How to reroute wireless signals, resize windows, revamp VoIP quality
There are a number of travel routers that are capable of receiving a wireless signal from a hotel or other hot spot and then broadcasting it to laptops.
Special to The Seattle Times
Q: I have a question that I am not sure has an answer. My wife and I travel a lot, and each have a laptop. Needless to say, we use motel/hotel wireless a lot. Even the better-class hotels have unprotected wireless setups or passwords that are more or less advertised to all.
I used to have an old Linksys WRT54G router we took along, but about 90 percent of the hotels have no wired connections nowadays.
My question: Is there a router on the market that is capable of receiving a wireless signal from a hotel or other hot spot and then broadcasting it to our laptops? Sure would make computing from a hotel safer, huh?
— Joe Black
A: Excellent question! And, yes, there's an answer. There are a number of travel routers on the market that do just what you want — and more!
One example is ZuniDigital's ZuniConnect Travel Router. The device is about the size of a smartphone and weighs a tad over 2 ounces. You can use it to connect either to wired or wireless Internet sources. And it also has two ports for charging USB devices, which is handy for those on the road.
The unit supports 802.11b/g/n. You can also configure the router to employ WPA2, WDS with TKIP and AES encryption, NAT, a DHCP server, and MDI/MDIX Auto-switching.
The router retails for $72.95. And unlike travel routers from wireless carriers, you don't need to buy a service plan and pay monthly charges.
Q: What suggestions do you have for getting the cleanest and most reliable call quality when using the Internet? I understand that there are certain things a user can do to help make Skype calls more reliable. Can you share what they are, and then offer other services to look at?
— Dan Kennedy
A: There are quite a few steps you can take to improve VoIP — Voice over Internet Protocol — service.
The most critical factor is the quality of your Internet service. But we're not just talking about speed. You also want to pick a service provider with the lowest signal latency.
Second, don't use a wireless connection between your router and your VoIP equipment.
Check your router/firewall. Some units slow things down considerably. Temporarily bypass your router to see if you need to acquire a faster unit. Also, make sure your router supports QoS packet prioritization so that you can give your VoIP calls the highest priority.
With respect to Skype in particular, it is recommended that you run it on Linux rather than Windows. (You don't have to change your computer. You can install Linux to a flash drive and then install Skype there.)
Note: A number of readers helpfully responded to a recent item from a reader who asked how to prevent browser windows from resizing (Q&A, June 16). While none of us is really sure which resizing behavior the reader was referring to, respondents did cite some resizing features in Windows 7 that I did not mention. They are definitely worth talking about.
First, if you drag a browser window to the top of the screen, Windows will automatically maximize the browser window to fill the entire screen.
Also, if you drag that window to the left or right, when the mouse cursor hits the side, Windows will resize the browser window to fill half the screen on that side. Thanks to those who took the time to write to me on this.
More columns at www.seattletimes.com/qa.