OwnCloud Review plus Installation + Configuration Tutorial for Debian

File listing in Web GUI
File listing in Web GUI

I’ve just installed OwnCloud on my Debian server, and I’d like to take a few minutes to review its functionality and performance. For those who read my blog, you’ll know that I hate the word “Cloud.” However, OwnCloud has actually used the term properly, so they are forgiven.

OwnCloud is basically an open source Google Drive. Currently, it provides a similar level of functionality as DropBox, with several key differences. First, the payment structure is obviously fundamentally different. While an enterprise version and various subscriptions are available, the cost for the open source version is $0. The Desktop sync apps are based on open source libraries and are also available for free. The mobile apps for Android and iOS respectively cost $0.99, which I deem a very appropriate cost to offset the development costs and the “App Store Fees.” The extent of the cost you have to pay is for storage capacity, computers, and $1.98 for mobile apps. Continue reading OwnCloud Review plus Installation + Configuration Tutorial for Debian

BLU Samba W (Q170W) Quad Band GSM Phone Review

Continuing on my cheap GSM phone binge, I’ve acquired a BLU Samba W.

The Samba W
The Samba W

There is very little information on the Samba W out there (of which some of the information is just downright incorrect) so I’ll try to start from the ground up. Even BLU’s website displays the phone but doesn’t let you click on it, nor does it appear to have a similarly named page as its other phones that you can’t guess the URL. Continue reading BLU Samba W (Q170W) Quad Band GSM Phone Review

Aiek M3 Credit Card Sized GSM Phone Review

Freshly arrived from it’s Chinese eBay padded mailer, behold the Aiek M3

IMG_0442

The Aiek M3 is a quad band GSM phone which is exactly the same size as a credit card (but significantly thicker). It is the next generation following the older “real button” versions (M1 and M2) and instead uses some sort of capacitive touch key design. Continue reading Aiek M3 Credit Card Sized GSM Phone Review

Utilite Pro Review

My Utilite Pro has finally arrived! Admittedly it sat at my Mom’s house for a week before I finally booted it today, but I’m now ready to give my first impressions, plugged into a single ASUS 1920×1080 monitor.

Specs:

  • Freescale i.MX6 Cortex-A9 1.2 GHz Quad Core
  • 2 GB DDR3 1066 MHz RAM
  • 32GB mSATA SSD
  • 2x GBE
  • 2x HDMI
  • 4x USB
  • S/PDIF
  • uSD slot
  • Hardware Serial (with external adapter to DB-9)

Pretty cool. Performance marginally better than an ARM Chromebook of similar cost.

It ships with Ubuntu 12.04 with XFCE (Does that make it Xubuntu?). Most notable issues are a bit of instability (random crash notifications) and media issues associated with it being ARMv7. For example, Google Chrome is not available for ARM and it ships instead with the open source Chromium browser (the open source Flash-less cousin of the Google version).

Trying to get YouTube to work:

  • No Flash
  • Can’t install Flash or Chrome (not availble for ARM)
  • YouTube has a HTML5 fallback, but presents a prominent “missing plugin” announcement and doesn’t load HTML5 player
  • Plugins, opting in to the HTML5 trial, etc do not change this
  • Somehow it now loads the video and then presents an “This video is currently unavailable.” message

If anyone has had success with getting this to work let me know. I’ll update this as I continue to use it.

Be Secure: A Beginners’ Guide to PGP with Gmail using MailVelope

To assist several of my friends in setting up PGP, I’m writing this tutorial to get regular old everyday people (with an IQ less than Ross) set up with PGP. This is very useful if you don’t want people other than your intended recipient to be able to read your messages.

Background

Go ahead and skip this section if you know about PGP and email.

Email is not, by nature, a secure form of communication. Anybody who happens to be listening “on the wire” can read your email. And unless you run your local server as an email server, your hosting provider can also read your email. This includes the infamous Lavabit service. Continue reading Be Secure: A Beginners’ Guide to PGP with Gmail using MailVelope

VPS Comparison: Run away from Dreamhost and to Linode

UPDATE: Use nginx for memory efficiency.

I’ve just mercilessly murdered a Dreamhost “VPS” for good and I’m a happy man. In this article I will elaborate on why they’re terrible and at best, a fair pile of literary deception.

Unfortunately for most, the term VPS (Virtual Private Server) is somewhat ambiguous. This allows many companies to take liberty in their interpretation of the phrase and liberty in how much they actually give you. There are several classes of VPS, of which I’ll list a spectrum from complete virtualization down to a shared system: Continue reading VPS Comparison: Run away from Dreamhost and to Linode

Bypassing T-Mobile User Agent Tether Filtering

I showed up at my university to discover, to my dismay, that the building I’m in this year doesn’t have a university LAN connection yet and the unionized university employees had left for the long weekend.

Thankfully, I have a T-Mobile sim with 5 Gigabytes of 4G data! But wait, after a few hours of use I was redirected:

The T-Mobile "buy this package to use the data we already sold you" screen
The T-Mobile “buy this package to use the data we already sold you” screen

So naturally, I said WTF and proceeded to my friendly neighborhood forum and confirmed that T-Mobile filters on User Agent Strings. Continue reading Bypassing T-Mobile User Agent Tether Filtering

Best Way to secure WordPress Installation

UPDATE: See bottom of post for a Apache 2.4 upgrade.

As I’ve said before, the key to good security is to be unique and not special. Here’s one particular way to be unique with your wordpress installation.

The management UI
The management UI, thanks to the beauty of php.

Try it out!

If you try to log in to my login page (visit wp-login.php), you’ll be met with a very unhappy looking “Access Denied” message. Basically, my web server is configured to only allow certain IP addresses to connect (and no I won’t tell you what those are…). Continue reading Best Way to secure WordPress Installation

iPhone vs Android: What is the best phone/carrier for you?

I’ve now had my iPhone 5 for several months after a two year stint with Android (first with 2.3 and later 4.1-4.3). I have reached several basic conclusions about the benefits and drawbacks of each from a purely “user experience perspective.”–I define this as a broad category relevant to the average consumer and tech geeks alike.

The two phones, side by side. Notice the Nexus 4 charging on the Qi inductive charging mat.
The two phones, side by side. Notice the Nexus 4 charging on the Qi inductive charging mat.

In this article I’ll be comparing the iPhone 5 (Verizon CDMA/LTE/GSM, iOS 6) with the Nexus 4 (GSM/HSPA+42, Android 4.3). For all intents and purposes, these phones are approximately equivalent within their own ecosystems. Continue reading iPhone vs Android: What is the best phone/carrier for you?