Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Amazon Sidewalk


Sorry for the lateness in putting up new stuff, but everything a little hectic lately.  But here we go with this one!

 

Amazon sidewalk.  Not sure if many people have heard of it yet.  It was released June 8th, and is "on" by default on all amazon devices.

 Amazon Sidewalk is a low-bandwidth long-range wireless communication protocol developed by Amazon. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for short distance communication, and 900 MHz LoRa and other frequencies for longer distances.

Basically what it is, is a "sharing" program that utilizes all Amazon equipment, ie. Amazon echo, ring doorbells, etc.  to use a small amount of your wifi. First off - NO it doesn't allow others to access your home network!  It does not have the speed or bandwidth to do so.

Basically it was designed to be used with air tags and other gps enabled devices compatible with sidewalk.  To allow for lost devices to find their way home via a small "mesh" network. 

Basically, if someones lost keys fall in your yard, and they have a tag on them and you have a Amazon device that has sidewalk, it will talk to your device and relay that info to another device until it reaches the home network - basically the person who lost them.

It has a few features, but for the most part, this is what it is used for for now.  There is no transfer of any of your data or access to your network given. But fear not, you can actually go in and turn it off if you do not wish to participate.


For the Echo family of speakers, open the Alexa mobile app and go to MoreSettingsAccount Settings, Amazon Sidewalk  and choose Disable.

In the Ring app, go to the Control Center, Amazon Sidewalk, Disable, Confirm.

 

Here is some great info on Amazon sidewalk, check this out.  Amazon Sidewalk 

 

 

 Feel free to check out all those amazing products on Amazon as well!!  Click below for deals!!!

 


 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Wondering why Gas prices are so high?

 

I'm sure by now, everyone is tired of the high gas prices. Well, hang on to your hat, They will still be going up!  Not surprising is it. Gas prices usually rise and fall numerous times throughout the year, with most of us not even questioning why, just accepting it.

Well, our latest round of hikes in prices can somewhat be blamed on Cyber attacks.  Yes, Cyber attacks, that wonderful world of the internet can actually cause issues. Who would have thought it?

 Following I will list a few links to the news stories of the Ransomware attacks that are currently taking place on pipelines in the U.S. 

 

"On May 7, the Colonial Pipeline Company learned it was the victim of a cybersecurity attack," 

 

So it began. Ransomware infects the computer networks of an entire pipeline. With hackers demanding Millions of dollars in order to release the key to decrypt these networks.  To date, over 5 million has been transferred to these people responsible for encrypting the networks. For more on this, check out this article: 

Colonial Pipeline Paid Nearly $5 Million in Ransom to Cybercriminals 

All of this of course led the U.S. to declare a state of emergency in several states to attempt to combat and stop this attack.  

U.S. Declares Emergency in 17 States Over Fuel Pipeline Cyber Attack 

Gas Buddy, is a great site, and they have an awesome app that helps with comparing current gas prices across Canada. Check it out here:  Gas Buddy.

Now I know a lot of us, do not pay attention to the cyber world as much as we should.  It is responsible for a lot more in our daily lives than people think it is.  With these cyber attacks and cyber crime becoming more and more a part of daily life.  

That's why I write this blog. Read the articles, ask questions, leave comments, email me, let me know if there is anything you need better explained etc. I'm here to help!

I have quite a few articles explaining what each and everything thing I write about explained in the best way we all can understand! If I don't, let me know, and I will!

Until soon...

Stay Safe!

Vince.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Have you been Pwned? Facebook data available on the Dark Web!

 

I'm sure a lot of you have heard about the breach of Facebook and the 500+ million accounts' information that was stolen back in 2019. Facebook did fix the cause of the intrusion, and with most of us, we just let it all slide as another lesson learned.

Well, a couple weeks ago, guess what?  All that information appeared for sale/free on the Darkweb.  By information I mean, Facebook profiles, names, addresses, emails, and phone numbers.  If you have that type of info on Facebook at the time of the breach, you may have been one of the unlucky ones.

A few months back, I also wrote an article about a website called "Have I been pwned" an excellent site to check if your email(s) have been stolen from any breaches.  It also provides a great list of recent breaches and what info was stolen etc.  An excellent resource I must say!

As of a week or so ago, they have also added the feature of checking not just your email, but now your phone number!  So you can see if you number has been stolen as well. 

I have used this site for years now, and have had excellent results!  If you are concerned at all about if your info is out there, CHECK this site out!  I highly recommend it!  They don't collect or keep any data that you put on the site, and is completely malware free!  Any questions, feel free to comment below!



(Don't forget to click my sponsors! it all helps to pay for the site and any upgrades! Yes, even the Amazon links! Thanks!)

Monday, April 5, 2021

Is it time to update/upgrade some of your hardware?

 

With all the new technology and internet providers, providing a much better online experience, how is your hardware holding up?

What do I mean by that? Well, how long have you had your router?

Why do I ask? Well, If you have an older router (usually 5+ years old or more) it would be a great time to upgrade. Most newer routers coming out now have much better security built in with WPA3 being released, as well as WiFi6.  Both of these can help improve your network quite a bit over the clunkers you might have still running. 

WPA3?  Well, this is the new replacement for WPA2. WPA3 adds four features not offered in WPA2, better privacy on public WiFi networks, Protection against Brute-force attacks, an easier connection process for devices without displays, and Higher security for government, defence and industrial applications.  What does all this mean? Well here is a link to an article explaining these categories. ( What is WPA3?)

WiFi6? This one is the next generation of WiFi, which introduces a speed boost! Much of which you will probably not notice, as its in the connection end of things and the new technologies introduced which help WiFi6 make these connections faster and more efficiently. (Here is the article which spells out jargon in a little more detail than I do. WiFi6, is it much faster?

For some more on WPA3 and WiFi6 check out these Wikipedia articles on them.

WPA3   &   WiFi6

 Those Wiki articles have some juicy geek terminology in there, that even gave me a headache. Overall These are new technologies that are a new standard, implemented into all new hardware that is being released now. You don't need to run out and get a new router because of these, but if your router is a little too old, and the lights don't work, or you're using it to hold up your monitor, it might be time to look at purchasing a new one. 

 

What do your Ethernet cables look like? That is, if you still use a hardwired connection.  You see a rats nest there? or is the color of the cable faded so bad, it blends in with the cobwebs? Well, believe it or not, some of those "older" Cat 5 cables are also limited to the speeds they deliver.

If you have cables that are a few years old as well, have a look, and see what they are stamped.

Cat 5 - The Cat 5 speed is capable of 10/100 Mbps and frequencies up to 100MHz all at a length up to 100m (328 Feet).

Cat 5e -  Cat5e cable according to ANSI/TIA 568.2-D has a maximum speed capability of 100MHz and 1Gb (Gigabit) up to 100 meters (328 Feet). 

Cat 6 -  Cat6 cable according to TIA 568.2-D has a maximum speed requirement of 1Gb and 250Mhz up to 328 feet (100 meters).


 

As technology has advanced so has the need to push more speed out of category cables. With the introduction of 10GBase-T this gave the ability to use Cat6 cables for it up to 180 feet. With this feature of Cat6 cables this technically gives you a max speed of 10Gb. However this should be noted that thought it can achieve up to 10Gb it's not guaranteed and requires everything to be ideal and correct in setup. If you are planning your network for 10Gb then it's best to use a cable specified for that which is Cat6A.

 What does all this mean? Well, if you are getting or have Fibre to your home and have the latest routers, etc, if you are using old Ethernet cabling for some hardwired systems it will greatly affect your speeds. 

For all those Gamers & Streamers out there, this means a lot. If you fall in this category you will want at least Cat 5e and if not Cat 6 cabling! A lot of new residential wiring has Cat 6 now as the new standard.  (I myself have my entire house wired with Cat 6 to every room) It also adds, albeit small value to your house. 

All these new technologies also help to improve any IoT devices you have, which include lights, thermostats, cameras, etc.  Camera systems can take up a LOT of upload bandwidth! Of course the more you put on your network, the more everything else is affected. 


Hopefully this helps a few people out. Don't forget, any questions, please feel free to email me! or simply leave a comment on the article you need a hand with.


Stay safe.

V.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Review of the FixMe Stick!

Give the link to the right a click or simply click HERE to see my review and experience with the amazing FixMe Stick! Scroll down after clicking the link to see my thoughts on it!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

5G is here! Here's a quick explanation.

 

Well, 5G is here! Wow! Have you noticed any difference? I'm taking a long shot and going to say, probably not. Everyone is talking about it, and everyone is out buying those 5g compatible phones. If you happen to have a 5G capable phone, have you ever seen it say 5g? Again, I'll say probably not. 

Now I'm not being negative about this new technology, it's just the way it is being promoted,etc.  Lots of people are running out buying new phones, believing they will have 5G! It doesn't work like that, there is 5G available in Manitoba, and here is a great link to the coverage map of 5G.  5G coverage. See the purple areas, that's where 5G is available right now.

5G - With new phones in low-band 5G, you can combine two 100MHz channels for 200MHz usage—and stack several more 20MHz 4G channels on top of that. In high-band 5G, you can use up to eight 100MHz channels. But if you don't have the airwaves available, you don't get the speeds. Also, 5G signals do not travel very well and the high-band has limited range.

Low-band 5G operates in frequencies below 2GHz. These are the oldest cellular and TV frequencies. They go great distances, but there aren't very wide channels available, and many of those channels are being used for 4G. So low-band 5G is slow. It acts and feels like 4G, for now. Low-band 5G channels are from 5MHz in width up to 15MHz, so you can see they aren't roomier than 4G.

High-band 5G, or millimeter-wave, is the really new stuff. So far, this is mostly airwaves in the 20-100GHz range. These airwaves haven't been used for consumer applications before. They're very short range; our tests have shown about 800-foot distances from towers. But there's vast amounts of unused spectrum up there, which means very fast speeds using up to 800MHz at a time.  

Here is a Government of Canada link to the 5G networks and includes some other information that may be useful.

So a quick wrap-up, if you are not within about 500 feet or so unobstructed from the 5G tower, you will not get high-band 5G. And if you do pick up the 5G low-band, you may notice it is actually slower than 4G.


 


 V.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Browser password managers

 

Is it OK to use the password managers that are built into Chrome, Edge and Firefox?  With recent updates to them all, the security factor of them has gotten much better. Straight answer is yes, they are safe to use, for the basic user.

If you just browse here and there, check email, and just simple things on the internet - yes this is an ok option and way better than using your birthday, dogs name, kids name, phone number, etc!

The only drawback to this is, its perfect to use on your home system. On a shared or public system, it can be dangerous.  If you look in the top right corner of your browser - and you see your little icon sitting there, that means you are "signed in" and the browser will usually auto-fill your passwords for you. But as long as that browser is open, your passwords are accessible!  On shared computers you should ALWAYS log out of the browser so that the next person doesn't have access to your passwords and any other information you store on your browser.

Another minor setback, is while you are on your computer with the browser open, and your signed in, the password information is accessible to hackers or anyone on your network that can intercept packets. Although I'm sure there aren't too many hackers trying to take over John Doe.  It is just a notable thing to keep in mind.

3rd Party password managers are even better than the built in ones. (See my article on these here - Passwords & password reuse) There are quite a few out there, both free and paid options.

Here is a list of a few great options, in no particular order:

1. 1password

2. Lastpass

3. Bitwarden (this is a great open source, free password manager)

4. Dashlane

5. KeePassXC

Having a password manager means remembering only one password, not a ton of them, and also helps with not having to repeat use passwords.

 

Stay safe.

 

V.

 


Featured Post

Closing down

  Due to website costs & upkeep, and lack of traffic, This site will be closing November 1st, 2021.   Thanks all for the interest in all...