Migrate From Windows XP Before Microsoft Pulls the Plug.

April 3rd, 2014

While Windows 7 is not the most recent version of Microsoft’s operating system, in my humble opinion it is one of the most secure and it is well supported by IT administrators. (Windows 8 does not include Windows XP Mode.)

No matter what the reasons are for staying with Windows XP, its users will be significantly less secure beginning April 9/2014. Vulnerabilities will be forever left unpatched, and attackers are expected to take full advantage of them.

Change is hard, both in terms of moving information and in learning a whole new OS. But if security is important to a company and it should be changing to a more recent and more secure OS is the only option.

Home Networking Is For You These Days.

January 31st, 2012

A few years ago building a home network was strictly for professionals and true computer geeks. The cost, the complexity and other factors made it a very rough road for anyone else.

But that has all changed. Today, the costs have come down on every component. Wireless is not much more expensive, and sometimes less, than cabled gear. A bit of Cat 5 Ethernet cable costs not much more than plain stereo equipment wire. A hub costs a few dollars. Even routers, once $200 or more are now available for little more than the cost of an ordinary switch. At the same time with broadband, speeds have increased dramatically.

Reliability has improved for both cabled and wireless networks. The latter were once just for experiments by hobbyists. A cordless phone call, a wall or just a solar flare hiccup could easily knock your network offline. Distances were limited to a few meters, making wireless networks much less attractive for networking the whole home. Now, they can cover the whole of a large, two story home with ease.

But perhaps best of all, besides the lower cost and better performance, home networking is now simpler than ever. Today’s gear comes with better instructions, ones that don’t assume you are a computer or networking expert. The software and hardware both are simpler to configure. The diagnostic tools are easier to use than in times past.

At the same time, most people have increased their basic computer knowledge by leaps and bounds. With the Internet, cell phones, iPods, iPads, and tablets being a daily part of everyone’s lives, the intimidation factor is at an all time low. Everyone today knows how to use email. Most people know what HTTP or HTTPS is, how to ping something and other things once considered esoteric. Discussing routers, IP addresses and other aspects is no longer just for wild eyed guys with glasses.

Security consciousness has been raised, too. As a result of thousands of articles on credit card or identity theft and other computer related issues, people are much better informed and more cautious. They may not follow all the standard recommendations touted by security professionals, but they’re no longer indifferent. Anyone who has ever been hit by a computer virus, which is just about everyone today, has seen first hand the need for some efforts in this area.

There are still a few minor hurdles to overcome. The biggest one is usually just absorbing a fair number of unfamiliar terms, such as protocol, NIC (Network Interface Card) and other related words. Once that wall is breached, the rest is pretty straightforward.

Even adding an Internet connection to the home network, so that it can be shared by all systems instead of just one, is very simple today. A little bit of homework, sometimes a modest amount of troubleshooting, and you’re in business. So get in gear and start hooking together those computers owned by each member of the family. You’ll find that printer sharing is easy. You’ll be able to pass files without emailing them from one system and downloading them from another. You’ll find your security enhanced. Most of all, you’ll have the same kind of fun that used to be limited to computer experts. Who wouldn’t want that?

Watch for future articles that will help you with your Home Network.

HTTP:
HTTPS:
Router:
Network:
Wi-Fi:
Computer Virus:

Custom Search

What Is a Home Computer Network to you?

January 29th, 2012

Your home network is a computer network you have in your home. True, but not very helpful? Let’s look a little deeper.

Most people know by now that in order for one computer to share information with another, it’s necessary to connect them together in some way. Those connections and the computers that are part of them form a network. Just like a spider web, when the trapped fly tugs on one part, a signal is sent to the spider at the other end.

In the case of a home network, the web is made up of either cables or wireless signals. Those two basic options make up the difference between what is called a cabled or wired network versus a wireless network. As recently as five years ago, a lifetime in the computer world, the wireless option was complicated and expensive. Today, wireless home networks are often less expensive and easier to create.

At different points along the web there are junctions called nodes. Those nodes can be in the form of computers, switches or routers.

Switches provide a place to plug the cables in that allow a physical connection between communicating computers. Routers perform a similar purpose but with more functions, such as the ability to connect multiple networks together and (as the name suggests) route traffic intelligently between them. In many cases, computers themselves can perform those functions. Software within the system can use the network cards in each computer, with a simple switch in between, to allow communication between them. Though routers have become commonplace, that’s still possible and if your needs are fairly simple it can be the cheapest, easiest way to create a home network.

But computers, switches and routers aren’t the only possible components of a home network. Familiar devices that go under the general name of peripherals are often part of the home web.

One of the reasons for undertaking the expense and effort of creating a network is often to share folders, printer, fax or scanner among multiple computers. If you splurged for a color laser printer or a fax machine at home, you save money by only needing to purchase one device each, instead of multiple printers and faxes for each computer. A home network allows sharing those devices. As part of the basic home network system, you’ll often want to include software and/or hardware known as a firewall. A firewall allows for passing some information sent by trusted sources, but blocks other types of data, or unfriendly malware, viruses, etc that are sent from any other source.

With wireless networks or any home network connected to the Internet, they are a must. Fortunately, routers typically contain some inherent firewall functions. Even software within the OS today can usually perform that function. Putting all these different pieces together in a coherent way that allows you to send and receive files, share printers and more is the process of creating a home network.
Of course, doing it in a way that doesn’t get you tangled up in a sticky web requires a bit of homework.

Probably by the year 2015 all of your appliances in the kitchen along with every entertainment device you have in the house will be connected to the internet.

Watch for future articles that will help you with your Home Network.



Restart regularly in Windows 7.

March 24th, 2011

As with all past Windows Versions restarting will clear up some common problems. Restart your PC at least once a week, especially if you use it a lot. Restarting a PC is a good way to clear out its memory and ensure that any errant processes and services that started running get shut down.

Restarting closes all the software running on your PC, not only the programs you see running on the taskbar, but also dozens of services that might have been started by various programs and never stopped. Restarting can fix mysterious performance problems when the exact cause is hard to pinpoint.

If you keep so many programs, e mail messages, and websites open that you think restarting is a hassle, that’s probably a sign you should restart your PC. The more things you have open and the longer you keep them running, the greater the chances your PC will bog down and eventually run low on memory.

These tutorials are a one-person effort. Please donate if you find them useful.

Custom Search

Turn off Visual Effects in Windows 7.

March 21st, 2011

As with all past versions of Windows if your PC is running slowly, you can speed it up by disabling some of its visual effects. It comes down to appearance versus performance. Would you rather have Windows run faster or look prettier? If your PC is fast enough, you don’t have to make this tradeoff, but if your computer is just barely powerful enough for Windows 7, it can be useful to scale back on the visual bells and whistles.

You can choose which visual effects to turn off, one by one, or you can let Windows choose for you. There are many visual effects you can control, such as the transparent glass look, the way menus open or close, and whether shadows are displayed.

To adjust all visual effects for best performance:

1. Open Performance Information and Tools by clicking the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type Performance Information and Tools, and then, in the list of results, click Performance Information and Tools.

2. Click Adjust visual effects. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

3. Click the Visual Effects tab, click Adjust for best performance, and then click OK. (For a less drastic option, select Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer.)

These tutorials are a one-person effort. Please donate if you find them useful.