My wireless network can be flaky at times, probably thanks to interference from other networks and devices. If you have an unreliable wireless connection, it could be because you’re not on the optimal wireless channel for your router and environment. Did you know that your Mac has a built-in tool to find the best wireless channel? The trick involves using the Wireless Diagnostics Utilities app that comes with your Mac.
I’ve recently started having issues with my WiFi network, such as dropouts and slowness. One of the first steps I’ve taken to address the problem is to try to determine if I’m getting interference from other networks. To see nearby networks, and what channels they’re using, I’ve found WiFi Stumbler to be valuable.
According to a Dutch study, our beloved Wi-Fi — the stuff that large populations of the planet now use in their homes, their workplaces, where they shop, where they drink coffee, and pretty much everywhere else they go — may be killing our trees. Or at least contributing to it. The researchers of Wageningen University say that more analysis is required to reach a solid conclusion on the matter, but so far, it looks like the particular radiation that is Wi-Fi is not at all interested in becoming a tree-hugger.
The tests were done in urban areas, where the high Wi-Fi and mobile phone network concentrations battle it out with other not-so-nice-for-trees elements such as fuel and other particle emissions. This leads to an obvious question about whether the trees’ sickness is more a result of other side-effects of urban sprawl, but the researchers feel they have a pretty good case against Wi-Fi. This is unfortunate, as Wi-Fi has become more and more a part of our daily necessities. Either way, something that is in the air in areas of major and connected human cities is causing the upper and lower layers of leaves to die, leaving behind a “lead-like shine” — and apparently inhibiting the growth of corn cobs.
This news, while not entirely proven true, may mark down one more in an ever-growing list of our human comforts and advancements that may actually be harmful to our immediate environment.
What do you think?
Study: Wi-Fi Makes Our Trees Sick [Read Write Web (via PC World)]
By now, you’ve probably heard of Firesheep, the Firefox plugin that makes it trivial for someone on an unsecured WiFi network to hack user login info for many other social networks. Yesterday, ZScaler Security released BlackSheep, a Firefox plugin to alert you if someone is using Firesheep on your network. This is promising, but can also lull you into a false sense of security.
BlackSheep is based upon the Firesheep source code, and reuses the same network listening backend, as well as the same list of sites and corresponding cookies. The problem is that Firesheep was but one way (albeit the easiest way) for someone to exploit you on an unsecured wireless network. There is nothing in the description of BlackSheep to suggest that it will protect you from other types of hacking attempts.
The real way to stay safe on a public WiFi network? Connect only to secure networks (in which case even other people on the same network can’t hijack your traffic), connect only to HTTPS sites, or connect via a VPN.
So . . . fess up- have any of you tried Firesheep, or seen it in action? Or maybe you have a horror story about being hacked? Let us know in the comments.
Are we approaching the day where remote access software will be meeting its grim reaper – the cloud? A few months ago, we compared LogMeIn and Teamviewer, two popular choices for accessing your PC when away from home or the office. How often do you need to access your PC remotely, though? Futurelawyer discussed this recently, pointing out that we now live in a cloud-based world, where we let third parties manage our data.
That got me to thinking about my usage of remote access software. While I’ve never been a heavy user, there once was a time where I would connect to my home PC about once a week, often to retrieve a file. Aside from playing with different remote access options, though, I can’t remember the last time I connected remotely. Thanks to my comprehensive backup solution, my documents get synced to Google Docs, and my files are backed up online to Carbonite. I can always reach them. Both my work and personal email are accessible via web apps.
Some people worry about the security and reliability of their information in the cloud. We’ve previously addressed these concerns as well. The bottom line – if you use a service that makes sure that you have local copies, your information will always be available to you. And, no offense, but if you’re not dedicated to keeping your system secure, your data is more secure in the hands of many online services than it is on your PC.
How has your usage of remote access tools changed over time?
Will Cloud Computing Make Remote Access Software Obsolete? [Futurelawyer]
If your wireless router doesn’t give you the coverage that you need, or if you want to broadcast your Wireless N and Wireless G signals from different devices for speed purposes, then you should consider setting up a wireless access point. You may not need to purchase additional hardware, as a spare wireless router sitting around your house may do the trick.