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  1. Free Intercom for Home or Office

    December 18, 2012 by Karl

    intercom berry berry berry berry


    This post will show you how to use the computers in your home or office as a free intercom system!

    After recently moving my office from the main floor down to a newly finished room in the basement, we ran into a bit of a problem.  Now anyone who wanted to talk to the other had to walk from one end of the house to the other, go up or down the steps, and then walk all the way to the other end of the house again to talk.  We have two phone lines in the house, so in theory we could call the other, but this just wasn’t working for us.  What we needed was an intercom.

    I wasn’t looking for anything fancy. I just wanted something to go from basement to first floor, wired or wireless, didn’t make any difference to me. I could run either. The cheapest ones I found online were over $50, and they had terrible ratings. The better ones were over $100. This just wasn’t going to fit in the budget. I could make my own, but the cost of the parts would have been about the same, and I would have had lots of labor involved.

    Discouraged, I started making plans to use some two-way radios that we had been given. They would need to be on all the time, so batteries would be used up quickly if I didn’t wire them directly into the wall. I weeded through my pile of wall warts (the heavy things that you plug into the wall to power electronics) and found two of the proper voltage rating. I made some modifications to the two radios to allow the wall warts to power them instead of batteries, and plugged them in. The result was two radios that worked, but there was so much noise from the unfiltered power source that it made them unusable.  Back to the drawing board.

    I started thinking about all the technology that we had in this house. We have wireless phones, but they are incompatible for an intercom system. Suddenly it hit me….. why not try something over the existing local area network we have set up in the house? We have computers in all the rooms where we would want to communicate. There MUST be something out there!

    Sure enough, a few keystrokes later, and I found my solution. It’s called (surprisingly enough) Intercom, and it is completely FREE! (this fits me perfectly)

    I downloaded the software from the link above, and within a few minutes had our intercom system working. Just a note, you do need to have Microsoft .NET Framework 1.1 installed on your computer, and your computer will need to have speakers and a microphone in order for it to work. In my case we only have one microphone, but I improvised and plugged a set of headphones into the microphone jack and used them as a microphone until I bought one. I was planning to buy one anyway, so that just increased the need a little. Most laptops have microphones built into them now, so if you have a laptop you are probably set.

    I’m always a little leery of downloading freeware from the internet, but there are a few online freeware warehouses that I have some level of trust for. Softpedia is one of them. Just to be certain, I ran several virus scans on my computer after downloading it and they all came up clean. It never hurts to run a scan to double-check.

    Once downloaded, the application does not have a self install option.  It downloads as a zipped folder, so you need to unzip it. If your computer does not have a zip tool, you can download and install peazip for free.

    Next you will need to find a convenient place to put this folder.  I put it directly in the root of the C drive.

    The folder contains a PDF file which explains the whole process very nicely.  Please open that PDF file and read about how to use the application.

    If you have any trouble using this application, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I will help out if I can.

    Also, don’t forget to check out my other posts!

    Free intercom for PC to PC conversations on LAN. from on Vimeo.

  2. How hackers hack, and how to stop it

    November 9, 2012 by Karl

    padlock berry berry berryberryberry


    This article will outline the basic errors most of us make with our on-line passwords, and recommend a few changes and some free software to keep track of them all.  This can save you lots of time and money down the road.

    First let me provide a few statistics:  According to Sophos, one-third of computer users choose a single password for everything.  According to BitDefender, 75 percent of computer users choose the same password for their email and social media (facebook) accounts.

    What does this mean?  For a majority of people, all a hacker needs to do is figure out a person’s facebook password, and they now have access to many of their other accounts.  They could sit on those passwords for weeks, months, or years before doing anything with them.  Your passwords may have been  stolen without you even knowing about it!

    How do hackers figure out passwords to social media?  The most popular method is through phishing.  All those cute pictures of cats that you click on that land you on another page, could very easily be attempting to steal your password, especially if you see a facebook login screen asking you to re-login to facebook (which does happen legitimately from time to time).  Phishing for passwords on facebook is surprisingly easy.  I have been truly shocked in the reading that I have done on the subject.

    Why do we use simple passwords?  Well, we want something we can remember.  It’s also so much easier if we use the same password for everything, right?

    Here are a few more statistics: Using software to try random digit combinations, hackers can find a 6 digit password in about 5 minutes.  They can find a 7 digit password in about 2 hours.  They can find an 8 digit password in about 2 days.  So the length of your password IS important.

    Most hackers, however, use a dictionary approach to finding your password.  This uses a long list of commonly used passwords such as “1234567” (the most popular), or “password”, or pet / spouse names, sometimes preceded or followed by some numbers.

    If you use one password for everything, you are at HIGH risk of being hacked.  If any of your passwords are less than 7 digits or you use one of the simple-to-remember dictionary passwords, you are at HIGH risk of being hacked.

    So what can we do to keep our accounts safe, but not forget what the passwords are?  I used to have a black file box that held all my passwords.  After a while this became cumbersome, and it also left me vulnerable if someone were to break into my house.  For the past 4 years I have been using KeePass to keep track of all my passwords.  KeePass is a free application that you can download and use for Windows, Mac, OS X, and Linux operating systems.  It is as safe as you can get.  Use the Professional Edition which has some more advanced features.

    Keepass is a free secure database that you keep on your computer that allows you to have quick access to all your password information.  You can categorize the passwords however you want.  It is a VERY nice tool for keeping track of your passwords.

    On the date of this post, I now have well over 300 passwords in KeePass, and they are very secure.  Check out the video below.

    How to download, install and use KeePass software from on Vimeo.