Adjust DD-WRT TX power

I had a DD-WRT router that was dropping a lot of packets. I got a lot of errors and that caused poor playback in Netflix and especially MLB.tv. It wasn’t a bandwidth issue. My wireless network connection was just too noisy. I had to adjust my DD-WRT TX power to fix it.

I probably adjusted it the opposite way you would expect. Read more

How to disassemble a Marx 490 locomotive

Disassembling a Marx 490 locomotive isn’t too difficult, but it’s very different from other Marx locomotives.

Once you take one apart, though, you’ll see why it was designed how it was. It was Marx’s lowest-cost locomotive, and it could be assembled without tools, so the labor costs were minimal.

For that matter you only need one tool to take it apart, and since there’s so little in it that can break–not even a headlight–you can find anything you would need to service it at the nearest hardware store or auto parts store.

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Replacing a Memopad HD7 screen

It probably was just a matter of time, but one of my sons dropped his Asus Memopad HD 7 and cracked the digitizer assembly. What we usually call the screen actually sits behind the breakable piece of glass, and more often than not, it’s the glass digitizer that breaks. I left it that way for a while, but once the screen cracks, the cracks tend to spread, and eventually the tablet will get to a point where it’s unresponsive.

Replacement digitizers are available on Ebay. Note the exact model number of your tablet (my kids have ME173Xs, so here’s an ME173X screen) because they aren’t all interchangeable. The part costs around $20. It took me about three hours to replace because it was my first one. If I did this every day I could probably do it in 30 minutes, and I’m guessing if I have to do another–ideally I won’t–it will take an hour or so.

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I miss the sound of a modem carrier

“I know this will sound crazy,” my boss said. “But I miss the sound of a modem connecting.”

I don’t think it’s crazy at all. That chirping was the sound of a hard-won victory, at least if you’re of a certain age.

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A guide for safe and private web browsing

Continuing in the theme I’ve been following for the last couple of days, here’s a guide to security and privacy with web browsers. Like the guide I linked to yesterday, I’m not sure I agree with it 100%–I think saying never use Internet Explorer is too absolute–but I do agree with the overwhelming majority of it, and if everyone did all of this instead of what they’re doing now, we’d be in a much better state.

And, on a somewhat related note, here’s a rundown of what Windows 10 changes in the way of privacy, and some recommendations, but here’s a hint: You’re going to want to type privacy into your Windows search bar, pull up everything related, and start shutting stuff off. Use your discretion, but chances are there will be several things. If nothing else, there are things that are appropriate for a Windows tablet that aren’t appropriate for a desktop PC.

Let’s get back to privacy and safety in general, whatever OS you’re running. Here are some highlights.

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Application whitelisting on Windows, even home editions

One of the very best things security measures you can take is application whitelisting–limiting the apps that are allowed to run on your computer.

The Australian Signals Directorate–the Australian counterpart to the NSA–says doing four things cuts security incidents by a whopping 85 percent. You probably do three of the things. The fourth is application whitelisting.

  • use application whitelisting to help prevent malicious software and unapproved programs from running
  • patch applications such as Java, PDF viewers, Flash, web browsers and Microsoft Office
  • patch operating system vulnerabilities
  • restrict administrative privileges to operating systems and applications based on user duties.

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Advantages of Windows 10

Now that Windows 10 is out, the questions I see most frequently are why someone should upgrade, or what benefits they get if they upgrade, or if there indeed is such thing as advantages to Windows 10.

While I understand the skepticism, and I think most people probably should wait a few months before upgrading a Windows 7 machine that’s working well, there are a number of compelling things Windows 10 has to offer.

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uBlock settings for better malware protection

I have some easy uBlock settings to improve how it protects you against malware. You don’t think of ad blockers as a security tool? I do. It’s a good idea to use one even if you configure it to allow most ads through.

My favorite ad-blocking extension for Chrome is uBlock, because it’s faster and more resource friendly than the better-known Adblock Plus. It also comes configured by default to block known malicious sites, where Adblock Plus makes you dig for that feature.

But it’s still possible to tweak uBlock to give you even better protection against malware, and that’s a good thing. It’s one thing to detect malware and block it after you download it. But it’s even better to detect and block it before you download it in the first place. That keeps you safe if your antivirus software is slow to update for any reason.

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Why someone would hack a WordPress account

I wasn’t surprised people were trying to hack my blog. What surprised me were how many people were trying to hack my blog–there was a time when I probably had more hacking-related traffic than I had reader-related traffic.

If you have a WordPress blog, you’re probably in a similar situation.

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Make WordPress more mobile-friendly

I took some steps this weekend to make the site more mobile-friendly. I get a lot of traffic from tablets and phones, so I figure the better their experience, the more likely they are to stay around. Fortunately it’s not hard to make WordPress more mobile-friendly.

First, I switched to a 2-column format. On small screens, two columns display better than three.

Next I installed a plugin called definitely-allow-mobile-zooming. This forces your page to allow zooming on mobile devices, since some CSS disallows it. On some devices my page worked fine without it, but Google’s tools flagged me as mobile-unfriendly until I installed it.

Google is going to start tweaking search results based on whether the searcher is on a desktop or a mobile device and favor sites that render well under the searcher’s conditions, so these adjustments are worth making if you value search engine traffic.