Change of the Guard

It was time.  Say adios to Odin & Loki and say hello to Calvin & Hobbes.

Ok, I realize that doesn’t make much sense when put like that, but here’s what it means.

Typically (almost) every year I change the passwords and SSIDs to my wireless router access.  On the current router there are two options; 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz.  For the past two years, we’ve had Odin & Loki.  (I was going through my Marvel phase).  Before that was Amadeus & Poughkeepsie [2018], then Hephaestus & Ares [2015], and finally my Harry Potter phase of Dumbledore & Severus_Snape [2013].  Prior to that I had a different router, and I don’t remember what the SSIDs were.  This year I was looking for a duo that was whimsical, and I didn’t want to get bogged down in minutae so I went with the venerable Calvin & Hobbes. [I could have gone with Opus & Binkley, but Wattersons’s duo came to mind first.  Maybe in 2021.]

Of course, when I change the SSIDs, since so many of the tech we have are dependent on the info being correct, I had to go through the house and change everything that connected to the router manually in order for it all to continue to work as it should.  For example; as soon as I changed things, the cameras on the outside of the house went offline, the lamp upstairs as well as the lights in the living and dining room stayed on, and didn’t turn off when they were programmed to.  Tablets, phones, my tv in the den and both Roku boxes went offline and needed to be updated to the new SSIDs.

When updating things of this nature, I tend to ‘beef up’ the security on them as well.  When I first started password protecting myself online, passwords were pretty simple.  Nowadays one has to be aware of dictionary based attacks, and keeping track of 500+ passwords is impossible.  Especially when you have to try to remember nonsensical strings of letters, numbers and special characters.  tabby#0645 is a lot easier to remember than something like JsWnY=4m&hz}Lv}.  Sure the second one is way more secure, but there’s nothing to link it to in your brain to remember what the heck it is.  Consequently, for the last 12 years, I’ve been using Password Depot, it has saved my bacon more than a few times, and now it’s available as an app for my phone, which allows me to access my passwords wherever I am.  Truly a game changer.

So, Calvin and Hobbes are residing in the house for the next year.  Things are locked down (in more ways than one) and we’re secure for whatever comes in the months ahead.

Oops, almost forgot.  The guest SSIDs are ‘GuestOfUs’ and ‘StrangeWomenLyingInPonds’.  If you happen to visit, ask for the passwords.

Speedy Delivery

Last night, my wife was having some issues with her gaming laptop.  The one she bought when she needed a new portable computer and decided to get this fancy-schmancy one that can be used for gaming (or hacking mainframes I fervently believe) and is a behemoth.

For whatever reason, it was dragging in terms of doing what she needed for it to do online and she asked me if it was on the fastest connection we had.  I told her, no, it’s not.  For one thing, it’s on WI-FI through the house network, so it’s only able to go as fast as the wireless connection allows.  If it were connected via hardwire to the router, it would be able to utilize the faster connection the wire provides.  After checking the wireless connection I confirmed she was using the 2.4 GHz connection (Odin) instead of the 5 GHz connection (Loki) through the D-Link router.

She asked if I had the password to the faster connection.  Of course, the answer is yes, but I don’t have the password memorized.  I change the password every six months, so I can’t remember it each time, I don’t have that memory capacity, and have no desire to memorize thirteen character alpha-numeric plus special character passwords ad nauseam.  I have a password program that does the work for me.  I’ve been using it for ten plus years and it’s been working just fine for the jobs that I ask of it.  Too, I can access it from anywhere through my smartphone, so that makes it useful out in the world, whether I’m near or far from home.  So again, the answer was yes.  I just had to go get it.

Once I accessed the password and put it in, something rather odd happened.  The connection was faster than I expected it to be.  I checked the throughput of the SSID, and it was telling me the connection speed was 868.9 Mbps.  That wasn’t right.  I only say this because I’ve been paying for a 100 Mbps connection for the last four years, and while there’s an option through my provider for a 1 Gbps connection, that option is $15 more per month.

Being the curious sort, I went to my desktop computer that’s wired to the router and checked the speed there.  Sure enough, it was reading 1 Gbps.  Odd.  I checked the speed through an online speedtest and got the same result that I normally get, that the speed is somewhere between 75 and 90 Mbps.  Which makes me even more confuzzled, since that’s what I’ve been paying for.  I’m thinking there’s some sort of problem on my end, as I figure the ISP is correct, or else I would have gotten a bump up in my bill.  I highly doubt with the current world situation they would bump up everyone’s speed and put more stress on the system.  If anything it would be the reverse, they’d slow down everyone because so many more people are logging on at this time, with only certain people’s back at work physically and so many more are telecommuting from home.  Or outright not working and spending time streaming movies, or other things online to pass the time while we all wait for either a cure or the coronavirus to pass on.

Either way, it’s something new to keep an eye on.

Power Cycling

My desktop computer is still down for the count and I’m still making do with the old Lenovo R61i.  I now remember why I bought this laptop initially, it’s very easy to use and fits my hands very comfortably.  Although I’ve discovered I’m no longer comfortable using it on the couch, my gut gets in the way and it’s not easy to relax on the couch and type with ease, two things happen; my legs get uncomfy and there’s the distinct possibility the computer will slip off my lap and hit the floor.  Lastly, my eyesight is definitely not what it used to be and I’m constantly ‘nosing up’ to access the bifocals portion in order to read.  So until I get the desktop fixed, this is the new normal.  Whee!

Admittedly, I’m a little torn about what to do with the old desktop.  Fix it, obviously is the first thing, but I’ve been contemplating what it would cost to replace it.  I don’t really need a ‘new’ computer, just newer components.  With that in mind, I did a little spelunking on the laptop here about perhaps buying a ‘barebones’ pc, something that has a motherboard and compatible processor, case, power supply and so on, but there are slim pickings out there right now, or at least most of the suppliers that used to have a lot of stuff just don’t anymore.  People seem to be more interested in purchasing what they call ‘All-In-One’ computers if they purchase a desktop at all.  Increasingly, people are content with laptops, or mini-tabs, or just their smartphones to do what they used to have clunky big desktops to do.  Which makes sense, in a way.  The larger boxes available are more for your hardcore gamer that wants a water-cooled beast with 3-4 Solid State Drives, lots of RAM and enough fans to allow an F-35 to take off and hover over your house for an hour at a time.

Consequently, what I think I need is a new motherboard and processor, and accompanying RAM to go with it, reuse the case that I have, the components (hard drives, keyboard, mouse, sound system, power supply) I already possess and go with that.  I know I’m going to have to pay for a new copy of Windows 10, but that’s acceptable.  I honestly don’t remember how old the motherboard and processor that are currently in the tower are, but I can hazard a guess at between 7 and 9 years old.  Ha, I checked an old file I had on the laptop and I was pretty close.  Purchased the motherboard and processor in 2012, so they’re 7 years old.  Oddly enough the motherboard is considered still pretty current by standards on its own website, though the only ones available are used or refurbished.  Still selling on eBay and other reseller places for better than $100 and that’s without an accompanying processor or RAM.  Impressive.  If only mine was behaving!

I allowed for time this evening to crack the case on the desktop and get into the guts of it, but I wasn’t really feeling ‘up’ for the challenge, so let it pass for the time being.  Seeing as I have to be up early on Friday for an inspector to come and look at the 2016 Edge before we turn it in, I’m probably going to busy myself with that while I wait for him/her to arrive.  I only hope they ring the doorbell or don’t do what they did last time, go to the local car dealer and skip our house completely.  That I don’t think I’m in the mood for!

More to come on this saga as well.  If nothing else, I hope the resolution is easier than the roto-tiller has been.