Category Archives: Internet

Some Ways To Easily Find Your Computer Serial Number

How many times have you called tech support for a problem you were having with your Windows computer, only to have the technician ask for specific information?

Such as “what is your computer serial number”?

So you quickly scramble to try to look at the back of the computer, only to realize you need a moving crew to reach the computer. Instead, you open Windows System Information Tool, scroll up and down only to find….it’s not there!

Uggh, why do computers have to be so difficult when were in a hurry?

Instead of getting frustrated next time, here are two tips for finding your computer serial number quickly.

Windows Tool For Finding Computer Serial Number

One thing that I like about running a Windows operating system, is the assortment of third party tools that are available.

Such as SIW (System Information Tool), also known as the Swiss army knife of Windows utilities.

SIW provides a wealth of information about your Windows system, including the computer serial number.

Just download the portable SIW tool (no installation required) to your desktop, then extract the zip file – siw_portable.zip to your Desktop.

Once the contents of the zip file are extracted, open the folder, named SIWPortable…

…and double click on the executable file, which will create a second folder, also named SIWPortable.

Inside that second folder, double click on the file SIWPortable.exe to run the portable tool (yes I know, a little convoluted, but it’s better than installing more stuff on your computer).

When the tool opens, in the left navigation pane, scroll down to the Hardware section and click on System Summary to display your computer serial number.

As you can see, not only is the serial number displayed, but almost every piece of information about your computer (which will come in real handy during support calls).

Using The CMD Prompt

If you are more of a tech geek, and like to use the cmd prompt to find information about your computer (as well as execute commands), you are in luck.

Just open up a command window , and enter the following command at the prompt:

As you can the wmic command, (with the correct parameters) quickly shows the computer serial number. As a matter of fact the wmic is very powerful and can display more information about your computer using the following command:

wmic csproduct list

For more system information on what the wmic csproduct can display, simple use the help function with the command:

wmic csproduct /?

So the next time you need to cough up your computer serial number in a hurry, just use one of the two methods shown above with out getting frustrated at the tech support person!

Know More About Computer Problem Tips

It’s been estimated that over 60% of all computers have some kind of spyware installed and most of their owners are unaware!

If you are tired of your PC running slow and filling your screen with those nasty pop-up then you will want to read the 10 warning signs listed below. Afterwards check out my “action plan” and what you can do to rid yourself of your spyware infestation.

1. Browser Hijacks – When I used to get a call from a customer saying that their homepage had suddenly changed, without them doing anything, I knew to bring my anti-spyware fighting software. Malicious programmers love to change your browser settings to transfer your homepage to their “client’s” websites.

2. PC is Crashing – Without warning, your PC starts crashing, freezing or locking up, but you haven’t added any new software or updated anything recently.

3. Pop-Ups – You open your browser to visit your favorite blog site then “WHAM!” You are suddenly drowning in pop-ups! Your screen is full of brightly colored lures to porn, gambling or gaming websites. You click on the “Close” or the “X” to shut it down…uh, oh something is downloading to your machine!

4. Strange Favorites – You notice that there is a strange looking icon in your favorites. You click on it out of curiosity. You are caught in a webring of girly webpages…drat it, you’re at work!

5. Strange Icon on Desktop or in Systray – You know notice a “winking” red light on the bottom-right in your Systray display. It says you have been infected. You hurriedly click on it to see what is wrong. Then a pop-up appears that says it is downloading an “anti-virus killer”…uh, oh.

6. Strange New Files Appear – You are poking about in your files and you notice that some odd, spyware-killer software has a folder on your hard drive. Where did that one come from?

7. Strange Emails – While searching for a note you dropped to the boss, you notice that you have lots of strange emails in your “Send” folder. You didn’t send them, especially the ones in a foreign language.

8. Strange Toolbars – You open up your browser and now you have 3 toolbars instead of just one. What gives? When you try to remove, or change the settings, they keep coming back no matter what you do.

9. PC Runs Sluggish Or Slow – Granted your computer may not be the newest kid on the block but lately it has been moving slower than the Street Dept fixing a pothole. It takes several minutes for it logon and go out on the web. And it takes forever for you do to the simplest things anymore.

10. Hard Drive Is Running All The Time – You have noticed that your hard drive is running all the time now. Even when nobody is on the machine! You can see the activity light blinking away and you can also hear the drive being accessed. Huh?

Action Plan – What to do next…

– Download from the Net or buy a good anti-spyware software package. For free try Ad-Aware or SpyBot’s S&D. Or use SpySweeper if you need an industrial strength cleaner.
– Scan your hard drive and follow any instructions on removing items.
– Install a good personal firewall program to slow down pop-ups and other nastiness.

Some Tips To Keep Your Files Secure

We are currently living in a connected world. Everywhere you go, you will most likely have access to a computer with an Internet connection.

The computer is used for various things from completing a school assignment to banking. It is therefore, extremely crucial to keep all your files secure in order not be have your personal information compromised.

Here are 5 tips on how you can keep your personal information and files secure.

Tip #1:

When using the Internet, always use a difficult to guess password on all websites. Avoid using a single combination of username/password for all websites.

If your password is too easy to remember, then it is probably not good enough.

Use Password Manager programs like KeePass to keep track of your passwords so that you do not have to crack your brain in order to memorize all your username/password combinations.

Tip #2:

Always make sure your computer itself is password protected. There are ways to configure your computer to auto login or remove the login functionality but you must never do this!

Your computer is the gateway to your personal information and access to the Internet.

Tip #3:

Use encryption software to protect sensitive data. Keep all your sensitive data in one main folder and use a software like TrueCrypt to create an encrypted volume.

We must protect our information from all eventualities. With encrypted volume to store all your sensitive data, even if you lose your laptop, your data will be safe.

Tip #4:

Always keep your firewall and anti-virus software up-to-date. Choose to auto-update so that you do not have to worry about scheduling a time to manually update it.

The computer firewall protects you from hacking attempts. You should also not visit suspicious websites or click on suspicious emails unless you are sure of the source.

Tip #5:

There are many public places offering Internet access. While this may be convenient, do not use such facility to access your private or sensitive information. Do not even open up your personal file using a public computer because you will not know if the computer has been compromised.

Use these 5 tips to keep your files secure. There will be moments where you are tempted to ignore these tips out of convenience. But always remember the value of your personal and sensitive information. Once they are compromised, the repercussions may be really damaging.

Know More About Build Your Home Network The Right Way Without Spending A Fortune

Are you struggling with your home network? Do the terms TCP/IP, CAT5, Router, LAN, NIC, 802.11B or 802.11G make you head spin and leave you feeling confused?

homenetworkingebookS.pngIf you answered yes too one or all of the questions, you are not alone.

I can certainly understand your frustration and remember when I was learning Computers and Networks, it was like trying to learn a new language or install a garage door opener from the instructions that were made for NASA Engineers.

Building a home network is no different. Unlike being at work where you can just call the Help Desk, there is no immediate help available when doing it your self.

Fortunately you now have help. I have made available, a guide that will help de-mystify home networks and explain the foreign terminology that will help you build a robust home network beyond just one computer and a printer.

Here’s what’s included:

– Networking 101 – learn the basics of Networks
– How Does Home Networking Work? – from your PC to the Internet, understand how it functions
– Networking Options – wireless or hardwire, helping you decide the best option
– Essential Home Networking Equipment – what you need to build your home network the right way from the beginning
– Guidelines For Building A Simple Home Network – tips to help you save money
– Security Issues and Guidelines – keep the bad guys out and your data safe
– Troubleshooting a Home Network – simple step by step tips to resolve those pesky network problems
…and much more
To get your free copy, just enter your name and email address below The Home Networking guide is available as a PDF file for easy reading or as an MP3 file so your can listen to it on your iPod or MP3 player.

As an added bonus, you will automatically receive the WTN Tips newsletter, that offers more great how-to’s and tutorials not published on the WTN web site.

Easy Steps To Backup Your Linksys Wireless Network Adapter Configuration

So your Computer just crashed or the Wireless Network configuration decided to go south and lose your Linksys wireless adapter configuration. No problem…right? You have all the configuration settings handy in a safe location, that includes the SSID, and the long passphrase for the WPA or WEP password?

What you don’t?? Well it’s time to back it up now, before it’s to late.

To backup the Linksys wireless adapter configuration installed in your PC:

Open the Wireless Network Monitor from the System Tray (green icon next to the clock) by double clicking on it or from the Start menu, Programs, and look for the Linksys Wireless Network Adapter program group.

Once Network Monitor opens, select the Profiles tab at the top, then select Export and save to a location on your hard drive or to a backup location (such as CD or USB drive).

If you need to restore the adapter configuration, just select Import from the Network Monitor and your adapter will be configured automatically. If needed you may need to reinstall the Linksys software first before importing the configuration.

Right Steps To Connect Your Computer To Your Home Theater

These days, a computer can act a lot more like an entertainment device than ever before. You can watch online video, listen to music, view pictures and more!

But who wants to sit in their home office on a desktop computer or sit at a notebook computer to do this? “Not I, said the cat.” Listening through cheap computer speakers and watching video on a computer monitor is not my idea of real entertainment; how about you?

Why not connect your computer’s audio and video to your home entertainment system? You can watch TV shows, movies, and videos on your HDTV or any other TV with appropriate inputs. You can listen to music through your home stereo if it has AUX, VIDEO, or any other input using a standard RCA connection.

Connecting Computer Video to Your TV:

To connect the video, your computer must have an output for which your TV has a matching input.

Virtually every computer comes with a VGA output of some kind. The plug for this looks almost rectangular (you can see one by locating where you computer monitor connects to the back end of your desktop computer).

Another video output connection many computers may have is S-Video. This is a round connection. S-Video plugs have 4 tiny round holes (2 on each side) and a tiny rectangular hole in the bottom. S-Video cables have a round end with 4 tiny metal prongs and a tiny rectangular piece of plastic at the bottom.

However, many televisions do not have VGA inputs and only some have S-Video inputs. If yours doesn’t, you’ll need to make sure it at least has an RCA video input (this is a very standard connection which is used to connect record players, VCRs and CD players to other devices). If your TV came out since the early to mid 1990s it most likely has a standard RCA video input.

If your TV does have an RCA video input, simply buy a VGA to TV Converter. This will connect to your computer’s VGA output and provide RCA and S-Video connections (which are standard inputs found on most TVs since the 1990s).

Make sure you have the proper cables for your TV. Depending on which type of input your TV uses, you’ll need an RCA cable, an S-Video cable or a VGA cable.

Connecting Computer Sound to Your TV, Stereo or Home Theater System:

Now that the hard part is out of the way, the sound is easy. Simply buy a Y-cord. It should contain a stereo male 1/8″ on one end and two RCA males on the other end. Just ask your local electronics store; this is a standard cable they will all most-likely carry in-stock.

Connect the stereo 1/8″ male end to the green jack on your computer (usually on the back of desktop computers and on the front or side of notebook computers) where your speakers would normally connect.

Alternatively, you may connect the 1/8″ to the headphone jack on your computer. (Note: any device with a headphone jack can connect to your home theater, such as an iPod using this same cord!)

Connect the two RCA males to the L and R input jacks on your TV, Home Theater or Stereo. And you’re done! Just make sure to select the right setting (AUX, VIDEO, etc.) on your stereo or receiver.

Enjoy online content in all the glory you’ve enjoyed content from TV, DVD, CD, and the radio! There’s already tons of online content available on major broadcasting sites, and there will be more as the future moves forward.

If you don’t have a DVD player but there is a DVD drive on your computer, this setup will turn your computer into a DVD player! Once connected, call the store from whom you bought your computer and ask how to play a DVD on the computer.

Steps to Backup Your Linksys Wireless Router Configuration

Setting up your Linksys wireless router is easy using the Secure Easy Setup (SES) as it steps you through the configuration of creating an SSID, security settings, and connection information. Outside of SES, you probably have created a secure router password and setup MAC filtering.

Then one day your router stops working and you must reset it back to it’s default settings, losing all the configuration information. Not a problem if you have a backup of the configuration that can be easily imported back into the router.

If you have not changed your wireless router IP address, connect to your router with the URL: HTTPS://192.168.1.1 and log on. Once you have connected to the administration interface, select from the menu: Administration – Config Management.

Then click on the Backup button and select the destination to save the file (consider saving it CD or USB drive for safe keeping).

If there is a need to restore the settings, first select the browse button and navigate to where you saved the backup file, then select Restore to import the configuration back into the router.

Wireless Adapter Backup

If you have a Linksys wireless adapter installed in your PC, you can also backup the configuration. Open the Network Monitor from the System Tray (green icon next to the clock) and select the Profiles tab at the top, then select Export and save to the same location as above with the router backup.

If you need to restore the adapter configuration, just select Import from the Network Monitor.

Simple Step To Tell If Someone Is On Your Wireless Home Network

You heard the old saying “were not alone”. Well, the same can be said about your Wireless Home Network.

Have you ever wondered if someone else is on your network, with out your knowledge, watching every site you visit or stealing account information from your GMail or bank account?

Sure you probably went to great lengths to implement and secure your wireless home network, but any Network Security professional will tell you NOTHING is bullet proof.

While nothing is bullet proof, being proactive with monitoring can catch the un-wanted guest…off guard.

So what can you do to monitor and identify if someone is wondering around on your home network?

You can use some simple tools, when combined, will help you see your Network and give you a view of who’s online.

NOTE: With these tools chances of identifying someone on your network increases, but will NOT prevent them from gaining access to your Network. Other tools exist than described in this article, but the goal is to show you the different type of tools and how to use them.

1 – Firewall Logs – is a good place to start. If you have a Firewall running on your Computer or on your router, look for suspicious activity by scanning the logs for anything out of the ordinary with inbound and outbound traffic.

One method you can use is to look for patterns. For example, if someone was scanning your computer to see what ports are open, the logs will show continuous activity from the same IP Address (an intruder’s computer) sending a stream of data to many different ports to a single IP Address or range of IP Addresses.

Obviously, with a smart hacker, they can do many things to cover their tracks, but one thing is for sure, data must be transmitted to probe your computer, and patterns is one method to use for spotting trouble on your Network.

2 – DHCP Logs – if the unwanted guest is not Network savvy, or security on your router is not up to snuff, they may be able to drop in unannounced, by receiving an IP Address from your wireless DHCP server.

You can easily view a list of active addresses by connecting to your router and checking the DHCP log. For example, on my Linksys router, the log is located in the Wireless MAC Filter tab and is shown in the screen shot below.

I can see and identify all active PC’s on my Network. But this does not guarantee that these are the only active PC’s on my Network.

Why?

Unfortunately, a more sophisticated hacker can get around the need to rely on DHCP. If they did their homework (you can be sure of that), they probably figured out the range of IP Addresses in use on your Network, found an unused address in that range and configure their PC with the static address.

3 – Check Who’s Connecting To Your Computer – Now that you identified the trusted computers are on your network (from the DHCP logs), you can check who is connected to your computer.

To do this, open a command prompt and enter the following command:

netstat -an

where:

a = Displays all connections and listening ports
n = Displays addresses and port numbers in numerical form

Netstat is a useful tool that displays network connections (both incoming and outgoing) on computers. This will allow you to see all IP Addresses that have made a connection to your computer.

Netstat shows you the type of connection (TCP or UDP), IP Address and port number (number after addresses separated by a colon) for both Local (your computer) and Foreign addresses.

To find your IP Address, just enter ipconfig at the command prompt.

You should be able to easily spot any addresses (Foreign column) that is outside the DHCP range on your router and investigate.

You can also see what executable are involved in creating each connection by using the -b switch with the netstat command (netstat -b)

Now this great for checking connections on your Compter, but what if someone is on your Network and not connected to your Computer?

4 – Scanning your entire Network – When Computers communicate with each other, they do so with ports (as you saw with the netstat command). Some ports that may be familiar to you are 80 (HTTP), 443 (SSL). 25 (SMTP), 110 (POP). For example, when your Computer browses a website, it opens up port 80 and sends the request out,

To see open ports on a Computer, a tool called Port Scanner can be used that can scan a Network and identify devices by probing for open ports.

Information that can be found is the connection type (TCP or UDP), type of port and IP Address.

Many Port Scanners exist, such as Advanced Port Scanner (Famatech Software) and can scan a range of IP Addresses as shown in the screen shot below.

By scanning a range of IP Addresses, you can quickly see who is on your Wireless Network what they are doing from the list of open ports.

You can easily find out the entire range of addresses (including addresses outside the DHCP scope) your router uses. To do that, connect to your wireless router administration of interface and look for the router subnet mask information.

On a typical Linksys router (above screen shot), the default setting for the subnet mask is 255.255.255.0. Using a subnet mask calculator you can determine the range of IP Address that can be used on your Network.

For example, the subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 with the IP address of the router – 192.168.1.1 (Class C) has an IP address range of 192.168.1.1 – 192.168.1.254. (Note that DHCP reserves address 192.168.1.100 thru 192.168.1.149 which means all other addressees in that range can be used as static address).

Time To Be Proactive

As you can see some of the methods used above are good for random check ups on your Wireless Home Network.

But just being proactive is not enough and using a combination of monitoring, tightening up security and changing your passwords often, among other items, can help from having your identity stolen.

I’m sure there are Network Security Professionals out there who may have better methods than described in this article. If you are one if them, I welcome you comments and suggestions to provide us with more tips and suggestions.

Tips To Fix Invalid Certificate Error When Conecting To Linksys Wireless Routers

If you use Firefox browser when connecting to your Linksys wireless router administration interface, more than likely you can’t and have seen this warning message:

Consider yourself lucky if you do receive the same warning message, because it’s an easy fix by:

clicking the link at the bottom of the error message, Or you can add an exception…
then click on the Add Exception button…
linksys-cert-problem2followed by clicking on the Get Certificate button (on the next screen) and clicking the Confirm Security Exception button at the bottom of the page.
The invalid certificate warning will not display the next time you connect to your router.

But for those of you out there (like me) that receives an error message similar to this…

192.168.1.1 uses an invalid security certificate.
The certificate is not trusted because it is self signed.
The certificate is only valid for <a id=”cert_domain_link” title=”Linksys”>Linksys</a>
(Error code: sec_error_ca_cert_invalid)

…here’s a possible fix to get things working again when connect to your wireless Linksys router.

On my system (and hopefully on yours) the reason why this error message occurs is because the existing Cisco Linksys certificate is corrupted. Here’s how to fix that:

In Firefox, click on Tools \ Options, select the Advanced tab, then select the Encryption tab.
Next, click on View Certificates button.
linksys-cert-problem3

Make sure the Authorities tab is selected, and scroll down to you see the Linksys certificate under Cisco-Linksys, LLC.
Now highlight and click the delete button.

Select the Servers tab (next to Authorities tab), and look for the certificate shown in the following screen shot. Highlight and delete it.

Now, click OK all the way back to Firefox, and reconnect to your router using https://192.168.1.1

You will see the same Secure Connection Failed warning message shown at beginning of article. Follow the same steps for accepting the exception which will add a new Cisco Linksys certificate.

You will now be able to authenticate successfully and will no longer see any certificate error messages.

Unfortunately I have not been able to resolve the same issue if you use Internet Explorer 7. But fortunately it’s a lot easier to bypass the warning by clicking on Continue to this website (not recommended).

Know More Uses For Setting Up A Wired Or Wireless Home

Setting up a wired or wireless home network has many benefits than just having Internet access for multiple computers in your home. Today, it’s almost a necessity to be able to plug in or connect via wireless to your network from any room in your house.

With many people who set up a home network, they end up under utilizing their home network and only use it for Internet access, attached to one computer.

Today, that kind of network setup is old school. Adding a router to your network, turns a home network into a LAN (Local Area Network) opening up many possibilities of what you can do on your network. Even if you have just have one Computer, many devices exist (other than computers) that are network capable, allowing interaction with other.

So what can you do with all this technology? Here are ten uses for what you can do on your home network.

1) File sharing – Sharing files over your network, between computers and devices gives you more flexibility than using USB drives or burning CD’s. Having the convenience of sharing photos, music files, and documents allows for more productivity. You can also use your home network to save copies of all of your important data on a different computer.

Backups are one of the most critical, yet overlooked tasks with computers. On a home network, it’s easier than ever to backup your data especially if you have an old computer with a lot of hard drive space that can be utilized. Better yet, devices that serve one purpose for file sharing, such as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) can also be a great solution for backups as well.

2) Video Game Consoles – Games consoles such as Nintendo Wii, Microsofts XBox and Sony’s Playstation are all network capable (wireless or wired via USB to Ethernet adapter) that let you connect to your home network and quickly get online. And don’t forget about hand-held games. Many of them are network capable as well (be careful since some only support WEP encryption).

3) Print And Peripheral Functionality – Once a home network is in place, after file sharing, printing is usually the next popular function you will want to setup. It’s easy to set up all of the computers to share a single printer, or you can purchase a printer that is network capable (no need to share printers from one computer). Gone are the days of using one computer just to print out a document or an email message.

Printers are not the only peripheral that you can use on your network. Scanners, Web cams, CD burners, etc are now available with built in network support increasing the functionality of a home network. Now you can tell your boss you are more productive working from home, because your network is more reliable and has fewer network outages.

4) Internet Appliances – Yes we are now entering the Jetsons age. Also known as smart appliances, these devices still have not caught on with the average house hold but manufacturers are now starting to incorporate the technology into appliances more now than in the past. Ranging from being able to turn on you washer or oven from the Internet to saving energy, sending commands to….your refrigerator remotely….still takes a bit getting used to (who would have thought remote controls would be beneficial to TV’s that only received 6 channels).

Soon internet appliances will be a “must have toy” and another reason why a home network is not just for computers.

5) Internet Faxing – Apparently the Internet and email didn’t kill faxing. It’s now as popular as ever with the many online faxing services available. In this era of paperless offices and digital documents, you’d think the paper and ink fax machine might finally be ready to retire.

But faxing is still an essential part of doing business for certain types of documents (think legal contracts as an example). No more stringing phone lines across your dining room or hitting your head in the crawl space to run a phone line over to your fax machine. Using an online fax services is cheap these days and allows you send any kind of document from email or other programs electronically to a fax machine.

6) Internet Telephone Service – Termed Voice over IP (VoIP) service, allows you to make and receive phone calls through your home network across the Internet, saving you money (substantually). These days quality of services has improved greatly to make switching from the old analog lines to digital, a no-brainier. Soon, everyone will be using VOIP. And when that day comes, imagine how you can fight back at telemarketers. Instead of hanging up on them, you’ll be able to ping them to death (DOS). Yeahhhh!

7) Home Entertainment – Newer home entertainment products such as digital video recorders (DVRs) media centers and home theaters, now support either wired or wireless home networking. Having these products integrated into your network enables audio and video sharing, media to be streamed and easy transfer of digital files between devices.

8 PDA’s – Blackberries, cell phones, iPODs, MP3 players and any other PDA you can think of either have or will have networking functionality built in (mostly wireless). These devices are quickly taking over the use of a personal computer, one application at a time. Having a home network that these devices can connect to, makes transferring files, or streaming media to and from much more useful than connecting to a USB cable.

9) Telecommuting – Sure, you may think having one computer that is connected directly to the Internet (via cable, DSL, etc) is all you need to telecommute for work. But in reality, companies these days are requiring you to use a company supplied desktop or laptop for working at home. With out a home network that you can just easily connect to, you’ll need to always swap the Internet connection between computers. Having the flexibilty to just plug in is much more convenient and won’t make you late for work.

10) Mobility – The freedom of not being tethered to a physical connection is one big reason to set up your home network as wireless. Even if you do have a wired network, with all the network ready devices in your home, you can still have the freedom of mobility, since you can go from room to room and just plug in (providing you have run a connection to each room).

One other good reason to have a home network, is the future. Think about ten to fifteen years ago with cable TV. Who knew back then it would be one way to connect you to the world.