Thursday, January 31, 2013

Windows 8 Pain Point #3 - Intel Centrino Wireless-N 6150

So, I've been on Windows 8 for a couple months now, and all in all it's not too bad.  One trend that has started to irritate me quite a bit is the fact that my WiFi connection continually drops.  It's intermittent, but for whatever reason, my adapter just disconnects from the WiFi router.  Then, when I go to reconnect it, Windows tells me I can't connect back to the network.

When this first happened, I thought okay, let me try a different WiFi signal.  Nope!  No matter what other WiFi signal I chose, my adapter basically said it had eaten enough packets.  So, what's the classic solution in these circumstances?  Reboot!  Sure enough, everything started working fine again.  I dealt with that for a couple days before I decided having to reboot every time was ridiculous.  My next troubleshooting effort led me to re-install the driver.  No luck - the problem intermittently persisted.  Then, just out of curiosity, I disabled the network adapter and re-enabled it.  BOOM!  Fixed...temporarily.  Now I just have to disable/re-enable the network adapter, which is less irritating than having to reboot, but still a pain.

I didn't have this issue in Win7, so the only thing I can think of at this point is that the driver is causing issues.  My driver version is  I'm not sure if I can stand to wait for an update.  I think I may go back to Win7.  Anyone else having this issue?

Update #1: just went to Intel's site, and there's an update for the software suite.  To detect if your adapter needs an update, check out Intel's scanning web-app.  You'll have to enable Java for the scanning to work, so only do it if you trust Intel.

By the way, here's the output of the scanner: 
Product DetectedIntel® Centrino® Wireless-N + WiMAX 6150
Current Driver Installed15.5.2.0
Newer Intel® PROSet/Wireless WiFi Connection Utility Available:15.5.6

I have my fingers crossed!

Update #2: After updating directly from Intel's site, the problem appears to be fixed.  I'll keep monitoring in case the situation changes, but it looks to be corrected.  NOTE: anyone expecting the Windows Update to fix this should instead go to the links above to download the driver directly as Windows Update does not correct the problem.
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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Anonymous allegedly strikes

According to, Anonymous defaced and posted a YouTube video describing their intentions (embedded in the article) to declare "war" on the U.S. government in response to Aaron Schwartz' suicide. 

They encouraged people to download "warheads" to be launched at supposedly vulnerable assets within U.S. government networks.

In the YouTube video, it shows a file name with the words "aes256" at the end, which I guess means they files were encrypted with aes256. The video also advertises the location where you can download these alleged "warheads," which is just a pastebin link. Once you visit the pastebin link, you see a text file calling for action on Twitter as well as mirror sites from which you can directly download these "warheads."

Out of curiosity for what these alleged warheads contained, I fired up Firefox with NoScript and HTTPFox activated to see if the access to the warheads was just a front to compromise some systems. The first mirror I tried delivered a 503 service unavailable message, meaning either the site was taken down on the server or it crashed from too many people trying to access the files. The other three mirror sites are currently still active. I visited one to download a file.

With HTTPFox loaded, I can see there are no secondary scripts or modules loaded, and no XSS calls. The request is just a standard GET request. The scary part is that there were no file extensions, but the server offers the files up as "text/plain" mime-types.

These files each appear to be over 100 MB and are delivered as text files. The text is rendering in the browser, completely encrypted. The sizes are broken out as follows:

Scalia.Warhead1 - 150MB

Kennedy.Warhead1 - 108.3MB

Thomas.Warhead1 - 150MB

Ginsburg.Warhead1 - 150MB

Breyer.Warhead1 - 150MB

Roberts.Warhead1 - 22.7MB

Alito.Warhead1 - 150MB

Kagan.Warhead1 - 132.7MB

The different file sizes could mean different things. Maybe during their upload they were truncated due to early disconnect from whoever uploaded them, I'm not sure. It seems the common factor is 150MB.

Forensics analysts, please step forward...
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

FoxFi acquired by PDAnet

I have a Samsung Galaxy Nexus LTE (SCH-i515), and my go-to app for WiFi tethering since Summer 2012 has been FoxFi. FoxFi originally only had one version, which was free. When activated, it sets up a wireless router instance on your phone. Fortunately, it's pre-set to use 802.11n and WPA2-PSK. All you have to do is accept the default SSID (FoxFi73) or create your own, set the password, activate it, and then connect to that SSID from your tablet/laptop. With an LTE phone and depending on the coverage zone, the speeds are better than a FiOS connection! I was in downtown Miami, FL last October and had download speeds of 28Mbps!

Anyway, FoxFi and its free use was an amazing ride. Some time in November, I received a pop-up when launching the app (after an update) that FoxFi was no longer solely free. You could continue to use the limited free version, which appeared to be on a time-based quota, but you had to restart the connection once you notice that it failed. Alternatively, you could purchase the unlock key to get unrestricted access for $7.

"What about rooting your phone so you don't have to pay anything?" you might ask. To that I answer, I was lazy. Plus, I thought the app was great and it got me out of a crappy internet connection otherwise when I was in Florida, so I went ahead and purchased the full version to support the developer. Fast forward a few months and this week I get a new pop-up every time I open the app that FoxFi is now under the PDAnet umbrella. Version 4.0 of PDAnet, published by June Fabrics, appears to incorporate FoxFi with its USB tethering capability. Anyone who's already purchased the FoxFi unlock can retain the unlimited tethering, but for newbies, the price is now $9.95. Still not a bad price, all things considered; especially since it's a one-time fee. 

If you're like me, and you don't want to have to go through the hassle of rooting your phone to get free tethering, skip a meal and spend the $10 on the app instead. Happy tethering!
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Friday, January 4, 2013

Office 2013: Impressions after Day 1

The install is pretty standard.  The new aspect to the install is that you now have an option to either enter a product key or enter in your domain account to complete the process.  I chose the product key option, but I'm assuming the domain account allows end users to perform approved installs without having to pre-stage the product key.  It probably calls out for a domain level license administrator service.  I'll do more research on that aspect down the road.

Load Times:
I'm impressed with the speed of loading any app of the suite.  A nice test for this was opening a 6MB Visio file from a network share.  It took about 3 seconds in Office 2013, whereas in Office 2007 I was waiting about 10 seconds on average.

Bells and Whistles:
The suite allows users to choose from a set of themes for Ribbon decoration (meh).

What I'm most currently excited about is Excel.  Finally!  Microsoft has at last given us the ability to open Excel spreadsheets in two separate windows without any special tweaks!  In prior Office versions, it took a registry hack to be able to accomplish it.  For those with dual monitor setups, you can now easily have one Excel spreadsheet on the left monitor and one Excel on the right monitor!

I'll post more as I discover other features.
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