Tag Archives: internet

Looking for a new ADSL2 modem

A few days ago, our internet connection at home started getting unreliable.  I noticed it would drop out, but after a reboot it came back.

But then 2 days ago, it seriously just didn’t work.  I could sometimes get an ethernet connection, but even if I could, the configuration web pages were very slow and mostly hung.

What a strage few days it’s been without internet at home.  Unfortunately, as we’re in the middle of planning our next holiday and researching destinations and hotels, it’s come at an inconvenient time.

Oh well, the D-Link DSL-502T did serve me well for quite a few years I guess.

But now to buy a new one and I’m confused!   I already have a Linksys WRT54G for my wireless and a Sipura SPA-3000 for VOIP, so I really only need to buy an ADSL2 modem.  But there’s so many combo models to choose from nowadays – with functionality I don’t currently have like 802.11N support, guest Wifi and USB storage support.  And then there’s iiNet’s BOB.

I’m currently tossing up between iiNet’s BOB on a contract (so it’s not sooo expensive, but so I can get replace 3 boxes with 1), the Billion 5200N (don’t think I need the WAN port of the 7300N) and Netgear DG834G or N.  

Choices, choices, choices… 

But I better decide soon, I’m getting internet withdrawal at home!

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Free wireless in Singapore!

Our our recent trip to Singapore, we ended up bringing along Miss 10’s netbook and I brought along my iPhone.  OK – two Wifi enabled devices, but how were we going to get connected?

It turns out that there is FREE wireless internet in most public areas in Singapore!  What a great initiative!  OK, it’s a little “slow” being 1Mbps only and it’s usually only available in public areas like shopping centres, but it was extremely useful for us.   We could check our email, do some research on prices and products, use Google Maps to find places, and I even found out that Miss 10 was MSN’ing friends back home!

So how do you get it?

First, you need to register to get a free account.  You can do this on the actual Wireless@SG login page, calling the number on the login screen or visiting one of the 3 companies that run the wireless network – SingTel, QMax and iCell.   Since I had a Singapore SIM card there, I was able to register online and get my password sent to me via SMS.  

Then all you need to do is connect to the Wireless@SG network when it’s available, login, and then you’re done!  I found I could access mail, Google maps, Facebook and Twitter on my iPhone with no problems.  The only hiccup I had was in Wisma Atria one day when it seems their Wireless hotspot was not working.

If you know you’re going to Singapore, you should try to get account before you arrive so that you can use the Wireless as soon as you land in the airport – http://www.infocomm123.sg/wireless_at_sg, although I’m not sure if you need a Singapore mobile number to get the password. 

For more information, refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless@SG and http://www.ida.gov.sg/Programmes/20061027174147.aspx?getPagetype=36.

The early internet

I enjoyed reading Karen Cheng‘s memories of her early experiences on the internet.  It brought back memories of the early days of the internet for me too. 

Let’s rewind back to the mid 90’s for me.

Picture this – I am an engineering student in my late teens/early 20s at Uni.  Not married, no kids, waking up at 12pm, sleeping at 3am. 

After a few years of BBS’s, I found that I could SLIP, then PPP using Winsock into the University network.   Yes, I could connect to the “internet” via my 28, 33 then 56kbps straw, but what did I do on it?

There was no Google. No Firefox. No blogs. No Dreamweaver or Flash. No Skype. No MSN. No Facebook. No MySpace.  No Blogger or WordPress.  No Flickr or SmugMug.   No personal digital cameras.

In fact, there were “hardly” any webpages or websites.  Websites were generally boring ugly text ones.  No-one really used the term blog or weblog.   A smattering of people had “home pages”.   This would be more like a CV or resume online and static information or links to interesting topics, but not much more.   If you did searches on the web, you most likely used Altavista or Yahoo.  Your browser would be Mozilla or Netscape, or even the text based lynx.

What I used the internet for back then was file transfers through FTP, FSP, gopher or IRC Direct Connect.  Posting and reading articles and getting files from news groups using the text based “nn” and uudecoding parts.  Talking to others using ytalk and IRC channels.  Playing MUD which for me mostly involved killing chickens. Over and over and over again.

Some of us created home pages, hand crafted in HTML.  No CSS.  The big thing back then to get more visitors to your home page was joining web rings.

I had various home pages that mostly promoted the music I created whilst I was at Uni, but also local Classical music and Club nights in Perth.   I remember playing around with different layouts and designs – trying to ensure that my home page was still accessible in “text” in lynx, as well as through graphical browsers.    One of my web designs even won an award from Global Web Builders! 

After I graduated, I created a home page on iiNet, and maintained something less like a home page and more “like” a blog.   I updated it once in a while with news or technology tidbits and to share photos and stories about the kids with other family members.  You can still see an early snapshot courtesy of the Internet Wayback Machine here:  http://web.archive.org/web/20010424165247/members.iinet.net.au/~jchong/.  

Looking at the earliest update dates on my iiNet blog, it was 20 May 1999 – 10 years ago!   Miss 10 was obviously a little baby back then…

But last night I did find some backups of my early home pages from the 95-96 era.  I am in the process of fixing broken images and links and will post some screen captures soon – they are quite lame!

Keeping the internet safe for kids part 2

I’ve recently found a way to configure Internet Explorer as a whitelist filter.

This will basically block all websites from being accessed except for the sites in the whitelist.  If you don’t want to buy or install extra software to set up a whitelist, then follow my steps below.

But please note that a clever computer user could just install another web browser and circumvent the filtering in Internet Explorer.

Step 1 – Enable Content Advisor

In Internet Explorer, browse to Tools -> Internet Options.  Go to the Content tab and click the Enable button under Content Advisor.

Step 1 - Enable Content Advisor
Step 1 - Enable Content Advisor

Step 2 – Define whitelist

The next step is to define the sites that you will allow your child to access.   Just click on the Approved Sites tab and enter new sites like below.
I started with a general set of Club Penguin, ABC Kids, Mathletics, the school website, etc.
Step 2 - Specify approved sites
Step 2 - Specify approved sites

Step 3 – Lock it down

By default, a user would still be able to access any other site or add other sites to the whitelist.
Click on the General tab.   Under User options, clear the setting Users can see website that have no rating.
 
Then under Supervisor password, create a password and REMEMBER THIS!   This is the password to disable the Content Advisor, or to add sites to the whitelist.
 
Step 3 - Configure General Options
Step 3 - Configure General Options

Step 4 – Try it out

Now when you try to navigate to a site that is not on the whitelist, the user will see the following screen.
The kids, not knowing the password, will not be able to access the site.  However, since I know the password, I can choose to add the site to the whitelist.
Step 4 - Site blocking in action
Step 4 - Site blocking in action

Keeping the internet safe for kids

We recently bought a Lenovo S10 netbook for our Miss 10.

I’ll review the netbook in another post, but one concern I had was internet filtering. Our family computers are currently in the family room where we can monitor our kids computer usage. But we have also put NetNanny on our current computers to filter sites out.

Yes I know there are people who would argue to let kids roam on the internet free.  I’m all for the kids to learn and explore their sexuality – but it’s so way too easy to access XXX rated and really inappropriate material – stuff that I’d rather my 10 year old not see.

With the netbook, I wanted Miss 10 to be able to use it in her bedroom. I was first thinking of not connecting it to our home wireless network, and hence not to the internet. However, this would be most frustrating – especially since she needs to access the school’s website for homework details, and also other educational sites like Mathletics.

The option that parents have is to install a net filter, or in tech speak, a firewall.   There are 2 general types of net filters – blacklist or whitelist.

Blacklist

A blacklist filter will basically allow all sites to be accessed, except for a set of known “bad” sites (the blacklist).

The good thing about a blacklist is that it lets you access the internet freely without much effort.

The bad thing about a blacklist is the blacklist – it needs to be kept up to date as there are always new “bad” sites around. The software can be intelligent and block keywords too, but there is a possibility that your child could stumble upon a “bad” site.

Whitelist

A whitelist filter will basically block all sites from being accessed, except for a set of known “good” sites (the whitelist).

It’s much easier to keep track of the sites that you will allow your child to access.

The bad thing about a whitelist is that it’s restrictive, so free searches that may be needed for research on Google will not work. Also, you’ll find that a single web site will actually reference and load images and pages from all sorts of other sites. It will require some time to add these additional sites to the whitelist to make surfing the web a non frustrating experience.

Software

I’ve tried a few and love NetNanny.  NetNanny is basically a blacklist filter.  It seems to work really well and is not obtrusive.  This is currently installed on all our computers at home.

I like how NetNanny lets me check logs and change settings remotely and also set times of the day that surfing is allowed.  The 3 user family pack is a great idea too as more and more families have more than 1 computer at home.

And for a while, I’ve been trialling a whitelist filter using Internet Explorer on Miss 10’s netbook.   It’s a bit more annoying, and needs some work to set up, but at least it’s free with Internet Explorer.   I will post more details on this later.