Yet Another Reason To Secure Your Wi-Fi Access Point

After reading this alarmist article from Wired, I found myself wanting to provided what is apparently a needed reality check. First of all, most people consider a warrantless search to be done with people who are armed and that are not ASKING to come in. In those instances, if you refuse, you will be moved aside.

In the instance of the FCC however, all one needs to do is say no. Yes, you may find yourself in court, but this beats allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry into your home because your router might be misconfigured. If someone really wants to simply avoid this problem in the first place, the best way is to avoid using DIY boosters and overkill antennas.

For those who prefer to live on the edge, make sure you understand that while you can refuse entry of an FCC representative, you will likely have your backside fined from here into tomorrow if you are found to have been getting creative with boosters and other gray area electronics. This is just based on what I have been able to read up on the matter, so your mileage may vary greatly.


Is Belkin Cheating On Reviews?

Am I not sure how truthful these reports are, but there are allegations being made that Belkin is paying for favorable reviews on Amazon and Newegg sites. What is strange is that the reviewers are being paid .65 cents for a kind review. Over at CrunchGEAR they stated that:

I just contacted Belkin to confirm but this doesn’t look good. A site called The Daily Background found evidence that Belkin Bizdev guy, Michael Bayard, is paying folks 65 cents to write good things about Belkin routers. Why? I’m not sure. I sure didn’t mind Belkin routers in the first place and 65 cents isn’t a lot of money for a paragraph. Maybe a flat buck or a USB hub instead? Is false praise really that cheap?

Here is one of the requests on the Mechanical Turk:

Positive review writing.

* Use your best possible grammar and write in US English only
* Always give a 100% rating (as high as possible)
* Keep your entry between 25 and 50 words
* Write as if you own the product and are using it
* Tell a story of why you bought it and how you are using it
* Thank the website for making you such a great deal
* Mark any other negative reviews as “not helpful” once you post yours


The link below leads to a product on a website. Read-through the product’s features and write a positive review for it using the guidelines above to the best of your ability. I have also provided the part number for this product and you can click on the links below to see it on several alternative websites. In order to post some reviews you will need to create an account on the site. You can use your own email address or open a new free webmail account (gmail, yahoo…) and use it to post with.

This is interesting since it means that Belkin may be trying to cover up the fact that their routers leave much to be desired. I recently wrote here about the problems I had with a new Belkin wireless router and how it screwed up my Internet and Vonage connection.

So I have a question. Is there anyone else who had problems with Belkin routers? Let us know.

Comments welcome.


Enhance My Wi-Fi!

Today, Joe asks:

I just got cable Internet. Bought a router (Linksys) and a desktop card for my downstairs computer. Over the past few weeks it is now apparent that the signal from the router could be “better.” Looked around for something to enhance the signal and found several that seemed to fit the bill. After snooping around I found several Linksys items offered only to discover, before I bought them, that any Linksys router that is V8.00 or higher don’t have removable antennas so the amplified antenna can be connected. I’m wondering if anyone has successfully installed one of these amplified antennas on a V8 router. I suppose I could buy another router but the one I have is brand new and I hope to keep using it.

If was me, I would simply roll my own. Assuming the update to this post is right (I’d check with the FCC first), I would rip up a copy of Wireless Hacks and turn to the chapter on Do-It-Yourself Antennas. Honestly, as long as you are not boosting anything with an unregulated amp or messing with frequencies, I doubt there is a problem here.

The one “hack” you might give serious thought with is this one, whereas you are simply aiming an existing signal. The benefits to directional privacy and cut down on potential interference are huge. Well that and the price is right.

Do you have an IT-related question? Perhaps you are just burnt out on writing on the walls with crayons? Whatever the comments may be, drop me a line, and you too can “Just Ask Matt!” Please address comments to the comments section above, my email address is for questions – thanks!

Crossover Cable Curiosity

Today, Eric asks:

Last night, I was trying to network my laptop and my desktop together so I can send files from on PC to another, and all I have is a simple Ethernet cable, but I think I screwed something up during the process, because I did it on one PC and I did the same thing on the other, yet it said it didn’t work. Both PCs have Windows XP Home Edition, Service Pack II.

Again, the mini-network is for 2 PCs connected to each other by means of an Ethernet cable and the means for this networking is to transfer files from one to the other. Also, when I connect the 2 PCs together, they never actually connect, it times out.

Now if I am understanding this right, you attached two computers together with a single Ethernet cable with intentions of making for easy file transfer and it is not allowing success going either way? Assuming you are using proper cross-over cable, have run the XP Networking wizard and rebooted both PCs, you should be fine. Are you using a Firewall? Chances are very good that you are. And that is a real pain in the backside. After doing all of the above and assuming again, you are using the XP firewall, use this tutorial to sidestep that blockage.

Do you have an IT-related question? Perhaps you are just burnt out on writing on the walls with crayons? Whatever the comments may be, drop me a line, and you too can “Just Ask Matt!”

[tags]networking, routers, ethernet[/tags]

Dropped Wireless? How Are You Coping?

Lately I have been struggling with a serious throughput issue on my notebook to the degree that I would have to stop my wireless card, then completely reconnect it. After checking things out, it seemed that it wasn’t actually my wireless MIMO card, running on Ubuntu Gutsy with Wicd (testing version) on WPA2. Rather, it appeared to be some sort of data drop-off somewhere along the line at the router level.

After trying everything short of killing off WPA, I opted for the following solution. Instead of messing with my router’s MTU settings, I decided to try tweaking my RTS Threshold settings in my advanced wireless settings just a tiny bit. It defaults to 2346 as is, so I set the router to 2046. Again, I was careful not to mess with any other settings whatsoever. Rebooted the router and by George – success. My connection has improved significantly and I have not felt any loss of throughput despite the settings change. The problem is completely gone.

So what say you? Have you had wireless issues that through some tweaking, found solutions to? Share them with us in the comments area.

[tags]wireless, MIMO, routers[/tags]