Discussion:
Wi-Fi Routing Ideas?
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David Kaye
2016-10-26 20:05:24 UTC
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Okay, here's the scenario. There's a hotel I'm looking at today, 5 stories,
95 rooms. Built post-1906, so it has plenty of steel and concrete
construction.

Current wi-fi uses extenders and ethernet-over-power line units. Needless
to say, they're calling me in to make the thing work because EOP and
extenders won't work in this kind of environment.

My proposal will be to wire everything up to the WAPs. And of course, this
means lots of money. Is there a technology out there right now that's I
guess a higher-power system I can use as a feeder for this thing? It would
be cool to be able to locate one or two of these units and then have the
WAPs talk to them. Basically a base unit with remote units that talk to
each other and spit out ethernet on the other side. But I haven't found
anything so far that does this.

Ideas anyone? Right now, even sight unseen I can see that I'd have to
charge about $20k to create a workable system that can provide wi-fi to each
room.
sms
2016-10-26 20:26:56 UTC
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Post by David Kaye
Okay, here's the scenario. There's a hotel I'm looking at today, 5 stories,
95 rooms. Built post-1906, so it has plenty of steel and concrete
construction.
Current wi-fi uses extenders and ethernet-over-power line units. Needless
to say, they're calling me in to make the thing work because EOP and
extenders won't work in this kind of environment.
My proposal will be to wire everything up to the WAPs. And of course, this
means lots of money. Is there a technology out there right now that's I
guess a higher-power system I can use as a feeder for this thing?
Yes, but it would cost a lot more than $20K.


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Roy
2016-10-26 22:52:57 UTC
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Here is a "different" solution for you. I assume each room has phone cable.

Install a DSL router in each room connected via phone wiring to your own
DSLAM in the PBX room. Alternatively put the modem along with an AP at
various places like utility rooms coupled to the DSLAM

Examples

http://www.netcommwireless.com/press-release/new-netcomm-dslams-deliver-high-speed-internet-guest-rooms-existing-cabling
Post by David Kaye
Okay, here's the scenario. There's a hotel I'm looking at today, 5 stories,
95 rooms. Built post-1906, so it has plenty of steel and concrete
construction.
Current wi-fi uses extenders and ethernet-over-power line units. Needless
to say, they're calling me in to make the thing work because EOP and
extenders won't work in this kind of environment.
My proposal will be to wire everything up to the WAPs. And of course, this
means lots of money. Is there a technology out there right now that's I
guess a higher-power system I can use as a feeder for this thing? It would
be cool to be able to locate one or two of these units and then have the
WAPs talk to them. Basically a base unit with remote units that talk to
each other and spit out ethernet on the other side. But I haven't found
anything so far that does this.
Ideas anyone? Right now, even sight unseen I can see that I'd have to
charge about $20k to create a workable system that can provide wi-fi to each
room.
David Kaye
2016-10-27 09:08:48 UTC
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Post by Roy
Install a DSL router in each room connected via phone wiring to your own
DSLAM in the PBX room. Alternatively put the modem along with an AP at
various places like utility rooms coupled to the DSLAM
Unfortunately, too expensive. I hadn't looked at the layout until today. I
think I'm just going to get a bunch of low-cost WAPs and connect them to the
routers. They have some really robust Draytek routers with lots of ports,
so I'll just branch off them to go down corridors, etc.

The only drawback I see is that all 5 floors are fed from one Cat 5e cable.
While it's true that 5e can take distances up to 300 feet I dislike the fact
that everything is running off the one cable. I'd rather have individual
floors connect to the modem/router. Sonic is the ISP by the way. The hotel
wants to raise the speed from 60Mbps to the next level which I think is
200Mbps but the hotel guy told me Sonic wants about $700 a month for that.
Much as I like Sonic, I suggested that they get prices from MonkeyBrains and
Comcast.
Roy
2016-10-28 13:41:03 UTC
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In the "old" days, WAPs were about the same for wireless coverage.

That is no longer true. A WAP with multiple external antennas will have
far better coverage than a cheap WAP with one internal antenna.

The words to look for are "dual band", "MIMO", "AC", and Gigabit

We have started using Edimax Pro radios and Ubiquiti Unfi with better
results.

If you only have one cable and expect total speed in excess of 100Mbps,
you better have Gigabit Ethernet switches. Lots of stories out there
with customers complain about not getting their 150 or 200 Mbps service
and and finding their equipment is only 100Mbps
Post by David Kaye
...
Unfortunately, too expensive. I hadn't looked at the layout until today. I
think I'm just going to get a bunch of low-cost WAPs and connect them to the
routers. They have some really robust Draytek routers with lots of ports,
so I'll just branch off them to go down corridors, etc.
The only drawback I see is that all 5 floors are fed from one Cat 5e cable.
While it's true that 5e can take distances up to 300 feet I dislike the fact
that everything is running off the one cable. I'd rather have individual
floors connect to the modem/router. Sonic is the ISP by the way. The hotel
wants to raise the speed from 60Mbps to the next level which I think is
200Mbps but the hotel guy told me Sonic wants about $700 a month for that.
Much as I like Sonic, I suggested that they get prices from MonkeyBrains and
Comcast.
David Kaye
2016-10-29 00:40:33 UTC
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Post by Roy
That is no longer true. A WAP with multiple external antennas will have
far better coverage than a cheap WAP with one internal antenna.
I don't understand this part. If the TPO is supposed to be 1/10 watt
regardless of router, it shouldn't matter how many antennas there are; all
it would do is make the signal directional.
Post by Roy
The words to look for are "dual band", "MIMO", "AC", and Gigabit
I've had good success with the cheapest TP-Link routers and WAPs. They're
stable, don't get hot, and give very good coverage. But steel and concrete
construction is what I'm up against in several of these old buildings, so
what I was thinking of was some kind of wireless out-of-band distribution
that could be higher power in order to penetrate the walls better. It would
more than likely be something in the SHF range, since the penetration should
be much better, and probably licensed given that it would be over 1/10 watt.
Then the remote units would talk to it and then translate to conventional
wi-fi spectrum and power. I'm thinking there has GOT to be something out
there.
Post by Roy
We have started using Edimax Pro radios and Ubiquiti Unfi with better
results.
I have a friend in LA who used Edimax Pro and said that if he hadn't gotten
a big discount on them he wouldn't have used them at all. Says that not
having an external antenna hindered the signal.
Post by Roy
If you only have one cable and expect total speed in excess of 100Mbps,
you better have Gigabit Ethernet switches. Lots of stories out there with
customers complain about not getting their 150 or 200 Mbps service and and
finding their equipment is only 100Mbps
I don't like the single wire thing. On the other hand the hotel manager
told me he just wants people to have access for mail and web pages, not for
streaming. All the routers and WAPs I put in are 300Mbps. But I'm going to
put in a specialty router than can limit bandwidth per user (based on MAC
address) so that nobody can hog the bandwidth with Bit Torrent or wideband
streaming video.
Roy
2016-10-29 05:00:23 UTC
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Post by David Kaye
Post by Roy
That is no longer true. A WAP with multiple external antennas will have
far better coverage than a cheap WAP with one internal antenna.
I don't understand this part. If the TPO is supposed to be 1/10 watt
regardless of router, it shouldn't matter how many antennas there are; all
it would do is make the signal directional.
Using multiple antennas allow for better transmission and reception and
faster speeds using multipath. It really does work.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIMO

The other "big" thing that is coming is beamforming where the radio
concentrates the antenna on a particular station and then realigns the
antenna to talk to someone else. Less radio energy sent the wrong
direction means more range and/or faster speeds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beamforming
Post by David Kaye
Post by Roy
The words to look for are "dual band", "MIMO", "AC", and Gigabit
Remember that the less time a transmission takes means more time for others
Post by David Kaye
I've had good success with the cheapest TP-Link routers and WAPs. They're
stable, don't get hot, and give very good coverage. But steel and concrete
construction is what I'm up against in several of these old buildings, so
what I was thinking of was some kind of wireless out-of-band distribution
that could be higher power in order to penetrate the walls better. It would
more than likely be something in the SHF range, since the penetration should
be much better, and probably licensed given that it would be over 1/10 watt.
Then the remote units would talk to it and then translate to conventional
wi-fi spectrum and power. I'm thinking there has GOT to be something out
there.
The higher the frequency the less penetration. There is no magic bullet.
Post by David Kaye
Post by Roy
We have started using Edimax Pro radios and Ubiquiti Unfi with better
results.
I have a friend in LA who used Edimax Pro and said that if he hadn't gotten
a big discount on them he wouldn't have used them at all. Says that not
having an external antenna hindered the signal.
There are multiple models. The Edimax WAP1750 has three external
antennas while the OAP1750 has six.
Post by David Kaye
Post by Roy
If you only have one cable and expect total speed in excess of 100Mbps,
you better have Gigabit Ethernet switches. Lots of stories out there with
customers complain about not getting their 150 or 200 Mbps service and and
finding their equipment is only 100Mbps
I don't like the single wire thing. On the other hand the hotel manager
told me he just wants people to have access for mail and web pages, not for
streaming. All the routers and WAPs I put in are 300Mbps. But I'm going to
put in a specialty router than can limit bandwidth per user (based on MAC
address) so that nobody can hog the bandwidth with Bit Torrent or wideband
streaming video.
The Mikrotik software has a feature called PCQ which would do the
bandwidth limiting usually based on IP address. It can also be set so
each user gets a "fair" share while a "hog" can use unused bandwidth for
other users.

http://wiki.mikrotik.com/wiki/Manual:Queues_-_PCQ

Have you looked at mounting the WAPs on the outside? You could probably
cover the top 2-3 floors from roof mounted units alone. Use POE radios
to minimize wiring. Another trick would be to put the radios in the
parking lot (on the light poles?) with directional antennas pointing at
the building.
David Kaye
2016-10-29 21:30:41 UTC
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Post by Roy
Using multiple antennas allow for better transmission and reception and
faster speeds using multipath. It really does work.
I'll be damned! So multipath is good for something after all. Changing
directions on the fly does make sense.
Post by Roy
The other "big" thing that is coming is beamforming where the radio
concentrates the antenna on a particular station and then realigns the
antenna to talk to someone else. Less radio energy sent the wrong
direction means more range and/or faster speeds.
I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one. This certainly explains
why a wi-fi signal strength program keeps showing levels going up and down
while the tablet is perfectly still.
Post by Roy
The higher the frequency the less penetration. There is no magic bullet.
Hmmm...I have to think about that. I found that UHF TV seemed to penetrate
into homes better than VHF. Can't really test that any longer, though.
Post by Roy
The Mikrotik software has a feature called PCQ which would do the
bandwidth limiting usually based on IP address. It can also be set so
each user gets a "fair" share while a "hog" can use unused bandwidth for
other users.
I use a router from a company called Guest-Internet. It can limit bandwidth
up and/or down via MAC address, have superusers, time schedules, password
sales, all kinds of stuff. It works really well.
Post by Roy
Have you looked at mounting the WAPs on the outside? You could probably
cover the top 2-3 floors from roof mounted units alone. Use POE radios to
minimize wiring. Another trick would be to put the radios in the parking
lot (on the light poles?) with directional antennas pointing at the
building.
Outside is not available. The hotel is sandwiched between two other
buildings, there is no parking lot, etc. The main problem is the post-1906
construction when they made sure the buildings weren't going to fall down.
Heavy duty steel beam and concrete construction throughout makes it a
challenge.

Thanks for all the info!
sms
2016-10-31 19:43:35 UTC
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On 10/29/2016 2:30 PM, David Kaye wrote:

<snip>
Post by David Kaye
Outside is not available. The hotel is sandwiched between two other
buildings, there is no parking lot, etc. The main problem is the post-1906
construction when they made sure the buildings weren't going to fall down.
Heavy duty steel beam and concrete construction throughout makes it a
challenge.
Thanks for all the info!
My recommendation was also going to be for outdoor POE access points.
Just outdoor antennas are not enough because of antenna cable losses.

What about the front and rear of the building since the sides are not
available?

<https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0036VO394>

When Cupertino had free city-wide Wi-Fi I put in an outdoor access point
and it worked well. But the speeds were so slow and the business case so
bad, that it was all shut down after a year
<http://www.mercurynews.com/2008/06/10/wireless-internet-company-serving-cupertino-sunnyvale-shutting-down/>.

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David Kaye
2016-11-01 06:40:43 UTC
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Post by sms
What about the front and rear of the building since the sides are not
available?
There are no rooms on the entry end; it's stairway and elevator. On the
back end the building is flush to the sidewalk. It's one of those typical
SF hotel buildings where every inch counts.

I did get things working pretty well. I put in a new TP-Link 841 router/WAP
(my favorite, I have bought dozens and dozens of them!) to replace a WAP. I
moved the WAP (a TP-Link 901) from the center of the hallway to the north
end.

I removed two wireless extenders which simply don't work well in this
building from the first floor and replaced with a TP-Link Archer C50 and
another 901 WAP at the north end. So now all routers and WAPs are wired in.
The signal is all over the place!

Rather than use the same SSID the person who had put in the system before me
gave individual floor numbers to the WAPs. I continued and refined it, so
that any floor will have the A router in the center and N and S WAPs in the
north and south hallways respectively. So, 3S gets its feed from 3A on the
3rd floor. I'd prefer to have everything have one SSID but the management
likes the individual SSIDs.

Downtown SF apartments and hotels are just jam-packed with wi-fi signals,
and what's worse is that they come and go, so what's clear one day is
congested the next. But the wireless repeaters/extenders just can't cope
with this. For one, they're sending and receiving on the same channel,
meaning that bandwidth is de facto cut in half. And the path to the
tenant's computer may be fine but the path to the router congested, making
the connection useless.

When in doubt wire it.

Oh, and don't get me started on EOP. EOP simply won't go across different
circuits, probably because circuit breakers act as chokes and kill the high
frequencies. That was something else I'd tried. Works fine in homes where
you're going from bedroom to bedroom and the outlets are on the same
circuit. But in a hotel? Forget it.

<phew!> Well, it works now and I'm finished with this project.

Now I've got to figure out why I had to get towed off the Bay Bridge
tonight. Dead alternator or regulator. If you want to see your life flash
before your eyes, get stuck in the left lane of the bridge and watch the
traffic behind you barely escape hitting you.... <aaarrrrgggghhh!>
Roy
2016-11-02 04:59:36 UTC
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Post by David Kaye
.
I did get things working pretty well. I put in a new TP-Link 841 router/WAP
(my favorite, I have bought dozens and dozens of them!) to replace a WAP. I
moved the WAP (a TP-Link 901) from the center of the hallway to the north
end.
TP-Link 841 is 2.4 Ghz B/G/N only and not MIMO.. Five year old
technology? At least the TL-901 is MIMO but still not AC or dual band.
David Kaye
2016-11-02 21:26:46 UTC
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TP-Link 841 is 2.4 Ghz B/G/N only and not MIMO.. Five year old technology?
At least the TL-901 is MIMO but still not AC or dual band.
The 841s are in the center of the main hallways and have had no complaints.
The 901s are on the fringes. I just didn't have enough of them. Customer
feedback as of today is that everybody is happy. I plan a walkthrough next
week to see if everything is holding up.

As for my choice of routers I base my choice on stability, running cool, and
easy configuration. But I also have base my choices on price since my
clients only budget X dollars on any given project.

The TP-Link routers and WAPs have been remarkably stable and cool running,
since many installations have been up near the ceiling in non-vented
hallways. The products are always available, too.

I'm impressed so far with the TP-Link Archer C50 and C7, so in my next bulk
purchase I'll likely get one or the other. I have a the C50 in the center
of the main hallway on the first floor, so it's a good test unit. I plan to
look at the log next time I stop by and see how many people actually take
advantage of the 5GHz signal.
n***@sbcglobal.net
2016-11-02 19:48:16 UTC
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Post by David Kaye
Post by sms
What about the front and rear of the building since the sides are not
available?
I removed two wireless extenders which simply don't work well in this
building from the first floor and replaced with a TP-Link Archer C50 and
another 901 WAP at the north end. So now all routers and WAPs are wired in.
Range extenders also don't work well with streaming video which residents will want working. They actually slow down streaming.
David Kaye
2016-11-02 21:33:01 UTC
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Post by n***@sbcglobal.net
Range extenders also don't work well with streaming video which residents
will want working. They actually slow down streaming.
Yeah, though with 75 users and 100 Mbps speed I think there'll be some
slowdown. It's a residential hotel situation, where the management company
wants to make wi-fi available but doesn't want to spend $800 a month for
highest speed service. They say that if the tenants want that much they can
have their own private service installed.

Yeah, for basic web surfing and email range extenders should work fine,
given that they halve the throughput. But the main problem was signal due
to the huge number of wi-fi WAPs in the neighborhood. When I checked the
other day I could count 67 signals, nearly all with usuable signals. Trying
to space an extender between a router and a tenant and not get interference
at one end or the other is an impossibility.

Until now I had only used extenders for poolsides at Hillsborough estates
and between a ranch house and a barn in Pescadero, etc. (I have some
far-flung and fairly unique customers.)
Mike Stump
2016-11-02 23:04:56 UTC
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But the main problem was signal due to the huge number of wi-fi WAPs
in the neighborhood. When I checked the other day I could count 67
signals, nearly all with usuable signals.
:-( I'm still hoping that we'll evolve wifi into somehting
cooperative, mesh capable, failover capable with default public
routing to the internet. I wanted that sort of protocol on 5-6
channels of the old TV spectrum and you could _only_ use it if you
routed to the internet (or mesh to someone else that could). Also,
cooperative power boosting, so that you can go 20 (or so) miles, if no
one else was around. Think farm in Montana. But, once the density of
people starts to climb, most of the units would back off on power, and
the distance you'd have to go would drop and the power needed to go
there would drop as well. Urban area with 67 stations in 300 feet, no
problem, just keep backing off on power. 1 or 2 might run at 2 mW,
but the rest, the smallest amount of power needed to keep roughly
1/nth of the clients online, where n is roughly the number of nodes
that can sink traffic to the network.

One hard thing to get right, would be enough security to both allow
mostly open access, but if bad actors come along, a way of discovering
that and knocking them out of the system. Not sure we have a solution
to this problem yet, and not sure it's even possible; but I would love
to see an existance proof it is. Maybe the IoT people will advance
the state of the art in this direction, or, maybe we burn them alive
because they are a security nightmare.
Jeff Liebermann
2016-11-04 21:46:22 UTC
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Post by Mike Stump
But the main problem was signal due to the huge number of wi-fi WAPs
in the neighborhood. When I checked the other day I could count 67
signals, nearly all with usuable signals.
:-( I'm still hoping that we'll evolve wifi into somehting
cooperative, mesh capable, failover capable with default public
routing to the internet.
Don't forget auto configuring, dynamic reconfiguration, self-healing,
and possibly timing compensated for large changes in range.
Post by Mike Stump
I wanted that sort of protocol on 5-6
channels of the old TV spectrum and you could _only_ use it if you
routed to the internet (or mesh to someone else that could).
That would be 802.22 and 802.11af
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.11af>
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IEEE_802.22>
Works well in rural areas with few TV stations. Works badly in metro
areas where the requirement to protect occupied TV channels and
commercial or public safety UHF users offers only a few or no
available TV channels. You can check your area at:
<http://whitespaces.spectrumbridge.com/whitespaces/home.aspx>

Incidentally, I just blundered across a page of FCC maps. Kinda
interesting:
<https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/>
At my house in Ben Lomond, I can use 2 channels. At my office in
Santa Cruz, 4 channels. Yech.
Post by Mike Stump
Also,
cooperative power boosting, so that you can go 20 (or so) miles, if no
one else was around.
Increasing power in order to obtain additional range is futile. All
it does it "pollute" large areas with your excessive RF. Instead, a
directional antenna, aimed at your destination, is more efficient and
creates fewer problems. An expansion of the 802.11n concept of beam
steering can probably do the job, although the antennas involved will
be much larger.
Post by Mike Stump
Think farm in Montana.
Right. One farm, one user, one access point, one link. You don't
need mesh, steerable antennas, or much sophistication. Point to point
MIMO links from Ubiquiti will get you 300 Mbits/sec at up to 15 miles
for little cost.
Post by Mike Stump
But, once the density of
people starts to climb, most of the units would back off on power, and
the distance you'd have to go would drop and the power needed to go
there would drop as well. Urban area with 67 stations in 300 feet, no
problem, just keep backing off on power. 1 or 2 might run at 2 mW,
but the rest, the smallest amount of power needed to keep roughly
1/nth of the clients online, where n is roughly the number of nodes
that can sink traffic to the network.
Won't work very well. It violates a method that does work. Automatic
Power Control is used heavily in all cellular systems. The TX power
is set by measuring the RX SNR (signal to noise ratio) and dynamically
adjusting the TX power for some preset SNR level where the link is
known to operate efficiently. When connected to multiple access
points, the TX power level can be different. This is NOT being done
with common wi-fi and is the cause of many interference problem.

Your scheme appears to be based upon system density, where the power
level is adjusted by counting the number of potentially interfering
stations and reducing the TX power by some formula or table. That was
tried by some company that I can't seem to recall when implementing
their proprietary polling system. The object was to maintain a
constant power density over a given area. In theory, it should have
worked, but I don't think they ever got it to work reliably. The big
problem was that the lowest cost route would change almost
continuously as new stations would arrive and disappear. Their
routing protocol couldn't handle it.

Incidentally 67 access points is nothing. If I use a passive sniffer
(Kismet), which will also show client radios and devices, I can often
see hundreds of devices. Whatever scheme you propose should be able
to also handle interference from client radios. This also becomes a
problem with mesh networks, where every node is treated as an access
point.

Take a step backwards and ask yourself WHY you've proposed various
solutions to David Kaye's problem. My guess(tm) is it's because wi-fi
isn't optimized for any particular way it is used. Long distance
point to point wi-fi has very little in common with high density mesh
networks. Such universal mediocrity has done much to improve the
overall usability, where a change to improve one part of the system,
might break other parts.

In this case, the non-optimum problem is that the hotel has a really
marginal CAT5 backhaul. The right way to do the hotel would be a very
low power access point in each room connected to a wireless switch via
CAT5 or fiber. That's unlikely to happen, so we have to invent
elaborate protocol, mesh, and topology schemes to compensate. When
you want cable, they run the coax. When you want POTS, they run the
wires. When you want intercom, they run the wires. But, when you
want wireless, they screw around with all kinds of bizarre schemes to
avoid running the necessary backhaul wires.
Post by Mike Stump
One hard thing to get right, would be enough security to both allow
mostly open access, but if bad actors come along, a way of discovering
that and knocking them out of the system. Not sure we have a solution
to this problem yet, and not sure it's even possible; but I would love
to see an existance proof it is. Maybe the IoT people will advance
the state of the art in this direction, or, maybe we burn them alive
because they are a security nightmare.
To preserve what's left of my sanity, I don't want to enter into an
endless discussion on security.
--
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150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
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