Ken's Korner Newsletter Logo
November 2015
What is RFID
RFID device

Radio Frequency Identification!

RFID, isn’t that the little chip they put on credit cards these days? Yes but it is more than that. While RFID has been in use since the Second World War, lately it has become much more prevalent. RFID labels are in clothes, toys, military hardware and many of the products you buy. The US DOD and Wal-Mart now requires all their suppliers to enable products to be RFID traceable.

How Does RFID Work?:
RFID is one of a group of technologies called AIDC, (Automatic Identification and Data Capture). They are designed to automatically identify objects, collect data and enter the data into the computer system with little or no human involvement.

This is done by radio. A basic RFID system has three components;

  1. An RFID tag or Smart Label
  2. An RFID reader, (an “interrogator”)
  3. An antenna

The RFID tags contain an integrated circuit. It can be very small and concealable. When it receives the correct radio signal it responds by sending the information it has to the reader as a radio signal. The reader then processes the data it received.

Two Types of RFID:

  1. Passive – Does not require a power source, (it is powered by the energy of the radio scan). The range is limited but it does not run out of power.
  2. Active – Does require a power source like a small battery. Has a greater range and can transmit all the time but also has a limited service life.

RFID and Smart Labels:
Smart Labels incorporate both RFID and barcode technologies. An RFID inlay is embedded in an adhesive label with a bar code printed on it. Bar code readers are much more common and easier to program. RFID hardware costs more and requires more programming skill.

Bottom Line:
Anyone with a suitable device can scan the RFID device, and do so covertly. If you have one of those “chips” on your credit card then you might want to consider one of those blocking sleeves or wallets. Google up RFID blocking sleeves and choose from the plethora of available sleeves.

Go back to the top

Speed Up Your WiFi

What can you do to get a faster WiFi connection?
Speed up your Wi-FiSpeed up your WiFi!

A great number of things can affect the speed of your Wi-Fi connection. Most of them have a deleterious impact on performance. Remember it is just a radio signal and a rather week one at that. There are several ways to improve the speed of your wireless network.

Number one is to use the latest Wi-Fi technologies. Operating on the 5.0G band instead of the old 2.4G band solves a lot of problems right away. Of course you will have to buy this new hardware so this isn’t a cheap option. Upgrading the firmware in your existing router is usually free and can fix a variety of ills too.

Don’t hide your router.
People tend to put the router in a closet or behind the buffet. While it may clash with your décor direct line of sight is best. And the shorter the distance the better too! Walls, lights and other electronics can interfere with the signal. It may require a bit of experimentation to find the ideal location.

Find the right wireless channel.:
If you have neighbors their wireless network may be interfering with yours. Changing to a different channel can help. Use one of the non-overlapping channels if possible. One of the free Wi-Fi channel finder tools can be a big help here.

Don’t let the bandwidth thieves slow you down. While you can check to see if some else is using your Wi-Fi it is probably easier to just block them. Using a password is a must and changing it from time to time. Many Wireless routers have an access control list with the MAC address of the devices that are allowed to connect or not connect. This gives you a second line of defense. Not only does the hacker need to get your password but also an acceptable MAC address.

At the bottom of the list you can try the little home grown hacks like rebooting your router daily or reflectors made from pop cans and aluminum foil. These may improve performance in one direction but limit it anywhere else. Another idea is to use an old router as a range extender or just get a range extender. As with the router itself placement is the key.

Go back to the top

Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.
Ken's Korner Home Page