In our current world scenario we are being spied on at almost every turn. Home Networks are just not very secure for most people. Solutions to harden those networks require some technical skill and usually involve additional costs. Additionally, most people think they are too boring to be spied on. But the reality is that we all need a VPN, and encrypted DNS.
Increasingly it seems that 1st Amendment laws regarding Free Speech are being tossed aside and so called “Hate Speech” is a crime. Some things you read about on the internet can be cataloged and factor into your Social Credit Score. It is darn near a crime to be a White, Christian, Veteran, and a monogamous person. Refusal to use bizarre pronouns can get you in a world of hurt in some circles.
We’re not quite there yet but things are easing towards that direction. Additionally, your searches, your lifestyle and your opinions may well matter greatly one day. Continue reading →
Before I retired I had a job with extensive travel involved. I would sometimes take a full sized router with me to hook up at the hotel. Back then most hotels had an ethernet jack in the room. I’d simply push my own wifi network to my computer, phone, and many times an audio streaming device like a Chromecast or Raspberry Pi. Oh how I wished they would have had a GL.iNet Router back in those days.
I only found out about them recently on a Discord Forum. Some of the guys are using them for all kinds of amazing networking hacks. Even though I barely leave the house these days I wanted to get one just to see what I was missing out on. Continue reading →
I’ve never bought an off the shelf NAS before and have always opted to build them on my own. There is no better resource for NAS building than this website. I currently have two home brew NAS’s in operation but had a need for a 2.5 GB NAS for a new, faster network I was setting up. I settled on a QNAP NAS for a couple of reasons.
Reason number 1 was that initially my 2.5 GB network was only going to be in the downstairs part of my home. Reason 2 is because since it was downstairs it needed to be somewhat attractive to appease my wife, and something somewhat quieter than my home brew NAS builds.
I’ve been using Home Automation to send SMS messages to me for years. Also for years I have been using a pay service called Twilio to send texts from my home automation software Home Assistant to my cell phone when an automation was triggered. For example. If you ring my doorbell, I get a text. I’ve since discovered that I can send emails to SMS from Home Assistant to my phone for FREE.
Twilio began using a verification method called A2P 10DLC to make sure you aren’t a phone spammer or something. For whatever reason I simply could not get my phone registered. I’ve been trying for months and have engaged Twilio support a number of times and I’m right at the cutoff with no luck.
So I dumped Twilio today after I learned this neat trick
sent in an email sends an SMS text to Verizon subscribers. Check with your carrier for their specific addressing requirements. Continue reading →
This is one of my favorite subjects. And it kind of goes along with being prepared for the worst. Small devices such as computers can be easily recharged or used on even a small solar set up. So what can you do with a computer when there is no internet? Quite a lot actually.
I’ve done this before in 2018 with a Linux computer but I’m going to do it this time with a Windows laptop. But it is time to update that post a little bit, I suppose.
And as per my previous recommendation you want to probably use an old laptop and preferably something like a ToughBook. If the internet is down, and life is getting harder you don’t need some baby computer that won’t hold up.
Yep, your computer can be a TV with no internet connection. You do need a USB TV Tuner though. I use the Hauppauge 955Q which is probably obsolete since I couldn’t find it anymore on Amazon. This seems to be the latest generation. Despite which tuner you get make sure that it is ATSC and not PAL. ATSC is US and PAL is European. Your tuner combined with software called NextPVR or probably any number of software programs you can download will give you an Electronic Program Guide and allow you to watch Over The Air Live TV. That program guide does come down from the internet though, and you won’t be able to access it if the grid goes down. Still, you know what your local channels are though.
NOTE: I probably should state that my grid down situation is most likely a hurricane and all the local stations are 40 or so (driving) miles away and inland so they will most likely still be operational. Your situation may vary.
Being able to watch TV during a power outage or while you are Sheltering in Place could provide vital, life saving information. Or it could just provide much needed entertainment in a bad situation.
Now that I have a proper Windows laptop again I had forgotten how much stuff out there is Windows only. Here’s a quick list of stuff that I can really only do or do best with Windows. This list is unique to me and the toys I dabble with:
Police Scanners – I’m a scanner geek and the two most popular brands of scanners are Uniden and Whistler (arguably). Neither one provides any programming software or firmware update tools in anything but Windows. Advanced 3rd Party Software such as Proscan or others is also Windows only.
RTL-SDR – While you can most certainly do RTL-SDR stuff on Linux and Mac the most fun software such as DSD+ or the most intuitive control software, SDR#, is Windows only.
CNC Machines – I have a NextWave Shark HD500 CNC machine. All firmware tools, and control software are Windows only. The very best CNC software is from a company called Vectric and is called either VCarve or Aspire. All variants of VCarve and Aspire are Windows only.
Vinyl Sign Machines – I have a Roland GX-24 vinyl sign cutter. While there are various Mac or Linux software offerings the very best pro sign making software solutions are Windows only. (Flexi, CoCut, etc.).
Laser Engraving and Cutting – The very best software for Lasers is Lightburn which in fact is cross platform and offers Mac and Linux versions. The Mac versions have USB issues and the Linux versions are just buggy in my opinion. While I can generally work Lightburn to my laser via the Mac version OVER ETHERNET, when I need to move one of my more portable lasers around the best reliable method is to use the Windows version.
I bought a cheap laptop from Walmart, an Acer A514-54-501Z. While going through the system and deleting all the crappy extra programs they put in these things I noticed that many of the system drivers had a date of 2021 or earlier. Only 1 or 2 drivers even had a date of 2022 and for a fact I know one was causing the computer to Blue Screen (wifi driver) which certainly prompted an update from Acer. However, if I go to the Acer Support page I’m given a driver to download for my MediaTek Wifi module however if you go to MediaTek OEM drivers it isn’t even close to the latest driver.
Here’s what happens. Let’s say you make laptops and you make some real cheap for the Walmart and Target crowd. You make a profit, but not a big one. You are NOT going to keep a crack team of software engineers on staff to maintain this laptop in an up to date, pristine status. You find a driver that works, is stable and it STICKS. They don’t update them UNLESS THEY HAVE TO, and by have to I mean that they receive tons of complaints or crash data.
Or if their high end computer has the same component and gets updated, maybe they’ll push it down to the bottom tier. Like it or not, that is just the way it is.
I ran a program called Driver Booster 9 and it found TWENTY FIVE drivers that needed upgrading, including that MediaTek Wifi driver I mentioned earlier. Continue reading →
I was having an issue where only a 3 of my networked computers were showing in the Windows Network Neighborhood (or at least they used to call it Network Neighborhood).
All computers on the network were visible from all my Mac and Linux computers and running software such as LanScan showed everything proudly announcing itself on the network. So the problem pretty clearly was with Windows 11.
This is a blog where I wish I specified a FIX to the problem but the truth is, I’m not sure what fixed the problem, but this blog may not be a total waste to anyone else with this problem.
First of all, I’m not new to the geek stuff, but I am newly returned to Windows. I bought an Acer Aspire 5 laptop specifically to run a program called Vectric VCarve Desktop for my CNC machine. Also my CNC machine firmware can only be updated from a Windows computer. Also since I design my SVG files on a Mac and store them on a couple of servers I HAVE TO HAVE NETWORK ACCESS WITH MY WINDOWS LAPTOP WHILE I’M IN MY WORKSHOP TRYING TO CNC SOMETHING.
If you follow this blog at all you know that I am not a fan of Windows. I came all the way up from Windows 2 (at work) to MS-DOS and Windows 3.11 on my first home computer, a 486SX that cost a couple thousand dollars. There were some epic failures along the way. Windows 98SE and Windows ME, and Windows Vista were three giant turds of epic proportions. To make things worse they just kept making us PAY for new versions of craptastic Operating Systems.
At some point I became sick of paying for crap and started using Linux and then kind of turned into a Mac guy somewhere along the line.
But sadly for me many manufacturers of some cool toys simply don’t support Mac or Linux or if they do it is clear that the Windows programs are superior in terms of polish or workflow.
Case in point. For CNC machines the best software in the world, Vectric VCarve or Vectric Aspire, is Windows only. Yep you can do CNC work in Linux and on Mac but Vectric is just head and shoulders above every other experience, in my opinion.
I’m also a Software Defined Radio geek and have a few SDR’s from SDRPlay. Their software, SDRuno is currently Windows only. They are working on a cross platform version but it’s been years coming.
So now that I have this new Acer Aspire 5 (A514-54-501Z) that I upgraded it is time to explore some of the items that run best in a Windows Environment. Let’s make a short list: Continue reading →