Tag Archives: computers

Simple Network Scanning With Free Wireless Network Watcher

imageIn this age of connected devices, and the proliferation of Wi-Fi, the number of “open networks” has jumped considerably.

While it’s true that wireless routers are supplied with encryption software –  working through the manual is often a frustrating experience for less technically inclined users. As a result, it’s not unusual for users to continue to use (widely known) default network names and passwords.

In a study commissioned by  the Wi-Fi Alliance in August of last year, it was discovered that only 59 percent of users have implemented wireless passwords, or encryption methods, that meet the basic criteria for strength and privacy.

In addition, the survey revealed that while “eighty-five percent of survey respondents understood that their Wi-Fi devices should not be set for automatic sharing, …. only 62 percent actually had auto-sharing turned off.” It’s easy to conclude then, that piggybacking on an unprotected wireless access point is perhaps more common than many might imagine.

So, how would you know if your wireless signal is piggyback capable, and is perhaps being used as the neighborhood access point? You could of course, install any one of the comprehensive open source network monitoring packages widely available for download. Provided, that is, you’re prepared to dig into a host of complex instructions and procedures.

A much simpler, but very basic solution, is offered by NirSoft’s Wireless Network Watcher. This free utility “scans your wireless network and displays the list of all computers and devices that are currently connected to your network.”

As you can see in the following screen capture (click to expand)  – the following connected device information is displayed: IP address, MAC address, the network card manufacturer, and optionally, the computer name.

Wireless Network Watcher

Better yet, you can set the utility to continuously monitor so that it will notify you of any new devices connecting to your network (with an audible signal if you like) – as illustrated in the following screen shot.

Wireless Network Watcher 2

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, 2003, Vista, Server 2008, Win 7.

Download at: NirSoft (you’ll need to skip down the page to locate the download link).

Bonus feature – you can also use Wireless Network Watcher to scan a small wired network.

Wireless Network Watcher may not be jam packed with features – but, it does what it’s designed to do, and it does it very well. Additionally, the advanced options menu will allow you to scan selected IP address ranges, choose which adapter to scan from, and save the results to html.

More information about Wi-Fi security, including innovations that make setting up security easier, is available at www.wi-fi.org/security. Users can test their own security knowledge with a quick online quiz, watch animations about home Wi-Fi security, and download white papers with detailed information.

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Filed under Connected Devices, downloads, Freeware, Network Tools, Software, Utilities

Powerline Networkworking – A Wi-Fi Network Alternative

Use your electric wiring to create a home network; fast, and cheap.

Powerline When most of us consider setting up a home network, we generally tend to be single minded. Automatically, it seems, we focus on Wi-Fi to the exclusion of any other network solution; and there are alternative solutions.

Wi-Fi has obvious advantages, not the least of which is it does away with the messy job of installing network cables which tend be unsightly, and in some cases difficult to install; particularly if run between floors.

On the other hand, Wi-Fi can be a less than satisfactory solution to networking since issues such as distance between devices, thickness of walls and physical separation in the case of devices separated by floors, can impact Wi-Fi performance. In fact, in the past I have had less than acceptable performance with Wi-Fi devices located on different floors.

Power Line Communications (PLC) is a technology that uses the electrical wiring in your home, or your office, to provide network and Internet communication between attached devices, including computers, digital media devices such as a Tivo/Slingbox, and gaming consoles like the Xbox, PlayStation, or Nintendo Wii.

powerlinelinksys

To network two computers, for example, you start by plugging the outlet adapters, which form the backbone of the technology, into two appropriate electrical outlets. Then, connect the outlet adapters to the Ethernet ports on your computers and voila! – you now have a basic network connection between the two machines.

Early on in the development of this technology performance was an issue, but in recent years relatively new improvements now permit up to 200Mbps transfer rates. In some European countries 400Mbps transfer rates are common.

So playing games on more than one device; transferring video, music, or other high-volume files on the network, or using devices such as network hard disk to store large files, are not an issue.

Powerline 2 As with Wi-Fi, the signals have the ability to travel a short distance outside your home, so this technology includes the capacity to set an encrypted password to enhance network security.

There is some resistance to this technology in the U.S. amongst short wave radio hobbyists, since it’s possible for these adapters to generate unacceptable interference to short wave radio communication.

Quick facts:

Simple to set up – just plug in

Instant network connection

No network cables to install

Easy Internet connection sharing Network – Computers, Game Consoles, HD Media Devices

Cost: $100 – $200 (approximate)

If you’re interested in additional information on this technology, then checkout the Universal Powerline Association website.

Suppliers of this technology include these familiar companies: NetGear and D-Link.

For additional information checkout “Wired or Wireless?” by fellow Tech Blogger TechPaul. As well, a TechPaul reader asks – why upgrading to Gigabit Ethernet didn’t improve their Web surfing speed? For the answer, read “Gigabit Ethernet Didn’t Make Internet Faster “, on his site.

Update – May 22, 2010: A regular reader has serious concerns regarding this type of technology, and in the interest of fairness, his views should be heard here.

Apart from presenting a gaping security hole, the transmission of Internet content via radio frequencies over power lines that have not been designed for such frequencies (up to 30 MHz), and therefore are not shielded, causes power lines to radiate like any other antenna.

In effect, by using home-PLC, you are setting up a broad-band local jammer that covers almost the whole short-wave spectrum with the potential (if millions of unsuspecting users apply this technology), to block world-wide shortwave communications much more effectively than any jamming network in use during the Cold War.

The peddlers of this technology have suffered one setback after another when they tried to establish PLC as a means to cover the “last mile” for ISPs, because, for the reasons mentioned above, they simply cannot meet the standards for harmful (i.e. interfering) RF radiation.

To recoup some of their investment, the involved companies now try to market their (s)crap to home users, using compliance certificates that have either been forged, or obtained by illegal means, because they are unable to meet the criteria laid down by the pertinent radio authorities.

Therefore, radio amateurs all over the world, broadcasters and many other commercial and government shortwave users, have joined forces to combat PLC, and I am one of them.

Will you therefore, please make an addendum to the above-mentioned article and point out the downside of this technology, which seems to be so deceptively simple for the layman – just plug and play, but he doesn’t know what he is doing to the rest of the world. For further information, detailed reports, etc. please check with your local amateur society and the ARRL.

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Filed under Geek Software and Tools, Home Networking, Interconnectivity, Networking, WI-Fi Alternatives

57 Free PC Repair Apps for Your Flash Drive

Comp tech

Are you a computer tech wannabe? Are you the goto guy for your neighbors, club, or social circle when computers are on the fritz?

If you answered “yes”, then the Australian website Technibble has a great free offer you should consider.

Technibble describes itself as “a resource for computer technicians who are looking to start their own computer business, or improve their existing one. Technibble also provides an amazing place for technicians to help other technicians via our forums”.

The site has compiled an impressive array of free geeky tools for diagnosing and repairing Windows computers in a second release of its Computer Repair Utility Kit. The kit contains 57 top-quality applications to help you analyze a problem computer and (hopefully), restore the machine to operating condition.

While it’s true that you can download each of these free tools individually, this all-in-one kit is a definite time saver.

From the Technibble site:

The first version of Technibbles Computer Repair Utility Kit was so popular, we’ve created a second version. For those of you who don’t know, the Computer Repair Utility Kit is a combination of computer repair tools in one easy to use pack.

The Computer Repair Utility Kit allows you to run all of the repair tools from your portable drive (USB Flash Drive, External Hard Drive, IPod etc.) and comes with an easy to use, right-click menu. A must in any computer technicians kit.

Technibble

The Computer Repair Utility Kit runs off a menu system called PStart and contains the following applications:

File Management

  • CCleaner – Cleans up Windows systems. Clears temporary internet files, cookies, history etc..
  • JkDefragGUI – An advanced defragging tool far superior to the built in Windows one
  • DriveimageXML – Hard drive imaging tool. Allows you to get a single file out of a whole image too
  • Explore2fs – Allows you to explore hard drives with Linux file systems
  • Double Killer – Finds duplicate files and deletes them
  • Deep Burner – CD/DVD Burning software
  • 7-Zip Portable – Archive creating and extraction tool. Can handle most compression formats
  • PC-Decrapifier – Cleans out the crap that comes installed on new brand name computers (Norton trials, toolbars etc.)

Information

  • Process Explorer – Allows you to view system processes
  • System Information – View lots of information about a system (specs, passwords, temperatures etc.)
  • ProduKey – View software cdkeys and serials
  • Autoruns – Autostart program viewer
  • HWMonitor – View hardware information
  • GPU-Z – Show video card information (chipset, bios version, shaders, memory size etc.)
  • Wireless Key View – Shows saved wireless network keys
  • TreeSize Free – Show how much space each folder on a system uses
  • Game Key Revealer – View CDKeys and Serials for popular games
  • USBDView – Allows you to list and manage USB devices (including devices that arent currently plugged in)
  • TrID – Identifies file types for extension-less files
  • Codec Installer – Finds and analyzes video codecs
  • Unknown Devices – Tells you what a “Unknown Device” in system properties actually is
  • GSpot – Video analyizer

Repair Tools

  • Norton Removal Tool – Removes Symantec products
  • McAfee Removal Tool – Removes McAfee products
  • LSPFix – Fixes broken Winsock entries
  • Dial-a-Fix – Repair Windows files and registries

Recovery

  • Recuva – Recovers deleted files
  • Restoration – Recovers deleted files
  • Photorec – Recover deleted/damaged files from Flash memory (like digital cameras)
  • DBXTract – Recover emails from damaged DBX files (like Outlook Express)

Network Tools

  • Wireshark – View network packets
  • Network Scanner – Scans the network for devices
  • Putty – SSH/Telnet/RLogin client
  • Network Stumbler – Wireless Network Scanner

Virus and Malware Removal Tools

  • Clamwin Antivirus – Virus scanner/remover
  • Rootkit Revealer – Detects rootkits on a system
  • Combofix – Malware finder and remover
  • SmitFraudFix – Malware finder and remover
  • RogueFix – Malware finder and remover
  • Hijack This! – Malware remover
  • SUPERAntiSpyware – Malware scanner and remover
  • Malwarebytes – Malware scanner and remover

Miscellaneous

  • Mozilla Firefox – Web browser
  • JavaRa – Find and remove old Java versions
  • Monitor Tester – Test monitors from problems
  • Dead Pixel Tester – Finds and fixes dead pixels on LCDs
  • ChkFlsh – Check flash drives for errors or test their real size (as fake ones appear on eBay)
  • Double Driver – Driver backup tool
  • SumatraPDF – Lightweight PDF viewer
  • Revo Uninstaller – Advanced application uninstaller

Tweaks

  • TweakUI – Windows XP tweaking tool
  • VistaTweaker – Vista tweaking tool

Scripts

  • Quickly Make a System Restore Point – Makes restore point
  • Reset Network – Releases/Renews IP and flushes DNS
  • Clear Printer Spooler – Clears stuck print jobs from spooler
  • Stop Automatic Updates – Stops “Windows has installed updates, restart now” dialog temporarily
  • Start Automatic Updates – Switches it back on

To start the toolkit: Extract the zip file to your portable media and run .Launcher.exe.. You can also add your own utilities to the menu by going to File > and make it so it autoruns when you insert your portable media into the system.

The download size is 88.4mb as a ZIP file and it extracts to 188mb.

Download from one of the following Mirrors:

Note: Like many mirrors, these mirrors can be annoying.

Deposit Files:

Badongo:

zShare:

Megaupload:

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, computer repair, downloads, flash drive, Freeware, Portable Applications, Recommended Web Sites, Software, Technicians Advise, USB, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Mirror Your Mood With Free Emotional Internet Radio

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, has done it again! Rick, who has a knack for finding great free applications, introduces us to his latest find, StereoMood.  StereoMood is a free service that streams music that best suits your mood, and your activities. It’s very cool!

image Feeling sad, feeling glad, feeling nasty, feeling bad…  How would you like to play music to match your mood or emotion?  You can with a cloud app called StereoMood. They say that behind every song is an emotion.

StereoMood is a tag cloud, reflecting various types of moods.  You click on one of the tags and Stereo Mood will suggest a playlist that best suits your mood and your activities.

However, if you wish to customize StereoMood for your own personal taste, you can, by creating libraries and playlists.  You can even go as far as, searching for and  listening to your favorite music by a specific artist, or a track.

In order to create personal customized playlists and libraries, you are required to create an account and be logged into StereoMood.  In my case, I did not create an account; I simply visit the web site, select a mood from the tag cloud, minimize StereoMood to the task bar and life is good.

image

If you are wondering where the music is generated from for Stereo Mood; the StereoMood tracks are derived from a selection of the best international music blogs.

Stereo Mood

Overall, the music I have experienced is quite good.  I like the fact that I can click on a mood (e.g. relax) and get music that matches the mood.

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, Digital Media, Freeware, Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Internet Radio, Windows Tips and Tools

Download Free S10 Password Vault – Secure your Usernames, Passwords

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, has done it again! Rick, who has a knack for finding great free applications, introduces us to his latest find, S10 Password Vault. A password vault that will work with any program (that requires a username and password), and not just web site accounts.

S10  Password Vault iconWhat I have found, as a result of following the software circuit, is that oftentimes software (during its lifespan) can end up being over developed and bloated.  As a result, the end user becomes frustrated and drops the software in search for something more understandable and simpler. I have found that to be the case with many of the software applications that serve as password managers.

Recently, I was looking for an easy-to-use application to store my usernames and passwords and came across S10 Password Vault. Initially I was skeptical, since I had never heard of this application; however, after a test run I knew I was onto something good.

S10 Password Vault is FREE for personal use, can be run as a PORTABLE APP or a FULL INSTALL, is small in windows size, is  not cumbersome, will autotype the usernames and passwords for you, and will generate random passwords if need be.

The really “cool factor” to this password vault is that it will work with any program (that requires a username and password) and not just web site accounts.

Another thing I found, that I was in search for is, I can use it as a bookmark manager and program launcher, as well (even though it is touted as a password vault). This is especially useful on my flash drive. I commend the author, Sten Herlitz, for developing a really nice (easy-to-use) password vault that is feature enriched and developed with the end user in mind.

Master Password Screen

Create  Master Password

Folder Hierarchy Example

Folder/Account  Hierarchy

Account Editor

Edit  Account

Features of S10 Password Vault:

Customizable folder/account hierarchy

Launching of websites and programs

Autotypes info in websites and programs

Account matching via window titles

Custom account information fields

Drag-and-drop support

System tray icon showing lock state

Quick unlock using partial password

Auto-start when Windows starts

Print capability and “View All” mode

Export URLs to browser Favorites

Compact program (647KB download)

Highly secure 256-bit AES encryption

Single file protected by master password

Optional key file on USB drive

Strong password generation

Foils malicious keyboard loggers

Auto-lock timeout and automatic file backup

Secure synchronization between PCs

Secure folder sharing with other users

A portable version runs on USB drive

Digitally signed – no spyware/adware

No browser plugins or toolbars

Central configuration for businesses

System requirements: Windows all (32 and 64 bit).

Download at: Developer’s site

Note: A portable version is also available.

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, flash drive, Freeware, Internet Safety Tools, Portable Applications, Software, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Get Personal – Create Your Handwriting Font

Guest writer Rick Robinette thinks it’s time for you to get personal, and shows you how to create your own handwriting font. Perfect for your upcoming online holiday greetings.

image FontCapture is a web based (cloud app) that walks you through a (4) – four step process of creating a font style in your very own handwriting.

You will need a fine point marker, printer, scanner, an internet connection and a little computer know-how to make this work.

The FontCapture web site indicates it is a (4)-four step process; however, I found it is actually to be a (6)-six step process from the point of completing the template to actually getting the font style on a PC.

If you follow all of the steps, and take your time completing the template, the end result is very good.  Below is a sample of the results I managed to get.

image

Step 1: Download and print the the template

Step 2: Complete the template in your own handwriting

Step 3: Scan the template ( >200 dpi) – Save as a PNG file

Step 4: Upload the saved PNG file to FontCapture

Step 5: Preview and Download the converted font file

Step 6: Locate and Copy the downloaded font to your Windows font directory.

Note: If you experience any problems copying the font file to your Windows font directory, I encourage you to follow these “easy” step-by-step instructions on: “How To Add A Custom Font To Your PC”  at Tech-for Everyone.

System Requirements: Windows, Mac

Interact at: FontCapture

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Cloud Computing Applications, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Personal Privacy – A Dangerous Concept!

image It seems rather strange to think of privacy as a dangerous concept. But governments, worldwide, would have you believe that it is, and generally have been highly effective in convincing their citizens that privacy has limited individual benefits. Moreover, governments have been successful, in large part, in convincing people that too much privacy has serious social and security implications.

To experience this erosion of individual privacy in action all you need do is walk anywhere, drive anywhere, and you will be recorded with, or without, your knowledge or permission. Your behavior and your activities will be noted, and in many instances stored for later retrieval. You need go no further than your own home town.

Police in London, England, despite its thousands of CCTV cameras, estimated last year that just 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. All the while however, restrictions on invasion of individual privacy were thrown out the window. Despite this lack of effectiveness, London continues to add more cameras.

Virtually ever method of communication, including telephones and computers, can be, and are in fact, monitored by governments for “trigger” words or phrases. Web sites, email chats, and VOIP conversations are monitored for “suspicious” conversations, or activities.

It seems that most people (particularly younger people), have come to terms with living in this climate of little or no privacy; of uber surveillance – since we have been conditioned to believe that there is nothing we can do to change this reality.

The aftermath of September 11, 2001, has guaranteed that resistance to the government enforced surveillance society we now live in, is viewed with suspicion and hostility. Not only by government, but by individuals themselves. We are now the dogs in a Pavlovian experience – conditioning works.

I count myself amongst those who are genuinely concerned that the massive amounts of government data collection presents threats to our civil liberties and human rights – with good reason, I believe.

The idea that social control in the guise of patriotism, enhancement of security, and the protection of democracy is effective, is not new. Propaganda is a well established tool used to convince people to subvert their own best interests.

Those who are aware of history, a diminishing percentage of the population it seems to me, are familiar with Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels’s skillful use of propaganda ( a lie by any other name), helped Adolf Hitler acquire and maintain power, leading ultimately to World War 2.

In the final analysis, allowing government unrestricted control of our lives has proven, and will prove once again, to be disastrous. Thomas Jefferson, 200 years ago, had something to say on this issue of government power when he stated, “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny”.

The continuing erosion of our right to privacy cannot lead to a positive outcome. Democracy, as many of us have defined it in the past, is undergoing profound changes as we stand by and watch; participants in our own demise.

If you enjoyed this article, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under cell phone, Communication, Email, Interconnectivity, Personal Perspective, Surveillance