It’s a simple fact that in our new technological age, products become obsolete and/or die after a few years. As a child of the 1960s this is a hard concept for me to grasp. I used to fix the television set in the frat house by extracting all of the vacuum tubes, marking their locations, and heading to the hardware store. I would test each tube on the “tube-tester” machine to find the bad one; then I would buy a new one and replace the tube, bringing the TV back to life. The boys of Beta Theta Pi at Emory U thought I was a genius.

But we can’t do that anymore. Products simply die or become so difficult to function that users must replace the device. How many PCs/laptops have you burned through in the last 10 years? I probably have discarded 20 or more computers in the last 25 years.

But there was one product line that never let me down — until now. I was a very early user of Palm Pilot devices, and have kept my addresses, schedules, phone numbers and more on the Palm Desktop software and various Palm handhelds for at least 15 years.

But then my last Palm Pilot started to experience charging problems. I guess the battery in those devices wasn’t designed to function for seven-plus years. When the battery started to die, the device would issue beeping sounds. I went online to buy a new Palm Pilot only to find that the parent company had been swallowed by Hewlett Packard and then put to sleep. No new Palm Pilot handhelds are available.

It was clearly time for me to enter the modern world of the smartphone. I pilfered a Samsung Android-based phone from a goodie bag my wife had received at a convention, and I went looking on the Internet for some kind of conversion software that would transfer my existing Palm info onto the Samsung. I really didn’t want to have to enter 600-plus names, numbers, email addresses, etc. into the new device.

There is a software company called Companion Link (www.companion that provides conversion software to put the Palm info onto the Android. So I bought the software and tried to make it work without initial success. After a quick call to Companion Link’s tech support, I was able to connect the smartphone with a USB cable to my PC and get the job done.

However, I wasn’t out of the woods yet. After the initial download dump, every time I tried to sync my handheld and my PC via USB cable, it failed and I had to call tech support again. (As an aside, I highly recommend this company. Their tech support is great; they know what they’re doing.) On my latest call, the technician told me to set up the smartphone to sync with the software via Wi-Fi, and to discontinue using the USB cable. He was right, and now my connections between my Android smartphone and my Palm software are reliable and trouble-free.

What is the lesson? It is now a Wi-Fi world, and in some cases wireless Ethernet is a better method of communication than using a hardwired cable. This is hard for me to believe, but it’s true.

Now is the time for our industry to fully embrace Wi-Fi connections for IP cameras and other devices, because that’s the way the world is going. When planning to use Wi-Fi devices, security dealers have the potential option of using the client’s existing Wi-Fi. This is certainly doable; however, with the proliferation of personal Wi-Fi devices it is possible that the addition of IP cameras might slow down the functioning of all of the other Wi-Fi users’ devices, such as smart phones, tablets, and Vizio smart television boxes.

There is now a simple set of devices from D-Link ( that can quickly add a new and separate 802.11n Wi-Fi access point to a customer’s network, allowing security dealers to segregate the channel and local bandwidth of IP cameras from the other Wi-Fi devices that the client uses.

The DHP-311V uses D-Link’s proven Ethernet over AC power lines technology and adds a Wi-Fi access point (WAP) along with wired Ethernet capability. Technicians can program the D-Link WAP to a different SSID name, providing encryption coding, and also set the D-Link WAP to a different Wi-Fi channel than the one that the customer’s existing WAP is using. This segregates the Wi-Fi IP security/video stream from the client’s other devices, and should cause no additional congestion on their local network.

If a tech wants to get fancy, he or she also can set the D-Link WAP to use “MAC Address Filtering.” If this function is selected, the technician programs the MAC addresses of the security cameras/devices into the WAP, and only those devices can communicate through the D-Link device.

One of the benefits of these D-Link AC/Ethernet devices is that they actually test themselves when plugged into two AC outlets, with the LEDs on the devices indicating the bandwidth capability of a specific AC plug-to-plug connection. These devices are foolproof — I have been using them in my home for my multiple cameras for over two years with great results.

This WAP/AC-Ethernet adapter set sells for less than $100 at your local distributor, and is worth every penny. It’s a Wi-Fi world and now we quickly and easily provide Wi-Fi coverage without pulling any new cable. More information is available at

Were you wondering about the fate of my old Palm Pilot handheld? I charged it one last time, and tossed into my combination product storage/junk closet where it persisted to beep at me for at least 10 days. It didn’t want to die — kind of like Poe’s “The Telltale Heart.”


 David Engebretson is the president of Slayton Solutions Ltd., Chicago, providing online and instructor-led training on fiber optics and  networking electronic security systems. His latest book, Technician’s Guide to Physical Security Networking: Enterprise Solutions is a fully illustrated manual describing high-end IP physical security applications. Visit for ordering information.