Another component of the internet that I see going forward is the ability to watch TV programs, on your computer, via your broadband connection (i.e. cable, DSL). Currently, one of the most recognized names in internet television, is Hulu. Hulu provides a broad array of programs and clips in a very easy to navigate site interface, with some of the content being in high definition. Hulu does not have everything, but it is a start. It is definitely a great entertainment resource and will only get better.
Ever since the start of this blog, it has amazed me the number of quality blogs and sites I have found that promote freeware, open source software and information technology.
On the right side of the blog you will see a listing of “What’s On My PC Website Favorites”. I started searching the top blog services and found 22 additional “up-to-date” sites which I have added to the listing. The criteria I look for in a blog or site is that it is being maintained and kept current. The authors of all of these blogs or sites are to be applauded for their efforts.
A techie friend of mine, whom I will refer to as Jeremiah, contacted me and suggested I write a post about the security vulnerabilities in wireless networks and how easy it is to penetrate those networks with software that is readily available on the internet.
To establish a wireless network, you need a wireless router which is available in any popular computer store. Wireless routers are actually wired routers with wireless access points built in so you can have wired and/or wireless at the same time. The most common scenario or reason for the purchase of a wireless router is that a notebook computer has been purchased with wireless capability and the user desires to use the notebook to wirelessly connect to the internet in the home. I know for fact that many of my acquaintances, who have set up a wireless router/network, followed the “basic” installation instructions to setup the router; and, with minimal hassle had the router up and running in no time. However, one of two things usually occurs. They either setup the router with no security at all OR they implement some security measures thinking their network is secure.
Many of today’s wireless routers have the capability to reach great distances outside the walls of the home, which allows outside intruders to easily connect to your network/router. To avoid a lengthy post, I opted to post information that Jeremiah provided, which provides information & tools used to infiltrate a wireless network AND then I have followed up with information on steps you should take to properly secure your wireless network. The main point in all of this is that you “need to know” how readily available this information is on the internet to exploit a network AND that there are really simple measures you can follow to prevent an intrusion.
How your wireless network can be infiltrated:
- How To Crack WEP – Part 1: Setup & Network Recon : Introduction (Tom’s Guide)
- How To Crack WEP – Part 2: Performing the Crack : Introduction (Tom’s Guide)
- Auditor Security Collection CD reviewed : Introduction (Tom’s Guide)
- Back Track (Remote-Exploit)
- Wardriving Tools, Software & Utilities (Wardrive.net)
What you can do to protect your network:
I’ve been using Google Chrome since the “beta” was introduced earlier in the month. So far, I like it… Keep in mind it is in the “early” development stages and I think it will be a top contender in the browser competition. I have posted on the sidebar, of the blog, some Google Chrome links that you can use to download and/or to follow the development of this browser. I’ve been following the reviews on the browser and right now it is a mixed bag of positive and negative comments; which, is typical of “beta” software. For a “beta” package, it has come out of the chute running.
Here is a program that I have used and have been following since its’ inception. JDVoiceMail is a program where you are prompted to record a “voice” message, using your microphone, then send the recorded message (voicemail) to an email recipient. When you record the message, JDVoiceMail generates a compressed .wav or .mp3 sound file(s). The compression ratio on these sound bites are tremendously reduced without loss of quality. The recipient of your recorded message does not need any special software to listen to the message. When the recipient receives the voicemail, via their email client, they simply double click on the sound file attachment and the default audio player installed on their system will takeover and play the message. According to the web site, “If you are lazy and don’t like typing your e-mail, this is the tool for you!”
Features (as indicated on the web site):
- Works with the Windows® bundled ACM codecs (Present in all 32 bits windows versions).
- You can select the codec of the output voice file.
- Only 32 KB for a 30 second voice message with the DSP True Speech® Codec.
- Only 50 KB for a 30 second voice message with the GSM 6.10® Codec
- Only 30 KB for a 30 second voice message with the Lame MP3® Encoder
- With the MP3 format, Linux, Mac, Pocket PC and Palm users can listen your messages too.
- Simple, minimalist and intuitive graphic interface.
- Send the voice file automatically with your favorite pop3 email client or save it in a hard disk folder for use with your web-based email account.
- Compatible with all MAPI e-mails clients (Mozilla Thunderbird®, Eudora®, Outlook Express®, etc…).
- Easily share JDVoiceMail with your friends (Less than 1,50 MB for the installer file).
- JDVoiceMail is 100% freeware, no ads, no limitations, no adware, no banners, no spyware etc….
I have tried numerous music players and finally settled with one called “Spider Player“. When it comes to music, it is all about personal preference. This player is small in size, but packs a big punch (2.87 MB for the Basic AND 3.58 MB for the portable version). I personally use the portable version (flash drive ready) and the best feature I like is the built in radio directory. The player will pull in thousands of internet radio stations from around the globe and generate a convenient directory listing. Once you find stations you like, you can save them to a favorites list. At first try, you may be a little confused on how to navigate the player; but, once you get the hang of it you will love it. If you have questions about the player, the site provides a forum and tutorials to help you out.
FEATURES LIST (as indicated on the web site):
32-bit sound processing for crystal clear sound
Streaming audio support.
Internet radio recording
Converter and CD Ripper
Support for custom MIDI soundfonts
DSP Effects Manager
Unified Tag editor
Multichannel Audio support
Full Unicode support
CD-Text and FreeDB support
M3U, PLS and ASX playlists support
Incremental Playlist Search
With our email services providing an average of 5 GB’s of space, a nice little utility called “Backup To Email – Backup2e” has been developed to take advantage of that space and at the same time give you the ability to easily and quickly backup a file or folder to your email account. After you download and install the “Backup To Email” software, you will prompted to enter your email account settings (i.e. SMTP Outgoing Server settings, Account Username and Password). After everything has been setup, you can simply send files or folders to your email account by “right clicking” on the file or folder, selecting “Backup To Email”, via the Windows Explorer context menu (see example below). A dialog box will appear indicating the progress of the file or folder being sent. I have mine setup to send to my email; then, it is dropped into a “filtered” folder within my email storage. It appears the software requires “Java” to run and it is still in an early development stage. This concept is a great one and I hope the developer continues with the progression of this software. I have found great use in this software.
Features (as indicated on the web site):
- Right click files and backup.
- Right click folders they are zipped and backuped.
- Allow zip before send.
- Run custom command before send.
- Change subject prefix.
- SSL SMTP connection and non ssl.
- Configurable SMTP server.
- Scheduler in crontab notation so you can schedule backups.
- Ask for target email before every backup (by default not asking).
Today, I added the site “Lifehacker” to the “What’s On My PC… Web Site Favorites”. Lifehacker is one those sites that you will end up visiting everyday. Lifehacker has gained respect of users across the entire internet (worldwide) for its varied content. Lifehacker… tips and downloads for getting things done.
The “Giveaway of the day project“, is a web site that offers for FREE, licensed software that you would have to buy otherwise. Everyday the site nominates one software title that will be a “Giveaway” title of that day. The software is available for download for 24 hours (and sometimes more) for free. The software you download is not a trial or limited version, but a registered and legal version. Visit “Giveaway of the Day” by clicking on the tab at the top of the page. I plan to keep this tab in place so that visitor’s can conveniently see what the giveaway of the day is.
Did you ever wish you could browse the internet and not have to worry about malicious software or content attacking your system? OR Did you ever wish you could test a program without it causing changes to your computer? There is a way and it works very well. It is called “Sandboxie“…
Once you install Sandboxie, you can run or test your programs in an isolated space, called a sandbox, which prevents the programs from making altering changes to your computer and/or to the data in your computer. Any changes that are made are kept inside the sandbox. I have been following and using “Sandboxie” for nearly a year, and I primarily use it to run my browser in. For example, you can run your browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Opera, Firefox) in a sandbox and not worry about malicious software (i.e. trojans, spyware, hijackers, etc…) causing harm to your computer. Any malicious software that is downloaded, is downloaded into the sandbox. In the event your computer becomes a victim of malicious content, the malicious content is trapped in the sandbox. At that point, you simply discard the contents of the sandbox and start over. If you are interested in trying this software out, I suggest you jump over to the Sandboxie web site and thoroughly read the “Help” and “FAQ” sections. This is good stuff; especially, if you ride the internet hard or you like to test software.
Just added this one to the “What’s On My PC – Web Site Favorites”. It is called “AppAholic“, a freeware review and interview site. If you enjoy reviewing and trying freeware software, make sure you check this site out.
Have you ever experienced one of those rogue anti-spyware or anti-virus programs designed by hackers to take your money in return for a useless program. I’m talking about those “no-name programs” that hijack your system, keeps popping up, and just won’t go away. Some of these programs actually appear very professional and will even emulate some of the Microsoft Security Center software. Most users are taken in by this and end up infecting their systems. Removal, most often, is very difficult… If you do get hijacked or infected, hit the “Spyware Techie” site to research your problem. Spyware Techie is “A techie’s take on Spyware”. The site is stacked full of information and removal instructions for many of these rogue packages. Also, some advice that I was given many years ago when I first entered into the Information Technology world; “Believe Nothing and Verify Everything“…
Everyone loves to play solitaire, especially “Klondike”, which is the solitaire game that ships with Windows. I recently came across one, called “Klondike Forever” that is really super cool looking. It is in 3D, with sound and beautiful visual effects AND it is FREE. If you find yourself really loving the FREE version of “Klondike Forever”, the web site offers a paid version called “Solitaire Forever” with over 150 solitaire games brought to life in 3D.
If you are someone who has a collection of digital photos on your PC or someone who collects images from the internet, you have to try John’s Background Switcher. John’s Background Switcher periodically changes the wallpaper image on your computer (like every hour or every day) to something interesting. I have tried several of these from various authors and this one is one of the better ones.
One thing I do when reviewing software is: 1) Look for a forum on the site where the users can interact with each other and the author of the software; and, 2) If a forum exists, how does the author respond to the users of the software? I’ve been visiting this site for quite awhile and the author (John Conners), who I personally don’t even know, responds to his users like know one I’ve seen. I really think, and just my gut feeling, if you ask this guy for the world, he would try to give it to you… His response to his users is phenomenal.
Getting back to my review of “John’s Background Switcher”, the one thing I really like is the ability to “splash” your photos onto the screen (example: see below). I currently have the software configured on my PC to point to the the “My Pictures” folder, where I have my photo collection and configured to randomly “splash” the images onto the background every 30 minutes. What is neat about this is you really pay special attention to your photos. You can also manually make the switcher change your images.
You can specify which pictures to choose from and John’s Background Switcher will automatically plug in the images from:
- Individual pictures on your computer.
- Folders containing pictures on your computer such as ‘My Pictures’.
- Flickr photo sharing – selecting pictures by person, tags, sets or just plain random. You never know what you’re going to get next!
- Phanfare web albums – keep up to date with your friends and family.
- smugmug photo galleries – yours, your friends, anybody’s!
- Picasa Web Albums – choose from specific albums or any search text.
- Facebook – your friends photos on your desktop!
- Yahoo! image search – the internet is your oyster!