Category Archives: VPN

Technology and the Olympics

If you want to keep up with the Olympic standings and info on all the competitors, there is an app for that. Samsung has done a great job with their app.

For a non Spanish speaker, one of the annoyances is having to watch the Olympics with Spanish commentators.

I decided to see what I could find on the Internet. NBC has streaming in the U.S., but you have to have U.S. cable to see it. Bummer.

Then I found that BBC was streaming the live events. BBC doesn’t have their streaming requiring cable, but you do have to be in England.

I decided to configure my router VPN location to London. Bingo! I now can select the live event I want to watch and am getting the broadcast in English. Granted, it is the British form of English, but better for my ears than Spanish.

It is not perfect. I am getting some spooling, but it is still watchable. The benefits are English, and I can select the live event I want to watch.

I do live in David and have Cable Onda for my Internet. My contract is for 4MB and I get pretty close. Under VPN I get less, and I am getting less with the London server, than the San Francisco server I usually use.

This is the first time I have found a need to use a server outside the U.S. and it has been a good test.

WiTopia Renewal

I am completing my first year using WiTopia’s CloakBox on the 12th of June. Today, I just paid my next year’s renewal fee of $99. I am still happy with the service. Their site said it was going to be $129 for the second year and I was surprised when the cost was $99.

At $99 a year that costs me $8.25 a month or just 27 cents a day to have the benefit of having access to sites that I would not have access to because I live in Panama. WiTopia’s plans for single PCs start at $39 a year.

CloakBox is WiTopia’s VPN service provided via a router and is therefore available on all PCs that are connected to my router.

WiTopia was the second VPN provider that I tried and they have done nothing to make me regret my decision. If you are not familiar with the benefits of having a VPN, you can read this post.

The renewal process was pretty painless. I just signed onto their site and clicked on my renewal notice in my account. I used PayPal which allowed me to use Discover. This gives me an additional 2% discount.

I have no problem streaming video or musical content over the Internet. If you have a bandwidth challenged Internet provider, then a VPN might not work for you.

Loaning An iPad – Security Issues

I have a friend that is going to borrow my iPad. While I had no problem with this individual testing the iPad, it was the first time that I had to consider the security issues of such a request.

Here were some of the issues that came to mind.

First, my iPad is never connected to my WiFi router in an unsecured manner. It it were, all data that would be sent from the iPad to the router would be able to be seen by anyone with a simple sniffer application. When I traveled on our last vacation I also used the WiTopia VPN, which created a secure link to the Internet. You can read more about VPN’s HERE. For more information, use the VPN Tag.

Second, the iPad is not currently set up to be shared. It is a one person device. It is not like a laptop, which can have a guest sign-on. Anyone using an iPad can look at anything the owner has stored on the device.

I have always kept my information safe from theft. I use a security code to secure my iPad. It is a familiar number to me, but not one that I would just give out. The security code protects my information from the loss or theft of my iPad. If anyone tries to use the iPad and enters an incorrect security code ten time then the device erases all data within the iPad.

To solve this problem of my security code, while it is on loan, I just turned off the security code feature.

Next, I keep lots of information within my iPad. The iPad is not a toy like I consider many of its rivals. It is more than a book reader, a game player or an email client, even though it is all of those things too.

Continue reading Loaning An iPad – Security Issues

CloakBox Update

I think it is about time to give some more feedback on my WiTopia CloakBox that I wrote about June 24.  This is the new technology I installed to provide VPN to all of my Internet connected devices. The types of devices I have connected are my primary PC, a Mac Mini connected to my TV for video streaming, a PS3, an iPad, and a wireless laptop.

I am happy to report as of today it is running very stable and I am a happy camper.

The router did not perform as I wanted right out of the box. It seemed to have freeze-ups that would occur and the only way to remove them was to reboot the box by unplugging it and replugging it.

However, the problems once again pointed out another thing I have repeatedly found in dealing with WiTopia. Their customer service has been topnotch. They have an online chat capability and have always been available to work with me.

Now that I am running stable, let me take you through more of the process since I received the box.

WiTopia is now shipping a different router than they originally used. They now use a Buffalo router and it is a sleek looking box as pictured above. As far as I can tell most of the online documentation that WiTopia sent me while making configuration changes were for a previous manufacturer other than Buffalo. While most routers work similar, the differences in the routers made the instructions confusing. Continue reading CloakBox Update

ASUS Bamboo Laptop Arrives

I received an email yesterday around three PM, from Multiservicios Internacionales De Chiriquí, telling me that the Natalie’s laptop had arrived. I jumped into my car and ran over to pick it up. My bill to get it from the U.S. to David was $102. $49 was the Panama taxes and the rest was shipping from Florida to Panama City and then transportation from Panama City to David.

I can’t complain about that.

Before I move on to the laptop, let me give you a little more information about Mail Forwarding Services. Not all places on the Internet will accept an order and ship to Mail Forwarders. This was the case with B&H Photo where I ordered the ASUS laptop.

When I placed the order, I was notified that the order had been rejected because B&H did not ship anything to mail forwarders. Amazon has never refused me, but this laptop was going to cost much from Amazon.

I contacted a friend in the U.S. and asked if I could have it shipped to him and have him ship it to me. He said he would and I re-ordered with the shipping address changed to his address. Now the order went through. I can understand B&H’s concern.

My order took a little longer to get here via Multiservicios Internacionales De Chiriquí, but the price made up for the time.

Now to new purchase. I received a double boxed shipment. The outer box was put on by my friend removing the outer box from B&H. The following photo is the original ASUS package.

Continue reading ASUS Bamboo Laptop Arrives

Traveling With An iPad

I am getting closer to being able to post some of the photos of the trip. Yesterday, I made it through the more than 1,000 photos I took and deleted all that were of too poor quality. I have a few videos from the trip as well.

While on the trip, I occasionally backed up all photos to my iPad. I purchased two extra camera memory chips and returned home with photos on the memory chips as well as the iPad. I only bought 8GB memory because I didn’t want too much on any single chip. If a chip goes bad, you are going to lose everything on it. 8GB still is plenty of memory. I never came close to filling a chip. I used all chips just for security reasons.

Photos on an iPad really make it easy to show family and friends the sights that you have seen. It is much nicer than having to watch them on a PC monitor. You can just pass the iPad around.

This trip was the first I have made with my iPad other than the U.S. trip last August. It was a good test of an iPad as a laptop replacement for traveling. Continue reading Traveling With An iPad

New Hacking Tools Pose Bigger Threats to Wi-Fi Users

Here is another article from the New York Times on the growing dangers of Wi-Fi insecurity. People in this part of the world seem to think that they are immune from the dangers, because they think it is only 1st world countries that have the technology to sniff out your information.

Think again, because the technology is getting cheaper and more available everyday. Cities like Boquete and Panama City, whose tourist trade continues to grow, would be a prime targets. Some spots in David, such as TGI Fridays and McDonald’s, would also be prime targets.

Everyone using the Internet needs to be practicing Safe Internet Intercourse. There are several things you can do.

  1. Use a stronger password. Many people think that using cute words such as superman or panamapete are fine. They are not. A strong password should be at lead 8 characters long and contain both upper and lower case letters as well as numbers and special characters. So how do you take a simple password and harden it without making it difficulty to remember? It is not tough. How about $uper123Man as a replacement for superman or Panama123%ete for panamapete. A simple substitution of characters in your current passwords will be adequate.
  2. Don’t connect to Wi-Fi that does not use WAP encryption. If your hotel or favorite restaurant has an unsafe connection, talk to them about hardening their connection. If the connection uses WEP encryption, it is not enough. How will you know if it is WEP? The password will be specified as WEP or WAP. WAP is more secure.
  3. Consider using a VPN. What is your peace of mind worth? My VPN, WiTopia, costs me $69 a year. That allows as me to protect regular PCs using a Windows, Apple or Linux operating system, as well as my iPad.
  4. If you have a home Wi-Fi, turn off the broadcast mode. With broadcast on, anyone driving down the street can see if there are Wi-Fi systems available. If your network can’t be seen, it is harder to be hacked. If your router provides a guest channel, don’t use the same password as your primary channel.
  5. Always keep your OS current on fixes. ALL operating systems are vulnerable, but the most vulnerable are those that are never maintained.
  6. Keep your Anti Virus current. On my Windows PC I use Microsoft Security Essentials. It is free and very good. I have never had a virus on any Windows OS I have owned, but I am meticulous with my maintenance. If you think you are immune because you own a MAC, think again. One of the last Apple updates was the largest security fix release it had ever done. And with MAC gaining market share, its threat level increases. The same is true with Linux.

Remember my new acronym SII, and practice Safe Internet Intercourse. I don’t condom condone anything else.


The Previous Post Caused Me To Get Off My Butt

Since I am planning on taking my iPad with me on all trips, I remembered that I haven’t taken care of the problem of needing to use it in some situations where the WiFi is not secure. I hadn’t worried about it up until now because I always had plenty of hotels that had secure connections. In my entire trip to the US, I only had one hotel that did not secure their WiFi.

With the upcoming trip to Spain and Rome, I thought I might have more problems, so I decided to solve the problem. On my desktop PC, I run WiTopia VPN. It is the same system I put on Natalie’s PC when she was going to China. It has been a godsend for her.

The version I had purchased before did not include support for an iPad as I hadn’t even considered an iPad when I bought the WiTopia support. I contacted WiTopia and added support for my iPad. It took about 10 minutes to set it up and it works great. I can now listen to Pandora Radio on my iPad now.

But the best thing is that I no longer have to avoid WiFi locations that are not secure. I just activate the VPN. I really have to compliment WiTopia. They have been the most responsive company I have ever worked with.

iPad News Warns – Exercise Caution When Using Your iPad at Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

I just read the following article on iPad News. I have written about the dangers of unprotected Wi-Fi sites before, but it won’t hurt to do it again. I was at La Tipica restaurant yesterday and tried my iPad and found a wifi connection and it was non secure and I just turned off my wifi connection. You should read this whether you have an iPad or not. Using a laptop/netbook, of any manufacturer, is just as vulnerable.

I haven’t yet purchased VPN for my iPad, but maybe it is time to do a search before the trip.

Here is the iPad News article.