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NC #620 Apple Watch Swimming, Standard Mac Apps, BrainPort Visualization Through the Tongue, eSight Low Vision Glasses, Non-tech Podcasts, GhostReader, BeatsX

Allister here standing in for Allison this week. I have a miniature review of using the Apple Watch Series 2 for swim workouts, I’ll quickly review 26 Mac Apps you didn’t know you already had, Allison will pop by with two more videos from the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, I’ll make some recommendations for podcasts you might want to listen to that aren’t about technology, Terry delivers on his callout from Allison with a review of GhostReader text to speech software, and I’ll finish up with a review of the BeatsX Bluetooth earbuds with Apple W1 chip.


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26 Mac Apps You Didn’t Know You Had

macOS Launchpad – Other folderOften when Allison puts out a call for material for the show, I’ll take a look at my installed Mac apps via Launchpad to see if there’s anything relatively new that’s worth a review. Faced with the prospect of sourcing an entire show, I did the same thing, but what I noticed was not something new. In fact, it’s a whole lot of somethings and they’re all quite old.

There’s a folder on the default Launchpad configuration called “Other” which contains all 17 applications from the Utility folder that lives inside your Applications folder, plus 9 other applications that aren’t usually featured in Apple promotional materials.

I thought it might be useful to listeners if I quickly ran through what’s in there and maybe you’ll discover something useful you didn’t know you had. Continue reading “26 Mac Apps You Didn’t Know You Had”

Printers are Jerks

Hp d110 printerYou’ve heard me moan and complain about printing before, and I’m sure you have your own horror stories, so let’s face it, printers are jerks.

When last we left our hero, she was complaining that she still couldn’t wirelessly scan and believed that her friend Pat had been dipping into the cooking sherry a little too often when she claimed it was even possible to scan over WiFi. Continue reading “Printers are Jerks”

3 Networks + MoCA + TiVos

barts diagram on taking control from verizon routerBack in August of 2013, Bart helped me figure out how to wrest control from the Verizon Actiontec FiOS router and let my Airport Extreme control my network. It was non-obvious, so he drew a diagram that I turned into a full tutorial per his instructions. The basic idea is to disable WiFi on the Verizon router, and have it simply pass out IP addresses using DHCP and send traffic straight through to the Airport Extreme. We also set the DMZ on the Verizon router to a static IP and passed that right to the Airport. The purpose of that step was to eliminate the requirement to do port forwarding on both routers if I ever needed to access something inside the network.

All of this worked great, I was able to pretty much ignore the Verizon router for the last three years.

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NC #601 Mini Metro, Turning off UPnP, Trekz Titanium AfterShokz, New MacBooks Pro Diagram, CarPlay

This week we’ve got the Mini Metro iOS and Mac game review by Allister Jenks, tutorials on how to turn off NAT-PMP and UPnP on your router so you don’t become part of the botnet, Trekz Titanium Headphone review from AfterShokz by Bart Busschots, a handy diagram to explain the crazy new lineup of MacBooks Pro, and a review of CarPlay by Dorothy R.


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How to Turn Off NAT-PMP and UPnP on Your Router

A few weeks back after the disastrous distributed denial of service attack on the DNS servers was found to have been caused by insecure Internet of Things devices, Bart suggested that we turn off automatic port forwarding. This is a technology that is built into routers that allows devices (and software) inside your network to punch holes through your firewall in order to talk to the Internet. The advantage of this technology is that you don’t have to understand or even know what port forwarding is in order to get your devices and software to work. Unfortunately, we’ve learned that our IoT devices are often spectacularly insecure. For example, there are devices with hard-coded Secure Shell (SSH) usernames and passwords that were largely responsible for the denial of service attack.

This automated port forwarding I’m describing on most routers is called UPnP, and on Apple routers they use a similar protocol called NAT-PMP. Bart recommended that we turn this service off, and only open ports manually when we know why they need to be opened. I have both a Netgear router and an Apple router, so I thought it might be helpful if I posted tutorials on how to turn off UPnP via the web interface on the Netgear router, and NAT-PMP from the Airport Utility. Thanks to Allister Jenks for helping put together the instructions for turning off NAT-PMP from an iOS device for the Airport. And of course we made the tutorials with my favorite app, Clarify.

Here’s links to the three tutorials:

Real World Bandwidth Test: Netgear Nighthawk X8 vs Airport Extreme

Airport extreme vs netgear nighthawk x8Back in April I told you about the new router I bought, the Nighthawk X8 from Netgear. I bought this router for two reasons. I already had an Airport Extreme 802.11ac router with beam forming antennas, but after talking to Bart about how insecure the Internet of Things devices are, I wanted to run two parallel networks. The second reason is because it sounded really cool.

Just a few weeks ago, Denise Crown did a review of the same router for us. She’s a serious network nerd (Masters degree in Telecom) so I really liked hearing her perspective on it.

One thing neither of us did was any kind of network speed tests to see whether a) we needed this router and b) whether the new router improved speeds or reduced dead spots in our homes. We had both been influenced by Dave Hamilton of the Mac Geek Gab where he talks a lot about routers. I reached out to Dave and asked him what he uses to check network speeds. I knew that while running speedtest.net was a relatively good way to test your Internet speeds, it wasn’t a good way to test the speed of your internal network. Since the speed test was going through Internet and back, it had far too many variables involved.

Before we dig into the tests, let’s review the devices. The Airport Extreme is the current model, which has internal beam-forming antennas. It’s only a dual-band router, with one radio for 2.4 GHz and another for 5 GHz. The Nighthawk X8 is a tri-band router with two 5 GHz radios and one for 2.4 GHz. By having two 5 GHz radios the Nighthawk can send and receive at the same time. It also sports four internal antennas and four active external antennas. That all sounds swell, but at 1.7x as much money for the Nighthawk X8 over the Airport Extreme, let’s see how they perform relative to each other in real world testing. Continue reading “Real World Bandwidth Test: Netgear Nighthawk X8 vs Airport Extreme”

NC #586 Health Devices, Netgear X8 Router, Netgear EX6200 Range Extender, Tucano Macbook Case, Bespecular

Forbes Allison Steve first meetThe NosillaCastaways take over the show this week since Steve and I were off meeting our new grandchild, Forbes. We’ve got Pat Dengler telling us about health gadgets: Ease Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor made by iHealth, AliveCor Cardia Mobile ECG for Apple and Android devices, and the iHealth Align Glucometer for Apple and Android. George from Tulsa tells us about his new Netgear EX 6200 AC1200 Range Extender and how it improved his network. Denise Crown talks about her new Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Smart WiFi Router. Allister Jenks of the Sitting Duck Podcast tells us about the Tucano Elements Second Skin for MacBook 12″. Darrell Shandrow Hillaker of the blindaccessjournal.com tells us about a really cool accessibility app called Bespecular from bespecular.com that lets a blind person take a photo of something and have sighted volunteers describe it to them.


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Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Smart WiFi Router by Denise Crown

Guest post by Denise (@Deverelle) Crown

Netgear nighthawk x8 ac5300Well Castaways, it was time to replace our router.

Our ISP caps our bandwidth to 450 GB per month and several times a year they assert we use double this or more. We don’t stream a lot of movies, our cloud data is pretty static, and we have a stupidly complex password, so this runaway bandwidth is a mystery I cannot solve with our aged Airport Express router.

We also need the ability to manage a lot of WiFi devices.

The wiring closet is at the far back of the house, which has always caused connectivity problems in the front of the house.

Wanting a router that would be current for a few years, I chose the tri-band Netgear Nighthawk X8 AC5300 Smart WiFi Router. I purchased it on Amazon using Allison’s banner and paid a whopping $359.99. It’s definitely an investment.

As the dedicated network and software tech in my house, I dreaded this project like the plague. I removed all the old equipment, crossed my fingers and plugged in this huge beast.
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AirPort Firmware Update

Airport information screenI’m really lucky to know Steve’s dad, Ken. You may remember him from his video appearance entitled “Octogenarian Talks 1Password”. He’s not super technical but he is VERY motivated towards security. He works really hard to understand the risks of online computing and to do whatever he can to mitigate these risks. He’s actually a great example to us all.

A while ago, Ken wrote me a message telling me that his AirPort Extreme had a blinking amber light on it instead of a solid green light. I looked at mine, and it was blinking amber as well. I unplugged it, waited 10 seconds and plugged it back in, and the light turned green. I wondered what it was but suggested my father-in-law do the same thing. He did and he got the green light as well.
Continue reading “AirPort Firmware Update”

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