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Phone kills Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi kills phone

Our cable company recently added broadband phone to their lineup, so I switched over from DSL. When the cable guy was done, I hooked up my wireless security appliance and tested the connection with my laptop. I was impressed with the speed difference. Then I hooked up the phone and tried it. It worked great. I thought everything was going to be OK. I was wrong.

After dinner, my wife got on the phone to call my daughter while I was online. My wireless connection speed immediately dropped to less than 2Mbps (it should be solid at 11 Mbps). As soon as she hung up, the connection speed recovered. It didn’t make sense. Voice over IP is not that bandwidth-intensive.

That wasn’t the only problem. The voice quality on the other end of our line was terrible. The audio was choppy. The person on the other end could barely understand us most of the time. I was ready to tell the cable company to forget it all and reverse the changes. But I finally figured it out.

I had my wireless phone next to my wireless router. Traffic from the radio in the phone was crossing up with traffic from the wireless causing interference in both. I moved the phone across the room and everything got right again. Problem solved.

Cheers!
The Geek

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Filed in: Answers, Computers, Hardware
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How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #2 (or, How Not to Invite Attackers Into Your PCs and Networks)

In my previous post, How to Secure Your Computer: Maxim #1, I said that the best security measures are useless if you invite attackers into your PCs and networks. Several people have taken me to task on that statement, saying that they always practice safe surfing, never click on links in emails, etc., etc. I listened intently and acknowledged that they’re doing the right things, mostly. But when I asked what type of router they were using, I drew a few blank stares.

The on-by-default Windows firewall notwithstanding, anyone who has a PC plugged directly into their DSL or cable modem is at serious risk of having their PC hijacked and their personal information stolen. A PC connected directly to the Internet is visible to anyone who cares to look for it, a sugar-coated invitation to criminal hackers and spammers. An inexpensive router using network address translation (NAT) serves as an excellent hardware firewall, making your computer virtually invisible. And what they can’t see, they can’t get. With that in mind, here is Maxim#2:

A first, important step in securing your PC is to install and configure a NAT router.

Cheers!
The Geek

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D-Link wireless network card won’t install

Harvey writes: I am trying to re-install my D-Link wireless card’s software; it was not starting as it was suppose to. After it asks for the location to install it to I get the following error: “Error:-1610 The configuration data for the product is corrupt. Contact your support personnel” and it closes. I tried the two latest updates, the original CD and my son’s CD with the same result. I deleted all references I could find to D-Link in the registry. D-Link support was no help.

You were right to look to the registry, Harvey, because the problem is surely an empty or corrupted key. However, the hardware being installed may not identify itself by name, so you may not be able to locate it easily. Rather than try to dig into the depths of the registry, I recommend you use a good registry cleaner. PC Tools’ Registry Mechanic is one of the best around. After you run the scanner and clean up what it finds, try reinstalling your hardware. I bet it’ll work. Many hardware and software problems have their root in corrupted or missing registry keys. Whenever anyone describes “strange” computer problems to me, one of the first things I do is clean up the registry. Most of the time, the problems disappear.

Filed in: Computers, Hardware
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My computer won’t shut down!

Brook says: “My computer won’t shut down; I have to use the power button. I’m running Windows XP. Please help!”

The Geek replies: Brook, there are many possible causes (see Problems Shutting Down Windows XP) for your problem, but the most common one I see on computers like yours is a thing called the “nVidia Driver Helper” service. Neither I, nor my fellow Geeks, know exactly what it is supposed to do, but it sure can cause shutdown problems. And turning it off doesn’t appear to hurt anything. Here’s how to disable it:

Go to Start > Run and type services.msc. Locate the nVidia Driver Helper item and right click it. Select Properties. Set the startup value of the service to “Manual” or “Disabled”.

Your computer should shut down normally now. Still won’t shut down? Try this.

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Kool Tool: Clipmarks

In response to my article, “Don’t bookmark it–Furl it!”, Wally wrote to say I should try Clipmarks. So, I went to the site and watched the demo. Unlike Furl and Spurl, which store entire web pages that you have bookmarked, Clipmarks lets you select and save snippets of text, photos or other graphics off a web page; you clip and save just the stuff you want from any web page. I’ve been saving clips and quotes into notes for years, but it’s cumbersome to manually copy-and-paste the stuff and I still have to either type in or copy-and-paste a link to the source. Clipmarks automatically stores the source URL with your clipping.

Like the other services, Clipmarks lets you add tags (keywords), comments and share your clipmarks with friends. Your clipmarks are private unless you choose to share them. There’s a Public Clipmarks section where you can search and see what others are clipping and who the clippers are. You might soon find some of the stuff I’m clipping because I’m off to sign up. See ya on Clipmarks!…K

Filed in: Computers, Links, Reviews
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