Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wifi Setup

Please do participate in my poll on the right - I am guessing that the majority of you are using wifi at home and a portion of you are not happy with it. The reason for this? Wireless anything is going to be subject to interference in your home or office.

The use of consumer electronics has added quite a bit of radio interference in your home. Microwave ovens, televisions, bluetooth headsets and accessories, some remote controls like garage door openers, cordless phones all project radio waves which can interfere with constant use radio transactions like WiFi.

To get the most out of your internet use, it is important to use the best equipment for the job. Since being in telecom, I have noted that ISP's are not to be trusted for the the critical role of determining the WiFi Access Point hardware. Often this process leads to the lowest priced device mentality.

Instead, it is important to consider that you want to have the ISP - cable or dsl service provider offer you a Modem to terminate their service to you and you should go and buy a quality router/access point for your home to ensure quality connectivity and safety from neighbors snooping into your network.

Most of the better manufacturers will have a good wifi router/access point in the $75 - $160 range. I would suggest Linksys, D-Link, Trendnet, Netgear and Buffalo. If you have wifi N computers or access cards, by all means get an N router as these perform much better by offering greater range and wall penetration. The higher end ones will perform on the secondary 5 Ghz band in addition to the 2.4 Ghz band.

This router should be installed behind your modem and of course your desktop computers can be plugged into this as well as your network enabled printer.

In setting up this device, it is best to perform a site survey to find out what channels your neighbors are using for their wifi now. In general, the central channels of the 9 channel wifi range are by default used by other devices such as Cordless phones and other items.

I have had good luck setting up wifi networks on the channels 2, 3, 4 7, 8 since they are not as heavily trafficked. If you live in a multi address building, often it is necessary to try these different channels to find out what works best unless you have access to a channel sniffing device to assess this.

In the setup of your router, you can define this setting as well as the network security.

Next, you need to select your network security protocols. The most secure methods are WPA2 or WPA as these methods are not susceptible to brute force password hacks like WEP. The only reason anyone would use WEP security is if there are older devices which need to use this standard.

Then choose a password over 8 characters long and enter and save your settings. That should do it.

Please comment if you have questions and let me know it this helps.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Ok we have had Buzz for two days now. The comments I have seen in this are typical of a new service of this type.

"I am at xxxxxxx Taphouse"

"riding bus northbound on xxxxxxxxx Ave for daily grind"

"WTF is this buzz for"

"Are you going to this party"

"XXXXxxxxx said if I go to this lunch then he is going to punch me in the face"

Well this all is very humorous and makes for good fun when it is not you. However there is a mild furor over the manner in which Goog Buzz starts you off with a list of individuals who you commonly communicate with. These may be your good friends, your work colleagues, potential customers or employers, etc.

Some caution here, it would be a good idea to check the privacy settings in your goog Buzz to limit your exposure. This blog was forwarded to me by Bill who has some insight click here.

So, think about how much or how little you want to open up your profile and Buzzing and enjoy this new service!

Here is an UPDATE - the Silicon Valley Insider has instructions to follow for limiting exposure to your list and editing the people on it. Click HERE for the step by step

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

google's new internet

So you have tried Buzz by now right? How about Google Reader? I love Google Docs and of course use an android phone so I am entrenched in googles services. What next for Goog?

Well today, they announced that trying to topple twitter is not all they are up to. Now, a trial is being launched to deploy Gigabit internet connectivity. Most Americans enjoy internet speeds typically from 256k to 25Mb for copper and a few select locations have FIOS internet which promises up to 50Mb of internet speed. That makes Google's attempt to push 1000Mb service a big deal. Pricing is not available for this service as of yet.

I would say that the roll out of Chrome OS in future will require a high speed connection to allow the 'cloud' data backup to feel anything like a typical computer of today where the data is stored locally. If this is something that can happen, then to the delight of consumers, the higher cost of internet access is offset by the lower cost of computer hardware and likely servicing of such.

Here is the video describing it:

This is very more here

Sunday, February 07, 2010

for Mac users

Ok so the previous post covered some windows maintenance so this one covers Mac maintenance.

Just because you don't have to contend with the malware barrage like the windows users face does not mean you are home free. Remember that if you use boot camp or VMWare Fusion (love it) or Parallels virtualization with windows OS installed you still need to heed my advice to keep 'ol Windy happy.

The primary thing to be concerned about with a MAC OS is the directory structure of your hard drive. Luckily there is a tool for this. Both in Leopard and snow, you have Disk Utility. If you go in there and perform a disk Verify and then a repair, you can clean out all the potential misalignment in your directory. Now I myself would be concerned about making the mistake of erasing the hard drive which is a mere button away from repair so what I suggest is this:

onyx - after clicking that choose the version to match your OS

This software app provides a simplified tool to manage maintenance on your mac. It does the trifecta of repairs needed to clean and maintain your Mac in one tool although it is multiple steps.

First after you install this, when you run it you get the disk verification step. It will check your hard drive's S.M.A.R.T. status. This is the monitoring method which is used by hard drive manufacturers to indicate when the HD is failing. Let this SMART finish and then you will be promted to "Verify Startup Volume". Go ahead and do that followed by a period of time....should say "verifying startup volume ".

When this is done you will see "volume verified" at which point click ok and enter your system password. Then continue to the tab marked maintenance..

The first thing you see is the Permissions button clicked. Go ahead fix the permissions by clicking the execute button on the lower left. This will take awhile (maybe 15 mins) and you will get a box full of gibberish and hopefully at the end of the text you see "Finished verify/repair permissions on disk0s2

Now, provided it finished repairing the permissions, go to the 'Cleaning' tab and execute the system clean. This should only take a few mins as it cleans the system components. Leave the check boxes on default. Once this is done, it will ask for a restart, go ahead and do that - you are finished. Your system should be healthy.

Hack Me

Well it has been an interesting couple of weeks, my friends and some customers have found something quite concerning.

Once the result of wading through porn or clicking through spam emails to assist some poor African soul who just needs a small investment, the malware exploits are now coming to website near you.

One of my customers was the first to be blighted by this problem. This nice artist was merely searching a website to view some artists when they were confronted with a pop up window which came up centered on the screen notifying her that there was not any Anti Virus Software installed on the computer. In trying to close this window, a full screen browser window popped up showing a view of the computer being scanned with a bar showing the degree of completion of the scan which the computer was going through.

My customer called me and and asked for help, as this was early in January, I did not know how pervasive this exploit was in the wild so visited their home to try to help with this problem.

I looked at their computer and could not find any traces of true malware, but likely the security solution that I had installed helped to ward off the intrusion. They remarked that clicking anywhere on the window did nothing - which was good because the ports of entry for the exploit were probably blocked and the offending site was not able to penetrate the computer.

Subsequent to this issue, I have have had others come to me with a description of the same thing. Actually my girlfriend went to a local site to view the manicure pricing at a salon and got the same thing. Popup windows which indicated that the computer needed additional security software to make it run properly.

I then tested this exact site with our Macbook Pro, which runs snow leopard and indeed received the same popup. This would indicate that the hack is not related to specific operating systems, instead it is a browser exploit.

Last year I remember cleaning our Mac because a site was viewed when we used firefox on the mac and it was jacked.

So here is what I am recommending for base level security:

For Windows: use an anti virus program. This is the first step, although nearly unnecessary due to the way that malware is introduced to your computer today, the scanning functionality is helpful if you do get penetrated. My top favorite now is Microsoft Security Essentials which is a free application from microsoft if you have a legal version of windows (XP, Vista or Windows 7).

Install that as long as you can remove your existing anti virus program. If you have Norton or McAfee or AVG - you will need to uninstall using the tools which those manufacturers have on their websites as standard uninstall procedures will not remove all the tools that are packaged within.

Alternatives which I like are Avira, Avast and AVG. These are all free and seem to work pretty well. For the pay to use AV programs, I suggest Nod32 and Bit Defender. I have been able to be free of virus with these two programs but I am not sure that for most people it is necessary to buy these.

Secondly, you need a utility which will secure typical ports of entry for known malicious sites. My favorite there is Advanced System Care by IOBIT software. You can download this free from This fabulous tool has the ability to secure the aforementioned ports, clean your registry, clear your internet cache and history, defragment your hard drive and finally offers a suite of admin tools one of which, the start up manager is very helpful.

They make a pro version for around $20 but again for most users I find that the free version is all you need. This software will find basic worms, tracking cookies, and more, making it a very useful tool for typical windows users.

For Mac users, the typical exploits are more a nuisance and there does not exist much in terms of tools to eradicate malware. Snow Leopard (OS10.6) does offer malware resistance and likely this all that Mac users need.

Finally, it is necessary to update your security solutions regularly because the way they catch malware is by comparing known signatures (traits) and flagging them in your system. Also, update your operating system files as needed (pertains to windows, Mac as well as linux)to allow the OS patches to be applied.

Finally for Windows, make sure you have your firewall turned on. Typically this is a biggest defender for you that you have.

If you have any questions or need service let me know!