Making a great home network!

Moving into a new home or simply switching Internet providers can be a daunting task. Cable companies offer so many TV, Internet and Phone packages and combination of packages it could be hard to decide. How much bandwidth do I really need? How do I protect my network from hackers? What is the best WiFi access point and how do I maximize my range?

These are a few questions I will try to answer in this blog posting and maybe save you some money in the process.

How much bandwidth do I really need?

There was a period of time during 2017 the cable companies were having their marketing departments spin how fast their internet connections could be and they would compete for your business. 50/50 MB not enough were offering 100mb.. no were offering 900mb etc and so forth. If you’re not sure how much speed you need READ THIS. Personally I have 75/75 at home and my family is your typical Netflix / Amazon / Fortnite ECT and we are doing just fine.


How do I protect my network from hackers?

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Help – My 2003 – 2007 Honda Accord Trunk Won’t Open

My 18 year old son is driving a 2007 hand-me-down Honda Accord coupe and last week he came home and said, DAD – HELP! My trunk wont open. I immediately said did you overload the trunk with your hockey equipment and one of the bag straps get caught in the striker? He said no way, it opened at the hockey rink when I put my bag in the back, but now its stuck.

HOW TO GAIN ACCESS TO THE TRUNK

I initially tried pulling up on the trunk lid, even slid a crowbar in between the lid and the bumper (yes I know dumb move, but hey its a 12 year old car so its already scratched). I could here the electric solenoid trying to pull the lock open and we even pulled the manual release from up front. NO JOY. Its a good thing the back seats fold down in this car because we were able to gain access to the trunk and remove most of the contents. Finally my son was able to hit the emergency release on the latch and POP the trunk opened.


WHY DID IT FAIL?
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2014 – Dodge Charger Steering Wheel Heater & Rear Seat Heater DEAD!

Here we are in mid January and my wife informed me during a drive the other day her steering wheel heater was dead on her 2014 Dodge Charger. The car has software buttons on the touch screen to activate the heater and when pressed, it goes on and within 2 seconds turns off.

I began doing research for causes and typical issues are the clock spring in the steering column, computer control module among other items. A day later we were out with the kids and i was bummed the steering wheel heater was broken and from the back seat the kids said hey.. our rear seat heaters are dead too. It immediately dawned on me to check the fuse box!

Where are the fuses?

Like many modern cars there are multiple fuse boxes in and around the vehicle. Some are under the dash board, some in the engine bay, and in our case the seat / steering wheel heater are in the trunk.

To access the fuse box you need to remove everything from the trunk and lift the trunk floor (as if you were accessing the spare tire). Under the trunk floor you will find the spare tire, battery and a small black box next to the battery.

2014 Charger Trunk Fuse Box
Arrow indicates rear seat / steering wheel heater fuse.
Continue reading “2014 – Dodge Charger Steering Wheel Heater & Rear Seat Heater DEAD!”

Modern twist on a retro cassette tape

Growing up in the 1980’s I was exposed to various types of analog media. I did have a record player, but they were not “cool” at that moment and I only owned a few LP’s. I even had a chance to dabble with my parents  8 track tapes, however they were on the decline when I discovered music. The medium of choice for my generation was the cassette tape. (until the compact disk came out)

Remember the old days

I can remember heading over to the local mall to shop Sam Goody’s huge assortment of cassettes, and then stopping by my local Radio Shack to purchase blanks to make copies for my friends. That was another life, when we all had high speed dubbing Dolby tape decks and “piracy” was still on the seas!


I was reminiscing the other day about how far we have come with digital media and was wondering how I could combine my love for cassette tapes into a digital format. I started taking apart my old tapes and trying to merge a USB drive into them, but didn’t have much luck. Then I had an ah-ha moment and decided rather than convert a cassette into a USB drive, why not make a USB drive that looks like a cassette.

The USB Cassette Was Born!

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Home For Good Dog Rescue – NOT EVEN CLOSE TO GOOD!

This post is for all my local NJ readers that may be interested in adopting a rescue dog from a local agency. I would like to share my experience in regards to Home For Good Dog Rescue in Berkeley Heights NJ.

Since I have been married, I have always had at least one dog in my house, in recent history we have had up to three. My family enjoys having dogs in our lives and especially pups that need a home. Recently my German Sheppard mix passed away after 9 years from cancer and we were looking for a new puppy to join our family.

I had google searched for puppies in my area and found “Home For Good Dog Rescue” They were advertising a pointer / lab puppy that was ready for her forever home. I started the process by filling out the adoption paperwork, giving them my personal information, information regarding 3 references and all about out vet, home and property.

The Home For Good Dog Rescue Process

In about 2 days I was contacted by Home For Good Dog Rescue and they were inquiring about my family situation. Currently in my home we have 2 teenage children, my mother in law, her full time care giver and me and my wife. One of the stipulations to adopt a pet from Home For Good Dog Rescue is all members of your family, and pets MUST attend a meet and greet in order for them to give you the dog. I guess this makes sense since everyone in the home needs to know what they are getting into. Continue reading “Home For Good Dog Rescue – NOT EVEN CLOSE TO GOOD!”

Yesterday Radio Shack Electronics Project Kit – Today Elegoo on Amazon

I feel as if I have been a technology geek for as long as I can remember. I often wonder why as a child of the 80’s I gravitated toward electronics and not sports. I guess I would lay some of the blame on my father who seemed to push me toward electronics and would bring me all sorts of fun gadgets from Radio Shack.

Early Kits – Radio Shack Science Fair 160 in ONE

I have very fond memories of the Radio Shack Science Fair 160 in ONE Electronic Project Kit. As a kid I didn’t appreciate the components, but simply followed the instruction “cook” book and wired the circuits with the included jumpers. I can remember making a crystal radio, touch sensors,  sound generators (or color organs as they were called) It wasn’t long before I started making my own creations.

As I got older, I noticed the kits had started to vanish from Radio Shack. In my late teens and early twenties I even worked at Radio Shack for a while and the kits were all but gone!

30 Years later and WOW – These kits are amazing!

Continue reading “Yesterday Radio Shack Electronics Project Kit – Today Elegoo on Amazon”

Outlook cannot log on. Verify you are connected to the network and are using the proper server and mailbox name

In the office we use a SonicWall to allow remote VPN users to access local resources. For the most part it works great, allowing access to our Outlook / Exchange server, mapped drives and other important network resources.

Recently I upgraded the SonicWall to a new device and recreated the rules from scratch (rather than roll old stuff over) a few days after the upgrade SonicWall users started to experience this odd error message:

ODD OUTLOOK ERROR MESSAGE:
Outlook cannot log on.  Verify you are connected to
the network and are using the proper server and mailbox name. 
The Mailbox Exchange information server in your profile 
is missing required information. 
Modify your profile to ensure that you are using the 
correct Microsoft Exchange information service.
Image result for Outlook cannot log on. Verify you are connected to the network and are using the proper server and mailbox name. The Mailbox Exchange information server in your profile is missing required information. Modify your profile to ensure that you are using the correct Microsoft Exchange information service
At first I thought the users profile had just gone corrupt, so I deleted the Outlook profile and just recreated it and all was well in the world. However next time that particular user took their laptop out of the office the message eventually returned.  I was able to put two and two together and figured it had to do with something the VPN tunnel on the sonicwall was doing to cause this issue.
The solution:

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International Hacker Email / Security Warning / Account Issue

The latest hacker / email scam has been roaming the internet for a few months now. This one is pretty ingenious because it is more of a social email hack playing on your fears rather than an actual attack on your computer.

How does it play out?

An email arrives from you, yes your own email address. The subject of the email will be related to “Account Issue” , “Security Warning” or some variation. The email will further explain that you were hacked by an International Hacker Group and demand you pay $800 USD in bit coin in 48 hours or they will release video of you in a compromising position while watching porn! The hacker further tries to prove his legitimacy by providing you with your password.

The first time I saw this attack I was taken back for a moment because the password in the email was REAL. It was actually one of my “throwaway” passwords and kind of freaked me out.

Lets break the email down and see exactly what they did

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Who’s Hacking My Exchange OWA? Check with Log Parser 2.2

I am one of the few on the planet that still hosts my own servers in house. Sorry, but I don’t really see the benefit of moving everything to the cloud when keeping it in house allows me the control and flexibility I want. I especially like having an Exchange OWA server in house.

With that said, hosting your own systems can be troublesome as well. Maintaining the hardware, infrastructure and security are items that would get farmed out in a cloud environment. This post focuses on the security end, or rather attempting to track hack attempts.

In January, I sent up a trigger to alert me every time a user is locked out. -> Know instantly when a user is locked out <- Its a good read if you’re interested. This trigger reads the event logs, looks for the lockout event and sends the info to me via email. A great help in being proactive with my users. It also alerts me to hack attempts. Too many incorrect login attempts on OWA would trigger a lockout event. During a recent weekend, I was receiving lockout emails every 30 minutes. So who was doing this? What did they want?

How to check Exchange OWA IIS logs

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2013 – 2018 Lexus GS 350 Cabin Filter Replacement Procedure

Once a year I change my air filter and cabin filter to help keep my GS 350 performing at its best. The Lexus dealer can charge upwards of $150 for each of these services. You can save yourself hundreds of dollars if you take 5 to 10 minutes to do it yourself. In this post I will show how easy it is to swap out the GS cabin filter. Click this LINK to see how easy it is to change the Air filter.

Where to get the correct Cabin Filter?

I believe many Lexus models take the same cabin filter.  I searched on Amazon and many of the filters i came across said they were NOT a match for my car. Finally I found this EcoGard filter that said it was going to be a good fit, I took a chance and made the purchase.

 

EcoGard filter for GS350 $16.54 at Amazon.com

There are lots of other compatible filters. Picking a cabin filter is more a personal preference since they are a creature comfort and will not affect the performance of the car. Use this link to search all of Amazon for filters that should fit the GS 350 – CLICK ME

Changing the filter

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