What passwords should I use?

December 15th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Internet, security No Comments »

I’ve seen the Gawker website has given away over a hundred thousand user passwords. Should I trust passwords to these sites?

Passwords are a difficult issue and given we are required to use them for many purposes – from adding comment on websites like Gawker through to accessing our work computers and bank accounts – we need to be careful with how we use them.

It’s best to take a layered approach to passwords with a complex password for your critical accounts, a mildly difficult one for sensitive sites and a “disposable” one for sites that don’t really matter.

Disposable sites
These are sites like Gawker that don’t really matter. If you have to create a password protected account to make a comment or access a page, something trivial like 123456 is fine.

Just keep in mind it’s probably best not to use your real name on the account unless you’re happy for some idiot to post blog comments under your name.

Sensitive sites
If you aren’t posting anonymously, then you should treat the site a little more carefully. Sensitive sites include sites where you are logged in under your own name and services like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and social media platforms where you would be embarrassed should your account be hacked.

These sites should have stronger passwords which have a combination of words and numbers.

Critical sites
Sites considered critical and those which would have serious consequences should they be compromised. These include your bank accounts, work computer and administrative accounts for business activities.

These should be a strong combination of words, letters and symbols mixed with upper and lower case changes.

Password Ideas
Here are some ways you can develop stronger passwords;

  • Use your street number, followed by suburb or street name, followed by post code. For instance 700Harris2007.
  • Choose the date and location of your last, or next, holiday. Eg; 25May03Surfers
  • Use your grandmother maiden initials followed by her birthyear, followed by your mothers maiden initials and her birthyear followed by yours (e.g. db21ds43sw66).
  • You could substitute numbers for letters. You substitute 3 for e, 0 or o, 1 for i or l, etc. So the password Doris becomes D0r1s.
  • Another technique is to use a phrase or rhyme you’ll remember. It could be the initials of your school motto with the year you left. You could use years your football team won the premiership and initials of the captains.

There are all sorts of possibilities. Be creative, and keep in mind you have to remember them.

The most secure way is to use a randomly generated password. We’ve put some links to password generating sites below. But be warned, you have to remember them!

Once you’ve created a strong password you’ll need to save it somewhere. Remember that the secure passwords are very valuable and should be treated accordingly.

“Check the status of broker” error on GoToWebinar

December 1st, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Internet, networking No Comments »

When trying to take a webinar out of Practice Mode I keep getting an error saying “check the status of broker”. How do I start my presentation?

The problem has to do with the presenters and organisers along with the way GoToWebinar deals with scheduled events.

You have to log all of the presenters and organisers out of the webinar and then back in, but you have to do this without closing the webinar and upsetting any waiting attendees.

To do this, follow these steps;

  1. Get all presenters to log off and back on again with the exception of the designated organiser.
  2. Once the presenters have logged back on, the designated organiser should log off
  3. GoToWebinar will ask the organiser if they want to designate one of the presenters to become the organiser and they should do so.
  4. On logging back on, the presenter can give the organiser function back to original organiser
  5. The webinar will now come out of Practice Mode.

That should resolve any problems you’re having with it.

Removing Smart Engine

November 2nd, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Apple, Internet, Spyware, Virus, Windows 7, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows Vista, Windows XP No Comments »

An anti-virus program called Smart Engine has been installed on my pc

I have sent 3 e-mails to them find how to remove it – the 3rd answer gave a link to an uninstall file however Windows Defender says the file is infectected with the Win32/FileVimes trojan & will not allow me to download the full file – smart Engine advised me to turn off Windows Defender to allow the uninstall file to be installed – this does not sound like a good idea to me

Can you please give me any advise on how to remove this program?

It’s not worth calling Smart Engine an anti-virus. It’s actually a scam that claims you’re infected with all manner of viruses and asks you to pay them to remove the non-existent malware. If anything, it’s more likely to be adding viruses than removing them.

The best way to deal with this program is to download Malware Bytes and follow the instructions in our Removing a Trojan post. This will clean it off.

Before doing it, it’s worthwhile backing up important data just in case something serious goes wrong.

Does Windows 7 need special software to surf the net?

July 18th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Internet, Windows 7 No Comments »

When I buy a laptop with Windows 7 do I need to buy more software to connect to the internet?

Usually you’ll be able to plug straight into your Internet router and go. One of the great improvements with Windows 7 is the system will automatically detect and configure your connection for you.

If it doesn’t then you should contact your ISP.

Once you are connected, the first thing you should do is let Windows detect any security upgrades through the Windows Update website, allow your antivirus program to update itself and download Firefox, Opera or Google Chrome as a browser to replace Internet Explorer 8.

You should do these before surfing the net or checking email just to make sure your computer is secure.

rewiring a house

March 21st, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Hardware, Internet, networking No Comments »

I want to rewire my home internet. We have FIOS that is primarily disseminated from a wireless router in our kitchen which I would like to move. The Verizon crew could only find a “signal” from coaxial cable, which they used. Is there a way I can convert the coaxial cable to a more standard cat5e without going outside my house?

It sounds like the Verizon installer took the quickest solution they could find. This should be a fairly straightforward job for a licensed electrician to run some Cat 5 cable from the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) box Verizon installed outside your home to the locations you want.

Most places have regulations regarding who can install cat5 and you should check with Verizon before doing any work around their equipment.

Does streaming radio add to my data usage?

February 8th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Internet No Comments »

When you watch or listen to live streaming of radio and TV broadcasts are you using your data allowance ??

Whenever you do anything on the Internet you are using data. Every website you visit, every email you read and everything you watch and listen to.

This is why if you are with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that has a data allowance you need to choose the plan that has sufficient data for your needs.

Generally we’d recommend a minimum of 1Gb for a light user and 50Gb if you have teenagers in the house.

You should speak to your ISP if you are concerned about the plan you’re on.

Computer reboots while on the net

January 27th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Hardware, Internet, Spyware No Comments »

When I am on the internet, there will be times that my computer completely goes off and back to the screen where you click your name to log in. This happens at random times and with no specific website. I have run a virus program. No virus issues. This started about a month ago and is progressively getting worse. I am working on a Compaq Presario pc in windows xp home edition. Never had this problem in the past.

If this is only happening while you are on the net then malware is the most likely culprit regardless of what your virus program says so you should follow our Removing a Trojan instructions to make sure you don’t have an infection.

Should you be clear of any infection, it’s likely your computer is overheating and causing it to reboot. You may need to call a technician to clean out dust out of the system and check all the internal fans are working.

Do filesharing programs affect Internet speeds?

January 25th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Internet No Comments »

I have 57 computers (individually owned)that share a satellite internet system that was personally purchased. The internet is running slower than expected. We discovered that some of the individuals use peer-to-peer (ie vuze, limewire). Is this primary cause for our problems?

Satellite Internet connections are always tricky beasts and it’s likely your network is pushing the limits of this technology.

That said, it is possible those peer-to-peer services are affecting your service as they are permanently connected to their network and are frequently moving files to and from users’ systems, even when the individuals aren’t actively using the programs.

So it’s best to ban these programs if you’re concerned about the traffic on the network, there’s also a few security issues and possible legal problems involved as well. A good network administrator or computer tech can configure your router to block most of the access to these services, although smart users will find a way around those blocks.

From your description, it sounds like a residential network. So if you have teenagers using these programs, you’ll probably struggle to keep them off the network. You might want to sit down with your users to discuss the problem so they understand the issues involved.

Why does my wireless broadband connection keep stopping

January 17th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Hardware, Internet, wireless 1 Comment »

XP Professional, Version 2002, 2.80GHz running Firefox. After connecting and browsing for less than 15 Min’s, there becomes no response as if the signal had gone. pages will not load, emails cannot be sent. Lights on usb device still flash blue and task bar icon states very good signal. This continues frequently.

Help says to unplug device, shutdown and restart, which works for another short time and then drops out again. I can’t do this every time i wish to use the web. Have tried this on explorer browser and it happens just the same.

Will this be a computer problem or a wireless device problem?

The problem is almost certainly a driver issue. The software supplied on many Internet Providers’ disks is often outdated or simply buggy and this is very frequently the case with Bigpond.

To fix this first download the latest drivers for your wireless broadband equipment from the Bigpond website. Note where you have saved the downloaded files so you can use them later.

Once you’ve downloaded the drivers, unplug the USB modem from your system and go to Add/Remove programs and uninstall all Bigpond software along with anything referring to Maxon or Sierra software and drivers.

Restart your computer without the wireless modem plugged in and install the software you downloaded earlier. During the installation you may be asked to plug the device in, otherwise leave it disconnected.

When you’ve finished installing the updated software, restart the computer and once the computer is running, plug the device in. It should be detected as a USB wireless device and the Bigpond connection manager should start. Fill in the required details and you should be connected.

Internet streaming specifications

January 9th, 2010 Paul Wallbank Posted in Buying a computer, Hardware, Internet No Comments »

We would like to dispense with our satellite TV service and stream video from the internet to our 32 inch LCD TV, but our computer (Pentium 4, 3 GHz, 1.5 gig memory, video card GeForce FX5200 with 128 meg) can’t stream images at full screen without breaking up. We have a DSL connection (100 Mbps)and a wireless network running at 36 Mbps.

If we upgrade to a computer with a dual core pentium and a video card with 256 meg RAM, could we stream smooth full screen video at 100 mbps and/or 36 Mbps? I don’t know where the bottleneck is, help!

You will have to upgrade your system as the 128Mb video card and Pentium IV CPU are going to struggle with the resolution required for a 32″ screen and you’ll need the faster CPU, chipset and hard drive to deal with the amount of data you want to move around.

The new system should have at least a 1Gb video card and compatible outputs to the TV, preferably an HDMI connection if your TV supports it. The fact you’ve been able to connect a Pentium IV to the TV indicates the display has a VGA or DVI input.

Keep in mind that it’s not just your PC or screen that matters. If you are streaming off the net, you need to check your ADSL connection is reliable. You may want to visit speedtest.net to check you are getting the speeds advertised by your ISP as sometimes problems with your phone line or equipment can stop you getting the best performance.