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I was about to buy a 3rd different USB wireless adapter and even considering a PCIe model with external antenna since I kept getting horrible performance with the nano adapters. I liked that they could just be plugged into the back of the system to add wireless support and they worked great on the Raspberry Pi, but on a desktop the performance was not much better than a dial-up connection.  Before ordering anther product someone mentioned interference and I then did a bit more digging and found Intel actually published a whitepaper on this subject (Linked at bottom).

After testing I was able to clearly see the effects of 2.4Ghz interference and would recommend to anyone having performance problems with wireless adapters to get a USB extension cable.  Using the same Plugable nano-N wireless adapter I ran a speed test from 3 locations:

Connected directly to back USB port

Connected directly to front USB Port

Connected to USB port via extension cable 3′ away

Intel’s Article: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/io/universal-serial-bus/usb3-frequency-interference-paper.html

I was planning to setup a Raspberry Pi to use my hosts file to filter out and block ads, but while digging around on the web found a project that had already done that along with added a web admin panel and statistics too.  Pi-hole is a quick and easy to install ab-blocking solution for the whole network.

Their site has a well laid out guide and their support is fast should you run into any issues. For the most part though it’s 1) get a Pi with Raspbian Lite 2) run curl -L https://install.pi-hole.net | bash on the Pi then 3) make a couple changes on router DNS server and restart systems to receive updated settings. Once up and running all devices connecting to your network will enjoy ad-blocking even if ad-block software is not or can’t be installed on them.

Mine has been running for number of months now without any issues and receives regular updates of ad sites to block. A quick look at the admin panel shows the current day’s statistics.
pi-hole_admin

paintbrush-150pxWhen working in modern word processors with multiple documents or sources it’s easy to end up with all sorts of different formats mixed together. The task of trying to manually format all the text in a document can be tedious and allows room for error. A simple solution is the Format Painter, which will copy the format of selected text to other areas of the document. Both LibreOffice and MS Office have this feature represented by a paintbrush icon in the tool bar.

To use the format painter highlight text with the format you want to paint other text with, then if only painting one selection of text click the format painter button or double click the format painter if painting multiple selections. The button will remain pressed and you can then highlight the text to be painted which will then have same format as the original selection.

My last post discussed updating the host file on Andriod. After doing a bit more tweaking I wrote a script which can be downloaded at the end of the article or created from the code below. The script will automatically download the latest hosts file from mvps.org and install it. It requires to be run as root and under the assumption that /sdcard exists as a storage location. Remember also to set the script permission to 700. The script can also be added to the crontab so you don’t have to worry about it again. (Next article will go over setting up crond and crontab on Android)

The Script:

#!/system/bin/sh

#Remount /system RW
mount -o remount,rw /system

#Make copy of current hosts file if backup does not exist
#Comment out this block if you have installed mvps.org hosts file before making backup
if [ ! -f /etc/.etchosts ]; then
cp /etc/hosts /etc/.etchosts
fi

#Check and create tmp dir if required
if [ ! -d /sdcard/tmp ]; then
mkdir /sdcard/tmp
fi

cd /sdcard/tmp
wget http://winhelp2002.mvps.org/hosts.txt
cat hosts.txt > /etc/hosts
rm hosts.txt

#If you need to add lines to host file
#make changes to /etc/.etchosts
#and uncomment next line to enable appending to hosts
#cat /etc/.etchosts >> /etc/hosts

#Remount /system RO
mount -o remount,ro /system

Download:

android_update_hosts.zip
sha256sum 95256b28deee2cbcd418f51ed6e358d42b7651bdbcc955521457dc370e5c537a android_update_hosts.sh

As previously discussed in Part 1, a password manager can assist in maintaining secure and unique passwords for every site you access while only having to remember one master password. However, which is there right one to use? LifeHacker reviewed six in their article which I used as a starting point in my decisions. If you’re really paranoid you may also want to look at Clipperz which was not reviewed by LifeHacker. It appears very secure, however, only accepts Bitcoin as payment so that made me look at more easily available solutions for the current time.

Before picking a password manager a few things need to be looked at:

  • Is it for local computer only or will it need to sync to other computers?
  • What about use on mobile devices?
  • The level of security offered and required to meet your needs?
  • Costs of software?

For the past 10 years I had been using RoboForm as a local only password manager. If I was to continue or start using a new local only password manager I’d look at KeePass instead for being free and open source. However, with more things online and spending more time away from my computer and on mobile devices, it was time to find a new product with better mutli-device, mobile support and cloud synchronization.

While looking at cloud options I found that RoboForm does offer cloud sync for about $20/year ($10 for the first year), but after having already spent close to $100 over 10 years to maintain desktop and portable licenses I was hesitant to throw more money at it without doing more research of the other options and verification of security.

In that regard I chose to switch to LastPass for being cross platform with could synchronization but also looked at a number of other factors. Continue Reading

In today’s cyber world security is a must have, however, many go oblivious to their lack there of or believe in principles that are ineffective. With more reliance on the digital world now than ever before, one needs to be proactive with security to prevent being a victim of the next cyber hack attack or at a minimum mitigate the damages.

While some think that passwords must be complex and include uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and symbols to be effective this obscurification adds little if any security to the password. Today’s computers can now easily do the substitution of ‘@’ for ‘a’ or ‘$’ for ‘s’ while adding little time to the cracking attempts. It’s length that makes a password more secure. XKCD does good at graphically explaining this concept for creating long memorable passwords.

Password Strength

http://xkcd.com/936/

Another problem is the use of the same password for more than one site. With the difficulty in remembering passwords it’s not uncommon to use the same or slightly varied versions of a password across all sites, but this introduces the security risk that if one account is compromised then all your accounts are vulnerable to attack. Even though you may have picked one secure password you do not know how other companies and sites store that data. If the password was stored in a database as plain text or un-salted hash then an attacker could compromise accounts quickly should that database ever be hacked.

For the best security all sites should have their own password that is unique, randomly generated, greater than 14 characters, including your traditional upper, lower, number and symbol requirements. Websites should have password like  ‘&AuGwW7ML&sBJ6Ga;Jr2hBdah’ or ‘rx97QMYE+Jgf6o9%~jtsL7o;t’ for maximum security. But who could remember that?

A simple solution to managing secure passwords is the use of a password manager. This allows for only having to remember one strong password, like described in the XKCD picture, and increases security by using randomly generated passwords for every site. There are many password managers to chose from on the market. This LifeHacker article explains a the features of a bunch and Part 2 of this topic will include which I chose to use and why.

Do you use an Android device for office productivity or just copy and paste a lot of data? Perhaps you want to copy something on one device and paste it on another or just later on paste something you had previously copied.

A clipboard manager could prove to be a useful utility. Clipper Plus with Sync offers clipboard management features like history, ability to edit or clear the clipboard, save commonly pasted strings to snippets that can easily be copied onto the clipboard with a single tap. When the sync plugin is installed the clipboard syncs between devices and can also be accessed via ClipperSync website enabling copying over to computers.

Clipper Plus with Sync and the Sync Plugin can be downloaded from the Google Play Store for a small fee, or there is just Clipper,a limited free version that works without sync and has a max history of 20 clippings.

Have you ever been away from your computer and realized you need a file on it? Or perhaps access to a program you can’t run on a mobile device?

Remote Access provides a great solution allowing for you to access and control your computer from another computer or mobile device. There are many products and companies offering remote access services like TeamViewer, LogMeIn, GoToMyPC to name a few. Only caveat is you must leave your computer on with an Internet connection to access it.

Personally I recommend TeamViewer for its ease of installation and configuration. Additionally it is free for personal use and provides a method for requesting the remote assistance of others as an added bonus.