Initial upgrade reports on the HP Stream and Pavilion Mini

Earlier this year at CES, HP introduced its HP Stream Mini ($180) and Pavilion Mini ($320 and $450) mini-desktops. They’re small, inexpensive, and in the case of the Stream, silent. They turn out to be surprisingly upgradeable as well. Ars Technica has details and benchmarks, but of course I have my own priorities based on their discoveries.

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Eliminate wifi dead spots using access points

I’ve said before how to eliminate wifi dead spots, but perhaps I didn’t give it the focus it deserves. I think almost everyone has wifi dead spots in their house that they would like to eliminate. It turns out you can do it, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune either.

The idea is to supplement your existing router with one or two additional access points. Read more

My impressions of the TP-Link TL-WR841N

The TP-Link TL-WR841N (and the similar TL-WR841ND) is a lower-mid range router that routinely sells in the $20-$25 range. Although many people consider it an off-brand, TP-Link has had a following in the enthusiast community for a couple of years. I’ve been prone to recommend them because they have a better track record than many of the bigger-name brands of continuing to release firmware upgrades that fix security vulnerabilities. If you’re going to buy a router and leave it stock, you’re better off with a TP-Link than anything else.

I only used the stock firmware to load DD-WRT on it though, so about all I can say is that the TL-WR841N runs DD-WRT really well. Read more

No, it doesn’t take a “serious hacker” to crack wi-fi through WPS

John C Dvorak is raving in PC Magazine about Netgear wireless routers and range extenders and how easy WPS makes it to set them up–and providing some very seriously flawed security advice along the way.

“Note that WPS is crackable by serious hackers using brute-force attack, but any SOHO user not dealing with government secrets should be fine.”
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How to be a hero next Christmas (or your next family get-together)

My mother in law didn’t have wifi set up, but she picked up a smart TV this year, so she asked me if I could help her with it. So I picked up a D-Link DIR-615 on sale, brought it with me and set up wi-fi securely (hints: set the SSID to whatever time it happens to be, disable WPS, disable WEP and WPA, and use WPA2 with a long password with some numbers and symbols in it) and once it seemed to be working right, I put her TV and laptop on it. Then, as other relatives trickled in, they asked me for the wireless key. Soon the air was full of Androids and Apples chattering away on wireless.

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If you needed another reminder to secure your wi-fi…

And if you needed another reminder of why you should secure your wi-fi:

“There’s a very common belief that if someone pirates your Wi-Fi connection or uses your computer without your permission, you are responsible for illegal downloads of copyrighted material. That’s not true, says Stoltz; the law is quite clear. However, the lawyers who bring those cases use that misperception to convince innocent people that they had better pay up. Since $3,500 is just a fraction of the money it would take to fight a case in court, most people simply settle.” —Infoworld

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