Tech – for Everyone

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

14 Tips to be safer on Public Wi-Fi (‘hotspots’)

A couple reading reco’s for mobile Internet users.

* 14 Public Wi-Fi Hotspot Security Tips You Need

Sometimes you need it so bad, you don’t care if it is clean or dirty. You don’t care who has been there before or what viruses they’ve left behind. I speak, of course, of public Wi-Fi hotspots, aka honeypots for weak-willed souls desperate for a sense of connection. Look, it’s okay to connect to strange networks. Just use protection, cover your tracks, and follow PCMag’s 14 Tips for Public Hotspot Security. Be safe out there.” Read more..

I disagree with what the author wrote there a bit.. it’s really not ‘okay’ to use public wi-fi.. (that’s why I put ‘safer’ where the Industry puts ‘safe’) but I know you’re going to. One of the main reasons is “53 percent can’t tell a secure network from an insecure one.”
That’s so shockingly stupid clueless in 2017 .. do we need to remove these devices from the hands of the masses?

* * *

Today’s quote:A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on.” ~ William S. Burroughs

Copyright 2007-2017 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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

August 17, 2017 Posted by | advice, cellular, computers, consumer electronics, how to, Internet, mobile, privacy, security | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Questions Answered plus You Might Want To Know

For today’s Grab Bag, I am going to answer some reader questions, and point out a couple of items of interest.

Samsung E2420L 23.6" LCD Monitor - 70,000:1, 5ms, 1920X1080, VGA/DVI

Samsung E2420L 23.6″ LCD Monitor – 70,000:1, 5ms, 1920X1080, VGA/DVI
*When you use Promo Code 51D1AAE for $20.00 off

First up: we all know bigger is better (in tech, anyway). And nowhere in your “computing experience” is that more evident than the size of your monitor. There are three ways to really improve (aka “upgrade”) your computing:
1) buy fastest Internet (aka “speed”, aka “bandwidth”) and,
2) have a big, bright monitor and,
3) add RAM.

I spotted a deal today that makes upgrading to a 24″ monitor hard to resist (VGA, DVI).

Reader Questions Answered:

Q:Can you recommend some cooking games for girls?

A: I am sorry, Dear Reader, but I cannot help you out with that question. Perhaps people in the audience can help us out with some suggestions.

Q: How can I get more wifi than my roommate?”

A: Well, short of planting limiting software on their machine, you really can’t (short of bringing in your own Internet line..). But there are some ‘tweaks’ you can make to your router which can help you get as much as is possible. (See, How To Limit Your Roommate’s Bandwidth)

Q: How can I attract all the bandwidth to my Xbox via a laptop?”

A: That really isn’t how networking works. If you really want the fastest online experience, whatever the Internet-connected device, you want to use wires (aka “Ethernet cables”). If you’re using Wi Fi, you want the fewest devices accessing the ‘net as possible.. so turn off your laptop’s wifi when Xbox-ing. Unless .. you are “tethering” your Xbox to the laptop to gain a Internet connection, for some reason.. which is the worst way to do it and will have serious lag. (See, Wired or Wireless?*)

Q: Does Gigabit router multiply megabit Internet speeds?”

A: Again, that isn’t how networking works, so no, it doesn’t. Purchasing a higher service level from your ISP is the only real way to increase your Internet speed. (See, Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster)

Q: Can you put more than one virus protection on a tablet?

A: Well, you could.. but you do not want to. Antiviruses most often do not play well together. (And spend more time fighting each other than protecting you.)

Google Nexus 7" 32GB Slate Tablet - NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30L, 1GB RAM, NVIDIA ULP GeForce Graphics Card, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

Google Nexus 7″ 32GB Slate Tablet – NVIDIA Tegra 3 T30L, 1GB RAM, NVIDIA ULP GeForce Graphics Card, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

SAVE 17%

Q: Is there any way to look at logs of what website my kids visited through a linksys router???

A: I know you can blacklist (block) websites but, I have not looked that deep into Linksys router config’s since, basically, when Wireless N came out (i.e. all the Linksys models I own, and support, are older) so I’d have to look up “DNS lookup logging” or “domains accessed logging” to answer that specifically. (If you set your DNS server to OpenDNS, they do free DNS logging.) You can look for a “Logs” tab in your (router’s) Control Panel. Generally speaking, I doubt your router creates logs that you could easily see where they visited.

But, if your child has erased their browser’s History, my (technician’s) advice is to install parental control/monitoring software; such as the excellent and free K9 Web Protection or Norton’s Family Protection services (Norton Family is free).

And finally.. Not a bad price on a higher-end 7″ Tablet..

That’s all I have time for today.

Today’s quote:At sixty, I know little more about wisdom than I did at thirty, but I know a great deal more about folly.” ~ Mason Cooley

Copyright 2007-2013 © “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.

March 25, 2013 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, hardware, how to, Internet, networking, performance, security, shopping for, software, tech, Xbox 360 | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How to use your Wi-Fi securely

How to use your Wifi securely and efficiently
at home and on the go

Nowadays, Wifi is easy, quick and comfortable to use. Wireless networks are all around us – but many do not treat them with necessary care! Hackers and non-professional criminals then have hardly any obstacles when spying on your data. Quicker than you might expect, they get their hands on sensitive data such as login details for online shops or even online banking.

Did you know, for instance that while using many networks and visiting countless websites it is possible to log all the data you send? Not only is there, however, danger in third-party wifi networks, but your own wireless network also requires good protection. Insufficient encryption can quickly lead to, for example, others misusing your connection to spy on your data and undertaking other illegal activities.

Do not worry, you do not have to do without Wifi, though. You should, however, keep some basic rules in mind that you will find in the most recent article in the Emsisoft knowledgebase.

Dangers in the network How to use your Wifi securely and efficiently at home and on the go

This article will provide you with the know how for:

  • Secure your home network against unwanted intruders
  • How to use Wifi securely on the go
  • Why are not all websites available via HTTPS?
  • How to recognize correctly secured websites
  • Further security measures when using Wifi

Today’s quote:The only thing that ever consoles man for the stupid things he does is the praise he always gives himself for doing them.” ~ Oscar Wilde

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.

September 6, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, mobile | , , , | 1 Comment

5 More Public Places You Can Get Online – For Free

And Also A Video

My fave wireless “hotspot” is not a Starbucks, but a public library. With no membership required (provided you’re connecting with your own device), and no time limits enforced, this is a great option for getting some work done in a quiet environment.

Here’s a look at 5 lesser known Wi Fi Hotspot places where you can get online for free:

  1. Bookstores – Retail book chains, such as Barnes and Noble, in a move designed to increase traffic and sell more books, have become a great alternative to the usual coffee shop routine. In addition to free Wi Fi, there’s the added benefit of not having to worry about tying up a table for too long, or making a minimum purchase to justify your stay.
  2. Local Colleges/Universities – On-campus sites such as the library, courtyards, quads and study lounges are also excellent alternatives for Wi Fi access.
  3. Hotels/Motels – A number of hotel and motel chains such as Holiday Inn, Best Western, Doubletree and EconoLodge provide free WiFi for guests in common areas such as lobbies, restaurants and lounges.
  4. Public Transportation Depots – You probably expect hotspots at airports, but you may not know that many bus and train terminals also have Wi Fi these days.
  5. Laundromats – I discovered this by accident. Many coin-op laundromats are providing wireless.. to help you get the most out of laundry day.
  6. Hospitals (reader submitted bonus)

Today’s free link: Wifi Hotspot List a self-described “Definitive Wi Fi Hotspot Directory” that allows you to input a street address to find local hotspots within a 1 to 10 mile radius, and includes a means to add any that you’ve discovered on your own.

Today’s fun: This YouTube video is somebody’s “travelogue” and is much the “home movie”.. it is also a “virtual tour” of an amazing place — Legoland. Enjoy!

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper.. I made a few things with Logo’s snap-together blocks.. but nothing like this.. this is just, wow!

Enjoy your weekend, folks.

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

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April 2, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, mobile | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Continuing Adventures In Computerized Cars… Tech News

Item 1: Hacker Disables More Than 100 Cars Remotely

“The real problem started with a disgruntled employee that managed to walk out the door with a password from a co-worker that allowed him access to 1,100 Auto Center customers online. These vehicles were equipped with Webtech Plus, a system that allows remote access over wireless networks to allow dealers to disable vehicles from nonpaying customers. Read article here.

Item 2: Some experts say computer at fault in Toyota recall hubbub

“Toyota boss Akio Toyoda recently appeared before a Congressional panel to answer questions about his company’s behavior during the scandal. Critics allege that faulty accelerators caused several deaths in unexpected runaway vehicles.” Read article here.

Item 3: Identity Theft Cases Skyrocket As Thieves Exploit New Wi-Fi Vulnerability In Vehicles

Okay.. that last one isn’t a real headline.. yet. But it will be. With people increasingly connecting their personal lives to their cars via smart phones and wi-fi, the threat of cybercrime has taken to the road. Our cars are becoming mobile computing devices, and “rolling hotspots”. Kewel, eh?

But does your new car have an antivirus or firewall? Two items you wouldn’t think of not having on your laptop?

A while ago, I received a PR notice from Ford, which declares that at least one automobile manufacturer is aware of the convergence of Internet-connected computing and cars and – more importantly – is considering the security implications:

Item 4: Ford offers security features to protect owners’ personal information as cars, Internet converge

DEARBORN, Mich., March 5, 2010 –
With the rapid convergence of in-car technology and the Internet, Ford Motor Company said today it is offering a suite of security features to protect the personal information of millions of Ford owners from the threat of computer hackers and viruses.” For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit

Related: Blogroll member Bill Mullins has written a more detailed look at Ford’s newest SYNC technology, here.

Further reading: Researchers expose complex cyber espionage network
A newly released report “Shadows in the Cloud”, details the the inner workings of complex cyber espionage network, that was systematically stealing sensitive documents/correspondence from the Indian government, the United Nations, as well as Dalai Lama’s offices. By Dancho Danchev

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

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April 8, 2010 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, hackers, Internet, mobile, News, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Home Networking: Wires vs Wireless

This networking question was submitted by a reader recently, and I think it may be of interest to “everyone” and provides a good opportunity to discuss some computing fundamentals.

Q: Paul, I am hoping for some guidance. I will soon be moving, and will have to set up a new network. I have three computers, a laser jet printer and a photo printer. My old network was wired and homenetworking worked well, but I have heard that the new wireless is faster.

Which is better these days, wired or wireless?

A: I hate ambiguous answers, but in this situation I really must answer, “that depends”. And I must also say that it really isn’t a case of one being “better” than the other.
In my experience, a “blended” network (both wired and wireless) is the most common.

Consideration #1: Mega-bits-per-second (Mbps)
1) Wire “speed” is typically either 10/100, or 1,000(Gigabit).
2) Wireless “speed” is either 54 (g) or 270 (n).
… and your Internet is coming into your home at.. 1.5? 3? 6 Mbps?
(My point here is that, as far as sharing your Internet is concerned, even a very old 10 Mbps network is “fast” enough.)

Consideration #2: Stringing cable:
Most newer homes are built with Ethernet wiring, and so your network is already there (to a large degree), but for older homes a very real concern — should you choose to go Gigabit wired — is WirelessHomeNetwork where will the wires go? How will you get them upstairs?

This is not an insurmountable issue (and, you could hire a professional) but it may be that wireless is the best for you.

General advice:
* Networking gear defaults to the speed of the slowest component.
What that means is, let’s say you go and buy a brand-new Wireless -N router (technically, a “WAP”) that runs at 270 Mbps, and the adaptor on your 2 year-old laptop is a “G”, your connection will be at 54 Mbps.
And if the port on your Desktop is Gigabit, and your cable is Cat 5e or better (Gigabit capable), but there’s no Gigabit port on your router.. your LAN is running at 100 Mbps.

The trick is to make sure everything ‘matches’. For instance, in the first example (laptop), buying a Wireless-N PCMCIA card, or USB dongle, will now give you the 270 you bought the fast router for. And for the Gigabit example, a new router that has Gigabit ports will make things ‘match’ and give you a Gigabit LAN.

Last bit of advice: Buy the fastest gear you can afford. You may not get full advantage of it today, but it won’t be a bottleneck tomorrow.

Today’s free link: In today’s article I mentioned that there are alternatives to drilling holes in your wall/floor/ceiling, and one method is EoP (Ethernet over Power lines [aka “powerline networking”]). This uses the electrical wires already in your home to send your 1’s and 0’s from device to device. It is often rated at 200 Mbps.
Better Together: Wi-Fi and Powerline Networking – PC World

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

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October 16, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, networking, PC | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is your wireless a hackers’ playground?

I have found in life that many things we deal with are…mixed blessings. Such is the case with wireless technology. The very factors which make it so convenient (and thus popular) also make it less secure. A WAP is a radio station. It broadcasts its signal in all directions, for a limited distance; and it “listens” for signals as well. It (by default) sends out a constant “I’m here. I’m ready. I’m here. I’m ready…” When a passing device, a laptop or PDA say, gets within range it hears the WAP (Wireless Access Point) and can connect with it by sending a “I’m ready too. Let’s begin.” message.
So convenient. So easy. And no wires holding you to one spot. It’s a modern miracle!
It’s little wonder that nine out of ten networking devices sold in the US are “wireless”. They cost basically the same as wired, so why not get wireless too? My router is wireless (a WAP). Isn’t yours?
But I know about wardriving. Yes–”war+driving”. What’s that? It’s driving around with a laptop and a sensitive antenna (or a piece of coaxial cable stuck into the bottom of a Pringle’s can) and trying to “sniff” (detect) unprotected WAPs. It’s a game hackers play: who can detect the most unsecured WAPs in an hour? When they’re not doing it for kicks, they’re accessing a wardriven WAP and ‘creeping’. What’s that, you ask? “Creeping” is browsing around the data on the computers connected to the WAP. Most of the time they’re not interested in stealing your data (there’s no challenge there), they’re just snooping. They get some kind of kick out of it. (Sometimes they’ll leave behind a ‘calling card’ to let you know you’ve been ‘creeped’.) Most of the time these guys cause no harm…unless they see that you’re a total non-geek novice (no anti-virus, all your .docs are in one folder, you’ve never ‘defragged’, etc.) and they decide you’re “too stupid to own a computer” and they take it upon themselves to “punish” you by erasing your config.sys file (which will cause Windows to fail to load).
Sometimes they will simply “pile on” or “coast” a WAP and use it to surf the web for free–the main downside to the owner is reduced bandwidth (speed).
When a hacker runs across a WAP in his wardriving games that the owner has taken the precaution of encrypting, he usually passes on by, but sometimes they get bored with the super-easy creeping, and feel the need for a challenge (I’m sure, thinking, “what’s this guy hiding behind that encryption?”). This is when hackers become crackers. See, it’s terribly easy to turn on encryption–every WAP manufacturer builds it into the product–and use it. The trouble is most folks don’t know about it, much less use it…But for those who do, manufacturers included the ability to use WEP encryption (Wired Equivalent Privacy): a 128bit stream cipher key. So now the hacker is looking at gibberish and needs to find a way to “crack” the code to see the data being transmitted, and to talk/co-operate with the WAP–thus the ‘challenge’. Sadly, with the computing power of today’s personal computers and freely available tools a hacker can break into WEP protection in less than two minutes (much less).
Eventually, the hacker’s methods were discovered and WEP was quickly declared to be next-to-useless, and manufacturers switched to a new (2003) and improved methodology called WPA–Wi-Fi Protected Access. Now there’s WPA2. Have the hacker/crackers been thwarted? Well…um…no. However, WPA and the newer WPA2 are so time consuming to crack, the average hacker won’t bother. Why should he? There’s still plenty of folks broadcasting “Here I am. I’m free and easy. Here I am…” Seeemingly every house on the block an unwitting Internet café.
WPA2 is pretty good, and keeps out all but the determined (and sometimes even them).
The main points I want to make here are:
* You really do want to turn on the feature that scrambles your wireless transmissions. (To read my How-To article, How-to-secure-your-wireless-network, click here.)
* Securing your wireless by encrypting with WEP is next to useless; with WPA is so-so; and, WPA2 is the way to go at this time.
* Your network is only as capable as its weakest link, so if you have older devices that aren’t WPA-capable, your newer devices will default down to WEP (or no encryption) level to accomodate your old. I recommend replacing your older gear with newer, WPA2-capable devices.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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June 17, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, encrypting files, hardware, how to, networking, PC, Portable Computing, routers and WAPs, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment