Consumer grade hardware and custom firmwareThis is the first option that we talked about. Here you could go with a router like the Asus AC-RT66U or the Linksys WRT series, but make sure to do your due diligence and confirm that the router you have or you want to get is supported. This includes reading the forums on other users that have setup these routers to see if they have run into issues or not. Here are some of your options for custom firmware:
- DD-WRT – This is perhaps the most popular option and the one with the widest support for consumer grade routers. Its UI layout is smart enough that basic setup should be a breeze, but it is capable of so much more if you spend the time to dig into it.
- Tomato – This one has a few versions, but I’ve linked to the more popular version of it. This is like DD-WRT on Steriods since it also provides you live refresh and better statistics tracking right out of the box.
- Advanced Tomato – This is the same as Tomato but with much nicer UI. I really enjoyed using this briefly. If you like Tomato, you’e gonna love this.
- OpenWRT / LEDE – LEDE was a fork of OpenWRT, but they have recently announced that they are merging again. This has the least number of supported devices and relieves are less frequent, but if you know your networking, its the best option. This is the only one that includes a package manager UI to you can add other packages easily through the UI. This also makes it easier to add functionality that the other firmwares may not provide out of the box.
Business grade hardwareAs a stepping stone, I recommend you play around by installing one of the custom firmwares mentioned previously on the router that you have so you get familiar with the concepts, and once you get fed up of fighting to get things working, you move up to business grade hardware. I am assuming that you are not reading this far unless you’re a noob. The options here are endless and so are the expenses, so I’ll stick to the option that I’ve had experience with (installing at costomer locations), which gives you a big bang for the buck. Ubiquiti! They provide a range of wired and wireless products that are pretty much in line with high end consumer devices in price, but from a stability and functionality perspective, they are flawless (as much as can be). For example, an Edge Router Lite 3 plus a Unifi AC Pro model can cost less than a Linksys Max-Stream AC4000 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Tri-Band Router and provide way more functionality and most probably better performance. Setting up a network in a 2700sq.ft. space, I ended up replacing two wireless routers, with just the one Unifi AC Pro. Of course had to use the Edge Router Lite as well since the Unifi by itself does not have everything you need, and you may need a (managed) switch as well if setting up a more complex VLAN. The one downside to the Unifi line of products is that they require a controller software be running on a PC or the cloud key so you can control them (i.e. there is no web interface without the controller software), but still this is a great setup.
The NetworkNow the real part. As Spiderman’s wise uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” So the more smart devices you have (more power), the more you need to be careful (responsible). There have been numerous articles about many smart devices that have been either communicating in the open (intentionally or otherwise) or are left open to hacking, so it only makes sense to separate these devices from the rest of your network. We’ll start with the base setup and then make things more complicated optionally. Lets talk in more detail about how this should work:
- VLAN 10 is the business/home network. Computers and devices on this network have full internet access, as well as full access to the IoT network (VLAN 20).
- VLAN 20 is the IoT network. This network is isolated from both the business/home network and the guest network. You could provide full internet access to this network or optionally limit access here as well to well known protocols like HTTP/S, DNS, NTP, etc.
- VLAN 30 is the guest network which should not have access to either of the other networks; just Internet. Again, internet access here could be limited to just a few protocols as well. You could further protect yourself and your guests by using the AP isolation feature of your Wireless Access Point if it has it.
Cutting your own SIMThe first step was to cut the SIM I had so that I could even get the phone going. This was much easier than I thought. Using a box cutter and a co-workers iPhone 4/SIM I only had to go over each line a couple of times, before the SIM would just easily break on that side. The measurements were rough, but it fit in the SIM holder.
Activating without internetThis was a little harder, but tethering is not as restricted in Canada as it is in the US so I used the second iPhone 4 to setup a personal hotspot. The issue was the with the update to iOS 5, somehow the personal hotspot feature was not available any more, so I had to reset the networking to get that going. Now I had a new micro SIM and connection to the internet to activate the phone.
Success! … sort ofAfter activating the phone and restoring it, I ran into another issue that I could not resolve. The phone just refused to receive cellular signal. Even though this worked just fine during activation and restoration, all i got now was No Service. It all worked out in the end after a long visit to the Apple Store to replace my brand new phone:)
- Cutting a SIM down to a micro SIM is relatively easy (my SIM cutter finally arrived today)
- Resetting the network settings will get you back your Personal Hotspot settings
- Typing diag:// in Safari will bring up a diagnostics window that will send info to Apple. You won’t see the diagnostics, but I did not know about this feature
- Siri is absolutely the best feature of the iPhone 4S, but its rather useless in Canada
- Apple proved that soft keyboards are every bit as practical as physical keyboards, yet the Palm Pre added extra thickness to provide one, not to mention the ugly case design.
- The Palm Pixi was not only uglier, but also added a new aspect ratio for developers to have to deal with.
- Palm struck a deal with Sprint which meant that the Pre and Pixi where not available for GSM networks and would not be available world wide. On top of that, Sprint was not only not a consumer favorite but also the lacked the user base of both AT&T and Verizon.
- For a mobile OS that was advertised as web based, support for HTML 5 was more limited than on the iPhone. The end result was that Palm did not win over a lot of developers.
A New HopeWhen HP bought Palm, I thought they understood the value of what they were buying. WebOS on every device (Printers, Phones, Tablets, Desktops) sounded like things were moving in the right direction. Now WebOS had the money behind it to do really well, but then things went awry again.
- It took HP along time to put new WebOS devices on the market. Not necessarily a mistake, but the devices were not that impressive after this long a wait.
- The Touchpad was priced on part with the iPad even though it did not have the App ecosystem that iOS has.
- The Touchpad reviews where not good due to the hardware that was not up to par with the OS.
- HP immediately released updated Touchpad with better specs, infuriating the few fans that bought in early.
- And finally, HP announced that the Touchpad is dead.
The last five points happened in a span of a couple of months.
Is It Dead?Not really. HP still plans to license it to device manufacturers and perhaps still embed it in printers and such, but I doubt it will ever be able to compete with iOS or even Android. The latter mainly due to the fact that WebOS has failed to attract a good developer community to provide it with apps. I believe that Apple’s strongest point is that it controls both the hardware and software, so it can guarantee the user experience. While I disagreed with this in the PC era, it is definitely key in the post PC era. To this point, the only true competitors that had any chance of competing where HP, who has already put up the white flag, and RIM, who just cannot get its head around a device that is not email centric. Windows Phone 7 and Android do not control the hardware and the effect is obvious depending on which device you buy. My far fetched hope is for WebOS to become the Linux of the Post PC era and for HP to become the RedHat. read more
I have recently shifted to Android since I had to do some development for it and I had to see for myslef if the phone was really as bad as the simulator on the Mac.
The short story is that it is impressive in its own way, but it is not an easy switch from the iPhone.
As I get more time I will be posting my experience with it, along with what I liked and disliked.read more