Saturday, July 22, 2017

How To Save Your Water Soaked Cell Phone

It Happens. The kids threw your cell phone in the toilet. Maybe you dropped it. No matter, it's in there. But just because the phone was soaked in water does not mean that it's over and done. There are things you can do to ensure your phone will live again.

First and foremost, DO NOT power on the phone until it is completely dry. The worst thing you can do to a wet phone is to power it up before it dries completely. Avoid that temptation, cut the power, and remove the battery as soon as possible. Your warranty most likely does not cover water damage so do not be afraid to open it and remove the battery. iPhones are at a disadvantage here and may have to make due with powering off the device only. If you have an extra memory card then remove it as well. Even if your phone doesn't make it, the SIM card should still be fine.

Let it Dry

The priority now is to dry the phone. The faster the better, but be smart about it. Microwave ovens, conventional ovens, and hair dryers are all bad. You do not want to cook, warp, melt or otherwise over heat your phone. The inside is fragile, if nothing else the adhesives that hold the parts together will not react kindly to heat.

Instead, use canned air if you have it. Or a shop vac to vacuum out the excess moisture. You can even use a q-tip to dab out any stubborn water drops. Do not rub the water into the phone, dab it out. Do not use rubbing alcohol on the inside of your phone as the afore mentioned adhesives can dissolve from it.

Finally, use a desiccant (that's a fancy word for something that absorbs stuff) to dry up any left over moisture. One of the most common items you can use is instant rice. Instant oatmeal, couscous, those little silica gel packets, and in a pinch even cat litter has been used and seems to work.

Put at least half a cup of instant rice, or your drying substance of choice in to a ziplock bag along with the phone, the battery, and the SIM card. Cover the phone with the rice, seal the bag, and let it sit. Overnight would be good, but the longer the better.

After the phone is sufficiently dried out put the pieces back together, cross your fingers, and power the phone back on. In many cases the phone will start up.

In the event your phone ends up in salt water then you will need to take out the battery and rinse the phone out with fresh water. You do not want the salt water to dry and leave a residue inside the phone. It's already been wet so don't be hesitant. That salty residue can be a corrosive.

If none of these options are available to you, simply put the open phone on a shelf and let it sit. Maybe have a fan blow across it. Over time, nature will take its course and evaporation will work its magic. The longer the better.

Many of these methods have worked for others and there is no reason they should not for you. They can save you hundreds of dollars in repair costs or even the price of a new phone. Keep in mind that most phones have a sensor inside that will let any service technician know that the phone has gotten wet and the warranty has been voided. Since the warranty has been voided then you really have nothing to lose.

Visit our blog and forum at https://wtfsoftware.us/forum/index.php for more compelling ideas. Feel free to add your own and give yourself credit and a link back. Check out the F-Chops webpage in your free time.

By Carl Aydelotte

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Wide Area Network Dilemma

I recently attended a trade show aimed at owners and operators of convenience stores. Dynamic speakers at the show inspired many attendees to ask lots of thoughtful questions. As I stood in our booth talking to these business owners a theme developed: "Should we network our stores? And if so, what is the best solution for our business?"

Wide Area Networks (WANs) can often be the technology investment that doubles your revenue. ---okay, maybe not double. But I've got your attention and a WAN is definitely a "bottom line" builder.

In fourteen years of network engineering I have orchestrated successful WAN implementations streamlining ordering, eliminating overtime expenses and reducing shrink. But does every business need a WAN? Answering six key questions ---Who, What, When, Where, Why and How (including How Much)--- is the start to finding out.

Who: Get support from all departments. Anyone who will be affected will need to be involved at some level. A WAN is a significant investment, and even if it will be used only for Point-of-Sale (POS) traffic the project will go much smoother if there is buy-in from the CEO on down. A new WAN will touch training, sales, inventory, purchasing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, IT, and everyone in between. It's better to bring them in than wish you had.

What: Choosing a hardware platform is an important decision. The wrong decision now may cost tens of thousands of dollars two years from now when you want to roll out VoIP and your hardware won't handle it. Open your eyes to the BIG picture and prepare for the future. I recommend to my clients that they should think out no more than five years. The infrastructure will be ready for a facelift at that time.

When: Just as critical as "Why". Time is a balancing act. Take as much time as you can to design and implement your WAN properly. Moving too quickly will leave holes that someone (probably you) will fall into. One of my clients had tried the DIY approach before contacting me for help. He implemented his 32 point WAN too quickly and the results were catastrophic. The stores didn't have enough bandwidth to work properly and the VPN tunnels were not properly secured. He spent the majority of his time just keeping the WAN running and was not able to keep up with his day-to-day work. But, as I wrote earlier, time is a balancing act. If you take too long precious momentum is lost and it becomes easy to overlook an element of the project, such as the IP addressing scheme. I have often said, "A WAN is a living, breathing creature and sometimes it has attitude"!

Where: This is an interesting part of the design decisions. Certainly each store will be part of the WAN but what about corporate HQ? Maybe now is the time to co-locate your data-center in a secure, professional facility? You may benefit from inviting a choice vendor or two into the WAN (called an ExtraNet). If you have retail stores you may want to be connected to your credit card processor for faster (and potentially less expensive) transactions. The same is true for gift card processors, VoIP providers, etc.

Why: There are so many reasons. The one I hear most often is, "We want to get access to the POS data for each of our stores." or, "We want to start using e-mail". Other reasons may include to reviewing inventory levels, implementing a new enterprise application, providing online training to store staff, monitoring video surveillance, or adding VoIP. It is critical to explore all of the reasons well in advance. Identifying as many desired components at the front end will maximize benefits and ROI. When the time comes to design the network, each application will have its own network requirements.

How (or How Much): WANs come in different colors and flavors. Private, hosted, VPN, software based, hardware based, broadband, layer 2, and layer 3 are just a few options available. To break it down more simply consider these three options:

1. Private, Managed: This option eliminates the need to hire Remote Access Specialists or highly trained (and expensive) engineers who have experience with WAN technology. A private, managed service provider will help you architect the WAN, provide project management for the implementation, and proactively monitor the network 24/7/365 once it is turned up. This results in a fast, secure network that will not require encryption.

2. VPN, Unmanaged: This is the do-it-yourself network that can be self-managed until you hit about four or five stores. After that, it becomes unwieldy to manage and remember multiple broadband providers. You will need to have someone (or a team of technicians) who can travel to the stores and install the equipment as well as (regularly) maintain the firewall security and perform firmware updates.

3. VPN, Managed: In this scenario mission critical data travels over the public Internet between the store and the corporate office. A hardware device (or software) at each end goes through the process of building a "tunnel" between the stores and the data center. Then each device encrypts the data packets on one end, and decrypts them on the other. Keeping the VPN Tunnel up is intensive enough. Add on to that the hard work of encryption and decryption and you will experience high latency and network outages when the tunnel drops.

The marketplace is rife with WAN providers. This has led to phenomenal competition. Competition leads to innovation (another reason to only build for a five year period). Some of the newest players (2000 to present) bring the best value to their customers. The tier 1 providers are, of course, still there. Smaller, more agile companies may provide the flexibility you need. How much you invest needs to be in direct proportion to the service you receive. Find a company that wants to help you be successful. Have at least two meetings with a company before you start to discuss the "How Much" question. It is absolutely essential that you both understand what will be needed in terms of bandwidth, uptime, monitoring, redundancy, billing, and other services. Remember, this is an investment to increase revenue. "But David, how can that be?", you ask. Consider this:

Fraud, theft, Inventory shrink are all losses we would like to eliminate. Your new WAN will allow for immediate access to POS transactions, current inventory levels, and make catching the "till dipper" red-handed, adding thousands to your bottom line. Video surveillance will also help catch the nighttime burglar, not to mention the rogue employee that has inventory going out the back door. The entire world is quickly moving toward Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and for good reason. Site-to-site calls are free! Site to Corporate calls are free! Long distance charges can be eliminated! Sending credit card and gift card transactions over the WAN will reduce the processing time from 30 - 40 seconds down to 2 - 3 seconds. Customers move quickly through the check out line and have a happier experience, bringing them back more often. Additionally, processors may lower your per-transaction fees for using a faster connection than dial-up. Creating a WAN will eliminate the need for costly phone lines. A broadband connection can share your existing fax line and you may be able to eliminate lines for ATM machines, credit card machines, and others. These add up to very real dollars being pushed straight to your bottom line.

Making the decision to design and implement a WAN is a terrific first step. Don't underestimate the amount of effort and time that will be required to make your project a success. Find a good partner in the marketplace that is like-minded and will work with you flexibly to meet and exceed your needs.

By David Chambers

David Chambers helps clients design, build, and manage their network infrastructures.  He lives in Dallas, TX with his lovely wife of four years and their two children.  He may be reached at  [mailto:davidcchambers@gmail.com]davidcchambers@gmail.com or 866-607-9468.

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Local Area Network - An Overview

Local Area Network, also known as LAN, has been a major player in the industrialization of computing. In the past 20 years, the world's industry has been invaded with new computer technology. With an ever growing need for improvement, it has made such an impact on the way we do business, that it is a necessity than a luxury. LAN is a computer network that interconnects computers within a limited area, such as a school, lab, residential complex or office building. LAN is contrasted in principle to a Wide Area Network, which covers a larger geographic distance and may involve leased telecommunication circuits, while the media for LAN are locally managed.

You may have frequently come across references to these networks if you have LAN connection to the internet at home or at your office. With a single internet connection, a typical use of LAN is to provide internet connectivity simultaneously to all the users in a house. In a LAN, all the internet capable devices available at home can be configured as nodes and can be connected to the internet via computers designated for this purpose. It can also be used to connect workstations in an office environment in a similar fashion for providing access to shared resources like printers. It uses 10 base T twisted pair cables or wireless networking to connect computers in a network.

LAN connections used to be very simple before, but are now different structures. With at least five computation standards for transmissions and two standards for the information required to manage the network, these connections have become so complex that they require their own operating systems. There are few characteristics of LAN, as follows:

• Interconnected devices: Bridges and routers are used to connect them to Local Area Networks spread through an organization. For instance, a router could be used to move information among Ethernet, token ring and fiber distributed data interface networks.

• Backbone Networks: These are also connected Local Area Networks, but provide high speed transmission and control the flow of data among the various networks.

• Desktop High speed LAN: This connects desktop devices directly to the fiber distributed data interface network and has access to the full 100MHz transmission speed.

The two most common local area networks are Ethernet and International Business Machines' token ring network. [http://tatadocomo.com/business/ethernet.aspx]Ethernet networks use base band coaxial cable or shielded pair wire and can operate at 10MHz.

The LAN has become an essential component of the modern work environment. With ever-growing need for advancement in technology, it has also become a very profitable industry in itself and will continue to grow for a long time to come.

By Nick A Patel

Nick Patel is freelance enthusiast and ingenious writer who enjoys the challenges of creativity attention to detail. In free time I like to write stories and Articles.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Is Your Business WiFi A Risk?

WiFi is a convenient and cost effective solution for businesses, but it's important to ensure that your network is not at risk of being used and viewed by unscrupulous people.

Having an unsecured business WiFi network is just like leaving your confidential paperwork, business diary or meeting notes on the train, anyone might pick them up. Anyone. You don't want to be held liable for leaks through inattention to security.

Hackers and the keen-to-be-initiated can locate "how to" instructions about accessing data, piggybacking on to an unsecure network and stealing intelligence. This means that someone who wants to defraud, impersonate or harm your business won't have any trouble finding out how to hack an unprotected network.

So, now that we've contemplated the worst, what can be done to remove risk?


Always use a maximum security password and try to mix alpha and numeric characters and upper and lower cases and ensure that the availability of passwords to guest network users is restricted.

Encryption scrambles the data sent from a PC to a router so that it cannot be read by others. Perplexingly though it is for such a necessary service, many routers are supplied with the encryption facility switched off. You should check that the encryption is switched on and working at its optimum level, rather than assuming that your router is automatically protected at the point of installation.

WPA is Wireless Protected Access and WPA2 has superseded the WEP Wireless Encryption Protocol. WPA and WEP cannot be utilised together so it is strongly recommended that WPA or WPA2 are used because they are less susceptible to hacking and system takeovers. If that means investing in a new WPA router, it is worth the small expense to safeguard your network in the long term.

Hotspots don't use encryption so you'll need to ensure that any hotspot used is legitimate. Also, that your firewall is on and the file sharing and radio are always off when you aren't at a hotspot. There are several hot spot protection providers that encrypt data. Not employing these safeguards makes life ridiculously easy for a hacker.

Virtual Private Networks or VPNs protect public wireless links. VPN was designed to create channels for your encrypted data to travel through and it can be used by field staff.

It is best to run individual software firewalls on your network so that each of your computers is protected. Some firewalls can be downloaded free from the internet but please check that the protection the product offers is rigorous and sophisticated. Remember that firewalls only stop hackers from accessing your computer.

Check your provider bills, any obvious increases in charges or vast additional usage could mean you're being hacked - at your expense.

As much as we would like to believe that all people are trustworthy, we all know that this is not the case. It is vital to protect our business WiFi networks and our businesses from the growing number of people who are out to steal our data.

Whatever your business size, managing network security should be a priority!

At Midland Networks we are a one stop, communications shop. providing businesses throughout the West Midlands & the UK with tailored communications systems, broadband, cloud solutions and cabling solutions. http://www.midlandnetworks.co.uk

By Della Bentham

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Saturday, July 08, 2017

Why MPLS Networks Are Very Cost Effective For Your Business

Are you familiar with MPLS networks? If not, perhaps you should be, because MPLS networks can provide a much greater level of cost effectiveness for your inter-office communications than the old-school and expensive point-to-point networks, or even the very old frame relay networks.

MPLS stands for Multi Protocol Label Switching, and the technology has combined the best features of point to point networks and frame relay network into a single technology, which provides many advantages and none of the inherent drawbacks of those older technologies. MPLS networks are commonly used in high performance networks for the purpose of communication and for the same level of bandwidth, can provide the same throughput as an equivalent point to point network.

Designing the optimal network for connecting multiple offices together can be a complex task. If you only have two nodes that you want to interconnect, unless they are very geographically dispersed such as one in Los Angeles and the other in London, MPLS may not be as cost effective as a point to point network, but when you have three or more nodes that you want to connect into a common network, then the power and cost effectiveness of MPLS networks becomes evident.

Many carriers (though not all) allow you to use an Enhanced Port with your MPLS network such that you can use the MPLS internode communications capabilities as well as connect to the Internet on the same circuit. This could raise concerns about security, since MPLS is a private network which does not touch the public Internet and therefore is protected from the viruses and malware that exist on the public Internet, and allowing the same circuit to be connected to the public Internet might compromise that security. The vendors that provide this capability claim that this is not a problem at all and go to great lengths to protect your secure data, but this is something to be aware of and consider when you are configuring your MPLS network setup.

Another thing to note is that MPLS technology is not a defined standard, such as standardized by the IEEE organization. What that fact means to you is that you need to plan to use the same carrier at each MPLS node in your network because each carrier has implemented MPLS technology differently. While in theory you should be able to have AT&T MPLS talk to Sprint MPLS and talk to Verizon MPLS, the reality of trying to make that happen is generally an exercise in overall futility.

Finally, when you are deciding on which carrier to use for your MPLS network, you of course want to use a carrier that can and will support the network 24x7. Following that obvious goal, we would encourage you to visit our web site to get your MPLS quotes. We represent about 35 of the nation's top tier and first tier carriers, and based on the volume of business that we do with them each month, they allow us to guarantee in writing that you cannot get better pricing even if you go to the [http://mplsnetworkonline.com]MPLS provider directly or to another agency representing that carrier. Even though your contract is directly with the carrier that we have chosen together, we continue to support you though the life of the circuits. If you ever have a problem with the circuits that the carrier is not resolving, please let us know because we have a direct line into vice presidents at each of our carriers and we are more than willing to make heads roll on your behalf to get issues resolved as quickly as possible.

In summary, if you need to connect multiple offices into a single network, especially if they are geographically dispersed, you owe it to yourself and your company to check out MPLS networks and determine how much money could be saved compared to what you are doing today to accomplish your communications needs.

Communications technology changes quickly these days, and you need to keep up with those changes and technological advances so that you can take advantage of them and start saving money for your company by putting that technology to work for you. Find out more about MPLS Networks and where you can save telecom costs by using the latest technology. For more information, please visit our web site at [http://mpls-online.net]

By Jon Arnold

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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Pros And Cons Of Free Public Wi-Fi

With the busy way of life people have nowadays, it seems crucial to stay connected with your loved ones and business partners wherever you go. There are lots of things you may plan to do during a day and you often have to keep everything under control. This concerns both home duties and job assignments. The round-the-clock availability of the Internet can do many things easier. You won't have to watch the time to be in the office to hold a conference, for example. Just take a laptop and make sure you will be able to find free and reliable Wi-Fi to join the meeting on time. Likewise, you may travel abroad and take your smartphone, tablet or laptop with you to get in touch with your loved ones any time you need by launching to free public Wi-Fi hotspot. With that said, it becomes understandable, why the prevailing amount of cities across the globe tend to organize free zones for the local residents and the tourists. However, is the technology so reliable and safe as it seems to be? Let us have a closer look at the pros and cons of this technology below.

Positive Aspects of Free City Wi-Fi.....

As mentioned above, free public Wi-Fi makes it possible for people from different corners of the world to stay connected on the go any time of the day. This is surely one of the major benefits of this technology. Among other merits of the technology, it also makes sense to point out the following:

Enhanced traveling experience (the opportunity to check your e-mail, talk or exchange messages with people you love and miss)

Business advantages (if you have to hold an urgent conference, meeting or presentation, but are really pressed for time, you can do that from any place, where Wi-Fi services are provided for free)


The chance to plan your day wisely (you don't have to postpone personal or business tasks if you have an opportunity to launch to the Wi-Fi network anywhere you need)

24/7 availability, which means that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of free Wi-Fi hotspots almost in any town. So, why don't you take a chance to make use of them when needed? That is an undeniable benefit, indeed!

Listed above are only several pros of this advanced technique. Now, it is high time to discuss the cons of the option to realize what to be ready for.

Negative Aspects of Using Free Wi-Fi in Public Places.....

We have already noted that most cities of the world offer free Wi-Fi nowadays and millions of people use the service without realizing the potential negative aftereffects they may face. Some of the negative aspects include:

The necessity for the owners of coffee houses, restaurants and other places that offer free Wi-Fi to handle a number of technical and financial problems. This is triggered by the fact that setting up the network with numerous access points is not an easy task, which requires the handling of technical issues. This is not as simple as you may see and the process always requires additional financial investments. That is the main reason of the fact that many restaurants, hotels and other public facilities offer the service only to their clients.

If the government of the city decides to launch the Wi-Fi network, this will also require serious financial expenditures. As a result, they may increase different taxes to solve the problem. Correspondingly, "free" Wi-Fi will not be absolutely free.

Privacy concerns also matter a lot when it comes to using free Wi-Fi in public places. If the mobile device you are going to use in order to launch to the network is not properly protected, you face the increased risks of falling the victim of professional hackers. They may use your personal information for different malicious purposes without your awareness of the fact. This is a serious problem most governments are concerned with nowadays.



Free city Wi-Fi has both pros and cons, so it is up to you to decide where and when to use it. As time goes by, however, the need for round-the-clock Internet availability keeps increasing. This is what overweighs the potential disadvantages of the technology, which can be prevented in case of necessity. To be aware of free hotspots available in any place of the world, we recommend you visiting http://wifispc.com/ - the online map of Wi-Fi access points

By Aleksey Donets

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Saturday, July 01, 2017

5 Things To Understand About VPN Speed

The speed of a VPN is an important thing to consider, and may also be a determining factor for many people when deciding whether they should use a VPN at all. Speed really does matter when it comes to the Internet. Even if a VPN provides improved online security and can help get around blocked content, if the service is slow, the overall experience will be far from ideal.

In this article, I will look at several factors that can influence the speed of a VPN, and how they can be mitigated.

1) The VPN Server Location

Typically, establishing a connection with a VPN server closer to your location will result in better speed. This is because the complexity of Internet traffic goes up as the distance between you and the VPN server increases. The more complex the traffic, and the greater the distance data has to travel, the slower the VPN speed.

If you don't have a good reason for connecting to a particular VPN location, picking the one closest to you is the best option. For example, if you live in Texas and want to log into a US VPN server, use one in Houston or Dallas instead of one in New York. Similarly, if you're located in China and need a US VPN server, find one that is available on the West Coast over one somewhere in the east.

2) The VPN Protocols

Different protocols can be used to establish a VPN connection. Some of the more popular ones include OpenVPN (over UDP or TCP), SSTP, PPTP and L2TP/IPSec. Everything else being equal, each protocol can result in a significantly different VPN speed. For example, using OpenVPN over UDP typically results in a faster connection than OpenVPN over TCP.

There are no hard set rules as to which protocol will give you the best speed. OpenVPN over UDP is a good default to try. If you find yourself having issues, try switching to a different protocol to see if your VPN speed improves.

3) Encryption Level

Stronger encryption is often more complex and can, as a result, slow down a VPN. A 128-bit encryption will in most cases lead to a faster connection than a 256-bit one.

On the downside, lowering encryption strength will make the VPN connection less secure and the transmitted data more vulnerable. So, you can try playing around with the encryption level, but unless you see significant speed improvements with weaker encryption, it is best to stick to the stronger versions.

4) VPN Server Load and Bandwidth

How powerful the VPN server is will have a significant impact on the speed. Overloaded servers with a bandwidth that cannot keep up with the demand will result in a much slower experience.

The client software you use to connect to a VPN service will usually tell you how many IP addresses and how much bandwidth a server has. The higher those numbers, the more powerful the server. Those same clients sometimes even show real-time usage. If the server you're connected to is overloaded, switching to a different one is usually as simple as a couple of mouse clicks.

5) Your Network Setup

Whether your device is on a wired network and physically connected to a router or using WiFi can affect VPN speed. This distinction is especially relevant if you have a fast connection to the outside world. Because a wired connection is often quicker than WiFi, the latter can be a limiting factor. You can try plugging your computer directly into the router to see if there is a speed improvement.

Ultimately, not all VPN providers are created equal. Even under ideal conditions, the speed and reliability they offer may be drastically different. If you have tried implementing several of the methods mentioned in this article but are still not seeing speed improvements, it may be time to consider switching VPN providers.

Visit http://www.fastestvpnguide.com/ for tests, reviews and comparisons of the fastest VPN services around. Let us help you pick the right one for your specific needs.

By Tim Tremblay

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