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Nov 19, 2008

How To Solve Wireless (Wi-Fi) Connection Problems

Wi-Fi is awfully convenient, but it's also awfully buggy for many users, particularly those in areas crowded by competing wireless signals. If you're dealing with a loss of signal, try the following to troubleshoot your wireless setup.

1. Your PC might just need a little massaging. The best way to quickly disconnect and reconnect to your router is to right-click the wireless icon in the system tray and click Repair. If this doesn't solve the problem and you suspect it's still a PC issue, open a command prompt and type ipconfig /renew. This performs nearly the same operation as Repair but bypasses Windows, which could be causing the problem. If all else fails, reboot your PC.

2. If you're still having trouble, power-cycle your router by unplugging it, waiting 10 seconds, and plugging it back in. Your PC will need to reconnect after the router has booted up. Most routers lock up occasionally, and power cycling is the most reliable way to fix them. (Unless you can't physically reach your router, don't restart it through its management utility; that approach takes just as long, and the utility may not respond anyway.)

3. If you're still encountering frequent problems, you may be experiencing channel conflict, where multiple Wi-Fi routers are operating in the same narrow band of frequency. Download and run the evaluation version of WirelessMon; you can do all you need to with the demo. Look at the 'Channel Use' chart: Red and orange bars indicate channels under heavy use, while blue or no bars indicate relatively free channels. If your router is on a crowded channel, switch to a less busy one. You may see better performance and fewer dropouts.

Nov 9, 2008

How To Surf Anonymously

Not too long ago hiding your tracks on the Web usually meant finding an open proxy server to surf through or paying for proxy software like Anonymizer, which redirects traffic through its own proxy servers.

Today there's a better solution, and it's free: the Torpark browser. Torpark is a Firefox-based browser designed to access the Tor network of encrypted proxies. When you use the Torpark browser, your Web session bounces through multiple secure proxies, encrypted all the way, until your request reaches its destination. Torpark is a quick download and doesn't require a formal install on your PC; just launch the executable when you need it and make sure the Tor Network icon is active when the browser starts.

Secure browsing is considerably slower than regular browsing, though, so skip it If you don't need the extra security---and most people don't most of the time.