Category Archives: Notebook Computers

Cheap Comcast for the Poor and Veterans

Comcast has cheap internet for people who get government housing or food assistance, and now also offers this for Veterans. For $10/month you get 15Mbps/sec download and 2Mbps/sec upload. This is 10x faster than the old DSL speeds and more than fast enough for streaming HD video. There are no charges for setup or equipment (modem/wifi router). If you qualify, it’s a great deal.

Go to:
https://internetessentials.com

Or call 855-846-8376

To qualify, you can’t have had Internet through Comcast in the last 3 months and you can’t have another Internet service.

I only wish this was promoted more, as there are lots of qualified people who have big $100/month bundle deals because they don’t know other options exist.

Through the Internet Essentials website from Comcast, customers can also order $150 computers. These are slower desktops and laptops (currently with Core 2 Duos and i3 CPUs) but they come with Windows 10, Office, and Norton Antivirus preinstalled. This is also a great deal if you qualify. Each household has up to 2 years to purchase the computers and can purchase up to 3 computers. CDI is the partner that runs the computer sales and they can be reached at 888-234-4272.

Turn Off WPS

Most current routers have a feature enabled called WPS, which stands for WiFi Protected Setup. The purpose of WPS is to make it easy to associate devices with your WiFi network. It has two main methods, the push-button method and the PIN method.

Unfortunately, the PIN method is easily cracked, for example with a tool such as Reaver, part of Backtrack 5 as we described.

Therefore you should turn off the WPS Pin in your router. This is usually under “Advanced Router Settings” in your router configuration. This will protect you from a WPS attack allowing someone to get onto your network.

You would check off the box above for “Disable Router’s PIN”.

Backtrack 5

Backtrack is a Linux distribution optimized for hackers or security people trying to stop them. It allows people to easily break into WEP and WPS enabled routers.

It’s alarmingly simple to crack a WEP account. That can be done in minutes. Most new routers have WPS enabled. That usually takes many hours to crack.

See this Lifehacker article on cracking WEP.

See this video from Skidhacker on cracking WPS.

 

Revive Old Computers with Linux

Reuse

Instead of trashing an old computer that runs Windows way too slowly, consider installing a flavor of Linux that will work well on an old machine. This will get you a good web browser, word processor, graphics editor, simple games, and much more. Because it’s an up-to-date Linux, there will be fewer viruses to worry about. It won’t run Microsoft Word, but it will run something similar that can load .doc files.

How much would you pay for all that functionality? Well, it’s free. And it’s super fast, especially if you install a version like Lubuntu which is designed for an old computer.

Lubuntu, a lighter Ubuntu

Which Version (Distro) To Choose?

If your computer is somewhat modern and has more than 512MB of RAM, these distros will work well:

If your computer has 128 to 512MB of RAM, these distros can work better in that low memory environment:

  • Lubuntu – a “lighter” Ubuntu build specifically for older computers, also has builds for old Macs
  • Puppy Linux – longtime favorite for old systems

If your computer has less than than 128MB of RAM, try:

Windows 8 Preview

If you 1) must have Microsoft Windows, 2) have a computer with at least 1GB of RAM, and 3) are willing to be adventurous, you can install the free preview of Windows 8. The new Metro interface will be infuriating for many users, but it does work for free at least until the final version of Windows 8 arrives in October 2012.

Seagate Momentus Hybrid Hard Drive

I recently upgraded the client’s old laptop hard drive laptop to a hybrid drive from Seagate:
Seagate Momentus XT 750 GB

Hybrid

What’s special about it? It’s got 8GB of solid state drive. That makes its speed somewhere between a standard hard drive an SSD. The drive intelligently moves commonly used files to the solid state portion. The hard drive handles all that on its own, appearing to the computer as just one drive.

With the original hard drive in this 5 year old Mac, it booted up in 55 seconds. With the new drive it booted up in 43 seconds. But after three boots, it had moved the boot files to the SSD and was booting up in 24 seconds. It felt much faster for common tasks and commonly used programs.

If you need a large fast drive, this Seagate is a great compromise. SSDs at 750GB are prohibitively expensive. And standard hard drives are much slower.