My Practical Mac column in today's Seattle Times walks through the revisions to Apple 2-year-old-plus AirPort wireless networking system, released last week, and which I discussed at some length here a few days ago.
The revision adds support for direct-dialing AOL (useful to millions of Mac dial-up customers), improves aspects of security, supports faster Ethernet, and connects the Base Station and its related AirPort Card to back-end authentication systems used in institutions.
AirPort is just another name for 802.11b or Wi-Fi (it's certified by WECA), and Apple's revision makes it even more so by supporting standard authentication tools (RADIUS, Cisco LEAP), 100 Mbps-only Ethernet networks (through a 10/100 Mpbs autosense port), and longer WEP encryption keys. Apple also told me that they were actively following the issues surrounding 802.11g development.
The support for 128-bit long WEP encryption keys used for network data encryption is long overdue, if only as a way for Mac users to join supposedly safer PC-based networks.
Take it easy when reading this article, you wireless cognoscenti. It's written for a Mac-only audience who want to know how to use systems they already own or are considering buying (hence the name Practical Mac). The audience for this column is probably 50% likely to have a dial-up only connection, where I would guess readers of this site are about 1% or less likely to be in that category.