I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about poor wireless reception, so I’ve decided to share my thoughts:
Poor wireless reception can be caused by a multitude of things. Here are some of the things that I check for when I do my service calls:
1) Set the router to another channel. I try channel 11 first, then channel 6, then channel 1.
2) Try the 5GHz band if the router has this option.
3) Change the position of the router. There may be signal interference due to certain obstructions.
4) Check to see if the router needs a firmware update.
5) The receiving device may have a bad wireless adapter. Try an external dongle.
6) Are the router and the receiving device both wireless “N” protocols? If the router is “N” capable but the receiving device is only b/g then you won’t get “N” speeds. If both devices are “N” capable then don’t use any mixed b/g/n settings in the router. Use “N” only.
7) When setting the security in the router, use WPA2-PSK with AES.
8) Check all Network settings in the computer. I usually disable all wireless network adapter protocols except for Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4). Don’t disable the ones that your client needs!
9) I flush the DNS cache (ipconfig /flushdns in “command prompt” window), and then change the routers settings to point to OpenDNS.
10) When possible I always try to use the same brand of router and wireless adapter. For example, if using a D-Link router, also use a D-Link wireless USB adapter.
11) And finally, you may very well have a bad router! Try another one or get a new one!!
Professor Randy says:There is nothing like going wireless, but at times it can be a real hassle! You can enjoy your wireless connection more by becoming aware of the suggestions in this post. Happy wireless!
Great article from the great Windows guru Woody Leonhard. I personally don’t care if Microsoft brings back the Start menu or not. I know though, that many of my elderly clients will be ecstatic! Almost without exception I’ve been installing the free Classic Shell that I usually download and install from Ninite.
The fat lady hasn’t yet sung. It’s entirely possible that Microsoft will bring back the Start menu in Windows “Blue” 8.1 and allow customers to boot directly to the Desktop. While that doesn’t bode well for Microsoft’s Metro campaign, it may — with a little effort — go a long way toward taking Windows 8 out of the doghouse.
One week ago today, a rather obscure post on the My Digital Life forum first identified a new registry key value pair in Windows 8.1 Build 9364 — the leaked build dated March 24. The key, twinui-CanSuppressStartScreen, certainly sounds interesting.
Russian-language site Microsoft Portal fueled the speculation over the weekend, by identifying a line of code in Build 9364′s twinui.dll that references the same key. My Russian’s rusty, but the site appears to say that the line of code “is responsible for disabling the (Metro) Start screen (on startup). This will immediately go to the desktop automatically when Windows starts.”
On Tuesday, Tom Warren at The Verge quoted “sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans” as saying Win8.1 will include an option to boot directly to the Desktop. “We’re told that the option is disabled by default, allowing users to simply turn on the functionality should they want to avoid the Metro Start screen at initial boot or login.”
That same day, ZDnet’s Mary Jo Foley quoted “one of my sources” as saying boot-direct-to-desktop “is now looking like the plan and added that Microsoft is also considering bringing back the Start button as an option with Windows ‘Blue.’ It’s not 100 percent sure that either/both of these options will be baked into the final Blue release. … ‘Until it ships, anything can change,’ said my source, who requested anonymity.”
Foley’s revelation is mind-boggling on many levels. Under the Sinofsky regime, such leaks were unheard of. Just a year after Sinofsky’s departure, Foley quotes a single source as saying Microsoft’s making a major Windows design reversal. The fact that Foley ran the article with just a single source means (in my estimation) that she’s talking with the very highest-level people inside Microsoft. What a breath of fresh air!
Matt Rosoff at CITEWorld drew some insightful conclusions about the move: “The risk for Microsoft is that if the company makes it easier for users to spend all their time in old-fashioned Desktop mode, that’s exactly what they’ll do. … The new UI needs apps designed for touch … but the only way developers will feel compelled to build those apps is if users actually spend time in the new interface.”
That’s precisely the dilemma facing Microsoft. It can build an OS that many people (and companies) actively avoid because of it schizophrenic tendencies. Or it can build an OS that improves on the old OS in a compelling way, adding the Metro side as a bit of lagniappe. Don’t shove our noses in Metro, Microsoft. Dangle it like a carrot.
My one fervent request: Dear Microsoft, if you bring back the Start Menu and let me boot Win8.1 directly to the desktop, please, please reinstate the Aero Glass interface. It can’t be that hard to resurrect: Glass was obliterated in the final weeks of the Windows 8 RTM rush.
It still exists on the Win8 desktop’s taskbar. The hooks are still there. Just bring back the UI, so we can adjust it. I know that Glass was killed in an “off with their heads” moment when battery drain took high priority, but for some folks losing 15 minutes of battery capacity isn’t that big a deal. You can even make the blah, boxy Metro Flatland look the default, if you must. Jensen, please give us back Glass!
Professor Randy says:To be a good “technology man” you’ve got to “work on your craft”. I have “cut my Windows teeth” reading/studying great writers like Woody Leonhard. I suggest you do the same.
Granted this is a very basic set of tools, but for most fixes it will suffice. I have fixed over four hundred computers the last couple of years and for 90% of those fixes I have needed nothing more than this Belkin Tool Kit. If I ever need something more, it can usually be taken care of by tool #3 on this list.
I can’t tell you how many times I have installed or reinstalled an Operating System but forgotten to back up the Ethernet driver. With this great tool I just run the software, plug the adapter into the USB port, and I’m online in less than two minutes. I then go straight to Microsoft Update and download/install all updates and hardware drivers.
The MAGLITE XL50 is my favorite flashlight. It is very small and I can turn it on and off by just using the thumb of one hand. The light is awesome and the batteries last a long time. I used to use another MAGLITE model, but I had to twist the head of the flashlight to turn on/off and it was very difficult to do with just one hand.
My repair shop is a converted garage and I have no overhead fluorescent lights. I’m standing up bent over my computer bench and without good light I’m lost. The Petzl is absolutely the coolest headlamp that I have ever seen. The light is small but awesome and it shoots straight down directly onto the guts of the open computer. I feel like I’m a coal miner in West Virginia, my wife thinks I look crazy, but man do I fix those computers!!
Professor Randy says:A computer repair technician without great tools is like milk without cookies! Pointless! By choosing great hardware tools your repairs will be smooth, fast, and they’ll be enjoyable to boot!
It used to be that if you were diligently keeping your system updated by using the Windows Update Service, you could be sure that your Operating System was protected against vulnerabilities to malware and security exploits. But no more…
Windows Update does a great job, but it isn’t enough anymore. Hackers are now attacking your system through third party applications. In my area of the country I estimate that as much as 80% of the infections I see are caused by vulnerabilities due to outdated or unsecure third party programs.
Just last month (February 2013) alone, consider the following, mind boggling third party app scenario:
Adobe Flash: Multiple vulnerabilities
Adobe Reader & Adobe Acrobat:Two vulnerabilities were being exploited in the wild
Adobe Shockwave Player:2 vulnerabilities
Google Chrome: Multiple high risk vulnerabilities fixed
Mozilla Firefox: Multiple high risk vulnerabilties fixed
Mozilla SeaMonkey: Multiple high risk vulnerabilties fixed
Mozilla Thunderbird: Multiple high risk vulnerabilties fixed
Oracle Java:55 security fixes!
Opera: Security enhancements
And that’s just the month of February!! How in the world is a person supposed to 1) know about all of these third party vulnerabilities and 2) get the latest vulnerability fixes? This is what I suggest:
1)Secunia PSI 3.0: The Secunia Personal Software Inspector (PSI) is a free computer security solution that identifies vulnerabilities in non-Microsoft (third-party) programs which can leave your PC open to attacks. It then supplies your computer with the necessary software security updates to keep it safe. The Secunia PSI even automates the updates for your insecure programs, making it a lot easier for you to maintain a secure PC.
2)SUMo: SUMo (Software Update Monitor) keeps your PC up-to-date & safe by using the most recent version of your favorite software ! Unlike built-in auto update features, SUMo tells you if updates are available before you need to use your software.
3) Lumension Patch and Remediation: Awesome Enterprise Solution: Lumension Patch and Remediation is the world’s leading patch management solution, and is available as a modular offering on the Lumension Endpoint Management and Security Suite. With Lumension Patch and Remediation, IT administrators can automatically identify and patch vulnerabilities across heterogeneous operating systems, Microsoft and non-Microsoft applications, and endpoint configurations – all of which is seamlessly managed through a single console.
Professor Randy says:Don’t forget about your third party programs! Check them and update them regularly by using one of these great checker/updater programs. You’ll keep your computer secure by staying one step ahead of any attack!
Then FBI MoneyPak virus is still going strong and continues to reek havoc whenever it can. In a previous post I told you how I removed this nasty virus, but I must tell you that the virus has many variants and has morphed greatly since it first appeared.
So, I got a call the other day from a frantic client who was extremely nervous about going to jail. He told me that the FBI had confiscated his computer and was demanding that he pay $200.00 or else face going to the “slammer” for four to twelve years.
I went over to the clients house, turned on his machine, and sure enough the FBI screen popped up and audibly told me over and over again of the illegal activity, and that arrest was 72 hours away if I didn’t “pay up”. I knew that this was going to be a “tough one”, so I took the clients computer to my shop and here is what I found and what I did:
1) I turned on the machine and started tapping the F8 key in order to boot the machine into Safe Mode. This did not work! The virus had rendered Safe Mode unusable! But I wasn’t too worried because I had some other tricks up my sleeve.
2) I got out my trusty Kaspersky Rescue Disk, popped it into the CD drive and attempted to boot up the machine from the CD drive. This did not work! The FBI virus would not allow the Kaspersky Disk to fully load! I wasn’t too worried though because I had some other tricks up my sleeve!
3) I got out my trusty Trinity Rescue Kit CD , popped it into the CD drive and attempted to boot up the machine from the CD drive. This did not work! The FBI virus would not allow the Trinity bootable CD to fully load! Now I was starting to get excited because things were getting interesting! It was me against the virus and I relished the challenge. As a true computer repair tech, I dug in deeper and thought “bring it on” you miserable piece of “crap” virus!
4) I knew that I had to access the infected machines hard drive somehow, so I attempted to boot the machine with Hiren’s BootCD. This did work! Hiren’s booted up and at the Hiren’s boot options screen I choose Mini Windows XP.
5) Once the Mini Windows XP OS screen appeared, I clicked on the HBCD Menu in order to access a list of all the Hiren’s repair tools. From the selection of Antivirus tools, I ran a scan with GMER and Avira AntiVir Personal (I updated these before scanning – internet connection was up and running).
6) After running these two scans, I was able to reboot the machine into Safe Mode. Once the computer had booted into Safe Mode I did a System Restore to a date before the computer had become infected (I chose two weeks earlier).
Professor Randy says:I wish there was some easier way to remove this insidious nuisance but different variants are becoming a bit harder to remove as time progresses. In my next post I’ll tell you of yet another way that you can thoroughly remove this plague from your system.
Our tech team at school recently received the following question:
I keep getting a message that says “Another computer on your network is using your IP Address.”
When I received this on Wednesday, I went home and changed ALL of my passwords, put an alert on my credit, and had credit cards reissued because I have used this laptop at school to occasionally pay a bill during plan time.
This morning, I received that same message, so I immediately cleared my history, turned off the WiFi, and shut down my computer.
I am now NO LONGER using this laptop for anything personal at school, but I do at home. I have plugged in an Ethernet cable.
Am I pretty safe with all this? Is there anything else I can do?
Each computer, printer, tablet, etc, on the Internet has a specific “IP Address” (IP means ‘Internet Protocol’). Each device’s IP Address needs to be unique on each network. It is how we find you. It is how print jobs find the right printer, etc.
You are issued an IP address when you boot your computer, or connect to the network in some way. The machine that hands you your address is called the “DHCP Server”, and it only “leases” it to you for a set period of time.
Your computer expects to receive its usual, familiar IP address. But sometimes the IP “leases” get wiped out, and someone else may have been given your number because it is now “available”. In that case, your computer says, “Hey, somebody else has my IP Address!”. Not unlike going to your favorite restaurant and finding that your usual table has been given to another customer. The head waiter has to find you another table, but not before you have kicked up a fuss!
It’s not really a problem. All you need to do is tell your computer: “It’s ok, I wasn’t really attached to that number anyway. I’ll just ask for another one”. The process to do that is one way on a Mac, and another if you are on a PC.
If on a Mac, go to: Apple Menu–>System Preferences–>Network–>Advanced…–>Renew DHCP Lease
If on Windows, go to: Start–>All Programs–>Accessories–>Command Prompt and enter the following command: ipconfig /release
then enter this command: ipconfig /renew
In either case, your computer should “pull” a new IP address from the DHCP server, and you are good to go!
Professor Randy says:You will see many networking problems during your computer repair career. The above fix is really useful for getting your computer reconnected to the Internet or to the local LAN network. Renewing an IP address can also help fix an IP address conflict.
This may be old news to some, but if not please take a look. If your credit card has an embedded RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chip, there are some security risks that you need to be aware of. I’m not being an alarmist, nor is the sky falling! Just be aware.