Operating system

Disable WPAD in Windows to Stay Safe on Public Wi-Fi Networks

Web Proxy Auto-Discovery (WPAD) gives organizations a way to automatically configure a proxy server on your system. Windows enables this setting by default. Here’s why that’s a problem.

WPAD is really useful when an organization like your company or school needs to configure a proxy server for your connection to their network. It saves you from having to set things up yourself. However, WPAD can cause problems should you connect to a malicious public Wi-FI network. With WPAD enabled, that Wi-Fi network can automatically configure a proxy server in Windows. All your web browsing traffic would be routed through the proxy server while you’re connected to the Wi-Fi network—potentially exposing sensitive data. Most operating systems support WPAD. The problem is that in Windows, WPAD is enabled by default. It’s a potentially dangerous setting, and it should not be enabled unless you really need it.

WPAD, Explained

Proxy servers—not to be confused with virtual private networks (VPNs)—are sometimes required to browse the web on some business or school networks. When you configure a proxy server on your system, your system will send your browsing traffic through the proxy server rather than directly to the websites you visit. This allows organizations to perform web filtering and caching, and may be necessary to bypass the firewalls on some networks.

The WPAD protocol is designed to allow organizations to easily provide proxy settings to all devices that connect to the network. The organization can place a WPAD configuration file in a standard place, and when WPAD is enabled, your computer or other device checks to see if there’s WPAD proxy information provided by the network. Your device then automatically uses whatever settings the proxy auto-configuration (PAC) file provides, sending all traffic on the current network through the proxy server.

Windows vs. Other Operating Systems

While WPAD might be a useful feature on some business and school networks, it can cause big problems on public Wi-Fi networks. You don’t want your computer to automatically configure a proxy…

Can You Game on a Mac?

Macs have a lot of advantages. Maybe you like the simplicity of macOS, the sexy industrial design, or work in a creative field where they’re pretty much a requirement. But if you’re also a gamer, you may be wondering: can they handle the games you want to play as well as Windows?

Can You Play Games on a Mac?

Macs are made of the same components as any other PC. They’re just an Intel x86 computer in a fancier case with a different operating system. This means there’s no real hardware barrier to gaming on a Mac. It’s not like a PC has some magic video game component that your Mac lacks.

However, Macs aren’t exactly designed for gaming. The discrete graphics cards used in the high-end Macs aren’t all that great, and you don’t have the choice of the more powerful graphics cards you would in some Windows PCs. The Mac Pro is an exception, which carries a decent graphics card inside, but it’ll cost you a lot more than a comparable Windows PC would.

These graphics cards are also soldered in, so there’s no way to upgrade them a year or two down the line—even on desktops like the iMac or Mac Pro. Windows desktops are more upgradeable in this respect.

Entry level Macs don’t have dedicated graphics cards at all—they have integrated graphics chips that are even more asthmatic. They might reach the absolute minimum requirements of some popular modern games, but just barely.

There’s no way you’ll be able to play new games at full resolution with all the detail settings cranked up, even with a specced-out iMac—but they are technically capable of playing many games. Even a MacBook Air can play Minecraft. But, although it’s possible, is it worth doing?

A Mac is never going to be as good for gaming as a dedicated Windows PC, especially for the price. Even a Mac Pro can’t compete with a gaming-focused rig that costs a quarter of the Mac Pro’s $2999 price tag. If you’re serious about having the best gaming experience, your Mac isn’t going to cut it. Build your own gaming PC or buy a console and be done with it!

If you’re looking to casually play the occasional game, though, a Mac may suffice. I travel a lot, and only have my MacBook with me when I do. I’m away from my beloved PlayStation 4 for months at a time. My MacBook is able to give me a small gaming fix. It might be more methadone than heroin, but it’s something.

What Games Are Available?

The biggest issue with gaming on a Mac, though, is game availability. Windows’ DirectX APIs are incredibly popular with game developers. They don’t have any equivalents on macOS, which makes it harder for developers to port their games. Because…

What’s the Difference Between Bash, Zsh, and Other Linux Shells?

Most Linux distributions include the bash shell by default, but you could also switch to another shell environment. Zsh is a particularly popular alternative, and there are other shells, like ash, dash, fish, and tcsh. But what’s the difference, and why are there so many?

What Do Shells Do?

When you sign in at the command line or launch a terminal window on Linux, the system launches the shell program. Shells offer a standard way of extending the command line environment. You can swap out the default shell for another one, if you like.

The first shell environment was the Thompson Shell, developed at Bell Labs and released in 1971. Shell environments have been building on the concept ever since, adding a variety of new features, functionality, and speed improvements.

For example, Bash offers command and file name completion, advanced scripting features, a command history, configurable colors, command aliases, and a variety of other features that weren’t available back in 1971 when the first shell was released.

The shell is also used in the background by various system services. Linux distributions include many functions written as shell scripts. These scripts are commands and other advanced shell scripting functions run through the shell environment.

Shells Leading Up to Bash: sh, csh, tsh, and ksh

The most prominent progenitor of modern shells is the Bourne shell—also known as “sh”—which was named after its creator Stephen Bourne who worked at AT&T’s Bell Labs. Released in 1979, it became the default command-interpreter in Unix because of its support for command substitution, piping, variables, condition testing, and looping, along with other features. It did not offer much customization for users, and didn’t support such modern niceties as aliases, command completion, and shell functions (though this last one was eventually added).

The C shell, or “csh”, was developed in the late 1970s by Bill Joy at University of California, Berkley. It added a lot of interactive elements with which users could control their systems, like aliases (shortcuts for long commands), job management abilities, command history, and more. It was modeled off the C programming language, which the Unix operating system itself was written in. This also meant that users of the Bourne shell had to learn C so they could enter commands in it. In addition, csh had quite a few bugs that had to be hammered out by users and creators alike over a large period of time. People ended up using the Bourne shell for scripts because it handled non-interactive commands better, but stuck with the C shell for normal use.

Over time, lots of people fixed bugs in and added features to the C shell, culminating in an improved version of csh known as “tcsh”. But csh was still the default in Unix-based computers, and had added some non-standard features. David Korn from Bell Labs worked on the KornShell, or “ksh”, which tried to improve the situation by being backwards-compatible with the Bourne shell’s language but adding many features from the csh shell. It was released in 1983, but under a proprietary license. It wasn’t free software until the 2000s, when it was released under various open-source licenses.

The Birth of bash

The Portable Operating System Interface for Unix, or POSIX, was another response to the hectic proprietary csh implementations. It successfully created a standard for command interpretation (among other things) and eventually mirrored a lot of the features in the KornShell. At the same time, the GNU Project was attempting to create a free, Unix-compatible operating system. The GNU Project developed a free software shell to be part of its free operating system and named it the “Bourne Again Shell”,…

This Tiny PC That Fits in Your Pocket

Nearly everybody is packing quite a bit of processing power on their smartphone or tablet, but there’s a new piece of tech that’s smaller and even more powerful than anything you can get at the phone store. The Ockel Sirius B pocket PC is as powerful as a desktop computer, but it’s so small that you can carry it along with you while you work, study, or travel.

The simple design hides a powerful device, one that can run Windows 10 and includes 2GB of RAM, high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity, and the ability to connect to other…