Remember how fun it was to get your first Net connection working? It's like that.
How about a project that combines hardware construction, community building, network hacking and, of course, Linux and other free software? Best of all, the stuff you need to get started is cheap and standardized, and there's a great balance of helpful resources and unanswered questions. We're talking about wireless networks. You'll impress even people who aren't Linux users by offering convenient Net access at your business or organization and the public spaces nearby.
Here on the West Coast of the USA, people sometimes get complacent about being first to understand and deploy new technology. If you're in San Francisco or Seattle, you're bound to be living a couple years ahead of everyone else, gadget-wise, right? Wrong.
Even though the West Coast has some wireless users groups that have done some impressive work, wireless is really making an impact in New York City, where “business improvement districts” are using access points to improve business in their neighborhoods, and even the phone company is offering access points. NYCwireless is a force to be reckoned with and might give you some ideas for your town. Find out exactly what that beat box on the cover has to do with Linux, and learn about the wireless frenzy sweeping New York City, on page 42.
When Doc's article has you typing “LGA” into your favorite travel site, be sure to pack your favorite Linux PDA or laptop, and bring along a copy of Kismet. Tony Steidler-Dennison shows you how to discover all the wireless resources available to you, on page 58.
Meanwhile, the author of Kismet, Mike Kershaw, explains how to set up your very own access point, with NoCatAuth and a friendly login screen for security, on page 52. If you merely leave your access point open, people might hesitate to use it because they're polite or don't know what your intentions are. Change its name to something with “public” or “open” in it, and put up NoCatAuth so that people can sign in and understand the terms under which they're allowed to use it.
As always, networks are most useful and fun when you can connect them to real-world devices. Tad Truex has a sump pump on the Web, and you can learn to hook up your own electrical appliances on page 38. Remember, safety first, and read the part about not burning your house down.
Often, you need a big directory that handles everyone's information for your business, and the last thing you want is to get locked in to some vendor's idea of how to do it, so naturally you've been reading Mick Bauer's series on OpenLDAP. This month, on page 32, Mick finishes the series. If you're a new subscriber, check out interactive.linuxjournal.com for the previous two articles in the series.
Finally, don't miss the chance to get your Web site onto a content management system (CMS) that helps everyone do his or her job better and release pages to the public at the right time. Reuven Lerner offers Bricolage for your consideration on page 16.