What About Routers?

When we used a dial-up connection to the Internet, security was not a significant problem. With today’s “always on” broadband connections, security has become a major concern. This discussion applies only to broadband connections like DSL or cable modem connections. Many broadband connections come with a router built in to the modem.

If the box that came from the telephone company or cable company has?more than one plug that looks like a wide telephone jack, chances are that you have a built in router.

This is what a?DSL Modem/Router looks like from the back.

DSL router back

To check your computer’s security, go to?Hacker Watch for a free security check.

To secure your computer, the first thing you need is a router. Every router has a hardware firewall. A router is the only device to appear on the Internet, and the router is a dumb device with no important data. Without a router, your computer is on the Internet, and there is important data on it. There are software firewalls but they are not nearly as effective as a routers hardware firewall. The built in firewall in Windows XP is particularly ineffective.

A router is not expensive, and it’s easy to connect. There are two basic types of routers: wired and wireless. A wired router may be purchased for as little as $10, while a wireless router for as little as $30. Every wireless router also has wired connections - usually 4 wired connections. For current prices, check?your local office supply store.

A router connects with standard Ethernet connectors, sometimes called Category 5 Patch Cables. It simply connects between your cable or DSL modem and the computer. Some early modems connected with a USB connector instead of Ethernet. If you have one of these, call your DSL or cable provider and they will replace it. Many DSL modems have both USB and Ethernet connections. If yours is connected with USB but the modem has both USB and Ethernet connectors, you just need to find the original box - there will be an Ethernet cable in it, or you can buy one at any office supply store for about $5.

If you have a cable connection and a wired router, you’re done. If you have DSL, there is one more step.

Since DSL uses your telephone line, there are more than one ISP’s on the line. A DSL connection has to connect to the right ISP. You will have to uninstall the connection software that came with the DSL package and tell the router how to connect. To uninstall the connection software, click on “Start”, click on “Settings”, click on “Control Panel”, click on “Add/Remove Programs”. Find the software that came with DSL modem and remove it. To tell your router how to connect, bring up your web browser (usually Internet Explorer) and go to? That is the standard router address. If that address does not work, find the address of your router in the router manual. Also find the router password. You now need to define the connection type. It will be called DSL or PPPoE. Select that type of connection and enter your DSL account name and password from the paperwork that came with your DSL package. You’re done for a wired router.

If you have a wireless router, there is another step.

Since a wireless router broadcasts a signal over the air, it should be secured through encryption. The signal can travel about 300 feet under ideal conditions. Also, the router password should be changed to prevent a hacker from taking over your router. Standard passwords are well known. If you choose not to secure the signal, someone could park in front of your house, and hack into your system or download hours of illegal music and you would be liable.

To secure your wireless router, you need to activate WEP, WPA, WPA2 or encryption. Every router is a bit different, so check the router manual for instructions. You can also turn off wireless operation and use the router as a wired router.

The Truth about the “Fast” Connections

Most people who use the internet know that certain sites are slow, and others are fast. Only some really know why. The reason is, yes you guessed it, too many people overloading the web page, but it goes deeper than that. Your Internet Service Provider is behind the scenes controlling the speed of the internet, they are the reason why this blog loaded so slow. It is not because so many people are reading the interesting articles at Computer Geeks, it is because the ISP only lets the user a certain amount of bandwidth or access to the?web.

The name for it is data transfer cap, they are?almost the norm now, which means that high speed cable Internet isn’t as high speed as it used to be.

When cable Internet was new, it was not uncommon to realize download speeds of over 2 or 3mbs. In fact, I remember one user who was downloading at over 10mbs! Of course, in those early exciting days, the cable subscribers were few and shared bandwidth wasn’t a problem.

So many people access the internet every day, it is no wonder all these pages are slow since you and the rest of the world are?zooming around downloading, uploading, and sucking up all the speed that is limited.

Many ISPs engineered their facilities in the 1990s to use dynamic capacity allocation to serve multiple bursty users. Each user is expected to use high speed transmission for only a short time, for example to download a megabyte web page in less than a second. When use is continuous, as for?file sharing or?Internet radio or?streaming video, a few users who use the connection at high rates for hours at a time may seriously impair the service of others.

One type of bandwidth cap, administered by an?Internet service provider?simply limits the?bitrate or speed of data transfer on a broadband Internet connection. The purpose of bandwidth capping is to prevent individual users from consuming the entire transmission capacity of the cable, a shared resource. Critics have charged that it is a method to charge consumers more by introducing tiered bandwidth caps.

Cable is a shared service which works like a LAN?a local area network. Your cable performance varies depending on how many people, in your neighborhood, are using the cable service at the same time.

If your whole neighborhood is using the cable service, then your Internet speed drops. However, if you are the only one using the cable service, your Internet speed could increase dramatically.

So your bandwidth could vary widely throughout the day. At least, with this shared bandwidth model, you have the chance to realize higher Internet speeds. Typically, early in the morning or late in the evening, you would notice better performance. However, this is changing. And the reason is due to?capping.

As the broadband market increased, many cable providers began imposing data transfer caps. This goes back a few years, but many subscribers weren’t even aware of it?not aware why their download speeds seemed slower than originally advertised. Data transfer caps prevent you from exceeding a certain speed limit. Depending on your provider, the download caps could be under 256kbs or over 1.5mps.

What this means is that the shared bandwidth system no longer gives you any potential, at all, to achieve faster speeds. Even if you are the only person on the Internet, your bandwidth will never increase.

Again, consider yourself lucky if you have or can find a cable service provider that does not impose capping and that guarantees a minimum data transfer rate, not just a maximum one.

By the way, at the present time, my maximum cable download speed is 64kbs, but averages more often at 10kbs. I’ve been capped for the month by going over the transfer limit quota.

An Introduction to the Internet

Computers is a fast growing technology that is improving, upgrading, and coming out with crap everyday. For older people or for those who just do not believe in the PC or Mac company philosophy, learning about the computer is a struggle against ignorance. But once that person educates his or herself, then life becomes much better due to the fact that they can access the internet and understand how to use it. Here at Computer Geeks we see the dilemma of people who are maybe not as educated in the computer field, so here is an easy to understand blog about the internet.

Dial-up Internet access

Dial-up Internet access is basically an?analog access method using the standard telephone system with a maximum speed of 64,000?bits per second (bps). Typically the fastest actual access speed is closer to 52,000 bps.

If all you do is email and the occasional web site, a?dial-up Internet access is sufficient.?In the early days of the public Internet (1970-1990) most users accessed through this method with?Internet Service Providers(ISP’s) like?Compuserve,?Prodigy,?WebTV,?AOL and?Mindspring (now?EarthLink).

With today’s media rich Internet dial-up is not able to provide sufficient access speed.

Broadband Internet access

To provide faster access?Broadband became popular in the early 1990’s with?ISDN service from the local telephone company.

ISDN provided speeds of about 144,000 bps and was soon replaced by more efficient methods providing even greater speeds.

Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Internet Service

The?Digital Subscriber Line or DSL replaced ISDN in the mid 1990’s and is now one of the most popular Internet Access Methods. DSL typically provides Internet access of 1,500,000 bps to 4,000,000 bps.

DSL is available from AT&T, which can be found on the Internet at?att.com.

The speed you achieve with a DSL Internet connection is dependent on distance from the closest?DSLAM. Generally if you are within 60,000 feet with copper wire service will get excellent results. AT&T is actively laying?fiber optic cable?around the country to improve DSL service even more. Those big orange cables being laid all over are fiber optic cables.

Cable Internet Service

Not to be out done local cable companies began offering Internet service in order to entice customers into the lucrative cable based telephone service.?Cable Internet Access uses the existing broadband?CATV cable and adds Internet access using a?cable modem attached between a?cable jack and your computer or or router.

In the Atlanta area cable Internet service is provided by:

  • Comcast Cable
  • Charter Cable
  • Cox High Speed Internet

If you are not in the Atlanta area, you can locate your local U.S. cable Internet provider?here.

Cable Internet service provides speeds up to 32,000,000 bps.

T-1 and T-3 Internet Service

T-1 Internet Service is a formerly popular service with businesses. It provided Internet service at only 1,500,000 bps at a high price. Cable and DSL now provide faster service at a lower price. T-1 is rapidly becoming obsolete.

T-3 service provide Internet access at speeds up to 44,736,000 bps, slightly faster than cable and it is still used by large companies.

VoIP Telephone Service

If you opt for DSL or other broadband Internet without telephone service, there are services available on the Internet to provide you with a telephone number. The telephone companies have been charging you to place long distance calls for years using the Internet.

Feed Me! RSS feeds fill us up!

If you are not yet full from all the information being fed to you over the internet these days, try a Really Simple Syndication, or RSS as it is commonly known as. The syndicate is a way for you to subscribe to a certain web page, blog, or any site that is constantly updating information as a way to follow what these sites are doing.

It has an interesting history, and it involves one of our favorite web browsers of old: Netscape! the “Scape” will not go away, even if the three top web browsers combined tried to eliminate it from use. Yes, it is true that no one uses Netscape anymore, but we all have to respect the name and what it brought us in terms on internet and invention.

The first version of the RSS feeds was called Resource Discription Framework(RDF), developed by a man named Ramanathan Guha at Netscape in 1999. The aim was to be the first to provide instant access to updated information say for a news site, to get the latest headlines instantly was huge back then. Now it is a thing of the past, funny how technology works, it is so fast that it leaves behind major inventions in the past like they were cavemen who made them, and it has only been a couple years!

After AOL bought Netscape and made some changes, the RSS was abandoned, but it would return through other developers. RSS feeds have become a popular way to stay informed on the internet. As if it was not easy to do that, with computer science at a very high level of innovation and user-accessibility the RSS is an add-on to an already booming information business.

What this add-on brings is knowledge of what is going on at a site that you do not have to be visiting. All you need to do is subscribe to the feed, usually by seeing this icon and clicking on it.

RSS FeedThis little icon was used first as a symbol for?Mozilla? Firefox’s web browser, and was brought back by Microsoft Internet?Explorer?an Outlook team in 2005.

Whenever the source of the feed, whether it be ESPN or a news station or even YouTube, has a new headline, video, or update, you will know by seeing the number of updates on the icon.

The new browser Rockmelt uses RSS feeds as one of its features connected to the browser. On the right hand side are feeds that you can subscribe to. The feeds are there for real easy access. I use it for email, if I am doing some business on another website, if an email comes into my Gmail account, how would I know? With the RSS feed for Gmail, I can see if anyone sent me an email. The icon even pops out so you can preview the message before you go to the site.

You can even subscribe to this blog, the Computer Geeks Guy!

Tired of Weak or No Signal?

That damn yellow triangle sign where your wireless bars should be has a “!” telling you that the signal is there, but due to a weak signal or no signal your internet use is put on hold. Until the signal can regain strength, your first thought might be to sit there patiently and wait it out, but who has time for that anymore? We live in a digital world, a wireless world, one that is very fast and waiting is something the tribes did sending a message to another camp hundreds of years ago. Try a second thought: change the things you can! The power to change the signal is yours, listen up.

wireless connection

If we look at the router, it is really an?amazing machine that is capable of fascinating feats for which we should be grateful for, I mean this little network tool makes our lives SO much easier. If we did not have the router, where would we be? Think about it, while you walk across the office to deliver something that could have been handled on a wireless network.

It all started back in Stanford with Bill Yeager who created the first router, which allowed for the wireless internet to blossom, as well as open many doors for the future. Yeager was asked originally to connect various departments at the school, he did much more than that. Back then they were only running on 56kb of memory, look how far it has have come!

How to combat Weak or No Signal

Now that you know a little bit more about where router’s come from, let’s talk on improving that sometimes weak signal which is everyone’s enemy if you use wireless.

  1. Place the router away from the wall. The signal that is being given off the router is too high to go through walls very good, and until we start using the television white space which is a much lower signal but can travel through walls, it is best that you position your device to a more accessible spot. Try placing the router in the middle of the room, house or office. It will be able to reach all the computers trying to access it better.
  2. Keep it off the floor. If you put the router on the floor, the signal being sent to other networks will surely be slow because it is not able to receive the data packets being sent back to the router from your computer.
  3. Do not put the router near metal objects. This is self-explanatory, metal objects can deflect signals and interrupt them, causing that annoying warning sign to piss you off.
  4. Use a hi-gain antenna. The router comes with a regular antenna that sends a signal in all directions, if it is placed in your office then half of the signal is going out the window! A hi-gain antenna focuses on a certain direction, a better choice if you have a desktop computer.
  5. Still weak? Try another type of router. This is called a wireless repeater, you still need your router, but the repeater will take the strong signal it gets in the office, and transmits it to the living room to supply the same strong signal to your laptop while enjoying the news.

If all else fails, just turn the router on and then wait for a couple minutes, then turn it on again. Resetting the router will boot it up again, it usually works to get a good signal after reset.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of that stupid yellow sign that blocks my internet and keeps me from accessing work, finishing emails, and all the basic tasks the internet allows me to do with ease. Thanks to these tips though, I will never have that problem again. After all, ignorance is the only real problem, everything else is just details. As always feel Free to contact us via email or give Computer Geeks a call at 800-433-5435 if you want us to fix it for you!

Cannot connect to internet

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