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Old Jul 17, 2004, 11:13 PM   #1
MattG
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Airport Express...my PC can't connect!

Hey everyone...got my Airport Express last week. I've had no problems connecting to it with my Mac. My Dell laptop is another story...

If I have *no* security enabled, the Dell connects just fine. However, once I enable WEP encryption, the Dell cannot connect, and I have verified several times that I have the encryption code typed in correctly. The Dell will not grab an IP. My Powerbook on the other hand is able to connect just fine when I enter the encryption code. Do I need to do something special to the Dell (or to the Airport Express) to make the Dell connect? Is there a certain way I need to type in the encryption code or something?!
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Old Jul 17, 2004, 11:38 PM   #2
MikeLaRiviere
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WEP

What kind of WEP encryption do you have enabled (what bit)?

Try using 128 bit encryption.

Mike LaRiviere
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Old Jul 18, 2004, 12:18 AM   #3
zv470
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If you've set it to WPA, use WEP128 instead. WPA isn't a standard, every vendor has their own implementation of it. Also try disabling security, then add your Dell to the list of computer allowed to access the AExpress (under: access control), then enable WEP. I don't know, that's just what I'd try. Good luck.
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Old Jul 20, 2004, 07:11 PM   #4
WCat
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zv470
If you've set it to WPA, use WEP128 instead. WPA isn't a standard, every vendor has their own implementation of it. Also try disabling security, then add your Dell to the list of computer allowed to access the AExpress (under: access control), then enable WEP. I don't know, that's just what I'd try. Good luck.
That's good advice, but it sounds like you've already tried this. The problem is now how to get some security back on.

By the way, WPA is a standard but not everybody has it if their gear is more than a year (or so) old. Not a problem if you have Apple, since they pushed it out in an Airport update quite a while ago, and all new gear ships with WPA working fine (including Airport Express). So, that's correct that it's not "standard" on lots of products, but it is now a required "standard" on new Wi-Fi certified products.

The problem is probably due to how different manufacturers implement the user interface for wireless security, making it harder than it should be for most of us to set up cross-platform (and even same platform) security. Some require special checkboxes with terms that aren't the same meaning, like "Shared Secret". What's that?

My advice is to try and get it running on 40-bit WEP, then walk away! It's good enough for home security unless you live near somebody with time on his hands and a desire to hack your WEP key. Not likely in my experience. It's really not much more secure than 128-bit WEP. I've hacked them both (purely in the interest of science ), and 128-bit takes just a bit more time.

FWIW, my brother, another Mac fan, was given a Dell laptop at work about 4 months ago, and was told that's what he must use. He had a terrible time getting 128-bit WEP to work with his Airport Extreme at home. Finally got it going with some help from IT at work (who were fairly clueless), but he has a visible reaction every time somebody mentions Dells "True Mobile" WLAN software. He hates it. It's much harder than it should have to be.

Try a simple 40-bit key. Try entering "HELLO" without the quotes--it's 5 ASCII characters--or try "1A2B3C4D5E" without the quotes. It's 10 HEX characters. Using uppercase avoids the problem of some WLAN software not recognizing HEX characters in lowercase. Stupid but true. Not a problem for Apple, but my SanDisk WLAN card for my IPAQ insists that HEX characters are uppercase only.

If either of those keys work, then change a few characters to be more secure, and you should be done. Let me know what you find.

Regards,

WCat
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Various Airport, Extreme & Express products
20 GB 4G iPod (thanks, wife!)

Last edited by WCat; Jul 20, 2004 at 08:17 PM.
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Old Jul 20, 2004, 07:39 PM   #5
MattG
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WCat
Please forgive my sticking my nose in here, but minor correction about WPA. In fact it IS a standard, but many manufacturers have not provided updated WPA firmware or software to users of their products. That might mean that if you bought an 802.11 product more than a year ago, or one that has sat on the reseller's shelf for a long time, you may not be able to use WPA unless you've recently updated your product's firmware. In that sense it is correct to say that it's not standard issue on everybody's laptops or wireless cards yet.

The fact is that the Wi-Fi alliance now requires WPA interoperability testing for newly-certified 802.11 products (started in summer of 2003). Here's a link to their page: http://www.wi-fi.org/OpenSection/protected_access.asp

So, I agree with zv470 that you ought to try WEP, but I suggest that 40-bit might even be a better place to start. If you use 128-bit, be aware that it's not much more secure from hacking, and 40-bit passwords can often be a bit more cross-platform compatible. Just like zv470 said, I ALWAYS recommend to people that if they're having WLAN problems, first turn off any security. If things begin to work, then try 40-bit WEP. If it still isn't broken, you may want to stop there. It keeps all but determined hacker-types out, and encrypts your packets to prevent simple eavesdropping. For most home users, it's secure enough. I've hacked WEP packets, and it's a lot of trouble to do, requiring capture of lots of your packets first.

Also remember that just about all banking, credit card purchases, etc., are also using SSL encryption on the web interface you use (those begin with https://), so you have an additional, much more secure layer of encryption happening over your wireless connection in addition to WEP or WPA.

My $.02 (or more--sorry for long post),

WCat
Hey everyone--thanks for your responses.

I didn't even try 128-bit encryption, and honestly I don't want to. Too long of a code to remember. I'm really not doing this to secure credit card purchases or anything like that. I'm just trying to keep neighbors off of my wireless connection

I was using the 40-bit, and it worked fine with my Mac, just not the Dell. For now, I ended up making it a closed network so the SSID isn't broadcasted, that way at least nobody can connect to it without knowing the name of the network.
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Old Jul 20, 2004, 08:22 PM   #6
WCat
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Sorry for weird editing on my "2 for 1" responses!

Guys:

I was stuck in several phone calls while I totally re-edited my response. Looks strange! Again sorry for all the extra bits!

WCat
__________________
17" PB 1.33 GHz 1 GB RAM
2 GHz DP G5 PowerMac 2 GB RAM
iBook G4 12" 640 kB RAM
Various Airport, Extreme & Express products
20 GB 4G iPod (thanks, wife!)
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Old Jul 20, 2004, 09:01 PM   #7
blackpeter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MattG
Hey everyone...got my Airport Express last week. I've had no problems connecting to it with my Mac. My Dell laptop is another story...

If I have *no* security enabled, the Dell connects just fine. However, once I enable WEP encryption, the Dell cannot connect, and I have verified several times that I have the encryption code typed in correctly. The Dell will not grab an IP. My Powerbook on the other hand is able to connect just fine when I enter the encryption code. Do I need to do something special to the Dell (or to the Airport Express) to make the Dell connect? Is there a certain way I need to type in the encryption code or something?!
Perhaps you can try putting a $ in front of the WEP key. First on the AX's key. If that doesn't work, try in front of the Dell's key.
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Old Jul 21, 2004, 03:31 PM   #8
jtown
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tfaz1
Perhaps you can try putting a $ in front of the WEP key. First on the AX's key. If that doesn't work, try in front of the Dell's key.
This advice is probably on the right track. Seems like every wireless vendor has their own syntax for entering the code. Some want it in quotes if you're entering plaintext, some want the $ (or some other symbol) if you're entering the hexidecimal codes, some have a drop-down or button menu that lets you specify which type of code you're entering.

Read the manual for the Dell and it should tell you how to specify which type of code is being entered. It sounds like the AX and mac are already set up right. It's just a matter of entering the code properly in the Dell.
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