Who said the best things in life come for free? They do, check out my favourite FREEWARE list below. The list is built of applications and tools that I am using or I have deployed. While many alternatives may exist, these are the ones that do the job for me. There is no such thing as a free lunch, so you will need to tolerate some advertising or constraints in functionality. If you are willing to ‘pay that price’, you have a good deal. Enjoy the free ride!
Mac users may have lots of valuable data stored on their precious device. Unless you are sharing this data on a cloud, you are prone to data loss. Here are some housekeeping rules I am using to mitigate the risks of such data loss, without the use of cloud services, but relying on my own external hard drives.
The foundation of a good housekeeping is your folder organisation: keep oversight of where your files are stored. Mac OS will help you and will suggest the default locations for pictures, movies, music and documents. It is wise to use these locations and create any subfolders according to your needs. Mail files, Contacts and Calendar data are stored in (hidden) Library folders (read also “Mac OS X file locations“) and are not easy to locate. Hence, I use an alternative way to backup and archive this information:
Select Inbox and use the “Export Mailbox” function in the Mailbox tab to save the file in a dedicated folder (e.g. a Documents subfolder named ‘mailbag’). You need to repeat this for each mailbox, including the folders ‘On my Mac’. If you are short on internal disk space, you may opt to export the files directly to an external drive (either USB- or network-attached).
Use the “Export” to “Contacts Archive” function in the File tab to save the file in a dedicated folder (e.g. a Documents subfolder named ‘mycontacts’). If you are short on internal disk space, you may opt to export the file directly to an external drive (either USB- or network-attached).
Use the “Export” to “Calendar Archive” function in the File tab to save the file in a dedicated folder (e.g. a Documents subfolder named ‘mycalendar’). If you are short on internal disk space, you may opt to export the file directly to an external drive (either USB- or network-attached).
Backup your files
Make regular backups of your data on an external drive and store it in a safe place.
Radio streaming URLs are used by audio streamers and may change over time.
Logitech’s Squeezebox and SONOS CONNECT:AMP support the TuneIn app which offers a wide choice of radio stations. MP3 is the most common and most compatible audio format but also AAC, a hi quality format, is used. You can browse for a radio station and save the URL in your streamer’s favourites. However, after a while the station may no longer work for various reasons:
the station is no longer available in a compatible stream for your device,
it has become inactive or
it may become unavailable at the broadcaster’s request, due to geographical restrictions, or commercial reasons.
In case of doubt, go to the TuneIn’s web site and search for the radio station to check if it is still supported by a TuneIn URL or it has been discontinued.
If the radio station has been discontinued by TuneIn, you will need to add the URL manually to your audio streamer.
Beware of the accepted audio formats (mp3, wma, and AAC) and the playlist file extensions (m3u and pls). Sonos devices play streams in mp3, wma, and AAC formats. Pls file extensions work on Squeezebox devices.
Check out the radio station’s website for the most up to date URLs. If the URL is not published, you may find it on listenlive.eu, Radiostreams or look at my short list of favourite stations and URLs that work well on my devices:
VRT-radio and RTBF-radio stations are currently not available on TuneIn
The PPTP (Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol) Server allows to connect securely from a remote location and is built in the DD-WRT firmware (Firmware Version: DD-WRT v24-sp2 (10/06/14) kongac – build 25015M-SP1).
Fraudsters frequently use tactics such as fake phone calls, texts and emails to obtain your information, perhaps claiming to represent your bank, your utility companies, or even the police. To maintain your personal and financial security, be sure to be on your guard for:
• Vishing: a telephone call from someone claiming to represent your bank, intended to coerce you into sending your money to another account or handing over cash/cards.
• Phishing: an email, which looks like it’s from us, designed to trick you into providing personal and financial information.
• Smishing (SMS phishing): a text message, which looks like it is from us, designed to trick you into providing personal and financial information by calling a number or clicking a link.
• Be wary of unsolicited requests for your personal information, such as usernames, passwords or bank details.
• If a phone call seems suspicious, don’t be afraid to hang up and call your bank on a known number – use a different phone line where possible.
• If an email looks suspicious, do not click on links or download documents.
• If you have suspicions regarding a text message claiming to be from the bank, call your bank on a known number to check before acting on it.
Get the best out of your wi-fi access point and router by choosing the right place in your home.
The best place may not always be convenient for you, so it may need some extra cabling between your ISP’s modem and your wi-fi router. But even the best router on the market will not perform well if you place it in the wrong spot. Consider these tips to get the best coverage and stable wi-fi connections:
Place your wi-fi access point or router in a central location in the middle of your home rather than at one end. Solid surfaces slow down wi-fi speeds and a central location reduces the number of walls it has to go through. The thicker the wall, the harder it is for the wi-fi signal to pass through. Hiding away the router in a corner may not be a good choice.
Don’t put it on the floor. Try and position it on a shelf, cupboard or table. Do not put it in a cupboard or closet, which will reduce the wi-fi signal speed and distance. Wi-fi signals go down as well as up, so if you put it on the floor, a proportion of the signal will go through the floorboards. Compare the signal performance with a light bulb. Mounting the light on the ceiling shines better.
Keep your wi-fi access point or router away from material that can reflect the signal and dispersing it: metal objects like a TV, mirrors and glassware. Water can absorb the wi-fi signal, so it reduces the travel distance of the signal. Also micro-waves may interfere with the wi-fi signal.
Finally, test your wi-fi signal before you settle with the location of your access point or router. Connect as many devices as possible from the different and the most used locations in your home. Use streaming services to see if your signal is stable. If you have portable devices, like tablets and smartphones, walk around your home to detect the ‘weak’ spots. The position of the antenna(s) or the position of the router itself (if no external antenna is available) will also influence the performance.
Any server installed behind the B-box router will remain unreachable from the Internet unless you configure the firwall (open ports) or use the port forwarding. Here is how you make a VPN Server reachable through the B-box 3.
Login as user to your B-box 3 router (see instructions published here).
Select the Access Control Menu item.
Choose Portmapping and Create a new portmap.
Select in the Service menu ‘PPTP Server‘ and enter the Internal host IP Address.