Securing your wireless network

Networking

One of the most common mistakes made by people who set up a wireless network at home is leaving that network unsecure. An unsecure network allows other people with a WiFi device to join your network, leech off the internet connection and also access files from the computers that are legitimately part of the network.Thus, it is important to secure a wireless network so that it will deter hackers and leechers from using the internet resources that they are not authorized to use.

The following are some of the steps that should be taken in order to secure a wireless network.

• Look at the antenna placement – try to place the antenna of the access point in a manner that will limit how far the signal will be transmitted beyond the intended coverage area. As such, do not put the antenna near a window because the glass pane will not hinder the signal. As a rule of thumb try to place the antenna at the center of the area you want to cover but keeping in mind that there is as little signal leaking happening.

• Use WEP or Wireless Encryption Protocol — This is a standard method of encrypting traffic through a wireless network. It may not a really strong form of encryption but it is enough to deter casual hackers.

• Change SSID and disable broadcast – Change the SSID from the default to something that is harder to guess. Also uncheck the broadcast option so that the network will not appear in the list of available networks.

Why do you need heatsinks?

fan

Because of the super fast calculations and speeds that are being achieved by today’s processors the natural byproduct of this is the incredible amount of heat that is produced by these processors. In fact, the heat it produces is so high that if nothing is done to dissipate that heat it can actually permanently damage the processor.This is where heatsinks come in. Heatsinks are thermall conductive materials (usually metal but sometimes coupled with other heat dissipating devices) that help absorb this tremendous heat and then disperse it away from the heating component – in this case, the processor.

Some of the most common heatsinks are the stock heatsinks that come with the processors themselves. The most common metals used for these devices are aluminum, copper and steel – with copper being the most conductive and thus the best material for dissipating heat. But this effectivity also comes at a premium as it is the most expensive type of heatsink.

The fancy fins that is commonly seen in heatsinks are not there for decorative purposes. These fins increase the surface area through which the heat will dissipate. The larger the heatsink, the more heat it can hold and of course the more fins there are then dissipating that heat radiantly becomes faster too. Most heatsinks now feature active cooling in that there is a fan placed on the heatsink itself to help draw out the heat. There are also passive heatsinks that do not feature a fan or any other device to aid in heat dissipation.

Speed up your hard drive the cost effective way

hard drive

Most casual computer users do not know this but keeping a “clean” hard drive is the most cost effective and easiest way of speeding up their computer. By optimizing their hard drive, seek times are cut short resulting in a more robust computer system. Don’t you think that it is harder to find what you are looking for in a file cabinet that is full of junk and unimportant or unnecessary files? That is the same case with hard drives. The CPU has a harder time accessing the files that it needs if there are so much junk in a hard drive. As a big improvement to your system’s performance you should remove all of the files that are obsolete or you do not need anymore. It will not only speed up your system it will also free up valuable disk space.One of the first things you should do when spring cleaning your hard drive is to look at your applications and documents. First, open System Tools and use Disk Cleanup to remove the unwanted files in your hard drive. You should then open all of your document folders and delete all of the documents that you do not need anymore. If you have important documents that you want to keep but will not access that often, copy it in a diskette or burn it to a CD or DVD, then delete the files from your hard drive after you’ve made the back-up.

You should then uninstall all of the unwanted applications in your system. Use a good uninstaller program to more thoroughly remove all of the program components from your system.

The Science of Overclocking

Processor

When you buy a computer’s processor, that processor’s core speed is usually preset at a certain level. But for many PC enthusiasts, the preset core speed will not stop them from determining the upper limits of a processor’s capabilities so they overclock these processors.Overclocking is a process in which a processor’s stated speed is pushed to its upper limits is a way for PC enthusiasts to exploit and get more speed from their existing PC components, most frequently the processor. For example, an AMD AthlonXP 2500+, a processor that was quite famous for its high overclockability, has been tweaked by many enthusiasts and after overclocking its frequencies was able to make it run up to a speed that is similar to an AthlonXP 2800+. That is a decent bump in speed that does not require buying anything else.

This concept of buying a processor and then bumping up its performance to approximate the speeds of more expensive variants is the reason why overclocking is very popular. In fact, there are small groups of PC “geeks” that make it some sort of bragging rights to be able to increase the speed of a computer part (say a processor) to its most upper limit and past the previously recorded overclocked speed.

But before you do it though, be aware that overclocking, although it sounds like fun, has its own dangers. First of all, overclocking a computer part basically voids its warranty. So if something happens to the particular part then you can’t have it replaced even if it is still under warranty. Which leads me to my second warning. Overclocked computer parts run significantly hotter than when it is running at stock speeds. Overheated parts can cause crashes and even general system failures.

Increase RAM by minimizing applications

RAM

A computer’s RAM plays a big role in how fast a system will respond. This is because information or data that is already in the RAM makes accessing that data faster than getting it from the hard drive. Of course, the more RAM is used by other applications, the smaller the amount of available RAM that a processor will use for other functions – and this will generally result in a general system slowdown.One way to make a system run faster is to get more RAM for your system. But this is an expensive solution. A far simpler and more cost effective method is by more conscientiously using the available RAM in your system.

In order to illustrate this, try to start any application. For example, Word. Open a few documents and then press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC to access the Windows Task Manager. Go to Processes and then sort the list in a descending order based on Memory Usage. You will see that winword.exe (the executable file for Word) is near the top using a significant amount of RAM.

Now go to Word and then minimize the application. After doing this go back to Windows Task Manager and look for winword.exe again. You will immediately notice that the amount of used RAM by Word has drastically gone down.

So in order for you to maximize the usage of your computer’s RAM you should minimize each and every application that is not in use so that you can free up RAM space and thus result in a better performing system.

Choosing a video card: Different Slot Types

Video card

A video card is one of the most crucial parts of your computer. Without it, you will not be able to see anything on your monitor – and what good is a computer where you can’t see anything right?With the advent of PC gaming, video cards have become caught in a constant cycle of improvements to bring the most realistic level of graphics to gamers and even casual computer users.

So what if you are a gamer, what should you be looking for a video card in order to get the most gaming goodness out of this PC peripheral?

First of all, you must decide what kind of connection the video card will be using in your motherboard. Currently, there are three video card slot types that are used by mother boards.

PCI or Peripheral Component Interconnect is considered as the old standard and was quite popular in computer systems years ago. PCI video cards are relatively faster than integrated video options (a built in video card on the motherboard) but is the slowest among the dedicated graphics slot types. This option is actually considered as obsolete.

AGP or Accelerated Graphics Port is the acknowledged standard for graphics and only one AGP port can exist in a motherboard. The current AGP standard is called AGP 3.0 or otherwise known as AGP 8x. AGP is much faster than PCI because it has a dedicated connection.

The newest kid on the block is called PCI-Express or PCI-E. This is the fastest among three video slot types. More and more motherboards are now offering PCI-E slots for video cards. Each lane in PCI-E is clocked at 2.5Gigabits per second. Most high end video cards usually come in PCI-E variants to showcase its high-quality graphics capabilities.