iPod world and its strengths: the flash memory of the Sansa products is never as extensive as what you get with MP3 players that have massive internal harddrives.

However while the Sansa flash capacity may not hold literally "all your music whenever you want," assuming you have a very very large music collection, it still holds a lot for all the many non-WiFi moments. After all, how many people need more than 4 gb of stored songs at a time?

It's all about the music, man.

June 21, 2007 10:57 PM

Strange as it might seem, I never ran into the term "War Driving" until today.

It turns out that "war driving" was coined after "war dialing" (a method of scanning telephone #'s using a modem) which was in turn named after an 80's classic flick "War Games".

Good stuff - "WarGames" is why a lot of geeks like me became computer hackers in the 80's and 90's.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_dialing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WarGames

June 22, 2007 12:13 AM

The first time I heard the term "war-driving" was about four years ago. Its etymology's interesting!

April 24, 2011 4:45 PM

It is an interesting the term of "war driving". First time when I heard it I had no clue it is about WiFi cruising, then I found out some of my friends used this, they explained to me how it works and what are the benefits. I was told that piggy-packing is not allowed in some Data Center Security software's, and people should be aware of this, because this can lead to some problems. I often use Sansa Connect to listen some internet radios, and hope someday I could walk all day in the city having full Wi-Fi coverage.

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Back to Top | Comments 1-5 of 5 | Latest Comment

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