Surveillance Valley: What you need to know about the Internet

I recently finished reading the book Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet.

Now, I’ve known for awhile that the world of high-tech – and especially the internet – doesn’t quite work the way everyone thinks it does.

We worship tech billionaires as if they’re the Second Coming, praising them for their ingenuity and standing in awe of their sheer genius.

The reality, on the other hand, is a bit more mundane.

Pretty much all the big players in the internet/tech world got where they are with a little help. And by “a little help”,  I mean A LOT

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How to turn down your home WiFi’s transmit power

Your average home WiFi router or access point often has a setting so that you can reduce its transmit power level.

This is pretty handy to know given what I talked about in my earlier video, Are WiFi, Bluetooth, 4G, and 5G bad for you?

The typical range for 2.4GHz WiFi is 150ft (46m) indoors, and 300ft (92m) outdoors. For 5GHz Wifi, it’s more like 50ft (15m) and 100ft (30m). The lower you set the power, the shorter the range – but the less you are blasted by the WiFi signal!

There’s no reason to leave the transmit power at maximum if you don’t need the range… As an added bonus, lower range means increased security since it’s less likely someone else will “see” your WiFi network.

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Time to switch to a HomeGroup on Windows 10

Way back in 2009, I wrote this article:

How to Determine the Master Browser in a Windows Workgroup

I also released a tool called LAN Scanner that lets you see all the puters on your local network, their IP addies, MAC addresses, and which puter is the Master Browser.

That’s great… except that recently, it stopped working!

While digging into this problem, I discovered that the traditional “Network” browsing in Windows has kind of become broken since Microsoft has officially poo-pooed (and disabled) SMB v1.

What that means for you is that if you have a home network with Windows 10 machines, you’re going to want to switch to using a HomeGroup – but there’s a catch!

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What you need to know about Online Security

There are a few things you need to understand about staying safe and secure online. You need to realize what you’re actually up against.

But don’t fret, because it’s really not a big deal if you always keep in mind how things usually work.

For example, e-mail is never really safe, HTTPS doesn’t really always keep your connection secure, you can be tracked online very easily despite what most people will tell you, and you should always use some kind of anti-virus/malware protection no matter what OS you use.

And remember that the OS you use makes very little difference if you’ve taken some basic precautions… In fact, thinking you’re safe because you use Not Windows is probably a bad idea!

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Choosing ethernet cables for maximum speed

I was reading a French forum recently, and the folks there were discussing their 1 gigabit fiber internet connections. Lucky them!

Someone posted and remarked that his download speeds were nowhere near 1 Gbps, but more like 80 Mbps.

He then asked if his ethernet cable mattered, and the response was along the lines of, “Yes, and make sure you get one with good connectors.”

Well, um… Yes and No.

So, this is everything you need to know about choosing a good ethernet cable for your wired network. It’s much simpler than it seems!

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Turn your Windows 10 computer into a mobile hotspot

You’ve most certainly heard about “mobile hotspots”, which is when you connect your smartphone or tablet to WiFi in town, at a hotel, in a restaurant, etc.

Hotspots let you use a local wireless data connection without blasting through the monthly data limit on your mobile plan.

Don’t confuse hotspots with tethering. Tethering is when you surf the net on your puter by using your smartphone as your puter’s net connection. Hotspots are sort of like “reverse tethering”: you use your puter’s net connection to surf on your phone. Don’t miss: All about smartphone and tablet tethering

So how do you set up a WiFi hotspot on your wired internet puter? Actually, Windows 10 makes it easier than ever…

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All about smartphone and tablet tethering

Android USB TetherYou may have heard about tethering, but it probably seems a bit mysterious and complicated.

Tethering is when you connect your smartphone or tablet to your puter, and then use your mobile device’s data connection to surf the internet on your puter.

Well, to put it another way: your puter uses your smartphone (or your tablet’s 4G connection) as its internet connection instead of your normal DSL, cable, fiber, etc.

Tethering can be done in several ways, and it’s much easier to set up than you think!

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