Categories
Networking Technology

How To Set Up A Budget Home Entertainment Network

For many, the word “server” brings to mind an intimidating stack of unidentifiable devices with endless flashes of light. But in reality, a server can be that very basic featured, very old laptop or desktop computer you have gathering dust in a corner of your home.

Wikipaedia defines a Home Server as a server located in a private residence providing services to other devices inside or outside the household through a home network or the Internet. Such services may include file and printer serving, media center serving, web serving (host your website from your home!), and backup services. Because of the relatively low number of computers on a typical home network, a home server commonly does not require significant computing power and can be implemented with a re-purposed, older computer, or a plug computer. An uninterrupted power supply (UPS) or Power Inverter is sometimes used in case of power outages that can possibly corrupt data.

Server in the home has witnessed increasing popularity in recent years. And for good reasons too.

So, what exactly would you be needing a server for in a home?

If you are like most people today, you have multiple home computers connected in a wireless network. You also have lots and lots of media files — digital photos, music, and videos — stored on each of these computers. Even though all your computers are connected, it is difficult to share or stream these media files from one PC to another.

Personally, I opted for a home server for the following reasons;

  • Centralized storage of my files. This gives you easy access to these files from multiple devices.
  • My boys love watching movies on their tablets. Problem is, there is only so much movies these tablets can contain. My home server gives them access to about 1TB of animated movies, streamed flawlessly to their devices.
  • Nothing beats watching CBT Nugget video files, downloaded video files or even stream Youtube videos directly to your big screen.
  • If you are the paranoid type, you can do away with Dropbox and the likes and host your sensitive files in your home. Access them over the Internet too!

The funny thing is, you get to achieve all these for next to nothing, using mostly existing hardware.

Find below a basic network diagram of my home entertainment network. Nice, aint it?

Drawing1

Over the next few posts, we are going to discuss about each component of this network and how to get them all set up.

 

Categories
Advertorial Hosting Technology

Surdoc – Free 100GB Online Storage For Everyone!

surdocMany are probably familiar with popular free cloud storage options available; 2GB from Dropbox, 5GB from Box and SugarSync, 7GB from SkyDrive and 15GB from Google Drive but few are aware of the new kid on block, Surdoc.

This company has indeed raised the bar by offering a whooping 100GB cloud storage free to users, giving you the opportunity to back up from multiple devices into a single account. And that is not all, you can get up to 1TB free if you refer a friend (10GB for each friend that signs up), Tweet or Retweet Surdoc (1GB), Post or Share on Facebook (1GB) and answer a Survey (5GB).

To see just how much a 100GB account can hold, visit https://www.surdoc.com/get-100gb/

Both iOS and Android apps are available for you to sync media files from your mobile devices to the same cloud storage. This is in addition to the Windows and Mac applications that keep files on your computers continuously and automatically backed up online.

There is a caveat though. This 100GB offering is only free for a year, a yearly subscription of  US$30 is charged if you decide to continue using this service.

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

Android’s Killer Feature

It is no secret that Android has lots of good stuff going for it, but one of the platform’s most useful and distinguishing features is one you rarely hear discussed.

I’m talking about Android’s system-wide sharing capability — a process built into the operating system that many people take for granted. Android’s sharing function may not sound exciting, but don’t be fooled: It’s one of the most powerful and valuable components the OS has to offer.

Android’s sharing capability, known to developers as a form of “intent,” is about more than merely sharing in the social-oriented sense of the word. It’s a way for you to quickly and easily pass data between applications — anything from a Web page to a chunk of text or even an image.

The most important part about Android’s sharing system? Any application can take advantage of it; all a developer has to do is declare his program capable of receiving data, and boom: It’ll show up throughout the OS as a place to which data can be shared. That’s a sharp contrast to the setup on certain other (ahem) more restrictive mobile platforms, and the resulting difference in usability is enormous.

But enough geek-speak; let’s take a look at what this actually means in real-world terms. Here are a few ways you can make Android’s system-wide sharing work for you:

Android Sharing Menu• Tap and hold your finger on any text — in an email, on a Web page, or within most any application — and highlight a few sentences. Then tap the share icon (it looks like three dots connected together in the shape of a less-than-sign (“<“)) and you’ll see a list of apps to which the text can be sent.

With one more tap, you can beam the text directly into an app like Gmail, Google Drive, Dropbox, Google Voice, the stock text messaging tool, or practically any social application. There, you’ll be able to edit it, save it, and post/send it as applicable.

You can even share the text to Google itself to initiate a fast Web search — a great way to cross-reference information or get a definition on the fly.

• Tap the “Share” command in your phone’s Web browser. That’ll let you send the current page’s URL directly to any share-ready application — in order to share it with a colleague via email, for example, share it onto your favorite social service, or save it to a read-it-later tool like Pocket or a note-taking tool like Evernote. Everything’s interconnected — no extra steps or awkward app-toggling required.Android Photo Sharing

• Tap the share icon while viewing any image in your device’s Gallery. You can then send the image directly to a photo editing utility like Pixlr or Snapseed, where it’ll instantly pop up, ready to be fine-tuned. You can send it to a cloud storage service like Picasa, Dropbox, or Drive, where it’ll be saved to any remote folder you want. You can send it to pretty much any social app — a Facebook or Twitter client of your choice, Google+, or whatever floats your boat — and post it to your account right from there. Or you can send the image to Gmail or any text messaging app to attach it to an outgoing message.

• Tap the share icon next to a file in any file management application — whether a local file manager for your phone’s storage or a cloud file app like Dropbox or Drive — and you can send that file directly to any other storage service, be it cloud-based or local. You can send the file over to an app like Gmail as a new message attachment, too, or to any other share-ready service that makes sense in the context.

The possibilities are practically endless, but you get the idea. Once you get used to using Android’s system-wide share function, you’ll wonder how people — particularly those who use other (ahem) less accommodating mobile platforms — live without it and deal with data in such unintuitive ways. It’s a little thing, but man, it makes a big difference.

Computerworld

Categories
Hosting

Create Free Websites Using Your Dropbox Account

Owning a website is the norm nowadays. Whether to showcase yourself or your product, most people seem to have a reason (or more!) to own one. However, not many are willing to pay for this service.

If you are among this category of penny pinchers, you are in luck. I know just what you need – Dropbox! Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software. Dropbox allows users to create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronises so that it appears to be the same folder (with the same contents) regardless of the computer it is viewed on. Files placed in this folder are also accessible through a website and mobile phone applications.

site44Dropbox offers 2GB of this space free for everyone that signs on. In conjunction with site44.com, you have more than enough space needed for a website.

Follow the steps below and you will have your website running in a few minutes. It is simple:

  • Create a new Dropbox account or use an existing one.
  • Go to site44.com. Then click Sign in with Dropbox to get started
  • Click Allow to allow site44 to connect with your Dropbox account
  • You will be taken to a page on site44 where you can create your site
  • You have a choice of using a free site44 sub domain name for your website in the form artwales.site44.com or you can use your own domain name.
  • A new folder for your site will automatically be created in your Dropbox account.
  • You can modify the content of the folder to make changes to your site or you can upload website pages or templates to it.

Limitations

  • It is great for hosting small websites with static content like an online resume site, but it lacks several desirable features. It does not support any server side code like Java or PHP.
  • No, you can not host a blog on it.
  • The free package, unfortunately, is very limited in features – Maximum data transfer of 100MB in a month.
  • Premium packages are not competitively priced, you will be better off hosting your sites with a regular web host.

Free users can create up to 5, low-traffic pages in this site. Site44.com  is definitely not a replacement for fully equipped web hosting service, but for starters who don’t need all those features  and you use Dropbox anyway, then this is a good option. Do check it out!

Categories
Hack Hosting

How To Secure Your WordPress Blog – Part 3

The listed combination of plugins are recommended to make your WordPress blog more secure. The individual plugins may not be the best available, but the combination works very well for your site.

Word of caution here. My recommendations are based on the following assumptions:

– That what you have is a fresh wordpress installation. This would  work on an old installation too but there is a possibility that existing installed security plugins may be in conflict with some of my recommendations. So, please, proceed with caution.
– These installations are not one-offs. The developers usually release updates to keep abreast of new vulnerabilities. Always ensure that you update these plugins whenever the updates are available.
– Ensure your wordpress installation is updated regularly.
– Especially for old wordpress installations, i would suggest you test these plugins on a test server first before deploying it to your production or live site. A test server could be a sub domain on your main site but ,preferrably, an entirely different site.

You may direct issues you encounter through my twitter handle @diaryofageek

Backwpup

I consider this plugin as very key and probably the best defense against hack attacks or other forms of misadventures you may have on your blog. A good backup can return you back online within minutes of your site going offline.

Note: This plugin only backs up your blog site. Any other services available on your site, like emails, would not be backed up effectively. I do recommend you use Google Apps free email services for your email. This ensures that your email is always up, no matter what.

Backwpup comes highly recommended not because it does what it claims to do well, but because you get to enjoy an otherwise premium service for free. This plugin allows you to backup your blog to a local folder, email, remote ftp site (could be another shared hosting account) or, interestingly, a slew of free (and premium) online cloud services like Amazon S3, Google Storage, Microsoft Azure (Blob), RackSpaceCloud, Dropbox, SugarSync, etc.

The plugin can be scheduled to run backups on a regular basis with no input from you.

Bad Behaviour

Most hack attacks are not usually personal. These attacks are usually automated. These website cracking tools seek out blogs that still have known vulnerabilities that have not being patched.

Bad Behavior runs before your software on each request to your Web site, so if a spam bot does visit, it will receive nothing. When Bad Behavior looks at a request, it determines if the request matches a profile of known malicious or spammy activity, which falls outside the bounds of a normal human browsing the web. If so, the request is blocked.

BulletProof Security

BPS Free covers one very important aspect of website security – secure .htaccess files to block browser based hacking attempts. The best feature of the  plugin is that it is designed to be fast, simple and convenient.  It helps you to activate .htaccess website security from within your WordPress Blog’s Dashboard.

Login LockDown

Login LockDown records the IP address and timestamp of every failed WordPress login attempt. If more than a certain number of attempts are detected within a short period of time from the same IP range, then the login function is disabled for all requests from that range. This helps to prevent brute force password discovery, especially for the admin account. Currently the plugin defaults to a 1 hour lock out of an IP block after 3 failed login attempts within 5 minutes. This can be modified via the Options panel. Admisitrators can release locked out IP ranges manually from the panel.

The plugin has not been updated recently but it still does what it was intended to do very well.

TimThumb Vulnerability Scanner

Quite a number of wordpress themes, especially the fancy 3rd party ones, come with a programming code called Timthumb embedded in it. Unfortunately, hackers have exploited loopholes in this programming code to bring down a lot of wordpress blogs. You can read more about this here.

The Timthumb Vulnerability Scanner plugin will scan your entire blog for instances of any outdated and insecure version of the timthumb script, and give you the option to automatically upgrade them with a single click. Doing so will protect you from hackers looking to exploit this particular vulnerability.

WordPress File Monitor Plus

In case the undesired happens and someone breaks into your site, they will most likely add files to your site. These extra files can act as backdoors, which can potentially allow hackers to execute files from their own servers. These files can hijack your traffic, place unwanted ads or links on your pages and place malware on your visitors computers. This plugin monitors your WordPress installation for added/deleted/changed files. When a change is detected an email alert can be sent to a specified address.

While no claims are being made that these plugins would make your site “hack-proof”, it would definitely serve as a deterrent to a would-be opportunist hacker.

This list is by no means exhaustive, suggestions and recommendations are always welcome.

Categories
Entertainment

Find Digital Copies of Your User Guides

NEED THE INSTRUCTION guide for your laptop? Unless you’re one of those freakishly organized types, I’ll bet you have no idea where it is. And even if you do know its location, fetching it probably involves a visit to the attic or basement, digging through boxes, and so on. What a hassle.

Why not keep a digital library of your manuals instead? You could store them on your PC, your tablet, your smartphone, or anywhere else that’s convenient. You could even keep them in multiple locations—say, in a PDF viewer app on your iPad and in your universally accessible Dropbox account.

Okay, but how can you find the manuals for your particular printer, monitor, digital camera, and other items? You could go the brute-force route and comb each and every manufacturer’s website until you find the right guide for each piece of hardware you own, but I have a better suggestion: Head to Retrevo (retrevo.com).

Seek and Retrieve

The Retrevo site offers downloadable manuals for all kinds of electronics, from calculators and cell phones to TVs and remote controls. The only trick is to know where to find the site’s comprehensive listing of these resources.

Retrevo is primarily a shopping portal, and it carries a vast collection of product prices and reviews. In addition, it stores more than 100,000 manuals (in electronic form) for products across more than 1000 brands. When you reach the site, scroll down to the link for the User Manuals section.

Click through and you’ll see a section called ‘User Manuals for Popular Brands’. Click the brand you’re after, or click a letter to search alphabetically. Alternatively, you can browse by category or search for a particular product (an iPhone, for example).

When you do find the manual you want, you can easily download it as a PDF file.

If that approach doesn’t pan out, you can try running a Google search for PDFs that match your product make/model. For example, here’s a search string that I used in hunting for a PDF version of an iPod Touch user guide: ipod touch user guide filetype:pdf

Once you have amassed your electronic library of manuals, you can toss the old paper versions into the circular file (or park them in the recycling receptacle).

PCWorld Magazine – June 2012

Categories
Hosting

How to Install WordPress From Your iPad

WordPress and iPad are two pretty significant things in my life right now. Recently I bought my very first iPad and, inbetween playing World of Goo, making music on my Korg, and buying apps, I’ve been trying to figure out if I can replace my laptop with my iPad so it can be my number one on-the-go device. I want my iPad to be more than a toy and actually be useful beyond playing Solitaire (which is what I have done most of on my iPad).


This week, I want to see if I can build my brand new portfolio website using only my iPad. Everything, from installation, to images, graphics and content – can I do it on my iPad? I’ll be posting about it all week. As yet, I’m not quite sure how successful I will be so you could witness a massive flop.

In the first instance I thought “yeah, easy!” I went to download WordPress using Safari and realized that I couldn’t actually download the files as the iOS doesn’t have a native file system. Not so easy as I thought – spanner very much in works. But I endeavored and today have seen much success with installation. Let’s get to it:

Tutorial: Installing WordPress from your iPad

You could, if your web hosting offers it, install WordPress using Fantastico – one click and WordPress is installed. But that wouldn’t make for a very interesting post, and anyway, not everyone has access to Fantastico. Instead I knew I had to figure out a way to download WordPress, edit wp-config and FTP the whole thing back up onto my server. This would involve apps and it took a while to figure out the right tools, but I found them. Neither are free but these apps are cheap and definitely worth it.

iCab is a browser for your iPad. Unlike Safari, you can use it to download files and then transfer them to other programs such as Dropbox or your FTP. Not only that, but it uses tabbed browsing so you don’t have to keep zooming in and out of your browser to move pages.

Goodreader is an app for reading and editing files. It was built for docs, txt and pdf but it also has great FTP functionality which you can use to upload WordPress and other files on to your server. I did try out FTP on the Go but (after forking out £5.99 for it) I discovered that you can’t upload folders and the idea of recreating the whole file system on my server made my eyes hurt. That’ll teach me to read the reviews in the future.

Tip: A handy shortcut is to doubletap on your home button. This brings up a toolbar which makes it easy to navigate around your programs.

Let’s go through the normal WordPress installation sequence. I’m assuming that you have some knowledge of installing WordPress already:

1. Create your MySQL database

2. Open iCab and navigate to WordPress.org. Click Download

3. Click the Download icon in iCab:

4. Select “Open in external App”

5. Choose GoodReader. The file will be transferred to Goodreader.

6. Unzip the file

7. Find wp-config-sample.php. Select it and choose to view in TXT viewer

8. Add your database name, username and host.

9. Add your unique keys and salts. Save

10. Select “Manage Files”

11. Select wp-config-sample.php and then click rename.

12. Rename the file wp-config.php

13. Add an FTP server.

These will be your normal FTP details.

14. Tap on your server to connect

15. Navigate to the folder you want WordPress to live.

16. Upload.

This is so much slower than standard FTP so be prepared to wait. It took around 10 minutes for me.

17. Navigate to your domain. If you’re lucky you’ll get the install page. If you’re unlucky, like me, you’ll get a 500 Internal Server Error:

Poor me. Here it is in all it’s glory.

Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.
Please contact the server administrator, me@mysite.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.
More information about this error may be available in the server error log.
Additionally, a 500 Internal Server Error error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

To solve this problem I had to create and edit a .htaccess file. GoodReader doesn’t seem to like .htaccess and it adds a .txt onto the end. To solve this I downloaded a .htaccess file from another one of my sites via FTP and added the following code:

# BEGIN WordPress
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
# END WordPress

Then I uploaded the .htaccess file onto my server.

Hopefully you won’t have to go through all of this rigmarole. Instead you should visit your page and you’ll have the setup screen:

Fill in your details.

18. You are done!

A little bit more complex than the usual five minute install but it’s definitely do-able.

(wpmu.org)

– Posted using BlogPress

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

iPad – More Recommended Apps

At home, i have a WIFI network of about 7 devices (PCs and Mobile devices). This allow me to share scarce internet resources and peripherals between them.

My Android HTC TyTn II, for some reasons, thrives better in an unsecured WIFI network as it seems to have issues with WPA wireless security. Most times, i do leave my WIFI open using only MAC address filtering as the means of warding off intrusion. Unfortunately, this is not fool proof.

IP SCANNER is a network tool available on the iPad. I liken the app to a Police patrol car sweeping the streets at intervals, searching for miscreants. The app scans your network for connected devices, listing their IP addresses (I use static IP addressing for easy administration), MAC addresses and the name of the device. That way, you can easily detect any device that shouldn’t be part of your network.

TEXTFREE UNLIMITED (TEXT ONLY) / TEXTFREE WITH VOICE
This app allocates a US mobile number to your iPad with which you can send and receive unlimited text messages to mobile numbers in Nigeria and a bunch of other countries. Another app is TEXTFREE WITH VOICE which was designed for the iphone or ipod touch but works very well on the iPad. You can make calls to only US numbers, but you can also receive calls with the US number you were allocated with by Textfree . This is definitely a “must-have” app.

DROPBOX
The iPad does not have a file manager (like windows explorer) but a lot of apps have been trying to fill this gap, to a limited extent.
Dropbox allows you to sync files on your devices (PC, ipad, android devices, etc) with an online drive. That way, you always have your important documents with you. However, the GoodReader ($4.99) app is a much better alternative as it has the Dropbox and a host of other WIFI and internet drive access compability incorporated into it.

FILEBROWSER
Itunes has a functionality called HOME SHARING that enables you to stream audio and video files from your PC to your IOS devices (iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch) within your network but these media files must be compatible with your device. Filebrowser goes a step further by allowing you to stream some files  that, ordinarily, are not compatible with your device. This is aside from its primary function of enabling you to browse through PC shared drives on your network.

ZINIO
Zinio allows you access to a wide array of top magazines from around the world, in pure digital form and at a cheaper rate than the print version.

PRESSREADER
Newspapers from all over the world on your iPad for only $0.99 per newspaper daily. Unfortunately, the only Nigerian Newspaper available is Business Day.

FRIENDLY
Probably the best facebook app available on the ipad.

OPERA MINI
Fastest, most cost-efficient web-browsing experience for your iOS device today.

WORDPRESS
Unfortunately, blogging on the ipad is still basic, at best. This official wordpress app is available for free on itunes but there is no easy way to type your blog .WYSIWYG is not available, you would need some knowledge of html coding to get by. Sorry, this is the best there is for now. Sad.

Of course, i am not giving you any guarantee that my recommendations would effectively suit everyone’s purposes but i am sure it will definitely fill some gaps.

One thing is however very sure, for you to make effective use of your ipad, you will need to have some form of subscription for internet access, it is very unavoidable.