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57 posts

Master Geek

#23914 11-Jul-2008 10:10
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Hi all,

Many of you will have heard about a service called Loki, which uses Wifi access points to determine your current location. It works by your computer looking around to see what wifi access points it can see (only needs to see them, not connect to them) and then it looks up a database published by Skyhook Wireless forthe location of those access points.

This service is being used in many devices other than laptops now too. You can buy memory cards for your camera that have the service _built in_. They even detect when the camera is in range of your home access point and upload the photos to your computer. The 1st-gen iPhone also uses this service.

The key reason why I'm posting here is that the service has to know the location of the access points in advance. In the USA, they have vehicles driving around mapping wifi access points. We don't have that here, BUT you can help the service be more useful for everyone by putting in the location of any wifi access points you own or control.

Tell a friend about this.. with the combined power of all geekzone readers, we should be able to get at least sparse coverage of the NZ metro areas!


(I'm not affiliated in any way with Skyhook, BTW)

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225 posts

Master Geek

  #151340 25-Jul-2008 16:04

Looking @ reselling my XNet connection to recoup some of the costs.
Thinking of using the service bundled with the dd-wrt firmware; may be a good forum to punt your own service

Project 4 another day...


57 posts

Master Geek

  #151342 25-Jul-2008 16:07
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A couple of people have pm'ed me asking for details on exactly how to add their wifi access points to the skyhook database.

Basically, you need to know just 2 things:
#1. Exactly where your AP is. I think you'll know this.
#2. Your access point MAC address. The MAC address is an ethernet address (i.e. its six hex bytes separated by colons, e.g. "00:1c:42:00:00:00"), and it has to be the ethernet address of the wireless segment of your network. Most AP's define this on the outside of the original packaging somewhere. On Apple Airport base stations it is called the "Airport ID". Otherwise, go to the AP's admin console and read it off there. Make sure you're getting the MAC address for the wireless segment, and not a wired segment. Otherwise it'll never work (and skyhook can't tell you that this is an error).

Once you have those two pieces of info, go to the URL in the post above, scroll the map around until the target is over the AP location, and then paste the AP MAC address in the box, and bingo.

Within a few hours at most, you should be able to make a query with the Loki toolbar and it will pinpoint you to the exact location.

If we get enough people submitting in NZ, we could have a moderately useful location service... particularly in densely populated spots. Ideally we'd get folks like cafenet hooked in too.


51 posts

Master Geek

  #157661 18-Aug-2008 11:05
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how does this Benefit the person giving up their details ? or is it a "greater good"  type project

57 posts

Master Geek

  #157673 18-Aug-2008 11:30
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Well, one direct and immediate benefit if you have a machine which you move around a lot (e.g. a laptop) you can install the Loki tool and related tools so that when you bring the laptop home, Loki realises that you're home (via the MAC address of your access point) and can do location-relevant stuff, like synchronise files with other machines on your network, start a print queue, start big downloads etc.

Once the locations of a bunch of wifi APs are in there, you start to get a location-enabled machine. E.g., if you accurately know the locations of the wifi APs in your office or school, you could enter these (they don't have to be entered by the owner of the AP) and suddenly you've got a laptop which knows automatically whether its at home or work/school.

Location-based stuff is awesome.

Actually, looking at the Loki map, I see that quite a bit of Christchurch is now covered! They must have deployed a car to scan locations actively... this is great!

51 posts

Master Geek

  #157676 18-Aug-2008 11:40
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I see the point now

My Wifi will be staying private though. SSID Broadcast = off

57 posts

Master Geek

  #157683 18-Aug-2008 11:54
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I should point out that Skyhook's XPS doesn't actually join or use your network in any way!! Using this doesn't mean opening your network at all.

It works by using your wifi APs address. This is always broadcast by your access point, regardless of what protections you put on people joining your network. Things like WAP/WPA, SSID hiding, MAC address access control stop people joining your network. But every wifi access point always broadcasts some information, and it is this info that is used.

If you're not comfortable with your access point broadcasting information, you shouldn't be using wifi at all. That's the reality of wireless networking.

177 posts

Master Geek

  #157684 18-Aug-2008 11:57
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I can't get the app to work with firefox, says it wont install becuase it doesn't have secure updates or something?


57 posts

Master Geek

  #157686 18-Aug-2008 12:15
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freakalad: Looking @ reselling my XNet connection to recoup some of the costs.
Thinking of using the service bundled with the dd-wrt firmware; may be a good forum to punt your own service

Project 4 another day...

I'm not affiliated with Skyhook at all. I just think its a great service. One thing it is making useful is the first-gen iPhone I bought. I am now getting location based-services all around Christchurch.

This is the next thing I'm going to buy: it enables photo geotagging in any camera..

51 posts

Master Geek

#157687 18-Aug-2008 12:17
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If you're not comfortable with your access point broadcasting information, you shouldn't be using wifi at all. That's the reality of wireless networking.

ORLY  - id still like to keep all my details and client details private, though its a good idea if you ae into that sort of thing.

13 posts


  #162160 4-Sep-2008 16:02
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I was doing similar in Sydney, and I've entered my father's AP in Queenstown.
Then I realised it was already working... in Sydney (centre, west, east, and north), but not South.
Brisbane and Melbourne are also being mapped. But, like NZ, we are officially unsupported.

You can see coverage maps here:

I just checked Auckland and Wellington - nothing shown. But Christchurch has someone mapping it out properly.

ps. If you want to hide your access point, you can still enter in your neighbours access point. That way when you're at home it'll see your neighbours access point and use that to identify where you are

pps. If you're using Loki and it fails to locate you, it allows you to enter in your current address.
Does this update the SkyHookWireless database? (or just give you a current map).
edit: It does not. However Loki for Windows has a "fine tune location" option apparently which does this.

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