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So, this topic came up in another Thread, but we were kicked out, so I'll summarize it here to start things off. (non-quoted sections are responses from yours truly)

QUOTE (Doctor Funkenstein)
I'd love it if you could have multiple networks going and be able to shut one down that's under attack while maintaining your others.

I don't see why you can't do this (characters set up a phony PAN all the time and keep their real one Hidden), but they couldn't share any devices whatsoever (Image Link, Ear buds, etc) and still be secure.

QUOTE (Doctor Funkenstein)
Oh, it'd be great if you could separate them completely. I just don't see how you can and still have interoperability (ie, with you being the "device" that connects everything together).

Now having a cheap commlink on you that's turned on but with which you're not personally networked to (ie, it's doing what it needs to do and you're checking up on it the old fashioned way; through the standard non-DNI interface), that's fine and that's what most people seem to be doing when they have one. Well, while simultaneously having their PAN completely skinlinked with wireless connectivity turned off, that is.

Well, I'm assuming that you could run one PAN either totally internally though cyber or through a datajack/skinlink combo with an external commlink, and another wirelessly through separate accessories utilizing a separate 'trode net.

You might not be able to access them both at the exact same instant, but I don't see any reason why they couldn't both be operational.

QUOTE (Doctor Funkenstein)
Well yeah, that's the thing. The moment you do connect to them at the same time, game over; it's all one network. You can have wireless devices that aren't connected to your PAN, but that means you can't operate them through that PAN either. You have to either rely on old fashioned controls and interfaces or hook it up to your PAN and use your standard DNI controls. You still only ever have one PAN; you're just connecting and disconnecting devices as you see fit.

Maybe I'm not explaining what I am picturing quite right.

I see it as two seperate networks. The only thing they would have in common is your brain, one connected via datajack (or internal commlink) and another connected via either a 'trode net or datajack (if an Internal commlink was used in the first option).

Come to think of it, I see no reason why you couldn't set up two distinct networks utilizing two separate datajacks. As above, the only thing they have in common as far as networking is your actual gray matter, which in my opinion can't be hacked to 'make a connection'.

I could foresee concentration or cognition problems if you try to actually access and process data from both networks at the same time (good time for the Attention Coprocessor?), but otherwise the networks should run simultaneously and distinctly separate from each other.

Am I wrong? If so, where?
Ol' Scratch
Maybe I'm having trouble with the definition of "PAN." Isn't a PAN a personal area network? Meaning it represents everything a character is hooked up to and talking to one another through? Thus if you connect any one device to the PAN -- ie, jack into it -- anything else connected to that character is also connected to that device through his PAN. The character is essentially the "hub" or the "router" or whatever else you want to call it. Everything's communicating through him.

Which is why you can't have multiple PANs. You are the PAN.

What you can do, however, is have devices hooked up to one another and not be jacked into them. You're simply limited to communicating with them through the old school methods of vid screens, roll-out keyboards, and similar input/output devices. The moment you jack into it with DNI, bam, it's part of your PAN.

So... where am I going wrong with this train of thought? I admit I haven't fully absorbed the Matrix rules yet. I keep trying, but a combination of my severe dyslexia (now you know why I edit so often) and the complicated way things are explained keep bitchslapping me around.
I think the problem may be that you are picturing the person/character as the hub of the PAN. I believe that it is in fact the Commlink that is the hub of the PAN, and the PAN encompasses everything networked to that Commlink.

If you have two, totally separate Commlinks with two sets of peripherals linked up separately to each, then the only thing they would share would be your brain. I don't believe that it is possible to hack the actual gray matter of the brain to make the connection between the two, totally separate networks/PANs.

I wouldn't have a problem allowing such a multi-network/PAN setup, especially if multiple datajacks are involved, but would definitely adjudicate penalties to concentration or cognition when both networks/PANs are being accessed simultaneously.
Ol' Scratch
If it's just the commlink, someone couldn't walk up to you, plug into your (say) datajack, and hack you. A commlink is just the most common form of a wireless access point to your PAN, making it the most vulnerable place to attack your PAN.

I think the difference is how we see a PAN. I could very well be wrong, but I don't see how you can still be able to hack into someone if they simply throw their commlink away yet are still running wireless, be it through a microtransciever or a non-skinlinked device like a pair of electronic glasses or something.

EDIT: Actually, SR4 p. 19 does in fact say a commlink is the genuine hub. I wonder how you can be using any other wireless devices without one then? If it's what's connecting everything together (as the reference says), that means even a datajack is useless without a commlink, no?
The way I see it, the body is just the means to transmitt data by skinlink, like the "ether" is the means to transmit data through wireless means.

Just as you have several wireless networks sharing the same area, different networks can share the same "body". As long as the hubs to which the different pieces are subscribed are not connected they are not connected either.
To make things clearer: a PAN is a Personal Area Network.
It can be anything as long as there is a (computer) network that's limited to the vicinity of an individual.

For example if I'm working on my computer on my computer is connected to my printer with bluetooth, then I've got my computer and my printer in my PAN (a WPAN (Wireless PAN) actually, in constrast to a wired PAN which will use USB for example).
If I've got a phone connected to my PDA (to connect it to the internet) and my PDA connected to my bluetooth earphones, I've got a PAN with 3 nodes. (I've heard some people calling that a BAN: Body Area Network, which is even more restrictive than the PAN)
If I've got my phone and connect it to the internet, I don't have a PAN, as there's no personal network.

The way things are today, most PAN will use Bluetooth (though IR and wifi can be used too) and Bluetooth works with one master device controlling slave devices (which you'll call a piconet). A slave device can be controlled by two master devices (but right now it doesn't work that well) to group together piconets, forming a scatternet.

Why am I explaining all this? Because not only it might help some to get a grasp of what a PAN exactly is, but also because it's possible (and strongly suggested) that the PAN you have in Shadowrun also work in a master/slave configuration (as opposed to a peer to peer ad-hoc network for example) which means that your commlink will be the hub of your PAN and you'll never have two elements of your PAN communicating together without going through the commlink.
It might also means that you need a commlink to set up a PAN, although it'd surprising if non commlink nodes weren't able of being master nodes (but it doesn't mean that they have the ability to control these other nodes: even if I can setup a network with my headset as the master node and my printer as a slave node, it doesn't mean that I will be able to control my printer with my headset).

Another important thing you can gather from actual PAN is that you can have two PAN at the same time. For example your computer is connected to your printer with a USB cable and your music player is still connected to your bluetooth headset. It's even possible to have two distinct WPAN... theoretically at least (sharing the few available frequencies can be a pain). You've got clever schemes that can allow you to have two distinct networks, and it's even possible to hardwire it in the devices.
I guess that in 2070 most devices are made to be universally compatible (it's already the case today) so that you can set them up to work with any other devices, but it's still possible to hardwire the spreading codes so that you can't modify it.

What use is that? It means that if you hardwire the codes used by your devices, you can have two different PANs and make sure that nobody will be able to get a device from one PAN to connect to the other one.

EDIT: Or you can simply hardwire the frequencies used by each PAN, making sure that devices from PAN 1 can't access frequencies from PAN 2.
The Jopp
The PAN is simply a Commlink+Subscribed Devices, it's that simple.

As long as you have multiple commlinks with different devices subscribed to each then they are separate PAN's.

The PERSONA on the other hand is unique and there can never be more than one.
The persona can, however, be in multiple PANs at the same time.
The Jopp
QUOTE (Wasabi)
The persona can, however, be in multiple PANs at the same time.

Yes of course, but if they stay in one and use mundane means like keyboard to input commands to the other PAN then it is isolated from the Persona.
What kills me is that everything here makes perfect sense... but I'm still totally confused.
Aristotle, the confusion is understandable. You have a lot of paranoid people that don't want their PAN hacked. They don't feel comfortable having everything in one node behind a Firewall Rating 6...they feel it is not secure enough.

So, they basically are adding more security by making everything more complex (some may say, more than it needs to be).

I tend to think that, using the ratings 1-6, abstract all this. So the super secure, multiple-PAN, looped through a dolphin, a satellite and through 14 datajacks on your pet mice, can all simply be described as Rating 6 firewall, and really doesn't need anymore detail than that.

But, everyone's mileage varies here on this...for some, rating 6 isn't good enough and other, more complex and confusing, ways must be found:)
As a GM I like rating as abstraction. As a player I crave uber complicated multi tiered personal systems, while I simultaneously draft rules for virtual machines...

Honestly though, multiple PANs are totally legal, but once two devices are subscribed to each other it's all one PAN. Simple, and reflects real world networks. Granted, with the ubiquitous wireless martix the two PANs do in fact talk to each other on some level, the difference is the ease of hacking that comes with having the PANs share a common device which can act as a gateway into both.

That's the concern with sharing your PANs with the team hacker and why it's almost as import to watch your back while running as it is to run overwatch. In our games a designated hacker frequently will handle overwatch while the team technomancer handles network security. Being able to thread# an intruder is a huge help and quickly plugs any leaks.

You know those Comcast commercials with the monkey that comes out and bashes the intruder withy a hammer? Just like that.

Alternatively sprites or even agents can fill the same role, and should, it's called using IC. An agent with it's own commlink can cruise around your teams PAN with instructions to throw up the alert if it sees trouble, and with a rating around 6 it should be able to find anything short of a technomancer. Which is why you have one acting as spider/monkey on your network.
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