rocket-d 5 reasons why your Wi-Fi is slow (and how to fix it)

 

5 reasons why your Wi-Fi is slowFor the two decades that the internet has been in our lives, despite all the changes and technology improvements, one constant has remained: pokey connections. Frustration quickly sets in when pages won’t load, videos buffer, or email crawls to a halt. Here are five common problems and solutions to try.

1. Internet thieves

One of the best things about Wi-Fi is the easy access it provides to the internet. But, if your network password is too simple, there could be more people tapping into it than you originally bargained for.

Obviously, this isn’t something you want. Networks with weak passwords or no passwords can be accessed by almost anyone. Use a free program called Wi-Fi History View to review each device that has connected to your network, and look for IP addresses you don’t recognize.

Prevent this by first changing the password for your router. If you don’t know where to find it, a site called RouterPasswords can help you locate the manufacturer’s default password. From there, create a password that is complex and difficult to guess.

2. Congestion

This is a problem in crowded neighborhoods or apartments. When too many people try to connect at the same time on the same Wi-Fi channel, connection speed is significantly impacted.

When your connection slows during peak hours, usually in the evening when everyone gets off work, that’s a sure sign of congestion.

Fix this by selecting a different channel for your router. If you have a 2.4 gigahertz frequency router, there are usually 11 channels to choose from. Channels 1, 6 and 11 are recommended, but try other channels to find a faster connection. Or buy a new 5 gigahertz router.

3. Outdated equipment

Wi-Fi routers are not all created equal. “AC” routers are a step up from the older “B” and “G” models and even “N” models. They have more features and offer better performance. If you’re shopping for a new router, that’s what you want to look for.

AC routers have a maximum spectral bandwidth of around 8 x 160MHz, compared to the 4 x 40MHz standard of N routers. In other words, the increased bandwidth allows more data to be transmitted without slowing down.

4. Your router’s security settings

Aside from protecting your network from unauthorized bandwidth usage, which could slow down your network without your knowledge, did you know that the type of wireless security you use could impact your overall speeds too?

If your network is Open (no security) or is using WEP, change the security setting immediately! Obviously, an open network will make it easy for someone to steal your Wi-Fi, and the older WEP security is easily hacked, so avoid it at all costs.

This leaves you with WPA, WPA2 with TKIP, or WPA2 with AES.

WPA and TKIP are what you want to avoid. Not only are these protocols older and insecure, they can actually slow down your network.

The best option is WPA2 with AES. AES is a newer and more secure setting that lets you achieve higher speeds.

5. You’re too far out of range

Sometimes the easiest fixes are right there under our noses. Routers are not designed to transmit signals over long distances, so there may be hot spots and dead zones in your home.

To map out your network, use a tool called HeatMapper. It helps you see where Wi-Fi signals are strongest in your home or office. HeatMapper is a free download for Windows users. NetSpot is a good alternative for Mac users.

Once you’ve identified the problem areas in your home, you have a few options available. One option is to purchase a Wi-Fi extender that can boost the range of your router’s transmission. Wi-Fi extenders range in price from around $20 to $120, depending on the features included in the model. However, a mid-range extender should work just fine. Click here for a full breakdown of Wi-Fi extender options.

The second option is to purchase a mesh system. The $500 Eero Home Wi-Fi system promises “no more dead zones” in their product description. A mesh system consists of a series of smaller routers that sync with one another to boost the coverage area of your network. Spread these mini routers here and there throughout your home, and you’ll have a strong connection no matter what room you’re in.

rocket-d Why Bother Trying to Stay Private Online?

It’s so difficult to keep your privacy anymore.  In fact, 59% of American web users have given up trying to be completely anonymous online, according to a Pew Research Study. And unless you are running for public office, then why not let Google and Bing and Facebook track your online web habits? The intent is to tailor and target web advertisements, which is pretty benign, right? And your social media presence is safely set to ‘friends only’ viewing, right?

Well, truth be told: targeted advertising is not a life-changing benefit for anyone other than the advertisers. And there are negative social and legal consequences to online tracking which most people are unaware of. And social media is NEVER private, even if you set your Facebook to be ‘friends-only’ viewing.

We strongly suggest that you should cloak at least some of your online habits. We have 10 reasons why we suggest this, and we’re pretty sure that reason #10 applies to everyone.

1.  Avoiding Awkwardness When People See Your Computing Device:
You don’t want to leave a web trail when you search for treatments for your sensitive medical condition or your illicit hobby. It will be awkward if you lend your smartphone or computer to someone, and targeted ads for ‘depression’, ‘herpes’, and ‘how to have an affair’ appear on your screen.

If you are using Google or Bing or Facebook to search for sensitive topics, definitely make some effort to cloak your habits with an incognito window, at the very least!

2.  Avoiding Potential Revenge in Your Social Circles:
Your social media friend might one day become an enemy, and seek to exact revenge on you by revealing your web habits to the world. Yes, people can be that petty and passive-aggressive. And yes, this really happens.

What would the vindictive person use to publicly shame you?  Well, in addition to any personal photos you’ve shared with that person, look at reason #1 above.

3.  Avoiding Legal Incrimination:
One day, you may be accused of a crime, and law enforcement will trace your web travels to build a case against you.  While this is low probability for most of you, the day that you get accused of a crime is the day that you’ll be glad you took measures in advance.  There’s no need to give the prosecutor any more ammunition, regardless if you are guilty or not.

4.  Avoiding Being Profiled by Authorities:
If you have controversial interests, it is smart to keep your tastes and interests private;  there are private corporations and government institutions who assemble profiles based on how you surf the Web.

Maybe you are a gun collector, a user of medical marijuana, or someone who advocates for a side in a religiously-charged debate.  Or perhaps you vigorously disagree with the current government, a particular senator, or some local business, and vocalizing your thoughts will get you unwanted attention.  In any case, cloaking your web habits is a smart thing to do  (see #3 above).

5.  Risking Your Job Because You Were Identifiable Online:
Maybe you have a high-profile professional job in the government, public service, or legal/medical/engineering world where it is imperative that you never be accused of impropriety in your personal life. If you participate in controversial hobbies, or have strong opinions that are politically-charged, it could be a career-limiting move to have such information documented.

6.  Possibly Getting Your Credit Cards Hacked:
If you regularly publish your online purchasing tastes and personal life habits through social media, you are very attractive to cyber-savvy crooks.  These criminals will sniff out your information by following your posts about your pets and children, your Amazon and eBay buying habits, and where you like to shop and eat.  And then as soon as you publish that you’re on vacation to Hawaii, then these online crooks get really excited about the possibilities you present!

7.  Protecting Your Family from Predators:
If you have young children, definitely curtail how much of your personal life you broadcast on the Web. Cyber-savvy predators love to know what your favorite grocery store and favorite park is.

8.  You Like to Make Controversial Purchases Online:
Maybe you like to buy products online that could draw unwanted attention: fetish clothing and paraphernalia, ammunition, self-defense devices, anti-surveillance devices, books about weapons, and so on. 

While your hobby tastes are not necessarily illegal, they can get you unwanted attention, social judgment, and possibly threaten your credibility and job security at the office.

9.  You Enjoy Controversial Discussion Forums:
If you like to talk politics or religion or other controversial topics online, you definitely want to sheild yourself from reprisals in your real life.  When it comes to heated topics about abortion, labor laws, immigration, and other hot-button topics, people can get very emotional. Some people will actually wish you physical harm. They may even want to exact real-life revenge through vandalism, stalking, or even physical threats.  Definitely not a good idea to broadcast your personal details online in the event that you clash with a cyber-savvy hater.

10.  Privacy Is Something You Consider a Basic Human Right:
In a democratic and free world, this is the biggest reason of all to cloak yourself against digital tracking.

If you share the growing concern that authorities and corporations have more insight into your online tastes and spending habits than they should, then you should consider implementing privacy measures to cloak your online habits. Whether or not you participate in illicit activities or questionable hobbies, your privacy is a basic human right.  And until an enlightened government enforces that on your behalf, you need to take personal responsibility for your privacy.

11.  So, What Do I Do to Cloak My Online Habits?
Here’s the bad news:  there is no single easy way to cloak your web usage.
Here’s the good news:  if you make even some effort to cloak yourself, you dramatically reduce the chances of grief with each step you take.

Here are 4 privacy resources to get you started:
1. What Google Tracks About You (and How to Prevent It)
2. The Best VPN Services to Cloak Your Connection
3. Blocking Creepers on Your Phone and Desktop
4. 10 Ways to Cloak Yourself Online 

rocket-d Internet 101: Beginners Quick Reference Guide

A ‘Cheat Sheet’ for Online Beginners

The Internet and World Wide Web, in combination, are a worldwide free-broadcast medium for the general public. Using your PC, Mac, smartphone, Xbox, movie player, and GPS, you can access a vast world of messaging and useful content through the Net.

The Net has subnetworks.  The biggest subnetwork is the World Wide Web, comprised of HTML pages and hyperlinks. Other subnetworks are emailinstant messaging, P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing, and FTP downloading.

Below is a quick reference to help fill in your knowledge gaps, and get you participating in the Net and the Web quickly.

1.  How Is the ‘Internet’ Different from the ‘Web’?

The Internet, or ‘Net’, stands for Interconnection of Computer Networks.  It is a massive conglomeration of millions of computers and smartphone devices, all connected by wires and wireless signals. Although it started in the 1960’s as a military experiment in communication, the Net evolved into a public free broadcast forum in the 70’s and 80’s. No single authority owns or controls the Internet.  No single set of laws governs its content.  You connect to the Internet through a private Internet service provider, a public Wi-Fi network, or through your office’s network.

In 1989, a large subset of the Internet was launched: the World Wide Web.  The ‘Web’ is a massive collection of HTML pages that transmits through the Internet’s hardware.  You will hear the expressions ‘Web 1.0’, ‘Web 2.0’, and ‘the Invisible Web’ to describe these billions of web pages.

The expressions ‘Web’ and ‘Internet’ are used interchangeably by the layperson. This is technically incorrect, as the Web is contained by the Internet. In practice, however, most people don’t bother with the distinction.

2.  What Is ‘Web 1.0’, ‘Web 2.0’, and ‘the Invisible Web’?

Web 1.0: When the World Wide Web was launched in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee, it was comprised of just text and simple graphics.  Effectively a collection of electronic brochures, the Web was organized as a simple broadcast-receive format.  We call this simple static format ‘Web 1.0’.  Today, millions of web pages are still quite static, and the term Web 1.0 still applies.

Web 2.0: In the late 1990’s, the Web started to go beyond static content, and began offering interactive services.  Instead of just web pages as brochures, the Web began to offer online software where people could perform tasks and receive consumer-type services.  Online banking, video gaming, dating services, stocks tracking, financial planning, graphics editing, home videos, webmail… all of these became regular online Web offerings before the year 2000.  These online services are now referred to as ‘Web 2.0’.  Names like Facebook, Flickr, Lavalife, eBay, Digg, and Gmail helped to make Web 2.0 a part of our daily lives.

The Invisible Web is a third part of World Wide Web.  Technically a subset of Web 2.0,the Invisible Web describes those billions of web pages that are purposely hidden from regular search engines.  These invisible web pages are private-confidential pages  (e.g. personal email, personal banking statements), and web pages generated by specialized databases (e.g. job postings in Cleveland or Seville).   Invisible Web pages are either hidden completely from your casual eyes, or require special search engines to locate.

3.  Internet Terms that Beginners Should Learn

There are some technical terms that beginners should learn.  While some Internet technology can be very complex and intimidating, the fundamentals of understanding the Net are quite doable. Some of the basic terms to learn include:

  • HTML and http/https
  • Browser
  • URL
  • ISP
  • Downloading
  • Malware
  • Router
  • E-commerce
  • Bookmark

4.  Web Browsers: the Software of Reading Web Pages

Your browser is your primary tool for reading web pages and exploring the larger Internet.Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, Chrome, Safari… these are the big names in browser software, and each of them offers good features.

5.  What Is the ‘Dark Web’?

The Dark Web is a growing collection of private websites that can only be accessed through complex technology.  These ‘dark websites’ are designed to scramble the identities of everyone reading or publishing there.  The purpose is two-fold:  to provide safe haven for people seeking to avoid reprisal from law enforcement,  oppressive government, or dishonest corporations; and to provide a private place to trade in black market goods.

6.  Mobile Internet: Smartphones and Laptops

Laptops, netbooks, and smartphones are the devices we use to surf the Net as we travel. Riding on the bus, sitting in a coffee shop, at the library, in an airport… mobile Internet is a revolutionary convenience. But becoming mobile Internet-enabled does require some basic knowledge of hardware and networking.

7.  Email: How It Works

Email is a massive subnetwork inside the Internet.  We trade written messages, along with file attachments, through email. While it can suck away your time, email does provide the business value of maintaining a paper trail for conversations.

8.  Instant Messaging: Faster than Email

Instant messaging, or “IM”, is a combination of chat and email. Although often considered a distraction at corporate offices, IM can be a very useful communication tool for both business and social purposes.  For those people that use IM, it can be an excellent communication tool.

9.  Social Networking

Social Networking” is about starting and maintaining friendship communications through websites. It is the modern digital form of socializing, done through web pages. Users will choose one or more online services that specialize in groupwide-communications, and then gather their friends there to exchange daily greetings and regular messages. Although not the same as face-to-face communications, social networking is immensely popular because it is easy, playful, and quite motivating. Social networking sites can be general, or focused on hobby interests like movies and music.

10.  The Strange Language and Acronyms of Internet Messaging

The world of Internet culture, and Internet messaging, is truly confusing at first. In part influenced by gamers and hobby hackers, conduct expectations do exist on the Net. Also: language and jargon are prevalent.

11.  The Best Search Engines for Beginners

With thousands of web pages and files added everyday, the internet and the web are daunting to search. While catalogs like Google and Yahoo! help, what’s even more important is the user mindset… how to approach sifting through billions of possible choices to find what you need.

rocket-d What Is the Difference Between the Internet and the Web?

Difference Between the Internet and the Web

Question: What Is the Difference Between the Internet and the Web? People commonly use the words “Internet” and “Web” interchangeably. This usage is technically incorrect.

Answer: The Internet and the World Wide Web have a whole-to-part relationship. The Internet is the large container, and the Web is a part within the container. It is common in daily conversation to abbreviate them as the “Net” and the “Web”, and then swap the words interchangeably.

But to be technically precise, the Net is the restaurant, and the Web is the most popular dish on the menu.

Here is the detailed explanation:

1: The Internet is a Big Collection of Computers and Cables.

The Internet is named for “interconnection of computer networks”. It is a massive hardware combination of millions of personal, business, and governmental computers, all connected like roads and highways.

The Internet started in the 1960’s under the original name “ARPAnet”. ARPAnet was originally an experiment in how the US military could maintain communications in case of a possible nuclear strike. With time, ARPAnet became a civilian experiment, connecting university mainframe computers for academic purposes. As personal computers became more mainstream in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Internet grew exponentially as more users plugged their computers into the massive network. Today, the Internet has grown into a public spiderweb of millions of personal, government, and commercial computers, all connected by cables and by wireless signals.

No single person owns the Internet. No single government has authority over its operations.

Some technical rules and hardware/software standards enforce how people plug into the Internet, but for the most part, the Internet is a free and open broadcast medium of hardware networking.

2: The Web Is a Big Collection of HTML Pages on the Internet.

The World Wide Web, or “Web” for short, is a massive collection of digital pages: that large software subset of the Internet dedicated to broadcasting content in the form of HTML pages.

The Web is viewed by using free software called web browsers. Born in 1989, the Web is based on hypertext transfer protocol, the language which allows you and me to “jump” (hyperlink) to any other public web page. There are over 65 billion public web pages on the Web today.

 

rocket-d 13 Surprising Facts About the Web

Strange Things You Probably Didn’t Know!

internetSince its inception in the 1960’s, the Internet has grown from a military experiment into a gigantic living organism filled with oddities and subcultures.  Since the World Wide Web launched 24 years ago, the Net has seen truly explosive growth in tech, business, and culture.

Here are some of the bizarre factoids that describe the Internet and the World Wide Web.

1.  The Internet Requires Approximately 50 Million Horsepower in Electricity

Yes. With an estimated 8.7 billion electronic devices connected to the Internet, the electricity required to run the system for even one day is very substantial.  According to Russell Seitz and the calculation of Michael Stevens, 50 million brake horsepower worth of electrical power is required to keep the Internet running in its current state.

2.  It Takes 2 Billion Electrons to Produce a Single Email Message.

According to Michael Stevens and Vsauce calculations, a 50 kilobyte email message uses the footprint of 8 billion electrons.  The number sounds ginormous, yes, but with electrons weighing next to nothing, 8 billion of them weigh less than a quadrillionth of an ounce.

3.  Of the 7 Billion People on Planet Earth, Over 2.4 Billion Use the Internet

While most of these calculations cannot be precisely confirmed, there is high confidence amongst most internet statistics that more than 2 billion people use the internet and the Web as a matter of weekly habit.

4.  The Internet Weighs As Much As One Strawberry

Russel Seitz is a physicist who has crunched some very precise numbers.  With some atomic physics assumptions, the billions upon billions of ‘data-in-motion’ moving electrons on the Internet add up to approximately 50 grams.  That is 2 ounces, the weight of one strawberry.

5.  Over 8.7 Billion Machines Are Currently Connected to the Internet.

Smartphones, tablets, desktops, servers, wireless routers and hotspots, car GPS units, wristwatches, refrigerators and even soda pop machines: the Internet is comprised of billions of gadgets.  Expect this to grow to 15 billion gadgets by 2015, and to 40 billion gadgets by 2020.

6.  Every 60 Seconds, 72 Hours of YouTube Video Is Uploaded

 …and of those 72 hours, most of the videos are about cats, Harlem Shake dance moves, and inane things that no one is interested in.   Like it or not, people love to share their amateur videos in the hopes that it will go viral and achieve a small bit of celebritydom.

7.  Electrons Only Move a Few Dozen Meters Before Stopping on the Net.

Yes, an electron doesn’t travel very far through the wires and transistors of our computers; they move perhaps a dozen meters or so between machines, and then their energy and signal is consumed by the next device on the network. Each device, in turn, transfers the signal to the adjacent set of electrons and the cycle repeats again down the chain. All of this happens within fractions of seconds.

8.  The Internet’s 5 Million Terabytes Weighs Less Than a Grain of Sand

Weighing even less that all the moving electricity, the weight of the internet’s static data storage (‘data-at-rest’) is freakishly small.  Once you take away the mass of the hard drives and transistors, it boggles the mind that 5 million TB of data comprises less mass than a grain of sand.

9.  Over 78% of North Americans Use the Internet

The USA and the English language were the original influences that spawned the Internet and the World Wide Web.  It makes sense that the great majority of Americans rely on the Web as a daily part of life.

10.  1.7 Billion of the Internet’s Users Are in Asia

That’s right: over half of the regular population of the Web resides in some part of Asia:  Japan, South Korea, India, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore are just some of the countries with this high adoption rate.  There are a growing number of web pages published in these Asian languages, but the predominant web language continues to be English.

11.  The Best Connected Cities Are In South Korea and Japan

According to Akamai, the worldwide network infrastructure of internet cables and wireless signal is the fastest in South Korea and Japan.  The average bandwidth speed there is 22 Mbps, far above the United States (at a measly 8.4 Mbps).

12.  Over Half of Web Traffic Is Media Streaming and File Sharing

Media and file sharing is the distribution of music, movies, software, books, photos, and other consumable content to users. Streaming YouTube videos is one flavor of file sharing. Torrent P2P is another very popular form of file sharing.  There is online radio, which streams temporary copies of music to your device, along with Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. Make no mistake: people want their media, and they want it so much that half of the World Wide Web’s traffic is file sharing!

13.  Online Dating Generates Over 1 Billion Dollars Each Year

According to Reuters and PC World, the statistics for online dating in the USA are very high.  While this only partially translates to other countries, it is safe to say that people have accepted the value of using the World Wide Web to find love and friendship, even if it means shelling out 30 dollars a month on the credit card.