MacOS Best of Breed (Freeware) Software

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!

Virus and Spam Protection

  • Trend Micro Antivirus is a FREE virus scanner that works well for MacOS.
  • VIRA is a FREE virus scanner that works well for MacOS.

Backup Tools

  • FreeFileSync is a FREE backup and file synchronisation tool that works well for MacOS.
  • KeePassX is a FREE password manager that works well for MacOS. Use MiniKeepass for iOS.

System Cleaning and Filing Tools

  • Dr. Cleaner is a FREE system optimization tool that works well for MacOS.
  • Dr. Unarchiver is a FREE file compression tool that works well for MacOS.
  • FileZilla is a FREE file transfer client and server that works well for MacOS

Media Library and Conversion Tools

  • VLC is a FREE mediaplayer with great video codec support that works well for MacOS
  • iTunes is a FREE mediaplayer and library tool that works well for MacOS
  • calibre is an ebook management tool that works well for MacOS
  • Mixxx is free, open source DJ software that works well for MacOS,

Remote Assistance Tools

  • TeamViewer is a FREE Remote Assistance Client that works well for Windows XP, Vista and 7 to 10 and MacOS

Note: check out my posts on Remote Assistance support

Browsers

  • Google Chrome is a FREE web browser that works well for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 to 10 as well as for MacOS.
  • Safari is a FREE web browser that works well for MacOS, Windows XP, Vista 7 & Windows 10.
  • Mozilla Firefox is a FREE web browser that works well for MacOS, Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 to 10.

Note 1: Internet Explorer and Firefox have different implementation of ‘standards’ which causes unsimilar display results when you design web pages – (check out my posts on Mozilla Firefox).

Note 2: Mozilla performs better than Safari when it comes to file downloads and display of some web pages at particular websites.

SONOS One

Sonos One

One mid-woofer and one tweeter ensures you’ll hear the faithful playback of mid-range vocal frequencies plus deep, rich bass.

Two Class-D digital amplifiers perfectly tuned to match the speaker drivers and acoustic architecture.

One 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port. Wi-Fi network with any 802.11 b/g, 2.4 GHz router.

AUDIO STREAMER supports MP3, WMA Internet radio streams and iTunes libraries (Apple Protected audio files are not supported).

AirPlay 2 compatible. Amazon Alexa voice control built-in.

For help on radio streams read my post on streaming URLs.

Superior sound quality. Easy set up. Works well with Spotify and iTunes libraries.

 No native Bluetooth® support. Needs use of Tablet, Smartphone, PC or Mac Applet to operate. Automatic update of MacOS Sonos Controler App may not work properly.

mysqueezebox.com

Here is a compilation of my logitech squeezebox resources and posts related to the devices and software I am currently using (ano 2018):

Squeezebox devices in use:

 

Logitech Media Servers (LMS) in use:

LMS on Synology DiskStation DS1511+

LMS on Synology DiskStation DS416

LMS on Synology DiskStation DS213+ (discontinued)

Apps in use:

iPAD SqueezePad remote control app

iPhone iPeng remote control app

Internet access

Android smartphone or tablet Logitech Squeezebox™ Controller App

Support posts:

Logitech Squeezebox™ iTunes integration

Radio streaming URLs

Squeezebox Community Forum

Synology DiskStation DS416

Synology DiskStation DS416

  • Dual-core CPU 1.4 GHz with hardware encryption engine
  • CPU Model – Annapurna Labs Alpine AL-212 – 32-bit – 1 GB DDR3
  • Dual LAN with failover and link aggregation support
  • Over 221.05MB/s reading, 139.51MB/s writing
  • Four Drive Bays
  • Three USB 3.0 Ports – 1 front and 2 rear
  • Current version: DSM 6.2-23739

NAS with excellent performance, security features, convenient web interface, good external USB drive support and optional application packages, easy drive mounting.

Built-in support for “Free DNS” DDNS service

DSM 6.2-23739 includes Logitech Media Server package version 7.9.1-168 which works fine with the iTunes plugin enabled and handles correctly all playlists:

Logitech Media Server Version: 7.9.1 – 1504317335 @ Mon Sep 4 22:13:00 UTC 2017
Perl Version: 5.24.0 – arm-linux
Database Version: DBD::SQLite 1.34_01 (sqlite 3.7.7.1)

iPAD users can use the SqueezePad app to remotely control the Logitec Media Server.

iPhone users can use the iPeng app to remotely control the Logitec Media Server.

Security Incident

becloudWho deals in Belgium with security incidents?

The Centre for Cybersecurity Belgium (CCB) is the central authority for cybersecurity in Belgium:

Companies can get help from “The Cyber Security Coalition” and should contact CERT.be to report a security incident.

Individuals can get security advice from Safeonweb.be.

Victims of misleading practices, fraud or swindle in Belgium can report their case on meldpunt.belgie.be.

meldpunt

Protection of Privacy in Belgium is addressed by CBPL.

Europol Public Awareness and Prevention Guides

 

VPN Clients with Synology

VPN Clients with Synology

Synology can connect to the Internet through the OpenVPN protocol.

Configure the network interface and create a VPN profile:

for VyprVPN follow the “VyprVPN OpenVPN Setup for Synology NAS instructions

for NordVPN follow these instructions.

select the recommended server

the OpenVPN configuration files can be downloaded here: https://nordvpn.com/api/files/zip

Once the profile is created you can enable the connection.

 

 

 

MacOS Data – Housekeeping !

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:

Mail files

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).

Contacts files

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).

Calendar files

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

Radio streaming URLs are used by audio streamers and may change over time.

tuneinLogitech’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:

radiobelgaVRT-radio and RTBF-radio stations are currently not available on TuneIn

read here the VRT announcement in Dutch

read here the RTBF announcement in French

 

VRT

VRT-radio streamingslinks

New Radio Streamingslinks since August 31, 2107.

 

RTBF-radio streamingslinks

Classic 21

https://www.static.rtbf.be/radio/classic21/m3u/classic21-aac.pls

https://www.static.rtbf.be/radio/classic21/m3u/classic21-aac.m3u

https://www.static.rtbf.be/radio/classic21/m3u/classic21-mp3.m3u

https://www.static.rtbf.be/radio/classic21/m3u/classic21-mp3.pls

 

radiostream

FIP radio (France)

( http://direct.fipradio.fr/live/fip-midfi.mp3 )

VPN Servers with DD-WRT firmware

pptpPPTP VPN Server Configuration

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).

The VPN Server setup is very straightforward and well documented on the dedicated DD-WRT pages.

Works well on the Netgear R6300 V1 model. The remote connection works well on MacOS. iOS 10.0.2 on the iPad and iPhone no longer offers the PPTP VPN client protocol.

Bear in mind that your ISP router may need port forwarding enabled (see related post).

If your ISP uses dynamic IP allocation, you may consider to use a dynamic DNS service on your router (read the DD-WRT pages).

Out phishing

outfishingFraudsters 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.

Remember:

• 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.

Where (not) to put your wi-fi router

signalGet 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.

Belgacom b-box 3 – port forwarding

bbox3Belgacom B-box 3

The B-box modems are used by Belgacom to support the triple play service offers (telephone, TV and Internet).

thumb up  The Belgacom b-box 3 supports  seamless VLAN integration. All four LAN ports can be used for Internet connections or decoders.

thumb down The administration menu is very restricted and gives very limited control of the router through the user profile login.

Check the online documentation published by Belgacom.

modem-b-box-3-led-all-leds

if you do not wish to use the WiFi features, make sure the two LEDs below are off:

b-box-3-led-wifib-box-3-led-wps

more information about the LED indications can be found on the Proximus site

 

How to configure port forwarding for VPN Servers

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.

Confirm with OK to save the settings.

portmapping

Check also the Firewall Level setting:

firewall