The technical press (like Engadget https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/05/wd-my-cloud-security-exploits/) is publishing info about a vulnerability that impacts WD Networked devices that have cloud access enabled. That’s great, but they aren’t providing info for non technical users on how to check their settings and turn off this access is needed. So here is that information: (more…)
I’m a geek and proud of it, so when my 26 year old canister vacuum’s motor seized up and died and ugly death, it was a choice of which “connected” vacuum to purchase and not a “should I” purchase decision. There were only two to consider, iRobot’s Roomba 980 and a Neato Botvac Connected Vacuum. While Neato’s vacuum was cheaper, iRobot has been in the business a long time, and I ultimately used that plus reviews and am the happy owner of a Roomba 980.
There’s no question that these Wi-Fi controllable robotic vacuums are expensive, but using my (admittedly skewed) justification math, if I value my time at $50 an hour (a low ball as I know my time is worth more than that) and compare to a Dyson, or an Electrolux, the extra $$ don’t seem very large. And I get back a couple of extra hours a week that I don’t have to spend dragging the old canister around my home. And if I didn’t mention it, I loathe vacuuming.
Roomba does an awesome job on my carpeted and linoleum floors, switching transparently from carpet mode to floor mode. And Roomba is actually quieter than my old canister.
Roomba 980 comes with a Home Base Docking Station and this amazing little guy finds his way back to the Home Base when a cleaning job is finished or when it needs to recharge in the middle of a cleaning job if the battery runs low. Once charged, Roomba just picks up where it left off. This vacuum comes with these two battery powered virtual lighthouses that work in two different modes that allow you to “mark” areas off limits. So I don’t have to worry about that tangled mess of cords and wires around my Living Room home theater setup.
While you can operate Roomba from the button controls on the top of the device itself, the real advantage is control from your smartphone. Only iOS and Android are supported (same story for the Neato Botvac), but I’ve become accustomed (sadly) to lack of Windows and Windows device support in the Connected Home arena. Fortunately, I have an iPhone.
And the real joy of owning a Roomba is remote control using the smartphone app.
The App is Everything
On a basic level, the app displays the battery information and all you have to do is tap Clean and let Roomba do its thing. However, you can tap your way down to more functionality that lets you view Care (what parts need cleaning), a History of cleaning jobs/cycles, Settings and even Help.
Cleaning the appliance takes maybe all of 5-10 minutes and the Care status screen lets you visually see what might need attention. While the bin needs to be emptied after each job and the HEPA filter banged against the inside of a trash can a few times after every job, other Care tasks can be done weekly or monthly, depending on usage. The app provides all the info needed to perform these tasks, including videos on “how to” do these things.
If you can’t tell that I’m impressed with this latest addition to my Connected Home.. I can assure you I am.
I’ve got lots of computers and devices on my home network. Many of which don’t use the Microsoft Homegroup so I use password based folder and file sharing so that everything has access to all devices and computers.
One of the first things I wanted to do was copy some files TO the Surface 2 from another computer that was using password based file and folder sharing, but the Surface 2 was unreachable. Ah, I thought, I need to share a folder on the new Surface 2 and then my problem will be solved.
But when I checked the properties of the folder I wanted to share, there was no Sharing tab, let alone an Advanced sharing button. What in the world? I know Microsoft presumes that everyone will use a Homegroup and use SkyDrive for sharing, that just isn’t real life. What if I’m going someplace with no Internet connectivity or just don’t want to use the Cloud. Let’s say I want to copy a 2GB+ mkv video to my Surface 2 for offline viewing? And want to copy it using the computer that hosts it TO the Surface 2?
Turns out that Microsoft ships these devices with the (legacy) Server Service set to disabled. It’s absolutely required for password based sharing. Here’s how to turn it on:
1. On the Start screen, search for “services” and then select View local services.
2. In the Services window, scroll down to the Server service and open it.
3. By default, it is set to disabled. Select the dropdown next to the word disabled and specify either Automatic start, or Automatic/Delayed start. Then Apply/OK the setting as changed.
After a restart, from the Properties tab of any folder, the Sharing functions will be visible and usable.
Sort of. Thanks to Splashtop streamer and the iPad mobile client.
I was a little frustrated as all my existing RDP clients on my iPad (Logmein, VNC RDP, etc. would only show me a black desktop). I ask the Splashtop folks via Twitter if their product ($4.99 in the app store, at least for now) would work with Windows 8 and received a “yes”.
So, now I am up and running with Windows 8 on an iPad. Still experimenting, but at least I can see the Metro desktop and navigate.
In Part 3, I wrote about setting up dynamic DNS and port forwarding for my cameras and desktop controller as well as authentication for all exposed web servers. Once this is set up properly, camera output can be viewed in real time, any time I want to check in on what’s happening chez moi. If I were to get a motion detection email alert, I could immediately recheck camera output from all my cameras.
The Blue Iris web controller Windows software that I selected is viewable from any web browser. It detects mobile use and presents an iPxxx interface when I access it from my iPhone or iPad. I’ve added the URL to my bookmarks and to my Home screen on my iPxxx devices. Here is what I see from my iPad after I enter the proper credentials (since authentication was set up):
I can select an individual camera from the drop down menu or just tap a camera to see a larger view.
I added a bookmark for the Blue Iris web server and also added it to my iPad and iPhone Home Screens for easy and fast access.