Archive for March, 2013

Techie Tip of the Week: Top 5 Home Wireless Networking Tips

Friday, March 29th, 2013

So, you bought a wireless router and hooked it up to your DSL or cable modem. But you’re not getting the connectivity you expected. What went wrong?

Here are the top 5 things you should check:

  1. Location of your wireless router. The higher you can place your router, the happier you’ll be. Wireless signals work best when there’s no interference with metal or other dense objects. If you place your router up high, away from the other objects in the room, the signal will go farther.
  2. Stay away from windows. Glass has a tendency to bounce wireless signals around, do placing your router near a window may cause the signal to quickly degrade and you’ll be unhappy with the result.
  3. Use repeaters or extra routers to send signals throughout the home. Wireless signals can’t travel through metal and have a hard time going through dense objects or glass. Using repeaters (which take the signal and repeat it) can help bring connectivity to locations that otherwise might be lost.
  4. Change the default channel. Your microwave oven, wireless telephone, or gaming console might be interfering with your router’s signal. Changing the frequency your router uses is a simple fix.
  5. Use security and a good password. Without using applying security to your network, you’re making your computers and other connected devices open to attack from hackers (not to mention neighbors seeking “free” Internet access). Be sure to set your router’s security and don’t just use the default passwords.

Techie Tip of the Week: 5 Alternatives to Google Reader

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Recently, Google announced that they are discontinuing their free online RSS reader, Google Reader.

What to do? Here are 5 alternatives to meet your RSS needs:

  1. Did you like the version of Google Reader that existed when they launched the product back in 2005? If so, you’ll love The Old Reader. As they say on their website, “it’s just like the old Google Reader, only better”!
  2. Want a simple, clean interface displaying your favorite news articles in a simple, easy-to-view and easy-to-update reader? Skimr may be just what you need and want.
  3. Feedly is a great alternative to Google Reader that works on all platforms — Desktop, Tablet, and Phone. Try it out at: 
  4. Another great alternative that works on all platforms is Pulse. Try it out at:
  5. Most modern email programs also allow you to view and subscribe to RSS feeds:


Techie Tip of the Week: Installing WordPress Plugins on Stanford’s Web Servers

Friday, March 15th, 2013

Because the Stanford web servers require encryption using SFTP, and WordPress’s built-in method of installing and implementing a plug-in uses FTPS, you cannot install plugins from directly within WordPress.

Instead, you need to manually install the plugin.

Here’s what you need to do:

1) Download the plugin to your Desktop.

2) Unzip the plugin.

3) Open an SFTP program like SecureFX or Fetch, log in, and change the plugin directory for your WP instance:

The directory should be something like “/afs/ir/group/groupname/cgi-bin/wordpressdirectory/wp-content/plugins” (substitute groupname for your real group name; wordpressdirectory for your real WP directory name)

4) Drag the plugin folder from your Desktop to the Remote Site side of SecureFX/Fetch.

5) In WordPress, go to your Dashboard (

6) Click Plugins.

7) Locate the installed plugin and click Activate.

Your plugin is now activated!

Techie Tip of the Week: Creating Email Aliases Using the + Key

Friday, March 8th, 2013

Many email providers, including Stanford, Gmail, and Hotmail, allow you to use an email address by simply adding a + sign at the end of your username and then adding text before the @ symbol.

For example, if your email address is, you could use the alias

Regardless of the letters or numbers you put at the end of the + sign, the email will be sent to your Stanford email address (or Gmail or Hotmail, if you use those email providers).

So why would you use this?

Suppose you’re a professor in the Psychology department. You teach classes in psych1, psych2, and psych3. You could tell your students that your email address is:

  • for the students in Psych1
  • for the students in Psych2
  • for the students in Psych3

Then, using email filters (rules), you could divert email sent to to a folder or tag named psych1.

Or, you could use the email address when you sign up at banking sites, when you sign up for social media sites, etc.

Best part? You don’t need to sign up for anything to use this service — you can just go ahead and use it!

Techie Tip of the Week: Updating a WordPress Site via a Mobile Device

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Need to update your WordPress site but only have access to your phone or tablet? No problem! (Assuming you’ve configured your WordPress site to allow you to update via a mobile device, that is.)

Option A: Use the web browser

  • One option is to use the device’s browser and point it to your wp-admin login.
  • Note: this is the same method you’d use to update your site using a desktop/laptop computer. (e.g.,

Option B: Use the WordPress app

  1. Download and install the WordPress app. (Available in the App Store and Google Play).
  2. Configure your WordPress site to allow remote publishing via the XML-RPC method:
    1. Using a web browser, log into your WordPress site as an administrator.
    2. In the Dashboard, click Settings.
    3. In Settings, click Writing.

    4. In Writing, in Remote Publishing, check the XML-RPC box.

  3. In the WordPress app, log into your site. You can now update your posts, pages, and other content using the app!