Get a handle of what apps are on your company’s computers with WinAudit

Get a handle of what apps are on your company’s computers with this important Windows app.

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Networking is the heart of computing today. Most everyone that has a computer has internet access and most everyone with internet access in their home has a home network of some type. Everyone with a home network has computers on it, most likely, a number of computers, depending on the number of people living in the home and what they are doing with those computers. Keeping your PC safe from dodgy programs that are potentially malware ridden is important, and its why I like apps like WinAudit. It’s a security app for Windows networks.

WinAudit identifies the hardware and software installed on Windows based computers. The app identifies every aspect of your computer is examined. After the app examines the computers on your network, it generates an inventory report. The report is displayed as a web page, which can be saved or printed in a number of standard formats.

You can e-mail the inventory report to your technical support staff or even post the report to a database for archiving. When used in conjunction with its command line functionality, you can automate inventory administration at the network level. WinAudit supports the remote desktop and pre-installation environments.

This app is great at what it does, but its not for everyone. Most home networks aren’t going to be as restricted and monitored as a corporate network is. This app would be perfect for small businesses looking to get a handle on what is connected to the network that all of their proprietary data is accessed and stored. The price is certainly right; and if you do decide to use it at home, it will certainly do a good job for you, though at this stage of consumer computing development and use, while EXTREMELY beneficial, its likely overkill.

Download WinAudit

 

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Take control of your PC’s networking needs with HostsMan

Computing today is getting complicated. Having a secure, unhackable machine is something that everyone wants and needs; but isn’t likely realistic. However, you can take control of your computer and its networking needs with the right utilities and a little bit of knowledge. Since most PC’s are connected to some kind of LAN or WAN, it’s important to have some idea of where your PC goes for policy and naming directions. Utilities like HostsMan for Windows can be a help in areas like this.

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Most laptop or desktop computers using a “modern” operating system have a hosts file.  In most cases, end users won’t know what this is, or why it’s important to control.  The hosts file is one of several system objects that assist the user in addressing network nodes on a computer network. When things are working the way they should, most users won’t even think about their computer’s hosts file, though it is a common part of your PC’s operating system Internet Protocol (IP) implementation.  A hosts file translates human-friendly hostnames into IP addresses that identify and locate a host in an IP network. Simply put, it tells your computer where to go and what to do when it comes to networking.

In many cases, users that are aware of this type of need are often used to Domain Name System (DNS) protocols handling this need.  However, many systems customize this provision and implement name service switches. What’s important here is that unlike remote DNS servers that resolve names into IP numbers, the hosts file is located on the PC you’re using, and under your direct control, provided you have administrator rights to it.  This is where HostsMan comes in.

HostsMan is a freeware application that lets you manage your PC’s hosts file with ease. With it, you can update your hosts file.  You can enable/disable usage of the hosts file, or open it for editing with one click.  In many cases, it’s possible to have more than one hosts file on a single computer.  HostsMan allows you to merge two hosts files with its built-in hosts editor.

You can prevent other programs of writing to the file, scan it for errors, duplicates and possible hijacks; determine what host names you’re using and how many there are.  Before making modifications, you can easily create encrypted backups of your hosts file, resolve host names before they’re implemented, keep a log of the latest blocked sites, create an exclusions list and more.

Working with your computer’s hosts file isn’t always easy, and it’s not recommended unless you REALLY know what you’re doing and what your changes will do to your computer’s ability to connect to another computer, server or even to the internet.  The best rule here is that if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t do it. PERIOD.

HOWEVER, provided you have some basic networking knowledge and have a real need to find, and update the hosts file that your computer is actually using (and not just the one you found in a directory you were running through, looking for your hosts file…), HostsMan is probably one of the best utilities you can use to make proper and appropriate edits to the file. Its error checking functions are probably something that you’ll make a lot of use of if you run the app.  Having an encrypted backup that you can fall back on just in case you make a mistake and cut your PC off the internet is also something that you’ll find valuable.

download HostsMan

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Identify and troubleshoot wireless networking connections with inSSIDer

inssider_iconMost everything that computes today is wireless.  There’s more wireless networks broadcasting signals near where you are right now than you might think. The problem is, connecting to a network you’re authorized to connect to isn’t always easy. Its for this reason that apps like insider are an important part of any Windows utility toolbox.

inSSIDer for Home helps you measure the signal strength of available Wi-Fi signals and networks and attempts to estimate their performance. The app can show you how walls, stairways, and doors affect your wireless network coverage, and can most likely help you choose the best place to put your wireless router, access point or signal repeater.

All Wi-Fi must share channels with other electronic devices, including other wireless networks and signals.  If there are too many networks sharing or overlapping a channel, your network speed and performance can suffer. inSSIDer helps you find the best channel for your Wi-Fi network.

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Many local governments and municipalities may require your Wi-Fi signal to be secured.  Running your wireless network wide open so that anyone can use it isn’t really a good idea.  If you have a bandwidth cap, it can easily be exceeded.  There have also been reports of people hacking corporate networks with unsecured Wi-Fi signals.  Securing your network is important, and inSSIDer can help you set and determine which security settings your Wi-Fi is using, reducing the risk of unauthorized access into your home network.

iSSIDer is an interesting app. I wish I had something like this on the Mac side of the world. Its displays are cool, and provide you with the information it needs to get your network running well. I had a great deal of trouble installing the software however, especially on my Windows 8 machines (I have two…) It failed to install on both of them. The app requires .NET Framework to run, but does not include the components as part of the installation file, and it needs to.

download inSSIDer

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Meet new friends and find hot flirts with Qeep

Smartphones are really cool, but can be really expensive. Not everyone can afford the gadget and all the extra costs related to it. That’s why I like applications like Qeep. It’s a social networking app for a Brew based cell phone near you.

If you’ve got a Featurephone, or any other phone that is NOT a Smartphone, it’s likely running some form of Java, or Brew, as an operating system. It may or may not have applications on it; and depending on your cell carrier, you may or may not be able to put more applications on it. However, if you can send and receive text messages, you won’t be left out in the cold.

Qeep is a global social network for your Featurephone. Qeep is already the world’s leading mobile gaming & entertainment network; and its social network app, also called Qeep is easy to use. You can use it to play games, chat, send pictures & more.

Qeep looks like a really nice application. If you’re not using a Smartphone, chatting on FB, Twitter or via an IM app like Skype or AIM isn’t always possible. In many cases, you’re simply out of luck, as a similar app doesn’t exist for your phone, or may hit you with huge fees. Qeep won’t do that, as its free to use and makes use of your existing data or cell phone account.

Download Qeep

 

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The New Face of [Windows] Networking

Mobile computing is starting to make its influences felt beyond smartphones and tablets and is starting to influence the way desktop computers work. Here’s why this paradigm shift is important:

My first home was new construction in Murfreesboro, TN, a small bedroom town 35 or so miles south-southeast of Nashville. My wife and I purchased it in early 2004. The house had wired networking ports throughout the house. This was a big deal, as it made it easier to put computers and networked devices just about anywhere.

When we moved BACK to Chicago in 2006 when a job transferred us, we bought an older home that was not hard Ethernet wired. It made computing in different rooms a bit difficult in the new Chicago house until I found and installed a wireless 802.11g access point (802.11g was the fastest thing going at the time; and I already had a 4 port wired router and didn’t want a wireless router…the location of the cable modem wouldn’t allow a wireless signal to get to all parts of the house). But then again, this was almost six years ago. The face of computing has changed since then. This is no more clearly evident than in the acceleration of smartphone and tablet use throughout the world.

With today’s more mobile computing, computing devices have to be more adaptable, have to be smarter, have to be able to understand what they have built in, connected to them, etc., and be able to adjust how they work to provide the consistent performance regardless of what they have and where they are. Both 3G/4G/LTE smartphones and tablets do this very well. They provide a consistent computing experience regardless of the type and kind of networking radio they have on or are receiving an internet signal from. They can reroute IP traffic from their cellular radios to a Wi-Fi radio without missing a beat should a known Wi-Fi network come in range while the Wi-Fi radio is on.

We’re seeing this kind of networking intelligence in laptops now. Mac OS X has been doing this for a while now. I’m a Mac, and run Windows 7 via Parallels Desktop. I have a Henge Dock docking station for my Early 2011 15″ MacBook Pro. When I work in my home office, I put the laptop in the dock, which has permanently connected cables for all available peripherals, including a wired network connection.

When I’m on the go, I use the PC’s Wi-Fi adapter to go online. When I’m at home in my office, I use wired Ethernet. My Mac is smart enough to drop the IP address held by the wireless adapter when it finds an active, wired Ethernet connection. The Wi-Fi adapter will acquire an IP address when the wired Ethernet is unplugged. This is managed at the OS level, and like (most of) the rest of OS X, just works.

Windows 8 also seems to have this same level of intelligence built into it at the OS level. With its improved battery life methods and processes built in, users don’t necessarily have to turn Wi-Fi on or off to either conserve power, or to prevent the PC from “getting confused” over which adapter to use for networking traffic.

This development is important, because I’ve noticed that its becoming easier to order a desktop PC with a Wi-Fi card in it. Many of the (perhaps) iMac inspired, all in one, touch based PC’s, from Dell or HP for example, come with both wired and wireless networking built in. Of course, laptops have had both networking adapters in them for years; and Microsoft is going to make Windows 8 the default OS, not only for the 30+ tablets due out this Fall, but for all Windows hardware. Users aren’t going to want to worry about turning things on and off (airplane mode aside) just to insure that they can get online without “confusing” their PC.

So, I’m off to rebuild my Windows 8 PC… Stay tuned to Soft32 for continued Windows 8 coverage.

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