Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Making Your Network Work – Part: 1

Written by mcarberry. Posted in How To

Blue Globe

Well this is quite the mess we’ve got on our hands here.  I mean look at this router, it’s ancient. You’re port forwarding is all screwed up and you can’t access any of your other computers in the house, much less from afar! You’ve got a serious networking problem. Well it’s time you learned how to network on your own. It’s for your own good. Now there’s no need to worry. These cases are really quite common, and our chances for success are nearly 100% as long as you don’t reject the treatment! Just relax, okay. You’ve got some tough days ahead of you, that much is true. However, I do think in the end not only will you find that networking is not nearly as difficult as it seems, but it’s the first step on the road to liberty, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness… Okay maybe not liberty or freedom, but it might make you happy. Because networking can take some time to explain, we’re going to break up the instructions into 4 or 5 easy-to-swallow installments. Today we’re going to be focusing on the hardware. What do you need to create a great home network? The grocery list isn’t very long, but it’s very important to get into these specifics before we start anything else. Let’s get to it, shall we? Now, if you’re reading this at home, chances are you at the very least have a modem that turns your ISP’s signal into a useful internet connection. So instead of talking about the modem, we’ll jump to the single most important piece of hardware in a network. The Router

My router. Sure she's beautiful, but I got her because she meets all my needs.

Think of a router as an air traffic controller. The router’s primary responsibility is to make sure all of your data is going to the right devices. While a modem connects a computer to the internet, a router connects your computers to one another. When they’re used together, you are able to share the internet connection from the modem to all other devices attached to that router. There are some modems that come with routing technology built-in, but this isn’t always the case. Every internet-enabled device that you own (Desktop, laptop, table, phone, game consoles, TVs, etc.) are referred to as clients. Every client on a network is given a unique local IP address that allows your router to understand how traffic should flow. Your modem gets a global IP address that distinguishes it from every other network in the world. Think of a global IP address like the address to an apartment complex, and the local IP addresses would be the individual apartment numbers. In order to understand what type of router you will need, first we must contemplate the many features of the many different types of routers.

Wired vs. Wireless

This may be the absolute biggest feature to look for when purchasing a router. If you use your smartphone or your tablet at home, you NEED a wireless router. However, if you do mostly desktop computing, you only need a straight wired router and perhaps a way out of the year 2002. This is not to say that wired connections are useless. The vast majority of people use a mix of both wired and wireless devices, so our main concentration will be on wireless routers as they provide both wired and wireless connectivity. It is important to note that if you have a device that doesn’t move around a lot like a television, DVR, game console, or desktop your preferred method of connection is wired, as they will be able to utilize the maximum speed of your router.

    Throughput Throughput is a fancy router term for speed. We’ll start off with wired first. The numbers that you want to pay attention to here are “10/100 Mbps” and “10/100/1000 Mbps.” Now this is one of those scenarios where faster isn’t necessarily better. If you just need the router to connect your device to the internet, you can save some money by sticking with the 10/100 throughput. Nobody’s internet is running anywhere near 100 Mbps unless they’re Google or Apple or Microsoft, and they’re all shelling out some serious dough for those speeds. If, however, you’re intent is to network several computers together – and why else would you be reading this – then go for the 10/100/1000 speed. It’s going to make a huge difference in transfer rate, and it’s not that much more expensive these days. Wireless throughput uses different terminology so bear with me here. What you’re looking for these days are wireless standards 802.11g and 802.11n. During your search you may see 802.11a and 802.11b compliancy but these are practically ancient standards and they should be available on any router you purchase for backward compatibility features only. Disregard these because chances are you don’t need them. Now what’s the difference between 802.11g and 802.11n? Well 54 Mbps and 600 Mbps respectively. I will point out that the speed increase is also directly related to a price increase, but these days it’s not that bad. I will point out that if you’re running older hardware, let’s say anything made before 2009, you’re not going to need 802.11n unless you’re thinking about upgrading soon. Devices made before this time are still more commonly wired for 802.11g. If your hardware is 3 years old or newer, you’re more than likely able to get 802.11n speeds. I recommend buying an 802.11n router because to be honest, it’s not even the future anymore – that would be 802.11ac – and there’s not much point in connecting your computers together just to transfer files super slow. 802.11n routers are backward compatible so you’ll still be able to use your old hardware. Range Additionally 802.11n has a much greater range than 802.11g so if you like to use your laptop or tablet in the backyard or by the pool, “n” is the winner. Ports Ports are important because depending on how many wired devices you have, you may have to shell out more or less money on a router. Typically, home use routers have about 4-8 ports in the back. You’ll see a WAN port which is normally a different color and separated from the others. The WAN port is what connects your modem to your router. The other ports should just be labeled 1 through whatever, and are designated as LAN ports. These ports connect your computers and other devices to your router. Additionally, if you end up getting new wired devices and run out of router ports, you can pick up a switch for really cheap. A switch is like a power strip for your router. It allows you to plug in more devices than the router normally allows. Security We’ve talked about wireless security before, and we came to the conclusion that WPA is better because it’s harder to crack. However, WPA is also harder to remember, so be sure to write your password down somewhere. Now when looking at routers, WPA2 encryption is currently the best security so pick one that has that. Bands Believe it or not wireless routers don’t use some fancy technology to transmit data back and forth. The truth is they all use radio signals. Now most routers operate on 2.4ghz frequency, but the problem with that is, everything runs on that frequency. You’re going to get a lot of interference on your signal because Bluetooth, cordless phones, and even your microwave can disrupt that frequency. Newer routers, however, use a 5Ghz band. This will provide less interference, but there are a couple of downsides. Because higher frequency signals oscillate at a faster rate, they dissipate faster, and they also have trouble going through objects. This means that signal range will decrease, and walls will become an obstacle for your signal. This doesn’t mean you have to keep everything in one room, but you may have weaker signal within closer proximities. There is a way to fix this. The routers that do run on 5Ghz typically also run on 2.4Ghz so look for a “Dual-band” router. This allows the router to transmit on both bands simultaneously.

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Many routers come with software and firmware features that allow managing your network easier. We’ll get in to all that stuff later on, but when you’re buying a router, consider those features. Keep checking back for our weekly network series “Making Your Network Work.”

DIY: Mending a Scratched LCD Screen

Written by screentekinc. Posted in Tech Musings

frustrated4

For as mobile as laptops are, the average laptop sure seems to be susceptible to damage. Perhaps your laptop is showing some signs of the road such as scratch marks on the LCD screen – but hey, we all have some imperfections, no sense in tossing a fully functional laptop to the curb for a few cosmetic issues.

Especially when there are some easy and simple ways to rid your LCD screen of those unsightly marks. Did we also mention it’s cost-effective? We have to put in a disclaimer here: Try this method at your own risk. Hey – it probably works great, but we’re not responsible if something goes haywire! Things you’ll need:
  1. Soft Cloth
  2. Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline)
  3. Cotton Swabs (Q-tips)
First, clean off the surface of your screen as you would normally-making sure all dust particles and whatever else has managed to collect on the screen is gone. Next grab a Q-tip and dip it into the Vaseline. Fair warning; be sure to check the amount of Vaseline you’re using before applying to scratches. When you’re sure you have just the right amount of petroleum jelly on your swab, gently dab at the scratches – making sure not to poke so as not to cause more damage. After that, use the cloth to wipe away any excess Vaseline on the LCD screen. If the scratches are stubborn and remain after this treatment, you have another option – You can order an affordable replacement screen from ScreenTek! Our Account Executives are available Monday through Friday to take your calls, answer your emails and make sure you get the right scratch-free screen for your laptop. Liked this article? Check out 5 Reasons Why You Should Replace Your Laptop Screen Yourself  
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