Tech – for Everyone

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

A $10 Video Camera?

(Also: Do You Own A Linksys? You Better Read This..)

First up:

Glancing through my prep material, I noticed a sale where you can get a basic (standard def) “camcorder” (tiny little thing) for $10. From Sylvania, even.

Yes.. ten dollars. Don’t believe me? Click here.

We truly do live in a dixie cup world now (aka “everything’s disposable”).

Next: Is your home router a Linksys? You definitely should read this. (I am beginning to think anyone using tech should read stories like these..)

Cisco shows true face in ugly bait and switch Can a network security vendor that betrays its customers ever be trusted again?

You may have heard about Cisco’s shenanigans last week, in which an automatic firmware update for several models of the company’s Linksys home wireless routers forced users to create and log into a Cisco cloud service account to manage their router. In addition, some previously available functionality disappeared in the update. I cannot fathom how a company whose reputation is built on its tech savvy could concoct such a disaster of a scheme. And it gets worse.Read more..

(The answer to the question is “no”, btw. Scandalous! Fortunately, none of my Wireless N 300 Gear is a Cisco product, or I’d be heading to the store [or disabling “check for updates”… if poss.].)

Folks, read that article.

“The devil you don’t know
Prior to the past decade or so, the idea of a manufacturer purposefully breaking a product after purchase in order to spy on you and profit from that information was so outlandish, there was no need for concern. We’re now living in a world where it could easily be done clandestinely.”

Love to see a lawsuit over this one. Unbelievable. Truly outrageous. I’m glad I don’t work for Cisco, cuz I’d have to quit.

I gotta run. Y’all have a great day now, ya’ hear?

* Again, Linksys owners: If you don’t wanna buy new gear (though it could be considered a great excuse to upgrade to Wireless N) read the article and look for links to the DD-WRT how to’s.

Another great read: 10 worst tech screwups of 2012 (so far)

Amid a sea of flops, flubs, and faceplants, Cringely picks the 10 biggest tech blunders we’ve seen in the first half of the year.” Read more..

(As I said, highly reco reading all of that.)(Cisco’s act was too recent to make the list, I think..)

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. <<

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

July 10, 2012 Posted by | consumer electronics, hardware, News, shopping for, tech | , , , , | 4 Comments

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
* 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,

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.


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

Lost the Setup CD? How To Connect a Router*

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 (aka “configure a”) on a router.

1) Assign your PC an IP address in the same range as the router’s default address– for most routers, assign the IP, but since this is a D-Link router, use
(Look to “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 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, or — but D-Link uses

4) Enter the default Name and Password (again, look to to the 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,]

5) Return to 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. post to jaanix

Share this post :

February 24, 2009 Posted by | advice, how to, networking, routers, routers and WAPs | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How to secure your wireless network

Welcome to the 2008 version of Tech–for Everyone. I regret to inform you that there are no major revisions or changes in this new version… in fact, it is exactly the same as the 2007 version: my tech tips, advice, and How To’s brought to you six days a week, advertisement-free.

For my first article of 2008, I am going to demonstrate the steps for encrypting the signals transmitted by your home Wireless router. This is a simple process, and once you have completed the steps only the people who know the password you set (namely, you!) can use your Internet connection. Not only will this prevent freeloaders from surfing the Web on your dime (stealing your bandwidth), but because encryption scrambles the data, it will prevent hackers from reading the ‘packets’ your computer transmits (ie, “reading your mail”), and prevent them from easily accessing the computers on your home network.

Encrypting your Wireless signal really is a security “must do” in this day and age, and there is no downside— it will not slow down your browsing, nor cause you to have to enter a password every time you go on the Internet. Once you set it, everything happens automatically and invisibly to you.

Tip of the day: If you have a Wireless router, lock it down with encryption.
The first step in changing settings on your router is to use a browser to log onto its Control Panel. I have published an article, which demonstrates the basic procedure.
(In that post, I demonstrated on the best-selling Linksys WRT 54G, and although there a whole new generation of Wireless routers being sold now, and there other manufacturers than Linksys, the procedure I demonstrate is basically the same on all of them.)

1) Please refer to the prior post, or consult your router’s documentation (or visit the website) to learn the steps to log in to the router’s Control Panel.
This screenshot shows the WRT 54G Control Panel (default:, password “admin” {no quotes}. The prior article tells you how to change these defaults: highly recommended!) and you will note the black Menu bar across the top. Click on the “Wireless” menu option, and you will see the blue sub-menu options change to look like the screenshot.
By default, your router will be set to broadcast its “SSID”. This is basically a “Hey! Here I am!” signal that advertises your router to devices looking to find a “hotspot“. To help us reconnect after we’ve enabled encryption, we’re going to leave this “on”..for now, but as our final step we’re going to come back and turn this off.

2) Click on the “Wireless Security” sub-menu. Here is where we are going to choose our encryption type, and enter our logon passphrase (this passphrase is really a key, used by the encrption algorithm, so the longer your passphrase is, the stronger your encryption will be).
Use the drop-down arrow to choose the encryption type. Now, here is where I could get into a long lecture about the differences between WEP and WPA (Wikipedia has an excellent discussion of Wireless encryption, click here if you’re interested) but I won’t. I will simply tell you to use the best (newest) standard your devices can accept– currently WPA2. If your devices are older, WEP may be the best they can do; and if this is so, I strongly recommend you visit the manufacturer’s website and looking for a firmware upgrade, or consider replacement with a newer device. WEP is simply too obsolete and easily ‘broken’.
Be aware that both devices– the router, and the Wireless adapter on your computer– must be able to use the same encryption type.
It is perfectly okay to accept the defaults for “Algorithm type”.

3) Enter a “algorithm key”. At various places, this “key” will sometimes be referred to as a “passphrase”. Don’t worry about the phrasing– this is what you will need to enter when “joining” the wireless network (“connecting”).
As shown in the screenshot, a long, complex passphrase is best. Use capitals, ‘special’ characters, numbers, and avoid words found in the dictionary. Be sure to write this down, and keep it someplace safe.

4) Save your new Settings. That’s it: your router’s wireless signals are now scrambled by an encryption algorithm, and only those machines which can answer with the proper passphrase will be allowed access.

Now power up your laptop and “Connect to a network” as you normally would (you will have to because your old connection will no longer connect– it’s protected now!)
Your Wireless Networks window will reflect the change of the network’s status, as this screenshot shows, and will now say “Secure network”, or “Protected” (depending on your adapter interface).

Double-click on the your network (or, right-click and choose “Connect”). Now you will be asked to enter your passphrase… enter it EXACTLY. (Again, it may be phrased “key”.) You should now be connected to the Internet just as you always were, but now you’re connected securely. Congratulations!

Now let’s set things so that your logon and connecting is automatic. Return to your Wireless Connections window and right-click on your router’s name (“Paul’s Net” in the screenshot) and select “Properties”.
Place a check in the top and the bottom checkboxes, and uncheck the center one. This will make your router the primary connection, and “find” its signal even though we turn off the SSID broadcast as our final step.
You will need to repeat these “connecting steps” for each laptop/device you have that accesses the Web wirelessly.

5) Return to the Basic Wireless Settings page (first screenshot) and turn off the SSID broadcast. That’s it, you’re done.
Sorry, this ran too long to include a free download link today.

Copyright 2007-2008 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

Share this post :

January 1, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, encrypting files, hardware, how to, networking, PC, privacy, routers, routers and WAPs, security, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The first Tech Paul Post: secure your web connection

I want to start by welcoming all you readers to this shiny new blog–and invite you to take a peek at the About page.

This blog is different from other technically oriented blogs in that it is NOT a tech-news page, nor a place for me to drop names, nor is it an ego-site. The purpose of this blog is to answer questions about the day-to-day usage of PC’s, offer advice for getting full use out of your system, and offer insights into how today’s  tech really works. You can post questions here (in the comment box) and get answers, too. Whether you’re a “techie”, or a novice, it is my hope that you will find the information presented here to be usefull and helpfull.

Tip of the day: In this area I will place a tip, hint, shortcut, “tweak”, or how-to. It will depend on your previous experience using computers (and other gadgets and gizmos) whether or not you already know the topic. I will try my best not to confuse and alienate those of you who actually have a life outside of computing, while not boring and/or insulting the technically inclined.

Increase the security of your Internet connection for less than $50. For those of you using a DSL or cable connection to surf the Web, you should be aware that your connection is “always on”. That means your computer is able to go online and get security updates and other useful items without your being present, or even aware of the activity. This is a mixed blessing, as it can also do other–less wonderful–things without your knowledge. Prevent being visible to miscreants out there on the Web by hiding your computer’s IP address (a set of unique numbers used to locate and identify machines on the Internet) behind a router which is capable of NAT–as almost all current makes and models are–such as those sold by Linksys, Netgear, and D-Link. You can research models on the Web, and then find the best prices on such shopping sites as and Shopzilla. If your router allows for MAC address filtering, turn it on! Use a browser to log onto the router’s administrator’s control panel as per its instuction booklet (often it’s and click on “enable MAC filtering”. This will prevent other computers from using your network and your Internet connection. If you have never logged onto your router and set a password, and your manual is lost forever, instructions can be found at the manufacturer’s website. Putting a router between your modem and computer will also allow you to share your Web connection with multiple computers. Most routers have Ethernet ports for four of your computers.

***Note***If you purchase a router that includes a wireless access point, there are some measures you should take to secure the wireless transmitter/receiver as well. First, turn on and configure encryption of at least WPA as per the instruction booklet, and 2) disable the SSID broadcast. These two steps will prevent intruders from “seeing” your access point, and encryption will prevent a snoop from capturing and reading your traffic.

MY GUARANTY TO YOU: I am a fanatic of getting stuff for free, and the Internet has a wealth of free-for-the-download resources. I will frequently post links to free stuff for you to take advantage of yourselves. But! I will only post links to software that is free from spyware, and to websites that ARE NOT BOOBYTRAPPED. I will endeavour to post a new link at the bottom of each new posting.

Today’s free link: Game Give Away Of The Day–this website offers a different free game each day. These games range from children’s games to fairly intense 3-D action games. These are complete games, and not just small “demo” versions. I visit this site every day to see what’s being offered, and have already downloaded quite a few fun timewasters. Here’s their blurb:

 Game Giveaway of the Day

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.


Share this post :

June 8, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, encrypting files, firewall, hardware, how to, networking, PC, privacy, routers, routers and WAPs, security, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments