13 Ways to Boost Broadband Speed

When your broadband speed drops, the first entity to blame is your broadband service provider. But it’s not always their fault.  There are other factors like outdated hardware, problems with your wireless modem, or software glitches  which can significantly lower the speed of your connection. There are things you can do to fix the problems on your end. Check to see if any of these problems are causing a drop in speed and correct them to enjoy a boost in broadband speed.

 1. Update your browser – Are you still using an old version of Internet Explorer? It’s time to download the latest versions of Web browsers like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox that can help you get an immediate boost in your broadband experience.

2. Change your wireless modem’s location – Place your wireless modem in a place where it is not behind any obstacles or obstruction. The modem should be far away from other interfering signals in order to deliver the highest speed.  Walls, cupboards and doors will impair reception. Baby monitors and other electronic devices that emit wireless signals might interfere with broadband signals. Place the router and modem near your computer and in direct line of sight with your Web browsing device.

3. Change wireless settings – Your wireless router has a number of settings. Go through the user manual and tweak the controls to improve your broadband speed. For example, when you change the wireless channel to a different one from that of your neighbors, your browsing speed will go up. Sharing the same channel with multiple users leads to interference and a drop in broadband speed.

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4. Secure your network – A disadvantage of an unsecured wireless router or modem is that anyone in your neighborhood can log in to your network and use it. It is a security risk and your speed falls too when there are multiple users sharing the same connection, especially when others use it to download movies and videos. It’s easy to fix this.  Secure your network with a password.

5. Background processes – There are tons of computing processes running in the background on your computer, including automatic software updates for programs, anti-virus scanning software, music and video players, instant chat and messaging services like Skype, and other applications which eat into your computing and broadband speed. Some processes ask for permission before accessing the web, while others don’t.  You can manually turn off these applications to free up broadband bandwidth.  Make sure you don’t accidentally turn off virus protection!

6. Get an iPlate – This is broadband accelerator which cuts out interference and boosts speed by 60 percent for British Telecom customers. It may not work with other service providers, but is worth a try since it only costs 5 pounds and is easy to connect.

7. Update hardware – Updating your routers, modems and other old hardware will improve your broadband use. Change old wires and cables if they have been cut or crushed in many places. Connect an external antenna even if your modem has one built-in because this boosts speed by six times. Modern routers are powerful and feature-rich, but are expensive. Ask your provider for a replacement if you are a loyal long-term customer and are stuck with the ancient model they first set you up with.

8. Switch to a wired connection – Wireless broadband is usually slower than a wired connection. If your broadband speed is slow and you don’t require the mobility of a wireless network, you could try connecting the modem with a cable run directly to computer.

9. Don’t use extension cables –  Faulty extension cables are the worst offenders in reducing broadband speed. Coiled and twisted cables slow down the signals they transmit. Use shorter cable of better quality to get fast broadband speeds.

10. Use micro-filters to connect to the telephone – Connect extension phones, faxes and other devices through micro filters. This helps cut out interference which affects broadband speed.

11. Check for electrical interference – Faulty electrical lines and connections are known to adversely impact broadband speed. Place your modem and router away from electrical lines and other known sources of interference.

12. Update virus protection software – Viruses try to find weaknesses in your firewall and take over or damage your computer files and programs. Many people fall victim to malicious programs that take control of their devices. These viruses can also slow down your broadband speed as they usurp programs to run their own processes in the background. Keep your anti-virus protection up to date to prevent such attacks.

13. Know your download limit – Many Internet service providers cap broadband speeds if you exceed the monthly download limit of your usage plan. This typically happens towards the end of a month or billing cycle. Your provider might send you a warning if you have exceeded the usage allowance. In this case, your broadband speed will automatically increase at the beginning of the next month.

What Will the Classroom of the Future Look Like?

The traditional image of a classroom is one teacher with about 20 students lined up in neat little rows of desks. A chalkboard is prominent in the front of the room, while students attentively scan their over-sized textbooks for information. Recent technological innovations are rapidly changing the landscape of the classroom, already replacing many chalkboards with interactive whiteboards and giving more students access to computers. With all of these changes occurring rapidly, what does the future of the classroom look like?

Net Zero Campuses
Alternative energy is hot, and schools are looking to reap its cost-saving benefits. Susan Smith, vice-president of the architectural design firm Corgan Associates, reports that more schools are turning to alternative energy, like solar and wind, to power their schools. Individual classrooms will become more efficient and greener, having fewer outlets and using more charging stations. The classrooms will be equipped with sensors that modulate light, based on how much natural light is coming through the windows. Geothermal heaters will warm water in bathrooms and the cafeteria.

Flexible Spaces
The Journal envisions spaces that could quickly be adapted to meet the needs of individuals, small groups and even several classes of students. Classrooms will have move-able walls to accommodate several instructors and as many as 60 students. Traditional desks will be replaced with learning pods so that students can embrace a more project-based curriculum.

The Whiteboard
Interactive white boards (like Smart Board) have already found their place into many classrooms, and they will be even more prevalent in the future. Rather than single, stationary boards positioned at the front of the classroom, the longest wall or multiple walls will be interactive for teacher and student use.

Goodbye, Textbooks
The reality is that most textbooks are cumbersome, pricey and become outdated quickly. Some schools are already using iPads and netbooks, and these devices will become more popular in the future. Students will use tablets to access their textbooks, complete their homework and submit their assignments. Paper will be obsolete, as students will take their quizzes and tests on their mobile devices. This will also make it more difficult for students to “misplace” their homework.

Virtual Learning
More students will take online classes, if not receive the bulk of their education at home via their computer. Virtual learning (or Hybrid Learning) will also have a more prominent place in traditional school environments, offering students electives that they would not normally be able to access, like instruction in Chinese. Virtual field trips will transport students to faraway places in real time, like the Congo or Stonehenge. Who knows, maybe they will see it all in 3-D? Virtual learning does not mean that education will be less hands on. Technology will enable students to engage in more simulations — after all, why dissect a real animal?

A Global Education
Technology can connect us to almost any part of the world, bringing us closer together, which presents some remarkable opportunities for the classroom. Students can learn together in Afghanistan and Oregon, breaking down ethnic divides and encouraging students to become more open minded and worldly. There will be no more “us and them,” because the globe will become one giant classroom.

53 Of The Best Tech Blogs Out There

On Twitter yesterday, I asked my followers for some of their favorite blogs. I got some great answers, which I’ll share, but what was more interesting to me was how many people were in my situation: liking reading blogs, and finding it harder and harder to find new good ones.

I’ve also realized that, for most people, blogs are still a totally foreign concept. We don’t know how to find good ones, how to use those to find others, or how to connect to this whole crazy blogging world. I think that’s why the reactions to my lists of great business blogs and great blogs for foodies were hits.

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Un-Tech: Google Reader and RSS

2865644230_18535bd4a5 This article is part of a series I’m calling “Un-Tech,” in which two non-techies (my parents) take a fresh look at some of our favorite Web applications. Their experience and perspective, I think, can help us to better understand how people understand the Web.

This week, I invited my Dad, Joey, to try Google Reader. No more instructions than that. Here’s his experience:

I love Google, and I enjoy reading, so I clicked on Google Reader with a bit of technological excitement—another step toward the cool 2.0 Life! What I got, though, didn’t exactly keep the heart pumping. Instead of great insight, thoughtful correspondence and expert analysis, I got “Customize Your Friend List.”

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One Business Model I Hope Catches On

Post by David Pierce. Find me on Twitter.

netflix

It’s time for me to come clean about something: I loved the Sex and the City movie. I just watched it for the first time the other night, and am now unabashedly a fan.

One of the things I loved about the movie – in addition to romance, happiness, love and joy and merriment – was the mention of a really cool website called Bag Borrow or Steal. In the movie, Carrie’s assistant has no money, but a gorgeous bag (I actually don’t know what kind… I promise). Carrie asks her how she afforded such an expensive accessory, and she (Jennifer Hudson) mentions Bag Borrow or Steal.

Out of curiosity, I went to check out the website. Basically, it works like this: you “rent” bags, watches, sunglasses or jewelry. Instead of paying $250 for a bag you’ll use a couple of times, you pay $12 to rent it for a week. In addition, you pay a small membership fee. When you return one bag, you get another one. The New York Times called it “The Net Flix for Bags!” and that’s a fairly apt description.

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Online Tech Support That Actually Helps

Explore

When your tech gadgets go wrong on you- and I say when, not if- you’ll inevitably be looking for tech support from the manufacturer. When they fail you- again, when- you’ll turn to Google. This is a long, arduous process that is helpful for few and fun for none.

FixYa, a growing social tech support site, wants to help. FixYa’s goal is to be a one-stop support site for all manner of technological devices. They’ve compiled manuals, tips and tricks, and a forum for asking and solving questions. If you ask a question, it will be answered by one of FixYa’s “experts,” who are paid for their knowledge, and are usually right on. There’s a rating service in which you rate the helpfulness and accuracy of a particular solution, so you can figure out who really does know what they’re talking about.


There are a number of ways to navigate the site. You can ask a question from the front page, and FixYa tries to find people who’ve asked similar questions to yours. Poke through, and you can find a lot of solutions. Different experts will often answer the same question, and that’s when you want to pay particular attention to their ratings. If you don’t find anything there, you click “let one of your experts solve your problem!” As I write this, FixYa has 161 experts online, apparently just waiting to solve my problem. You ask your question, and FixYa lets you know when your answer is ready. Looking through, most answers are pretty good, save the few obnoxious people who call themselves experts.

If you don’t want to ask a question, you can just type in your product name. You’ll get common questions asked, questions needing to be answered, tips and tricks for your device, and then the necessary advertisements. The ads that are there, though, are unobtrusive and really didn’t bother me.

The neat thing about FixYa is that it’s the place to start, regardless of your problem. You can create an account and store all the products you own, and then go hunting when one breaks. As more people come on, more people ask and answer questions, it can be a really useful tool. It seems there’s no one on Earth satisfied with the existing tech support for the gadget world, and FixYa’s about the best option I’ve found out there.

Find FixYa here, and apply to be a paid expert here.

The Present and Future, in 10 Easy Videos

Watch

The Technology, Entertainment, and Design conference every year, better known as TED, is something I’m a big fan of, and something I’ve written about before (here). All the talks from the conference are online, and there’s some really good stuff there

It is, however, intimidating to watch all these videos. Too many people smarter than I am hurt my brain if I watch them all at once.


With that in mind, TED released the Top Ten TedTalks. More than just a perfect alliteration, it’s a compliation of the ten best talks ever seen at the TED Conference.

If you have time for nothing else, watch a couple of these. From Al Gore on climate change to Jeff Han on the iPhone’s coming, there’s a ton of good stuff here. 50 million people have watched the videos on the TED site (here), and you certainly won’t regret watching at least a couple of these top 10.

If you don’t even want to leave the site, here’s Jeff Han talking about the touchscreen that changed the cellphone world, before it did so.