Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Truth About WiFi Security

Many organizations have resisted the installation of Wifi appliances and access points citing poor security as their primary reason. In short this is bogus... the fact of the matter is WiFi can be as secure or insecure as network admins configure it to be. In fact, in most cases people go to great lengths to configure WiFi security features such as passwords, encryption, and MAC address filters and totally ignore any such features on their standard cabled ethernet networks. One can walk in to nearly any office building plug in your lan cable and get an IP address.

Their are a host of options available to secure wireless connections (and wired for that matter) such as WPA, WPA2, WEP, and RADIUS using a variety of protocols and encryption levels. Additionally through the use of MAC address filtering and DHCP configurations a good network admin can ensure that only authorized clients can even establish a network connection.

The use of wireless networks provides enhanced security,flexibility, mobility, and usability to any home user or organization. Most of today's wifi equipment is relatively easy to set-up and configure. Also, stop relying on physical security to protect your wired connections. Implement encryption, MAC filtering, and DHCP reservations to trully protect your networks.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My Thoughts on Vista

The net and tech publications alike are jammed with every geeks opinion of Vista so here's mine... I started using Vista in the very early releases and have been using it for several years now. In general I am a fan of Vista. The search functions, Sidebar, pleasing appearance, enhanced security features, and improved networking functionality are all nice extras and I think MS is taking a big step in the right direction. That being said there are also several things that I am greatly annoyed with in the new OS. Starting with the fact it took MS long enough to release it and to find out there are still major gaps and fixes needed is almost enough to make you abandon Vista altogether. Further the fact that it requires such beefy hardware and requires so much overhead does not make it a good choice to upgrade to. The fact that it is incompatible with several pieces of software I use (which shall remain unnamed) that are less than three years old is also very irritating, and the boot-up and shut down times are too a rule. My general thought, Vista has failed to live up to all the hype.

Most non-techie types I know hate Vista and some have even downgraded back to XP, mostly I think because they do not like the way things have been moved around and the menus have changed. Or perhaps they are using older hardware and are unhappy with the performance. I would encourage everyone to give Vista a chance with an open mind and the right hardware it is a good OS. I do however have some advice for people thinking about upgrading your XP box... don't. Don't bother trying to upgrade your two to three year old PC, buy new hardware, it takes lot of ram and pretty impressive video hardware to get the full Vista experience.

Posted by:
Josh Nicholes

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Linux Crosswalk

I believe that the single biggest reason that people are reluctant to switch to an open-source OS is the fact that they are unfamiliar with the software or what programs offer an equivalent linux version of the programs they are used to using with their windows box. The truth is their is far more software available for Linux systems than there are for Windows. The same however can not be said for Apple's OSX, traditionally it has been hard to find software for Macs. Their are a few cross-platform apps out there that I use on all my systems no matter what OS:

Firefox Web Browser
Adobe Acrobat PDF
Avast Antivirus

and there are some open-source packages that offer more than adequate substitute for there windows counter parts:

Open office does everything that the MS office suite will do and more and it even looks identical. Not to mention it is cross platform and free. This covers Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access.

Kompozer is a fine substitute for Frontpage or Expressions.

Scribus works in place of Publisher.

Gimp works for Photoshop.

Evolution mail is a great mail client that works with almost any protocol or server system.

Amorok and movie player provide a great replacement for media player, and Rhythmbox is a iTunes clone.

Kmymoney or Gnucash provide alternatives to MS Money or Qucken.

Here is a site that provides a much more complete list of apps note that the open-source alternatives are almost 2 to one over popular windows apps and a great deal of them are cross platform.

If that's not enough for you check out the WINE project (Wine Is Not an Emmulator) it allows you to install and run windows software in a Linux OS environment.

Posted By:
Josh Nicholes