howardfci Archive

Home Network Insecurity

Is your home wireless network secure? On a drive about town, I noticed that about one fifth of home routers are completely open and perhaps half are under-secured.

Used to be, this was because home users didn't know how to configure their routers. But now, Comcast is turning home networks into public hotspots unless customers -- few of whom even know about this -- specifically opt out. This article discusses the problems with this.

U.S. courts may hold you responsible if someone uses your wireless network -- without your knowledge or permission -- to illegally download music, movies, or software. People have even been raided by SWAT teams and convicted for downloading child pornography.

Is Comcast's project a bold move towards free wi-fi everywhere? Or is it a security outrage?

Meanwhile, here's a simple tutorial on how to secure your home wireless network.

Xfce 4.10: Simple, Fast, Reliable

Over the past several years, mobile devices have greatly influenced user interfaces. That's great for handheld users but leaves those of us who rely on laptops and desktops in the lurch. Windows 8, Ubuntu Unity, and GNOME have all radically changed in ways that leave personal computer users scratching their heads.

One user interface completely avoided this controversy: Xfce. This review takes a quick look at Xfce today. Who is this product for? Who should pass it by?

My Trip to GNOME: a 3.10 Review

Remember back when GNOME and KDE dominated Linux desktops? Seems like a long time ago, doesn't it? Yet it was only three years ago, in April 2011, that GNOME 3 was released. Its radically redesigned interface shook up everyone. Some eagerly adopted it. Others left GNOME.

In this brief review I take a fresh look at GNOME today, as it's currently distributed in several popular Linux distributions.

What’s Happening with User Interfaces?

Like many of you, I've been watching the big changes in user interfaces over the past few years, trying to make sense of them all. Is there a common explanation for the controversies surrounding the Windows 8 UI and Unity? Where do GNOME 3, KDE, Cinnamon, and MATE fit in? This article offers one view.

The pleasures and perils of less popular distributions

Like many OSNews readers, I use Ubuntu. I also use several less popular distros. What is it like to use these lesser-known distros compared to the dominant systems? How does running, say, VectorLinux or Puppy or PC-BSD, differ from using Ubuntu or Fedora? This article offers a few ideas. Obviously, it broadly generalizes about distros for the purpose of discussion.

Quick Guide to Fixing Hardware

Last month, I explained why I use generic desktops and laptops running open source software. They're reliable and inexpensive. But this presumes you can fix them. I believe that even those with no hardware training (like me), can identify and fix most hardware problems. To prove it, here's a quick guide. Feel free to add whatever I've missed.

U.S. Voting Technology: Problems Continue

In the United States, state and local authorities are in charge of voting and the country uses more than a half dozen different voting technologies. As a result, the country can't guarantee that it accurately counts national votes in a timely fashion. This article discusses the problem and potential solutions to the U.S. voting dilemma.

Four Lightweight Distros Compared

In the past year I've reviewed four lightweight Linuxes for OS News: VectorLinux, Puppy Linux, Lubuntu, and Damn Small Linux. This article compares the four distributions. I invite your comments in response: what are your own experiences with these and competing lightweight distros?

Smartphones Reignite the OS Wars

Smartphones have become the preferred computer of the masses. Sales surpassed those of personal computers in 2010, having grown over 50% per year for several years. Nearly 500 million smartphones shipped in 2011. This radically shifts the terrain in the consumer operating system competition that was, for years, firmly decided in favor of Windows. This article analyzes the New OS Wars.

VectorLinux 7: Fast, Flexible, and Supported

VectorLinux is one of those useful but lesser-known Linux distros. It's been around since 1999 and I've used it since 2006, off and on, in the role of a secondary OS. Now, with the disruptive changes Ubuntu forces on its user base with each new release, I've found myself increasingly attracted to Vector's stability and convenience. This article introduces "VL" to those who may not be familiar with it.

Tech Company Futures, pt. 2

My previous article analyzed some tech companies and their prospects: Microsoft, Intel, HP, Dell, Oracle, Apple, and Google. This article discusses IBM, Amazon, Yahoo!, Cisco, and BMC Software. The goal is to spark a useful discussion. What is your opinion of these companies? Do they have viable strategies for the future?