Scott Hanselman

No WiFi at the RNC

September 2, '04 Comments [8] Posted in
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Reason number #8 I’m not a Republican.  Luddites. ;)

RNCThere might be WiFi on the bikes outside (or at least there might have been), but the one place you definitely won’t find 802.11a, 802.11b, or 802.11g is inside Madison Square Garden where the Republicans are holding their National Convention. Why? The guy in charge of technology for the convention believes that WiFi’s “unproven technology” carries too many security risks and might also cause too much interference with “remote control technologies” used by television networks covering the event. The interference issue might not be a red herring, but we heard this crazy rumor somewhere that you can add encryption to WiFi.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Thursday, 02 September 2004 17:15:36 UTC
Republican people scare me.
Thursday, 02 September 2004 18:12:37 UTC
Without getting into the politics, this doesn't seem that dumb to me. The RF interference issues sound like they're real (http://601am.com/conventions/2004/07/08/convention_notes). When you match up a tiny signal from a wireless card with a TV broadcast antenna on the same frequency, the result is a lot of frustration from the laptop user.

But let's assume that could be corrected, maybe by placing the TV antennas somewhere better. Yes, Wifi does support encryption, but a lot of users don't how to use it correctly. See this article for the security risk raised by Wifi at the DNC:

http://www.internetweek.com/allStories/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=23905152

Now let's just assume that it's possible that hackers could circumvent even properly configured Wifi security (http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/09/01/2344253, http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/09/01/2015222, etc.). Do you think there might be at least one hacker in NYC that would like to DDOS, crash, infiltrate, etc., the DNC's network? Maybe grab something of a journalist's unsecured laptop as they fumble with getting on the network, etc. How big of a prize would it be to say you'd hacked the RNC?

Also, look at the press implications. If the RNC doesn't have Wifi, what's your headline? How about if someone DDOS's the RNC network, or hacks it? Let's try to think up some fun headlines there, while Bush is pushing himself as the nation's best hope for safety and security.

So in the risk / reward match-up, I'd say it's not a bad decision.

That "unproven technology" quote is worrying, though...
Thursday, 02 September 2004 18:12:41 UTC
Boo!

:P

OT:
I have Republican leanings more so than Democratic, but I must say that I will not be voting for W this year. Come to think of it, I didn't vote for him last time either. This will be my 4th time voting in a presidential election, and I have never voted for a candidate from either of the major parties. Idiots, all of 'em! But I can't vote for Nader either . . . I wish good ol' Ross Perot would come back! ;)

Thursday, 02 September 2004 18:27:34 UTC
via Dave Winer who was at the DNC.

"In some ways it was better than the official blogger space, not due to any failure of the DNC, rather the greed of people who wanted to siphon our wifi access (rumor was we had the only wifi in the Fleet Center)."

Sounds like the DNC didn't have official WiFi either.
Thursday, 02 September 2004 19:24:09 UTC
They scare me too. Add this to the list of ways that the Republicans are way behind times:

Abortion, Gay Rights, Stem Cell Research, Environment, Energy, and now Technology!

Not the mention the belief that you can actually wage war on terrorism. Take Irak, it did not have terrorism before Bush decided to trample all over it. Now terrorism is rampant, and impossible to control.
Sylvain Duford
Thursday, 02 September 2004 19:40:18 UTC
<sarcasm>I'm pretty sure it causes cancer too... </sarcasm>
Thursday, 02 September 2004 21:01:29 UTC
Actually, that story was later contradicted, saying the real reason is "because they didn’t want to have to deal with endless tech support requests from people who couldn’t figure out how to log onto the network properly."

I find that explanation far more plausable (and a reason that I understand well).

Note that this comment implies no affilliation between myself and the Republican party. ;)
Friday, 03 September 2004 01:33:47 UTC
What did you expect? They are being their natural best, conservative.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.