This article will show you how to use your BlackBerry device to connect a Windows notebook or desktop computer to the Web.

A tethered modem lets you access the Internet with your laptop computer anywhere there’s cellular data coverage. Forget about lengthy Wi-Fi hotspot login processes and usage fees.

If you have a BlackBerry 7130v, Pearl, Curve or 8800 series device it can be employed as a tethered modem – though charges for data may vary, so check that before you proceed.

1. Download and install RIM BlackBerry Desktop Software

The first step to connecting your Windows notebook or desktop computer to the Internet using your BlackBerry smartphone’s data connection: download the BlackBerry Desktop Software from RIM’s website or the CD that came with your device. You’ll need software version 4.1 or higher to use your BlackBerry as a tethered modem.

This software ensures that you’ve got the appropriate drivers to enable your BlackBerry to use your computer’s USB and virtual COM ports to upload and download Internet data via dial-up connection.

If you find that you’re already running an earlier version of BlackBerry Desktop Manager that doesn’t support tethering, simply download the updated software from RIM. You may to need repair the software after upgrading from v4.0 to v4.1 if the necessary USB and virtual COM ports can’t be found. To do so, simply re-install and select the Repair option.

2. Create Web Access Point Name (APN)

Open up your Windows Start Menu and find your Control Panel, within your Settings. Open up your Phone and Modem Options, and specify your local area code, carrier code (if necessary) and numbers that you may need to dial to access outside lines. Then choose whether or not your use a touch tone or pulse telephone connection and hit OK.

From there, select the Modems tab, highlight Standard Modems and click the Properties tab beneath the option. Once the Properties window opens, click on the Advanced tab at the top of the box and in the Extra Initialization Commands field type:

+cgdcont=1,”IP”,” Your Internet APN”

(Note: If you don’t know your Internet Access Point Name (APN), you can contact your wireless carrier’s customer support representatives. Or you can try to find your APN by clicking the Options icon on your BlackBerry Applications screen, then Advanced Options, and TCP. If the Internet APN name has been saved within the device, it will be listed in this menu. A good old Google search never hurts, either.)

Click OK once you’ve filled in the Extra Initialization Commands field and hit OK again when the Phone and Modem Options tab reappears.

3. Setup Dial-Up Networking Connection (process depends on which Windows OS you use)

Windows XP users: Open up your Windows Start menu, mouse over the Connect To option and then click Show All Connections. In the Network Tasks box in the right-hand margin, click Create a New Connection to launch the New Connection Wizard. From there, click Next, choose the Connect to the Internet option and hit Next again. Pick Setup My Connection Manually and hit Next again. Select Connect Using a Dialup Modem, hit Next. Select the Standard Modem option on the Select a Device screen, hit Next again. Within the ISP Name box, type a name for your connection (Carrier name, for example) and once again click Next. In the Phone Number field type *99#, and then select whether the connection is for you alone or for others, as well.

You’ll then be prompted for the User Name and Password provided by your wireless carrier upon signing up for the tethered modem service. (If you don’t know your User Name or Password, contact your service provider. Again, performing a Google search might help, as well) After you’ve filled in the appropriate information, click Finish to close the window and open the Connect window. (Some default User Names and Passwords can also be found online.)

When you’ve successfully created a new connection and the Connect window appears, hit the Properties tab at the bottom and ensure that the Standard Modem box is checked and highlighted. Then choose Configure. Check the Enable Hardware Flow Control box, make sure none of the other boxes are checked and then hit OK. When you return to your connection Properties box, hit OK again.

Windows Vista and Windows 2000 users: See additional information on how to configure connections for Windows Vista and Windows 2000 on RIM’s site.

4. Connect your laptop/desktop to the Internet via BlackBerry

Attach your BlackBerry smartphone to your computer via the USB sync cable that came with your device (or a comparable cable) and launch the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. Open your Windows Start menu, choose the Connect To option and click the name of your new Network Connection. Enter your User Name and Password if you haven’t saved it, click Dial, and you’re good to go

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Wireless networking can be an intimidating thing. I remember setting up my own, as if it was yesterday, and it wasn’t entirely fun. If you’ve got yourself a laptop or two, and you’ve just bought your wireless equipment yesterday, I’m here today to show you how to set up wi-fi hotspot, and how to keep freeloaders from leeching off of it (almost; I’ll explain later).

The basics of this process are pretty much the same for any router. Only the specifics will differ, so I can’t say this enough: Read your documentation, for your router, your broadband modem, and any other equipment you’ll be using.

Purchasing Your Router

For maximum compatibility, you’re going to want a router that supports the three top wireless-networking standards: 802.11a, 802.11b, and 802.11g. You’ll notice in the store, some routers which are 802.11n, but that standard has yet to be fully adopted. That doesn’t mean that you can’t skip straight up to 802.11n, but please make sure that the device in question is also compatible with the other three wireless standards. It will save you a lot of headaches later.

Next, we are actually going to explain how to setup a wifi hotspot.

Physical Setup

Connecting your router to your existing home network should be a simple process. If you think of the path between your PC and the Internet, you will be inserting the router into this chain.

“Internet -> Broadband Modem -> PC”

becomes

“Internet -> Broadband Modem –> Router –> PC.”

Basically, your first steps will be to unplug your PC’s networking cable from your broadband modem, then plug each of them into your router. Please note, that there should be a port marked specifically for the broadband modem. This may be marked “Internet” or “Broadband” or something similar. Once everything’s plugged-in and powered-up, you may have some software to run which sets the router up. In my experience, running the software isn’t necessary, but may make initial setup easier. Please check your documentation, and don’t skip any steps.

Digital Setup & Security

Once everything is hooked together, please test your Internet connection by opening a Web browser and going to any site. I usually try Google, MakeUseOf, or my microblog (cheap plug), but what you use is up to you. After confirming that everything’s running smoothly, it’s time to secure the router from outside intruders.

To access your router’s on-board software, you must connect to its internal Web server. The address to use, which is always network-internal, varies; In my example, it’s http://192.168.2.1. Here’s how to find yours on Windows XP: From your Start Menu, click the Run command, and then enter “cmd” to launch a command line. Next, type “ipconfig /all” and hit Enter to show details of your network connection. Your “default gateway” is your router’s address. Open a Web browser and go to that address to access your router’s settings. You’ll be required to enter a Username and Password but that’s all in your router’s documentation. If not then you can lookup the default passwords and username for your router on sites like CIRT and Router Passwords.

While you’re still in the command line, please write down your “physical address,” also known as the MAC address, as shown below. You’ll need this later.

Time to configure your wireless settings. First, you’re going to want to change the name of your wireless network, or the SSID, into something unique. For compatibility, it’s best to go with automatic channel selection as well as a mixed wireless mode which supports multiple standards.

Your screen won’t look exactly the same as here, and some of the terminology used may be different, but that’s what the documentation and help files are for.

Now, to the security settings. You’re going to want the WPA2 encryption, as WEP is easily cracked. As for the encryption key, you can either generate one from a typed phrase, or if you’re really dedicated, specify 64 digits of hexadecimal code. Either way, I suggest visiting GRC’s secure and random password generator to get a good code.

Something I can’t stress enough is that no encryption or security method is fool-proof. Just like anyone with a lock pick and enough time can get into your house, A cracker with enough time on their hands can still break into your network, if they want to really bad. What I’m advising you of here is how to keep most of the freeloaders and snoops off your network, and to encrypt your information from end-to-end.

One more collection of settings to tinker with, the MAC address filtering. This is often the most tedious part, especially if you have multiple devices. This is also optional, but recommended, as a “fence” around your network. Each network device, whether a NIC card or a Nintendo Wii, has a MAC (Media Access Control) address (Consult your device’s documentation for instructions on how to find it), and under this setting, you can restrict access to your network such that only certain MACs can have permission.

Again, this isn’t fool-proof. MAC addresses can be plucked out of the wireless signal and then spoofed, but this will help to keep most of the creeps off your network.

Other MakeUseOf posts that show how to setup and secure wireless network:

We’d love to have any additional insight you may have on setting wi-fi hotspot and keeping your wireless networks secure. Please leave comments with your favorite tips and tricks!

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Clean Your PC

July 13, 2009

It’s not just your home that needs a good spring cleaning. Your PC and peripherals accumulate dust and grime at a steady clip, and require ongoing attention just like any other frequently used appliance. You need to clean the keyboard, mouse, and screen, of course, but you shouldn’t neglect the interior, as well. Dust buildup inside your PC’s case can lead to overheating and component failure. Follow our simple cleaning schedule to keep your machine spick-and-span.

Clean your keyboard once a week. Start by holding it upside down and gently shaking it to dislodge any crumbs. Large particles like food debris can make keys unresponsive. Next, take a can of compressed air (available at most electronics retailers for around $7) and use the straw-like nozzle to blow out dust from between the keys. These steps should extend the life of your keyboard and keep it working like new.

The scarier detritus, of course, is what you can’t see: germs thriving on your keytops and mouse surface. (Do this when your PC is off, so you don’t send the OS into fits as you press all the keys.) Don’t forget to wipe down your mouse, too.

In addition to your keyboard, it’s also wise to clean your monitor once a week using a microfiber or eyeglass-cleaning cloth. If that doesn’t do the job, use a slightly moistened, soft cloth. Avoid cleansers that aren’t specially formulated for LCDs; stick to water.

If you’re still using a CRT monitor, be sure to run the cloth over the monitor’s air vents, too, to collect dust that has settled there.

Once a month, with your PC off, turn the case around and clear any dust you see around the air intakes. Use a Q-Tip or lint-free foam swab (available at craft and hobby stores) to clean the fan blades and other areas you can’t reach with a cloth. You might be tempted to hit them with a blast of compressed air, but don’t: This will only force the dust deeper into the fan mechanism and PC case, and could damage the fan.

First, disconnect all the cables and bring the PC outside or into your garage. (You don’t want to unleash a dust cloud on the kitchen table.) Have your can of compressed air handy, as well as a dust mask. Making sure the PC is turned off and unplugged (never open a PC case with the power cord still attached), carefully remove the side panel.

Touch the metal chassis to ground yourself and dispel any built-up static charge you might be carrying; electrostatic discharge (ESD) can be lethal to the sensitive components inside your PC. Then, get to work with the compressed air, using it like a tiny leaf blower to herd the dust from crevices and out of the chassis.

No matter how dusty your PC may be, don’t resort to your household vacuum cleaner. The static electricity generated by these appliances will do more harm than the dust itself. You can find inexpensive ($30 or so) battery-powered vacs for electronics that claim to be ideal for cleaning a PC, but we’re hesitant about them, too. You’ll want a machine that’s rated ESD-safe, such as the 3M Electronics Vacuum. These units cost around $200, however, and are really worth the money only for IT and service departments that need to clean PCs all the time.

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Clean Your PC

July 13, 2009

It’s not just your home that needs a good spring cleaning. Your PC and peripherals accumulate dust and grime at a steady clip, and require ongoing attention just like any other frequently used appliance. You need to clean the keyboard, mouse, and screen, of course, but you shouldn’t neglect the interior, as well. Dust buildup inside your PC’s case can lead to overheating and component failure. Follow our simple cleaning schedule to keep your machine spick-and-span. Clean your keyboard once a week. Start by holding it upside down and gently shaking it to dislodge any crumbs. Large particles like food debris can make keys unresponsive. Next, take a can of compressed air (available at most electronics retailers for around $7) and use the straw-like nozzle to blow out dust from between the keys. These steps should extend the life of your keyboard and keep it working like new. The scarier detritus, of course, is what you can’t see: germs thriving on your keytops and mouse surface. (Do this when your PC is off, so you don’t send the OS into fits as you press all the keys.) Don’t forget to wipe down your mouse, too. In addition to your keyboard, it’s also wise to clean your monitor once a week using a microfiber or eyeglass-cleaning cloth. If that doesn’t do the job, use a slightly moistened, soft cloth. Avoid cleansers that aren’t specially formulated for LCDs; stick to water. If you’re still using a CRT monitor, be sure to run the cloth over the monitor’s air vents, too, to collect dust that has settled there. Once a month, with your PC off, turn the case around and clear any dust you see around the air intakes. Use a Q-Tip or lint-free foam swab (available at craft and hobby stores) to clean the fan blades and other areas you can’t reach with a cloth. You might be tempted to hit them with a blast of compressed air, but don’t: This will only force the dust deeper into the fan mechanism and PC case, and could damage the fan. First, disconnect all the cables and bring the PC outside or into your garage. (You don’t want to unleash a dust cloud on the kitchen table.) Have your can of compressed air handy, as well as a dust mask. Making sure the PC is turned off and unplugged (never open a PC case with the power cord still attached), carefully remove the side panel. Touch the metal chassis to ground yourself and dispel any built-up static charge you might be carrying; electrostatic discharge (ESD) can be lethal to the sensitive components inside your PC. Then, get to work with the compressed air, using it like a tiny leaf blower to herd the dust from crevices and out of the chassis. No matter how dusty your PC may be, don’t resort to your household vacuum cleaner. The static electricity generated by these appliances will do more harm than the dust itself. You can find inexpensive ($30 or so) battery-powered vacs for electronics that claim to be ideal for cleaning a PC, but we’re hesitant about them, too. You’ll want a machine that’s rated ESD-safe, such as the 3M Electronics Vacuum. These units cost around $200, however, and are really worth the money only for IT and service departments that need to clean PCs all the time. Tags:

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Clean Your PC

July 13, 2009

It’s not just your home that needs a good spring cleaning. Your PC and peripherals accumulate dust and grime at a steady clip, and require ongoing attention just like any other frequently used appliance. You need to clean the keyboard, mouse, and screen, of course, but you shouldn’t neglect the interior, as well. Dust buildup inside your PC’s case can lead to overheating and component failure. Follow our simple cleaning schedule to keep your machine spick-and-span. Clean your keyboard once a week. Start by holding it upside down and gently shaking it to dislodge any crumbs. Large particles like food debris can make keys unresponsive. Next, take a can of compressed air (available at most electronics retailers for around $7) and use the straw-like nozzle to blow out dust from between the keys. These steps should extend the life of your keyboard and keep it working like new. The scarier detritus, of course, is what you can’t see: germs thriving on your keytops and mouse surface. (Do this when your PC is off, so you don’t send the OS into fits as you press all the keys.) Don’t forget to wipe down your mouse, too. In addition to your keyboard, it’s also wise to clean your monitor once a week using a microfiber or eyeglass-cleaning cloth. If that doesn’t do the job, use a slightly moistened, soft cloth. Avoid cleansers that aren’t specially formulated for LCDs; stick to water. If you’re still using a CRT monitor, be sure to run the cloth over the monitor’s air vents, too, to collect dust that has settled there. Once a month, with your PC off, turn the case around and clear any dust you see around the air intakes. Use a Q-Tip or lint-free foam swab (available at craft and hobby stores) to clean the fan blades and other areas you can’t reach with a cloth. You might be tempted to hit them with a blast of compressed air, but don’t: This will only force the dust deeper into the fan mechanism and PC case, and could damage the fan. First, disconnect all the cables and bring the PC outside or into your garage. (You don’t want to unleash a dust cloud on the kitchen table.) Have your can of compressed air handy, as well as a dust mask. Making sure the PC is turned off and unplugged (never open a PC case with the power cord still attached), carefully remove the side panel. Touch the metal chassis to ground yourself and dispel any built-up static charge you might be carrying; electrostatic discharge (ESD) can be lethal to the sensitive components inside your PC. Then, get to work with the compressed air, using it like a tiny leaf blower to herd the dust from crevices and out of the chassis. No matter how dusty your PC may be, don’t resort to your household vacuum cleaner. The static electricity generated by these appliances will do more harm than the dust itself. You can find inexpensive ($30 or so) battery-powered vacs for electronics that claim to be ideal for cleaning a PC, but we’re hesitant about them, too. You’ll want a machine that’s rated ESD-safe, such as the 3M Electronics Vacuum. These units cost around $200, however, and are really worth the money only for IT and service departments that need to clean PCs all the time. Tags:

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Ensuring that your wireless network is secure is important to maintain
the privacy of your important data. Theft of data and resources through
the Internet has become more prevalent, especially since anyone with
just the right equipment and a bit of know-how can set up a wireless
network in just minutes. Taking just an extra bit of time to secure
your wireless connection will prove beneficial in the long run.

Materials:

wireless router

Step 1

Make sure your wireless router or access point is secure. An administrator password is needed to be able to configure security settings in a router or access point. The moment you’ve set up your router or access point, change the default password. Use a strong password, one thatincludes letters, numbers, or even special symbols. Write down the password and keep it in a safe place for future reference. There is ahigh probability that you won’t be using the password often but loss of this password may result in resetting your router to default factorysettings. This will wipe out all previous configurations and settings you have made.

Step 2

Turn off broadcast of your network’s Service Set Identifier (SSID) to prevent anyone within range to detect your wireless network. This will be a bit inconvenient because a valid user will not easily detect the network; however, in the long run, it prevents people who are not partof the valid network from detecting and potentially leeching from your  resources.

Step 3

Consider using Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) over Wired Equivalency Privacy (WEP). WEP has weaknesses already known to most experienced hackers so it is relatively easy to crack and access. WPA provides better protection. Older versions of the router, however, do not support WPA.

Step 4

Use WEP if WPA is unavailable. You might omit the whole process of setting up WEP because of its flaws but it’s better than no protection at all. Try to make up for its weaknesses by setting an encryption key that isdifficult to guess. Another method is to change your password every week. This may prove tiresome but necessary if you want to make sureyour wireless network is secure.

Step 5

Check if Remote Administration is disabled. This is usually turned off by default but it is best to be sure. Remote Administration enables theconfiguration of your wireless router or access point via the Internet. Turn it on only when absolutely necessary.

Motherboards

May 30, 2009

The motherboard is the foundation upon which your PC is built.
Here’s how to buy one that can accommodate all the components you want.

FORM FACTOR

The form factor sets the standard for a motherboard’s dimensions andlayout, as well as the positioning of mounting holes, expansion slots,and ports. Your case must support the form factor of the board you choose. Most of today’s motherboards are laid out in the ATX form factor. Home theater buffs looking to build a PC for the living room should consider a smaller MicroATX board. These boards use the generalATX design but include fewer I/O slots, allowing for a shorter board that can fit in a smaller case.

CPU SOCKET

Your most important decision when buying a motherboard is the processor family you want the board to support. AMD’s various CPUs are compatible with Sockets 754, 939, 940, AM2, and AM2+, depending on the particular subfamily. The socket number, in the first three cases, simply corresponds to the number of pins found on the bottom of the processor; the AM2 and AM2+ sockets, the latest iterations, use 940 pins and work with DDR2 SDRAM. Sockets 478 and LGA775 support Intel Pentium 4, Celeron, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, and Core 2 Extreme processors, the only difference being that the LGA775 design has the pins located on the motherboard CPU socket, as opposed to on the CPU itself. Intel also recently released LGA1366, which is designed for its newer and larger Core i7 processors, and thus won’t work with LGA775 CPUs.

RAM SLOTS

Most motherboards feature two to six memory slots. (Because of their size,
MicroATX boards tend to offer fewer slots than their ATX counterparts.)
Regardless of the board you choose, make sure it has enough slots to accommodate your needs. Most current motherboards use the DDR2 memory standard, though boards that support faster DDR3 memory (especially for use with Intel’s Core i7 CPUs) are becoming increasingly popular as well—seek them out if you’re looking for optimum performance and enhanced future expandability.

STORAGE CONNECTORS

Most new motherboards offer multiple Serial ATA connectors and a single IDE connector, allowing you to connect both newer and older hard drives and optical drives. If you expect a need for more than two IDE drives, make sure your motherboard has multiple IDE connectors.

PCI SLOTS

Most ATX motherboards provide at least four PCI slots for expansion. While these standard PCI slots are usually present for expansion cards like
sound cards and Ethernet cards, faster PCI Express (PCIe) slots are
also common features on mainstream boards. PCIe slots differ among
themselves, however, according to the number of links, or lanes, they support. For instance, a PCIe x16 slot provides greater bandwidth than a PCIe x1 slot. (A single lane can transmit 2.5Gbps in each direction.) As a result, PCIe graphics cards employ x16, whereas an Ethernet card
might use x1. Any expansion cards you plan to use must be compatible with the specific slot types, of course. (One exception: Cards designed or the newer PCIe 2.0 standard will work in older PCIe slots.)

OVERCLOCKING

It’s possible to squeeze even more performance out of your system with a process known as overclocking, which forces your components to run at faster speeds than the manufacturer originally designated. If you’re a compulsive tweaker, you’ll want to look for a motherboard with features in the BIOS that let you adjust the frequency of your front-side bus, or FSB, so your system will run faster than it would out of the box. Most high-performance (and high-cost) systems and motherboards support this
process; some companies even offer overclocking as a check-out option.
One word of warning: Overclocking can cause serious system instability,
especially if your computer isn’t cooled well enough—if you’re not sure
about what you’re doing, or if you don’t have enough fans installed,
you’re better off leaving the settings as they are.

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