This is the time of year when presents are exchanged all across the world. Sometimes those presents are a home Ethernet network. Sometimes wired, sometimes not. Here is some guidance to help you stay safe while joining the wired world. Nothing hard and fast, and clearly I’m not a trained safety or health professional, so if in doubt consult somebody who is.
- Wired vs Wireless. There are times when the choice is made for you. Hand held gaming products are all Wireless. But things like digital video records for television have both, with wireless being an after purchase add-on on some models. Don’t get me wrong, I love Wireless. I just think Wired has some advantages. Like speed. Tapping into a wired network is much harder than a wireless one. I know the wires can be scary, but you’d be surprised how easy they are to run. I wired my own house for 1 Gigabit Ethernet, and it wasn’t that bad. The hard part was going into the crawl space (Spiders!) and figuring out how to go between the first and second floors (I went down in a closet so nobody can see), but it took less than a day to do. Make sure you obey all local building codes; you don’t want to get into any trouble. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, consult a professional.
- Security. If you go wireless, don’t name your Wireless Access Point (WAP) with anything that can track back to you. Let’s say somebody wants to do something mean to you, having a WAP named “Dougs House” would make it easier for them to do something via YOUR network. Is ID 21358973 your house or your neighbors? A small thing of course, but sometimes it is the small things that make people into victims. Enforce passwords on all computers in your house, even the kids’ computers. The sooner they know about security the better they will be at it later. Teach them that only a responsible caregiver, like mom and/or dad ever get their password, and that might be even be age dependant. Consider using filter software to keep the more adult portions of the internet at bay. Consult your local school districts to see if they have classes for adults on internet usage for teens, and other internet topics. The price for a safe internet family is eternal vigilance, but with a little bit of help and education you can keep things safe. And fun.
- Limits. Computer usage can be addictive. Negotiate time and amount of usage and stick to them. Making sure to limit content to age appropriate material can help avoid other addictions related to the internet. This is a family blog, so I won’t link to them, but that should give you an idea about it. Also, computers are a good way to avoid making real world friends. Real world social networks help prevent bullying and round out personalities. They are good for getting into contact with friends that were left behind after moving, but moderation is a good principle. I got a great piece of advice from my junior level programming class (don’t ask when ;)): Computers are a way to make a living, they are not a way of life. Use them as the tool they are. Don’t make them into your friend.
Happy end of the year to everybody!
Thanks for making this year the Wired blog’s best so far!