How can we stop neighbours stealing our MBs?

by George Skarbek - 11th October 2005

To look at the book, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here

Q: How can we stop neighbours stealing download allowances from our wireless network?

A: There are several steps that you can take to make your network quite secure. First, change the default administrators router password; otherwise, if a hacker gets in, he or she can do anything. Then enable WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption and use the highest level available, typically 128bit. Periodically change the WEP keys.

Change the SSID (Service Set Identifier) so the default is not used and ensure that all computers use this SSID. Most wireless routers broadcast the SSID every few seconds to allow clients to dynamically discover the network.

From the router, you should disable the SSID broadcast, as once set up in your home it is not necessary to keep broadcasting it. This will prevent casual users from finding your network. Enable MAC (Media Access Control) address filtering. A MAC address is a 12-digit unique code assigned to each Ethernet card. This will only permit access to users with specific MAC addresses to access your router and deny network requests from others. To find out the MAC address of the computers in your house, for each computer open a DOS box by clicking Start, Run and enter CMD, then in the DOS box type IPCONFIG /ALL and look for the line Physical Address... and enter the characters such as 00-60-67-76-FC-EF of the permitted user.

Finally, enable your firewall. Finally, ensure that you have enabled your firewall. Although no wireless network can be considered to be 100% secure, I feel that if you have enabled all of the above steps, your neighbours are not likely to gain access to your network.

Q: I am curious to know what files like this are: <~PDT1025.tmp> There are six of them, all about 1MB, and they are in a partition containing my personal folders.

A: These are computer-generated junk files that should have been deleted when the program closed normally. If the program or Windows hangs and a reboot is required, these files are left behind. They are of no use and can be safely deleted. Having only six such files is not unusual although there can be hundreds of them.

If you are running Windows XP, look in the folder C:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\Local Settings\Temp as this is where most of these junk files are. Note that this is a hidden folder, so if you cannot see the Local Settings when looking with Windows Explorer then click on Tools, Folder Options and then click on the View tab and then click on Show Hidden Files and Folders. In most cases, all files in that folder and sub-folders can be deleted.

If you are using Windows 98 then look under C:\Windows\Temp for these junk files. If you have deleted about 1000 of more files, even if they are zero bytes long, I suggest running disk defragmenting. You may then see a slight improvement in performance.


Q: When I open JPEGs from email they open with Microsoft Photo Editor. How do I make them by default open with Windows Picture Viewer?

A: To automatically open a program when double-clicking on it, that file extension must be re-associated with your desired program as the program does not analyse the image headers but looks at the file extension. The re-association has to be done from Windows and the wording on the dialogue boxes will vary a bit depending on the version of Windows.

To re-associate a file type: highlight the wanted file with a mouse left click; right-click on the selected file; select Open With and then select Choose a Program; select the required program from the list and check the Always open with this program.

You may also consider using the excellent free program IrfanView to view your images. You can download it from: or Also consider downloading Picasa from Google.


To look at the book, Computer Guide, based on these columns click here