Geekz For You

Faster WIFI For The Masses

Oct 122016

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WIFI routers are not all the same and there are so many options available for configuration depending on the model chosen. Most people are not familiar with the factors that make a good wireless router and they are definitely not sure what all the various configuration options do. There are a few things to consider in order to provide the best wireless coverage for your home or business. It is also important to to keep in mind the environment you are providing coverage for. For instance, many new buildings are constructed with steel studs, and wireless signals can be tough to manage in buildings with a lot of wiring and electrical interference. So, what can you do to get the best coverage possible?

Maleware and Spyware: Someone is Watching You

Oct 102016

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'Malware' is an umbrella term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software, including computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, scareware, and other malicious programs. It can take the form of executable code, scripts, active content, and other software. - Wikipedia

Many people are aware of the inclusive term malware and many of the forms in which it can plague your digital life.  I wanted to take a moment today to discuss actions you can take to protect yourself.  Honestly, I have found that malware is an issue for everyone.  However, it is most often a larger problem for children or older adults who are not as technically savy. These days, there are kids who are highly technical when it comes to gadgets, but they may not be as smart when it comes to issues such as network security.  Network security is something that is not often thought about in your home as it sounds more like a concern for a company than something that would be required in your home.

I run an advanced firewall at home to protect my network.  It is overkill for the average household, but I am a geek, so this is expected.  One thing this allows me to do is to monitor the traffic that is entering and leaving my home. I have noticed that the kids laptops are often trying to send information out to known maleware sites.  Luckily, my firewall blocks all of these attempts, but it gives me a chance to see what types of maleware are easily downloaded and installed by my children.  Most times, this maleware is downloaded by accident.  I have reminded my children that online game sites are havens for this type of software and that it can slow down their computers and make them perform horribly.

These days it is almost impossible not to pick up some malicious software on your system if it is connected to the Internet.  And who is not connected to the Internet these days?  Never click on something that sounds pushy or tries to play off your fear.  Much of this software pretends to be legitimate and tries to convince you to click on it by playing on your fears.  For instance, you might receive a message that you have to click on a popup or your antivirus will expire.  You need to really pay attention to what you are clicking on. Another nasty trick is installers that install more than you expect.  Many free downloads will add additional content when you install them.  For instance, installing a driver for your video card or other hardware might install a search toolbar in your web browser.  It pays to pay close attention to these things so that you are not caught in this trap.

Have you experienced malware on your computer?  Do you have any specific cases to share?  I look forward to your comments below.

You Can Build a Gaming Rig

Oct 092016

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For many years, my desk has looked sort of like this one pictured above.  This is not a picture of my actual desk, but a fairly remarkable representation of what my wife has had to stare at for almost 20 years.  I have always loved tinkering with machines, which was something I did for years before I actually got involved in computer gaming.  I will say up front that I am not a hardcore gamer.  I really only play one game, but I play it with my wife and we enjoy slaying our online opponents together on the weekends and some week nights.  The point of this article is not to provide you with the data points necessary to go out tomorrow and build the best gaming rig.  It is also not meant to be a how to article, although I do hope my readers get some use out of the materials printed.  My goal with this article is simply to get your creative juices flowing.  If you are already someone who has built a computer for yourself, then you might not find a whole lot of value in this particular post, but for those many of you who have never taken the plunge into building your own computer for personal use or for gaming, I think there are many valuable tips that can help you along the way.

Virtual Reality: Our Future Social Network

Oct 082016

This is the video where Facebook discusses the possibilities with virtual reality and our social network.  Many people are complaining about the fact that it will keep people at home by removing any and all reasons to socialize in person.  I do not follow the naysayers.  I believe that with the introduction of new technology, our social lives evolve.  You can give me a million reasons why technology has disrupted social life, but let me present you with some opinions of my own.  First, watch the video and then continue to read for my thoughts.

Facebook VR Video

Now, having watched the video, you may have already begun formulating your own opinion of the possibility of using VR in such a new and exciting way.  Let me give you my spin and then invite you to participate in discussion in the comment section below.  VR has been around for some time now.  The consumer applications of such a product have not yet been provided to substantiate the amount of cost to the consumer. The fact is, the cost outweighed the advantage...until now.  Consumer products such as the Occulus Rift have begun to enter the consumer market and they are making a big splash.  I just recently built new gaming rigs for myself and my wife and the systems are VR capable.  It was almost difficult not to build a system that would support VR with the new graphics cards that are saturating the market.  What are the possible disadvantages of using this technology to benefit our social lives?

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Building A Secure Open Source Firewall - pfSense

Oct 072016

I recently upgraded my Internet connection at home and found that my old custom Linux firewall was not able to handle the load of traffic along with all of the security auditing, web proxy, and monitoring of the traffic.  I decided to do a little research and determine the best hardware and open source software with which to secure my home network.  I am a geek and sometimes I go a little overboard with my own network.  Most people do not scrutinize what is going in and out of their home network to the degree that I want to.  After I spent some time researching, I decided upon using the open source firewall pfSense, which is based on FreeBSD.

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EXT4 Lazy Init

Oct 062016

I have been using the EXT4 file system on my systems for years, but there are many things about this file system that I am still unaware of.  I learned today about the "lazy init" functionality of EXT4 while I was formatting a new drive that I added to one of my file servers.  I had a couple of drives that I was virtually combining into a singal logical drive with a fuse-based package called "mergerfs".  That is a topic for another day, but suffice to say, that this allows me to virtually combine two or more smaller disks into a larger disk presented to the OS.  It has some cool options as opposed to LVM or a hardware RAID configuration.

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