Time for a new Cable Modem?

If you're a cable modem user chances are your cable modem is on 24/7 doing its job and you don't give it a second thought. Most people go for years without upgrading their equipment because as long as it's working the cable company has no reason to upgrade you and as long as it's working you have no reason to think about upgrading right? Think again! Like any other technology out there, cable modem manufacturers add new features too. So while your old cable modem is functioning, you may not be getting all of the speed out of your connection that you could be getting. Here in Michigan my cable provider is Comcast and while I've had my issues with them for Cable Television off and on, my Cable Modem service has worked very well for over 10 years. As a matter of fact my internet speeds have steadily increased over the years. So I've been a happy customer.

 

And then something went wrong…

Very rarely does my IP address change and usually when it does it means that Comcast has changed something on their end. Normally their changes have meant good things for me. Not this time! I was out of town and wanted to connect to my home network and I couldn't (at least with the IP address that I knew) because my IP address had changed. It wasn't a big deal and I moved on. However, once I got home I immediately noticed that my upload speeds were in the toilet. Here's a speed test I performed back on July 7, 2008 (yes almost 2 years ago) when I noticed and blogged about how much faster my service had gotten:

Great download and upload speeds back then.

Here's the speed I was getting when I got home from my trip:

While my download speed was still rocking as fast as ever, my upload speed was way way down. Below 1Mbps. This all happened around the time when I was needing to upload lots of video content via FTP for the CS5 launch and therefore a slow upload speed was very painful.

 

It's not our fault

I immediately got on the phone with Comcast support (after doing the standard unplugs and resets). They claimed that nothing had changed on their end. Of course! We tried a bunch of things and best I could get was about 1.75Mbps when connecting my computer directly to the modem and a little less than than on the router. I know that routers add some latency, but this was more than just a latency problem and again it wasn't all that much faster connected directly to the cable modem. Comcast told me that they only promise 2Mbps UP on my plan and since I was getting very close to that, there wasn't much they could do. 

 

It's my own modem

I own my own cable modem because it seems that since they don't change very often the math works out in my favor to own rather than rent. Since I own my own equipment that means that I can upgrade to the latest standards whenever I want. If I ask Comcast to bring me out a new cable modem, they will but I'll have no control over what they bring. I know that Comcast is going to be upgrading to faster speeds and you'll need a cable modem capable of handling DOCIS 3 to get those faster speeds. I also know that this kind of upgrading of their systems doesn't happen over night and I figured that they had already started putting some of this new gear in place. So why not take advantage of it?

Continue reading “Time for a new Cable Modem?”

Officially Launching My YouTube Channel

I've been using YouTube for a long time now as a way to provide video content on this blog. I remember the early days of YouTube being primarily for teenagers and vehicle for people to show off their babies and pets. 🙂 The quality, well, um, kinda sucked! I just didn't really find it remotely good enough to host the kind of content I wanted to share. Well all that has changed now. YouTube is GREAT for sharing videos in 720p HD quality, up to 10 minutes in length. It's easy to use and to embed the clips right on my site. Now don't get me wrong, I know that there are other GREAT video sharing sites out there too like Smugmug (which does all the way up to 1080p with a paid account), Vimeo, BlipTV, etc. However, I find that YouTube seems to be the most universal and has the largest audience. After all, if I go through the trouble to produce a video and make it available for free I wan to have the largest possible viewing audience I can get.  Also since YouTube is BUILT-IN to the iPhone and now the iPad, I can reach millions more people with this one service than I can with any of the others. Another nice surprise was that Apple gave the iPad's Safari the ability to view embedded YouTube clips right in the page without having to launch the App or go to another browser window. Sold!

 

A funny thing happened on the way to this post

Continue reading “Officially Launching My YouTube Channel”

What’s Going On With My Sites?

In case you haven't noticed, I've been having issues with my site lately. I've been getting hacked lately AND my hosting provider Network Solutions has been having Server issues at least two weekends in a row. Let's just say there have been a lot of sleepless nights in the past couple of weeks.

The Hacks

The hacks have been coming in two flavors. The first is some how they've hacked the titles of my post that get indexed by Google. So if you were to Google "terry white tech blog" you'd get some interesting titles to my site. The links sill work, so I'm not sure I see the purpose behind that particular attack. The other more recent attack has been far more troublesome. It's an injection of code throughout my site files that point to a different server know to serve up malware to unsuspecting visitors. That's the one that is yielding the warnings above in both Safari and Chrome browsers and that's the one that's been the biggest pain to deal with.

Chrome users – To make matters worse Google has now flagged my main domain terrywhite.com as a "suspicious" site. Therefore until that times out or until they rescan my site from my request you'll be "warned" about visiting ANY of my sites at the moment. Even if the infections are completely cleared out there's nothing I can do to get rid of this warning until Google rescans it and clears. I have to wait it out.

 

Moving Forward

While I think I'm on the other side of all these problems now and I'm starting to see my way clear of these issues, I was once again reminded of one of he principles I try to live by and that is "always have a backup and a plan B!" I don't expect technology to always work or to be perfect. Nothing is. This is why we have backups and contingency plans. So I started thinking about that a lot lately when it comes to my websites. I also haven't been extremely satisfied lately with my hosting provider as I don't feel like they've had my back during these issues as much as they could have. So it made me start to shop around for other hosting companies. While I'm certainly not settled in on another company just yet, I do now have a backup to this blog!

 

Plan B

For the time being while I sort this all out I will be posting my content in two places. Here on the existing tech blog AND on my new (backup) tech blog:

http://terrywhitetechblog.com

The NEW (backup) blog is hosted by GoDaddy.com. While I'm not 100% sold on them yet, they do come highly recommended by my buddy RC over at Layers Magazine. I know that no hosting provider has 100% up time. However, I do expect issues to be resolved as quickly as possible when sh*t happens! So for now while I continue to weigh my options, you have another place to see my posts in case this server goes down again and until I ultimately decide what to do. Files have been cleaned and ALL passwords have been changed. Fingers crossed!

Thanks for your patience and continued support!

GoGo In-flight WiFi

Last week I finally got a chance to experience in-flight internet via GoGo WiFi. I had been hearing about this service from my buddies for several months, but was never lucky enough to be on a plane that actually had it. My main carrier is Delta. Delta acquired Northwest Airlines and while they now operate as a single company and make no mention of NWA anymore, the former NWA planes seem to be last on the list to get upgraded with WiFi. So I waited. Not much of a choice when you live near Detroit. It's a Delta hub. 

 

I'm online!

 

How much does it cost?

Continue reading “GoGo In-flight WiFi”

See all of your Favorite Sites in One Spot

The concept of a custom "newspaper" has been tossed around for years. However, not many sites really deliver on this promise in a visually compelling or easy to use way. Most frequent blog site and news site visitors rely on their favorite RSS Reader Applications and Sites to see the daily headlines of their favorite sites. There's also Read It Later and sites like it that allow you to take the web pages you want with you and read them later offline. 

Alltop.com may be the one stop news site you've been looking for

Alltop.com does two things for me. Like a newspaper or magazine It allows me to see stories about the topics I'm interested in. Secondly, it allows me to create my own MyAlltop page with just the sites that I want to keep track on. When I featured Scott Kelby in my weekly Tech Profile post, he reminded me that Alltop can be very useful to see all the news you want in one place. This also means that you can discover new sites by checking out the MyAlltop pages of your friends or people you admire. Check out MyAlltop choices here. Then create your own!

It’s Cyber Monday 2009

cybermonday

Today is the day that etailers follow up to Friday's Black Friday Deals with yes, Cyber Monday deals. The thought here is that not everyone can make it to a brick and mortar store to get all the things they need. Have you ever tried shopping on Black Friday? It can be brutal! So today is the day for those of you who would prefer to shop online in the convenience of your home or office. In many cases the same companies that offered Black Friday Deals have extended those deals through today. Check my Black Friday Deal picks here.

 

 

Apple Store Cyber Monday Deals here.

Staples Cyber Monday Event Deals here.

Kelby Training Cyber Monday Deals here.

Western Digital (great drives) Cyber Monday Deals here.

Frys.com Cyber Monday deals here.

Radio Shack Cyber Monday deals here.

Cyber Monday at OfficeMax here.

Cyber Monday deals from Other World Computing (I buy my hard drives and memory here!)

Cyber Monday deals from J&R in NYC.

Newegg Cyber Monday Deals here.

CompUSA Cyber Monday Deals here.

Also check out CyberMonday.net  and CyberMonday.fm (sites dedicated to Cyber Monday deal and coupon listings)

iPhone App of the Week – 1Password Pro

1passwordpro

 

 

OK, I give up! I’ve tried keeping it all in my head, but remembering all my passwords for various sites and applications has gotten the best of me. As you know and I’ve said it before, it’s not a good idea to have one password for all your websites. Sure it’s easy to remember, but if someone gets your password to say Amazon.com and it’s the same one you use for your email and your banking site, etc., well you see where I’m going with this right? So knowing that I can’t remember it all anymore, I started looking for an app that could keep all my passwords safe say in a password protected note. Well my search lead me to 1Password Pro and boy am I glad I started using this app.

Continue reading “iPhone App of the Week – 1Password Pro”

Do you still use a Fax Machine?

Do you still need to send or receive faxes? My guess is probably not. Or certainly not every day. However, as soon as you get rid of your Fax machine or Fax line, that will be the day you either need to send or receive a Fax. Although I have an Epson Workforce 600 that can send and receive faxes, I almost never use it for that. I receive my Faxes via email and now I send them via the web for FREE! Often when I want to send a Fax, I’m looking at it right there on my computer display. So why should I have to print it out just to stick it in a fax machine and then either shred it or recycle it 2 minutes later?

Receiving Faxes via email for FREE

efax

I’ve used a eFax for years to receive Faxes via email. After you sign up for a free account, you get a randomly assigned fax number that is yours. You have no control over what area code the number will be in. After all it is FREE! Any faxes sent to that number will automatically be sent to you as an email attachment. The email attachments come in as multi-page TIFF files and they give you a free viewer app. Now keep in mind that if you want more like the ability to choose your area code and the ability also send faxes via email attachments. However, their lowest package is $16.95/month and at that point you might as well look at getting your own dedicated fax line. Here are the features in case you are interested in their paid service.

Sending Faxes over the internet for Free

faxzero

Like I said, I’ve used the Free (hidden) version of eFax for years to receive faxes via email, but they’ve never offered a free way to send faxes. In order to send faxes you have to use one their paid services. I send so few faxes that I just couldn’t see paying for a service. Also I do have the ability to send from my Workforce 600. However, I figured there had to be a way to send the occasional Fax over the internet for Free. After doing a little searching I found just such a service. FaxZero is a website that allows you to send up to two faxes per day with a maximum of 3 pages each for free. This has worked out perfectly for me! I can go months without needing to send a fax and when I do it’s usually on a couple of pages. If I did need to send more than 3 pages or more than 2 faxes then I could use my own fax machine or pay their low price of $1.99 (for up to 15 pages). You can upload either a PDF or Word doc (.doc or .docx). The cover page for the free fax will have an ad on it. If you use the paid version your cover page will be ad free.

The Bottom Line

I find that I’m doing less faxing each year as more and more businesses move to email and web services for communicating with their customers. So it doesn’t make sense to maintain fax equipment and fax lines anymore. There are both free and paid services out there to both send and receive faxes electronically over the internet. If your fax needs are low, you may want to look into these services.

Get a 1 minute promo video for your website

mixnpixels

My buddy Bruce Mandel just launched his new service “MixnPixels“, which is aimed at businesses that want to create promo videos for their website. MixnPixels is a Michigan based company and will come out to your location, shoot, edit and produce the video for you to use on your company’s website. I’ve known Bruce for years and his video skills and attention to detail are top notch!

Be sure to check out the “Animated Photos” demo. Pretty cool!

Check out his new company here.

Anti-Phishing Tip

We all get those emails that look legit, but aren’t! It could come from a bank or your credit card company. Usually there’s a “problem with your account” and they need you to log in and give them some information or reset your password. My favorite is when they claim that through a computer mishap that they lost all my information, yet miracously they still have my email address. Also another dead giveaway is the first line that says “Dear Valued Customer.” If I was really your valued customer, wouldn’t you know my name and address me directly.

Even though the signs are clear in some cases, people get tricked into clicking the links, winding up on an fake site and divulging tons of private information.

Here’s a tip for Apple Mail users

If you’re an Apple Mail user (the mail app built-in to Mac OS X), then you’ve got a way of quickly verifying where a link goes without actually clicking on it. Take this “Bank of America” email that I got yesterday. Although I wasn’t even remotely tempted to click on the link, I was curious as to where it led to. So I simply hovered my mouse over the link to reveal a popup display that actually shows the REAL URL that you’d go to if you clicked on it. Needless to say, it wasn’t bankofamerica.com.

boaphishing

Although I didn’t click the link, I’m sure if I had it would have taken me to a website that looks just like bankofamerica.com.

This tip also works in Mail on the iPhone

As I wrote in my iPhone Book 2nd edition. You can do this same tip by holding down your finger on a link in the Mail app on the iPhone/iPod touch to see where the link is actually going to take you.

mail-spamhover

What if you don’t use Mail or are on a PC?

Even if you aren’t an Apple Mail app user, there’s a simple tip for you. DON’T CLICK ON LINKS IN EMAILS! If I thought that this email was legit, the safer thing to do would be to fire up my browser manually and key in the URL myself or use a bookmark. That way I’d know for sure what site I was headed to. Even if you are a Mail user a clever programmer can create a link that spoofs the original site. So bottom line, don’t click the links. Chances are if you get an email requesting that you go to a website, login and give them information, it’s an attempt to gain access to your information, passwords, user names, etc.

Be safe!