Installing dd-wrt on a Linksys WRT320N wireless router

Back in 2011 I switched ISPs to A&A, primarily because they support native IPv6. Incidentally, 3 years on I see that you still can’t get IPv6 from Zen, so I made the right choice by switching.

Windows has had IPv6 support included by default since 2006 (i.e. Vista onwards), so the missing piece of the puzzle was my wireless router (a Linksys WRT320N). Unfortunately, the built-in firmware doesn’t support IPv6. (Source: Linksys devices that support IPv6.)

So, I investigated open source alternatives. There are a few different firmware projects out there, which all seem to be based on Linux. According to the OpenWRT wiki, it isn’t supported on the WRT320N. However, the WRT320 is listed in the dd-wrt router database, so I chose that instead. JP Hellemons wrote about this in 2010 (How I upgraded my Linksys WRT320N to DD-WRT v24); he also checked Tomato and HyperWRT, and neither of those were compatible. However, apparently the NoUSB edition of Tomato USB does does support the WRT320N.

Just to forewarn anyone else who’s in a similar position, this isn’t a simple process. Here’s a good (valid) rant about how complex it is. I heard a good phrase a while ago: “Open source software is only free if your time is worthless.” I.e. if you assume that your time is valuable, consider how long it will take you to get a system working. Is it worth paying money to save yourself some time? For instance, in this case I could replace my router with a different model that has IPv6 support built in. (You will still need to invest some time in learning any system, but maybe you could reduce that from a day to an hour.)

In brief, I (eventually) got the router working fine with dd-wrt over IPv4. IPv6 took a bit longer; I’ve elaborated on that in another post (Native IPv6 in dd-wrt).

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Protecting passwords

When I created accounts with Facebook and LinkedIn, both websites asked me for my email password to help me find people I know. The idea is that they can log into my email account, go through my address book, then search their own database for people with matching email addresses. That would certainly be convenient, and save me some time, but I think it’s a very bad idea.

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Fake virus warnings

Someone called me earlier, because she had a big virus warning on her screen. This was actually a hoax (a web page trying to install malware), and it’s useful to be aware of it so that you know what to recognise.

I identified the website which was responsible, but it’s now been taken down. So, the purpose of this post is to warn you about similar sites rather than this site in particular. I observed the same behaviour in IE8 and Firefox 3.6.12 (on Windows 7), but I haven’t tried any other OS/browser.

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Online banking

In part 1 of my LUA series, I mentioned a virus that modified the HOSTS file on a PC. This meant that each time someone tried to connect to their banking website, they actually went to a fake website instead, even though they’d typed in the correct URL. This could also be a problem if your DNS server gets compromised, or if someone reconfigures your wireless router so that you use a rogue DNS server.

One way to protect yourself is to use https. If you know the correct address for the website, and you see a padlock in the address bar, you can be confident that this is the real site. (This isn’t an absolute guarantee, e.g. if your PC is infected by a virus then it could add some self-signed certificates to your trusted store. However, it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, lots of banks haven’t quite grasped this concept.

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Ribbon Hero

Microsoft recently released Ribbon Hero. This is an add-in for Office 2007 and Office 2010, and the idea is to earn points by completing challenges (e.g. formatting a table). In the process, you’ll become familiar with the new user interface. The name is obviously inspired by “Guitar Hero”, but I think it’s unlikely that this will be quite so much fun at parties. It does sound rather Dilbert-esque… “The room is hushed. He puts the title in bold, and the crowd goes wild! Encore!”

Still, it sounds like an interesting idea. According to ZDNet: “It taps into social and adaptive learning paradigms and important research on motivation and learning.” I know that a lot of people are reluctant to use Office 2007 because it looks so different, so I’m willing to give this a go. Unfortunately, it has some pretty fundamental problems, which make it completely useless to me.

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LUA part 4 (of 5): Changes in Windows Vista/7

This post is part 4 of a series about using a limited (standard) account in Windows for everyday activities rather than logging in as a computer administrator all the time. (You may want to read parts 1, 2, and 3 before continuing.)

When Microsoft released Windows Vista, they introduced a new feature: User Account Control (UAC). This basically meant that when you ran certain programs, you would get a message popping up, asking “Are you sure about this?” It’s fair to say that this wasn’t very popular; lots of people acted as though it was the return of Clippy. Quoting from one of Apple’s “I’m a Mac” adverts (YouTube): “He asks me to authorise pretty much anything I do.” However, if you actually understand what UAC is for then it’s quite useful, and I think that Vista is a definite improvement over Windows XP.

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LUA part 3 (of 5): Compatibility problems

This post is part 3 of a series about using a limited (standard) account in Windows for everyday activities rather than logging in as a computer administrator all the time. (You may want to read part 1 and part 2 before continuing.)

If you follow my advice and switch to a limited account, you may find that some of your programs stop working. This is annoying, but there are various ways to deal with it.

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LUA part 2 (of 5): Setting up separate accounts

In part 1 of this series, I explained why it’s a good idea to have separate accounts on your computer: a standard account for day to day stuff (e.g. reading email), and an administrator account for making system changes (e.g. installing new software).

In this part, I’m going to provide step by step instructions for setting this up on Windows XP. (The process is pretty similar for other versions of Windows.) There are lots of pictures here, to make it as simple as possible. This all applies to a home computer; it’s a bit different for a workplace, since all the accounts will be set up centrally by your IT department, and by default they will just be standard users on each PC.

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