ClassicStumbler 1.7 scans for all wireless access points in range that are broadcasting their network name (SSID). The display shows a graph and table in text format (both can be turned on or off) showing signal strength, noise strength, signal to noise ratio, the channel of each access point, if other access points are interfering with yours and whether or not access points are providing encrypted, unencrypted, computer-to-computer, or infrastructure type networks. To connect to an access point just double click anywhere on the line in the text area showing its name and a dialog box will open asking you if youd like to connect to it.
ClassicStumbler has a few other options that can be turned off or on:
- show network name
- show signal quality
- use translucency to show signal quality on the graph
- show only networks (turning this off will show every individual base station in every network)
- show only the current network
- use audio feedback to play a sound when an access point comes into or goes out of range
adjustable scan timer so ClassicStumbler will automatically scan between one and however many seconds youd like or have automatic scanning turned off completly.
Comparing ClassicStumbler 1.7 and NetStumbler 0.4 for Windows 2000/XP youll see ClassicStumbler is missing a few features. ClassicStumblers filtering is limited to sorting, it doesnt save any information to a text file (logging), doesnt display as much information about a network as NetStumbler does, there is no GPS support and it won't find access points that are not broadcasting their network name. Luckily, you probably dont need some of these features unless youre trying to break into a network that someone is trying to keep you out of or trying to troubleshoot some advanced wireless problems.
What it The bad means
Filtering means you get to choose which access points will be displayed and which ones will be temporarily hidden. The most important way you would use filtering is to show only the unencrypted access points which are open for you to use. ClassicStumbler does let you click on the Encrypted column heading in the text area and sort False (unencrypted or open) at the top of the list and True (encrypted or blocked) at the bottom. Youll still see all the access points in the graph area because there is no way of sorting the graph and if youre using the graph only option that could cause some confusion and/or annoyance. It would be nice to completely hide the encrypted access points that you cant connect to anyway. Another example would be if youre in an area were a lot of laptop users are connecting to each other wirelessly, hiding or displaying only ad hoc (laptop-to-laptop) networks would be very useful.
Being able to automatically keep track of the information ClassicStumbler would be very valuable. Knowing what happened and when would trouble shooting a lot easier and keeping track of were you found an open access point would make using the internet while on the go a lot easier as well. Not only does NetStumbler do this but it can also save as a comma separated value (CSV) file which can be imported into a database or spread sheet for further use. Im really hoping that future versions of ClassicStumbler will have these features.
The text area doesnt display some of access points information like addresses (MAC, IP, subnet), base station vendor or speed, type of encryption, the beacon interval, the time and date the access point was first and last detected or any extra flags. Most of that information isnt particularly useful to someone whos not trying to break into an encrypted access point. But speed is different. Its really helpful to know if youre connecting to a relatively slow 11Mbps or faster 54Mbps base station, especially if you know its being used by a lot of other people and/or you have a choice of more than one access point.
Obviously if there is no logging there is going to be no GPS support either. Its not very useful to know the location of an access point if youre not going to be able to look it up again later. I dont know much about Macs and GPS so Im not sure how practical it would be for AlkSoft to even try. ClassicStumbler is a freeware program written in someones spare time for the programmers own use and its possible that each and every GPS unit would have to have its own separate driver written for it by that programmer. NetStumbler does has the feature of telling you how far you are to the nearest access point, but since it doesnt give you directions to get to that access point youll still have to use a separate mapping program anyway.
It may be fun to find hidden access points that arent broadcasting their network names but if someone is going to that much trouble they probably dont want you connecting to it. The access point will most likely be encrypted making it impossible for you to connect without a password or hacking tools which, at the moment, arent available for the classic Mac OS.