A handy alternative to “jGFL84^&JF3H*%GB46512”

By | September 3, 2018
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It works again! Woo-hoo!  Hoo-blinkin-rah!

Sorry – got carried away there. You see, for the last few weeks we’ve been without the internet at home. It started off by going slowly (slower than usual – and it was already pretty slow), then went off for a bit, came back again, went off, came back and then went off and stayed off.

Quite a few people in the area nearby had similar problems.

I went through the fun of ringing TalkTalk (for a phone company, they really should have better phone lines) and explaining the problem and eventually got an engineer booked in to come out a week or so later.  And now we have the internet at home again.

In fact we have faster internet than before as they’ve set up a new, much better connection. Which needs a new router – which brings me onto my first point…

(First though, I should say it’s been quite interesting being without the internet. It’s surprising how often I use it for little things like checking the weather forecast or what’s on next week at Muncaster Castle or answering some random question from the boys.)

As I say, we needed a new router with our new broadband connection. And since we have quite a few devices at home that connect to the internet, they all needed to be reconnected to the wifi on the new router.

If you’ve only got one or two devices, the normal way to connect is to go into the wifi settings (it may even bring it up automatically when it finds the wifi), choose the wifi that’s yours (not your neighbour’s) and type in a password.

Often the password that’s already set up is written on the bottom of the router. On our new one, it’s written on a little card that slots into the router. That way you can take the card with you to your PC and type it in, rather than having to memorise it for 5 minutes or copy it down or have someone else reading it off the router and shouting it out to you down the hall while you type it into the computer!

As I say, with one or two devices, that’s not too bad. But the passwords tend to be something like “jGFL84^&JF3H*%GB46512” rather than something like “cat” so it’s fiddly to do, particularly on a small phone screen. And if you get one letter or number wrong it won’t work and you have to try again.

Which is why router manufacturers came up with another idea – the “WPS button”. It stands for “Wifi protected setup” and it’s an alternative to typing in the password.

The way it works is you go into the wifi settings on your tablet, phone, PC or whatever and instead of typing in the password, you tap that button on the router. The router then connects with any device that’s trying to find it at that very moment and stays connected with it, without you having to type in the password.

It’s secure because it’ll only let in any device trying to connect at that very moment – for someone to hack in using this they’d have to try to hack in at the very moment you press the button – and they’d need to be in wifi range to do it. So they’d have to spend an awful long time stood outside your house with a laptop hoping you’d press the button soon!

And it’s much easier than typing in a long password.

You can use it on most devices. Some of them will say “type in the wifi password or you can connect using the WPS button on your router”. Others (Windows 10 for example) will just say “or you can connect using the button on your router” without mentioning WPS – but that’s the one they mean.

Other devices might not mention it at all, but it might still work if you press it when the box to type the password into comes up on your phone, tablet or PC screen.

Incidentally, the WPS button is usually labelled on the router, often on the back of it. It’s often very small, though, so look carefully or you might miss it!  If you accidentally press the on/off button instead, don’t worry, just press it again to turn it back on and wait a minute or two while it starts up.

30 or 40 years ago…
The other day I was reading a book I’d found that was written back in the late 1800s, forecasting what life would be like in the late 1900s. From the dress sense to there being no cities it wasn’t exactly spot on…

But I do find it interesting to see what people thought life would be like.

And Mike pointed me in the direction of something the BBC have put online – a series of TV programmes (and other bits and pieces) from the 1980s all about computers and how they were going to change the world. Some of it they got right and some of it was a bit more, well, speculative.

I’m not sure if they’re planning on leaving these programmes up or whether they’ll just be up for this month but if you fancy watching any, they’re here.

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