Some computer problems seem to never go away
We've provided a number of tips in this space in the past. Some are well received, while others are pooh-poohed. But there are a few issues that just don't seem to go away.
» First, wireless networks. We continue to be amazed by the number of unsecured wireless networks that are out there. It seems that there is at least one such network available wherever we go. This includes residential neighborhoods, condominiums, and office buildings. We're not talking about pay-per-use, or intentionally free sites, such as those at coffee shops or hotels. Rather, these are clearly networks used by businesses and individuals that are meant to be private.
So if you are setting up a wireless network, turn on the security feature. If you can work a computer, you can turn on the security features of a wireless access point. Both WEP, an older technology, or WPA, the current standard are more than adequate.
A somewhat more tedious, but still relatively simple security feature is MAC filtering, which prevents unknown devices from accessing the network. If you have a large network, this can be somewhat of a pain, but it's pretty secure.
» Second, page numbers. Reviewing documents that don't have page numbers drives many folks nuts. If your document is longer than two pages, it needs page numbers.
How many times have you read a document with page numbers and thought "these page numbers are really superfluous." Contrast that with the number of times you've read a document without page numbers and thought, "Are these pages in the right order?"
Of course, there isn't a word processor on the market that adds page numbers to documents by default. But if you use Microsoft Word, an easy way to do this is to edit your default template, usually named normal.dot, and add page numbers to it. Microsoft's Help Feature explains how to modify normal.dot pretty well. Just hit F1 and search for "modify normal.dot." It should be the first entry in your results list.
» Finally, unless you live or work in a sub-par building, you may be ignoring power issues. This was a big issue right after the last earthquake, but now it seems as though it's pretty much "out of sight, out of mind."
So invest in a good uninterruptible power supply. Abbreviated as UPS and pronounced by hip techies as "ups," much like the gangsta plural of up, these units come in three basic categories. We recommend a "line-interactive" UPS. Other common types are online and standby.
A line-interactive UPS regulates and filters utility power before providing it as surge-suppressed output power. This type of unit switches over to battery only in extreme cases, such as a complete power failure, thereby minimizing potential problems with sensitive gear and extending battery life. A good line-interactive UPS can be had for around $100 or even less. This is a very small price to pay when you consider what you're protecting.
is president of ISDI Technologies Inc., a Honolulu-based IT consultancy. Call him at 944-8742 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org