Microsoft has been dying to move people off of Windows XP for years now, and even though most respectable IT departments have upgraded to Windows 7 (and less respectable ones to Vista or Windows 8), Microsoft finally cut the cord on the significant number of people still using Windows XP back in April when they discontinued support and stopped providing updates for the highly popular operating system.
Today’s reader question comes from Ben, who isn’t happy with the performance of his cable internet service and believes that he should be getting significantly higher speeds than what he currently experiences. I’m going to summarize the content of several messages between Ben and myself here, but it basically boils down to the fact that Ben subscribes to Comcast’s Extreme 150 package, but can only clock up to around 50-60 Mbps in practice.
Continue reading “Why Isn’t My Internet Connection Working As Fast As Advertised?” »
I recently made some changes to my home network, after which my PS3, Blu-Ray player, and other devices had trouble finding my PS3 Media Server. After doing some troubleshooting, I was able to fix the problem and make my PS3 Media Server pop right up when I turn any player device on. Based on that, I decided to write up a blog looking at things to check if your player has trouble finding your PS3 Media Server and you’re not sure where to start.
Time to dip into the mailbag! Today’s question comes from Paul L., who writes:
“What are VPNs? I know people at work use them and I know they’re a security thing but don’t really get what they actually do.”
Happy to help, Paul. You’re right: they’re a security thing, but there are actually several cool things you can use them for.
Continue reading “Reader Question: What Are VPNs? Why Do People Use Them?” »
Recently, CNN.com ran a story about Marriott being fined $600,000 by the FCC after they were found to have blocked the use of personal Wi-Fi hotspots in their conference centers, leaving guests with little choice but to pay the hotel for Wi-Fi internet access if they needed to stay connected. Though Marriott’s method didn’t involve outright jamming of the radio signals used in Wi-Fi networks, it does illustrate how hotels (and practically anyone else offering public Wi-Fi service, for that matter) have the capability to use legitimate network security tools to prevent people from using the Wi-Fi hotspot service they pay for.
Microsoft may have discontinued official support for Windows XP back in April, but depending on the estimate you hear, as many as two thirds of Windows PCs still run Windows XP. While nothing will stop anyone from continuing to use XP as they always have, no new security patches or updates will be made available to Windows XP users going forward (even though they were nice enough to make a one-time exception for the Heartbleed bug). With that in mind, I’ve put together a short list of simple things anyone continuing to use XP can do to help protect their computers.
Time to answer a reader question from my buddy Eric, who is in a bit of a dilemma after his MicroSD card flaked out on him:
I have a Micro SD card in my Blackberry that simply quit working. I’ve tried it in multiple computers and devices and none of them will read it. So even data recovery software is useless given that the card can’t be read. What’s weird is that the card looks perfectly fine physically and I didn’t drop it, etc. So, any suggestions, or am I effed? (I lost pics of my daughter and about 80 audios from PWInsider.com!) Thanks Stu!
Don’t lose hope yet, Eric: there are a few things you can try. I can’t guarantee that any of them will work, but if the data does still exist on that MicroSD card, I have three ways you might be able to recover it.
While a lot of people find it extremely handy that Google has sent cars around to map nearly the entire United States (and many other places) down to the street level, others aren’t exactly comfortable with the idea of absolutely anybody being able to not only find their address online fairly easily, but also use Google Maps to see what their house actually looks like. Aside from just being able to see the house, there’s also concerns about what else Google might have picked up while driving around: children playing outside, license plate numbers, or any of a number of other potential privacy issues.
People stream a lot of video these days, and whether it’s Youtube, episodes of Dancing With The Stars from ABC’s website, Netflix, or a variety of other sources, streaming video has become so accessible to the average person that a lot of people are starting to cancel their cable TV service and just stream everything they watch.
However, the more time people spend watching streaming video, the more they notice increasingly common technical issues. Have you ever been watching a perfectly clear video that suddenly becomes so blocky that the people look like they’re made of Legos? Or been watching coverage of a major news story or a big sports game, and the video stops every ten seconds while a message pops up on screen to inform you that the video is buffering? Or worst of all, have you ever gotten the dreaded “I’m sorry, this video is not available at this time” message?
As many of you may have heard, a major Internet security flaw called Heartbleed has recently been discovered, though it has been around for a couple of years. It affects about two thirds of Internet web servers and compromises the security that protects your data, passwords and interactions. Many of the Internet services you use both personally and professionally may have been compromised. The nature of this flaw is such that it can be accurately detected if a site is vulnerable, but not whether cybercriminals have actually exploited the flaw to breach the site’s security.
Because of this, you can expect to receive notices for many of your Internet accounts to reset your password as a precautionary measure. It is important that you consider the following guidelines: