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Wi-Fi: 21st Century Cat's Whiskers

The new amateur radio? - wireless networking for everybody. And we show you how to build your own antennas.

By Stan Swan

In an age when abbreviations and acronyms abound (not bad alliteration, eh?), it's perhaps very unfortunate that recent computer networking breakthroughs have been christened "Wi-Fi".

Naturally this is often confused with "Hi-Fi" (music) or "Firewire" (high speed data over cable), with attendant frustration! Further mentioning "Blue-tooth" may result in mutterings about the electronic age having gone techno babble mad. But mad or not, this new technology shows much the same mainstream potential as the emerging Internet did in the mid 1990s. Back then, few people knew of "www" - and even less cared!

Wi-Fi, an abbreviation of Wireless Fidelity, refers to low power short range wireless computer data communications, formally specified as IEEE802.11, developed by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

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