Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

How To Protect Your Wi-Fi (and other items)

Folks, there’s no good (tech) news, but (as usual) plenty of scary headlines. So I urge you to get proactive and harden your wireless router (as per the article below).

Bad News Sampler Platter: (Just today’s)

* Malicious Minecraft apps affect 600,000 Android Users

“So you love Minecraft? You might want to be very careful before downloading the cheats for the popular Minecraft game from Google Play Store. Nearly 3 Million users have downloaded malicious Minecraft Android applications for their smartphone and tablets from the Google Play store, security researchers warned.Read more..

* Android ransomware distributed to English speakers in spam campaign

* Report: IRS breach impacts more than 100,000 taxpayers

Okay. So here’s today’s main article: How to stop Wi-Fi hackers cold

When someone hacked a neighbor’s Wi-Fi router to engage in nefarious activities, the only effective defense was to plug a widespread WPS vulnerability.” Read more..

Please note that while the technique advised in the article will not make you bulletproof; but it will “harden” your gear to where you will no longer be quite the ‘low hanging fruit’. If you do not know how to access your router/WAP’s Control Panel, look at (and note) the unit’s Make/Model and do a search for “Make/Model+update firmware”. Go to the search result that contains the manufacturer’s URL (i.e., netgear.com if yours is a Netgear). (You DO look at URL’s before you click.. Right?)

Today’s quote:Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Copyright 2007-2015 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

May 27, 2015 Posted by | consumer electronics, cyber crime, Google, hackers, hardware, how to, networking, News, ransomware, routers and WAPs, security, tech | Leave a comment

Improve Your Wireless (Signal) Strength For Mere Pennies

How can I boost my wireless signal strength?

Folks, in the past few weeks, I have been asked many times about what can be done to improve the wireless signal produced by a home router/WAP. A weak signal slows you down, can cause “connectivity issues” (aka “disconnects”) and – if you have roommates streaming videos/”downloading” – make your “web surfing experience” an exercise in frustration. So I think it’s time to repost this How To article..

Like so many things in life, there is no one, single, best answer; but, methods for achieving a stronger wireless signal, at a greater distance, include:

  • Replace your router’s firmware with a Linux-based system that allows for “antenna gain” adjustment. (Advanced) — free (some risk).
  • Add a “reflector” (Simple) — free. (and.. today’s video!)
  • Replace your antenna with a “signal boosting” (aka “range extending”) antenna, or a directional antenna. (Simple) — $25 -$50. (ths assumes your WAP has external, removable antennas.)
  • Upgrade to a Wireless N router. (Simple) — $100 (or less).

I recommend the last option. Wireless N routers are quite reasonably priced now (as low as $40). But, if you have some tinfoil, scissors, and glue, I can tell you that a parabolic reflector will improve your signal (aka “gain”) .. in one direction, and it won’t cost you much more than a few minutes of your time to try it!

This short video tutorial demonstrates:

And the template is here, http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template2/index.html

And, you may want to look around the Internet some. There are, literally, thousands of these wireless signal boost “hacks” and tips. (No.. I never did try the Pringle’s can..)

Today’s quote:The important thing is not to stop questioning.” ~ Albert Einstein

Am I wrong? Something is kinda funny with that one? A little.. suspicious?

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


March 26, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, how to, Internet, routers and WAPs, tech | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Restricting Roommates Internet Use – Continued.

Reader Asks What He Can Do To Prevent His Roommate’s Internet Use From Slowing His Down To Useless.

Q:Hi paul,
After reading your post on limiting your roommates’ bandwidth,
(How To Limit Your Roommate’s Bandwidth – And Keep More For Yourself.) I tried to do this in my dorm. Considering that lag is sometimes so extensive that it ruins my games and browsing. However I have a Thomson TG712 router, and from what I could discover online, it is quite hard to limit the bandwidth usage. So I would really appreciate if you could write a guide for that, or explain me how to do it.
Sincerely,
(name withheld)”

A: Dear Reader,
Let me start my answer by saying yours is a very “frequently asked” question. And, as your searching online has revealed, there’s no easy answer. I am going to ask that you return to the article, and look to the conversations in the Comments section – particularly, those with “Ash”.

(For example, in my reply to moble, I said, “But no.. there really is no way that I am aware of to choke down their kbps to a certain number. Hardware is designed to deliver maximum performance.“)

As far as I know, with our “consumer”-grade routers (and Wireless Access Points) about all you can do is:

• set your roommate’s machine to receive a “Low” QoS “priority”, and yours a “High” (as per the article’s How To) if your make/model router has the feature (most do).
[note: refer to your make/model router’s documentation for the exact steps/menu choices — these are often listed on the side of your router’s control panel, or can be found on the manufacturer’s website.]

• use Content Filtering/Access Control to completely block your roommate’s machine from accessing certain websites, using certain (high volume) protocols, and/or use at certain times of day.

• get your roomie to agree to install a program on their machine which will limit its Internet access.

• Pay your ISP for a higher level of (aka “upgrade”) of bits-per-second, so that you both get enough bandwidth. (Hopefully, your roommate will pay the difference..)

Also: I noticed your router’s wireless is a 54 Mbps “Wireless G” model. If you both are accessing the ‘net wirelessly, adding (or replacing the old with) a newer Wireless N router may give you both a better experience.

So, I remind you that I asked you to return to the article, (How To Limit Your Roommate’s Bandwidth – And Keep More For Yourself.) and look to the conversations in the Comments section – particularly, those with “Ash” (where dd-wrt is discussed…)

Today’s quote: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  ~ Thomas Edison

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


May 17, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, Internet, networking, routers, routers and WAPs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Wireless Router

Internet security made me decide to buy a new router...”

Folks, the very first article I published was, “The first Tech Paul Post: secure your web connection Increase the security of your Internet connection for less than $50“, which described the importance of using a router/WAP – especially in the era of ‘always on’ high-speed Internet connection – and provided the How To for enabling the protection features.. such as wireless encryption (WEP/WPA).

Linksys Wireless-G WAP

If that was the first thing I wrote about, I must have thought it was pretty important.

Well, guess what? I still do. (In fact, a router’s NAT may be the most important defense available.)

Since I wrote that article, in June of 2008, computers (and technology) have changed and progressed (at the exponential rate known as Moore’s Law) and routers and WAP’s (aka “wireless access points”) have as well. In 2008, “Wireless G” was the standard, which has a whopping 54 Mebabits-per-second “speed” (way more than my 3 Mbps Internet connection has). I have been using a Linksys WRT 54G, arguably the “most popular” router/WAP ever sold.

Today, 300 Mbps wireless is available to us with “Wireless N” hardware (aka “gear”)(way more than my 3 Mbps Internet connection has). Many offer “Gigabit LAN” (wired) ports as well. And, Wireless N has been on the store shelves long enough now that the prices for this new hardware are well within the range of the “average consumer”. But it wasn’t these facts which got me onto thinking it was time to upgrade my router. My Linksys was serving me well (and I am not trying to do any “media streaming”).

It was Internet SECURITY that made me decide to buy a new router

While chatting with a friend, it inadvertently came to my attention that an Enterprise Grade security feature was now being offered to us consumers (sometimes called “SOHO”), finally! (I had written letters to the manufacturers about this..) This feature was previously only available on “gateway appliances” costing thousands.

Have I got your attention?

What I am referring to is sometimes called (marketed as) “dual firewall”, “packet filtering”, and more precisely “SPI“. I won’t bore you with the Geek gibberish and technicalities (you can click the link if you are interested) but, short version: the router analyzes each ‘packet’ of your Internet ‘traffic’ to make sure it belongs, and the good ones do a basic antivirus scan of the ‘packets’ as well. That’s right: antivirus in your router. I want that. So I bought a new router. (Not all new routers have SPI/”dual firewall: you have to look for it.)

Dlink DIR-655

What I looked for: What I wanted in a new router (and, maybe, you do too) boiled down to 3 “factors”. Um.. four factors, actually.
* Gigabit Ethernet ports
* 300 Mbps version of Wireless-N
* Dual firewall/SPI
and…
* Under $100

What fit my bill best turned out to be the DIR – 655 from D-Link. It is an older model, and I found it priced at $70. (For those interested in a “virtual tour” of the DIR- 655, http://support.dlink.com/emulators/dir655/ss20/dir655_firewall.html.)

Unfortunately, I happened to get one of the devices which had a ‘bug’ and would not do a special, advanced ‘trick’ (port forwarding) which I needed for a special device I have. Most folks will not need port forwarding, but I did, so I returned the D-link. I could have tried a different DIR – 655, not all of them have that ‘bug’… and I really liked it, but I wanted to explore.

Netgear-WNR3500L

Next up was the WNR3500L from Netgear.

The Netgear was priced the same as the DIR-655, even though instead of 3 antennas, it had none.

Just kidding! The Netgear’s antennas are internal. Otherwise, the specs are much the same. I decided enough experimenting, and decided to stick with this make/model, and I did not put any special “firmware” on it, such as dd-wrt, though, as a Linux box, doing so is (supposed to be) simple.

I did not try the lesser known products – such as Billion. And.. if I had it all to do over again, I would probably be not so .. “thrifty”, and get a D-link DIR – 825, (about $130) as it has the additional feature of “true dual band” (that’s important when looking at dual bands.. most make you choose a bandwidth.)

Now I have Gigabit for my wired network, significant wireless range and speed improvements (and could “stream” Hi-Def video if I wanted to) and improved Internet safety for all the devices on my network.. for under $100.
Not bad!

Related articles:
* Protect Yourself With a Router
* How to secure your wireless network
* Protecting your network–use your router for access control (repost)
* How To Limit Your Roommate’s Bandwidth And Keep More For Yourself.
* Which Is Better, Ethernet Or Wireless?
* Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster
* Boost your wireless for 25¢

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


February 1, 2011 Posted by | advice, gadgets, hardware, networking, routers, routers and WAPs, security, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boost your wireless for 25¢

How can I boost my wireless signal strength?

Folks, I have been asked many times about what can be done to improve the wireless signal produced by a home router/WAP. A weak signal slows you down, and can cause “connectivity issues” (aka “disconnects”).

Like so many things in life, there is no one, single, best answer, but, methods for achieving a stronger wireless signal, at a greater distance, include:
* Replace your router’s firmware with a Linux-based system that allows for “antenna gain” adjustment. (Advanced) — free (some risk).
* Add a “reflector” (Simple) — free. (and.. today’s video!)
* Replace your antenna with a “signal boosting” (aka “range extending”) antenna, or a directional antenna. (Simple) — $25 -$50.
* Upgrade to a Wireless N router. (Simple) — $100 (or less).

I recommend the last option. Wireless N routers are quite reasonably priced now. But, if you have some tinfoil, scissors, and glue, I can tell you that a parabolic reflector will improve your signal (aka “gain”) .. in one direction, and it won’t cost you much more than a few minutes of your time to try it!

This short video tutorial demonstrates:

And the template is here, http://www.freeantennas.com/projects/template2/index.html

And, you may want to look around the Internet some. There are, literally, thousands of these “hacks” and tips.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


Share this post :

March 30, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, how to, networking, performance, routers and WAPs, tech, tweaks, upgrading | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Connect a Router Without the Setup CD*

Reader asks how to connect to the Internet without the original CD

Q: “How can I connect to the Internet with my laptop via D-link router from desktop? We have no CD ROM for d link.”

A: You do not need the setup CD to make a router work (frankly, the following is my preferred method, as the CD’s usually install unnecessary “bonus features”.) Here is how you establish Internet connections on a (aka “configure a”) router… and I will use a D-Link as my example, but they all work basically the same.

1) Assign your PC an IP address in the same range as the router’s default address– for most routers, assign the IP of 192.168.1.2, but since this is a D-Link router, use 192.168.0.2. (Look to to the router manufacturer’s website’s support page/FAQ’s if you don’t know this.)
[See “Assign Address” here for Illustrated instructions.]

2) Connect the PC directly to the router with an Ethernet cable.

3) open a web browser (IE, Firefox, Safari) and enter http:// and then the IP address number of the router into the address bar. (If you don’t know this, look to the router manufacturer’s Website for “default settings”). Typically, this is 192.168.1.1, or 192.168.0.254 — but D-Link uses http://192.168.0.1.

4) Enter the default Name and Password (again, look to to the router manufacturer’s website’s support page/FAQ’s if you don’t know these). But typically these are “admin”+”admin”, or “admin”+”password”.
D-Link’s default is admin/admin.

Your are now in your router’s “web interface” Control Panel, and you can enter the PPPoE setting provided by your ISP. Typically all you need is an identifier.. which is an e-mail address + password.
If you can’t find or remember these, contact your ISP’s support. D-Link’s Wizard will help.

[note: Once your ISP has connected, and while you’re in the Control Panel, set your router’s security configuration, and set a new password (and write them down). Illustrated instructions can be found here, https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2008/01/01/how-to-secure-your-wireless-network/]

5) Return to your PC’s Network Connections (from Step 1) and reset your PC to “Get address automatically–DHCP”. Reboot your PC if necessary.

Today’s free download: Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. (Full Install.) Wolfenstein Enemy Territory is a stand-alone multiplayer game in which players wage war as Axis or Allies in team-based combat. In Wolfenstein Enemy Territory Axis and Allied teams do battle in traditional single scenarios, or wage war through a series of linked scenarios in a totally new campaign mode. During combat players gain experience and skill, and through battlefield promotions are awarded additional abilities that remain persistent across an entire campaign.

Today’s free link(s):
* Ginipic – Taking image searching to a whole new level…
* Inventive FaceBook Scammers Trick You Out of Money with Trojans

* Orig post: 10/13/2008. For some reason, this has been getting a lot of ‘hits’ this week…

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

Share this post :

November 16, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, routers, routers and WAPs, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster

Reader asks why upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet didn’t improve their Web surfing speed.

Q: I recently purchased a Linksys WRT 310 wireless router that has four Gigabit ports. My Dell desktop is a XPS which I was told was “Top of the Line” has a built-in gigabit port. I even purchased new cables to make sure my network was going to be “gigabit”. I hooked it all up and I don’t see any improvement in my internet. The salesman told me that “gigabit” was the fastest.. so how come I’m not surfing faster? Did I do something wrong or do I need to buy a different brand? Thanx.

A: No, you (most likely) didn’t do anything “wrong”, and you don’t need to buy a different router.

Let me, first of all, cover a few “basics” (see also, Wired or Wireless?*)
Kilo = 1,000 = thousand
Mega = 1,000,000 = million
Giga = 1,000,000,000 = billion

And then let me ask you to look at a simple network diagram.
simpleLAN

In this diagram, the Internet is represented by the “cloud” (thus.. “cloud computing”) and I made it appropriately dark and stormy. The Internet connection is represented as the yellow zigzag — this can be a phone line (dial-up, DSL, IDSN) or a coaxial cable.
The blue is your (now Gigabit) Ethernet cabling.

For sake of argument, I made the Internet connection a cable High-speed connection, and I made the download speed a Premium-grade 12 Mbps .. 12 “megabits” per second. (I’d like to have this in RL.. but I have 3 Mbps DSL).
Note that I said “download speed”. Unless you order a special line into your home/office, your “Internet speed” is always your download speed. And, your “upload” speeds are always significantly slower.. as represented by the 486 kilobits per second.

The lines you changed are the blue lines. And so, yes, you have billion-bit lines there (Gigabit). You have multiplied by a thousand the theoretical rate at which computers A, B, and C can “talk” to the router and to each other. You did not change how the modem and the cloud are talking. That is still 12 Megabits down/point 486 (.486) Megabytes up.

Your Internet speed is controlled by two things: one, your service “level” (3 Mbps is more expensive than 1.5, and 6 Mbps is even more expensive, etc.) and two, the technology that can come into your home — dial-up, DSL, ISDN, Satellite, cable, wireless, and fibre-optic.

Because your desktop can “talk” to the router at a higher rate of bits, you might notice a very slight improvement in surfing speed.. but, if you want faster Internet, you have to upgrade either your service level, or/and the method it comes in on (the yellow zigzag) .. say, upgrading from dial-up to cable.

The advantage to Gigabit Ethernet comes in when transferring data across the LAN.. say, from computer A to computer B. Such as if you are backing up the files on A over to B, or “streaming” videos from C to A and B.

The Linksys is a good router (though I read that it runs hot, so you want to keep it in an open, well-ventilated area) and all-Gigabit on your LAN is a “good thing”.
I just think you were expecting the wrong results.

Today’s free link: Curious as to what speed your ISP is really providing? Click here, and pick the “server” location nearest to you. You’ll see both your upload and download speeds. Flash required.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

Share this post :

March 8, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, Internet, networking, routers, routers and WAPs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments