Turn a broken smartphone into a home server with Servers Ultimate.

Nov 30

The most horrible sound that you can imagine is the sound of a smartphone clattering on the floor or the sickening crunch of a breaking tablet display. With many of our favorite devices made out of glass ( I still feel like the Monolith in 2001 a Space Odyssey was actually Apple’s first iPad add) the chance of some of those glass display’s shattering .. is real.  But what then ? What when hairline cracks criss cross your screen, (but the touch-part still works) ? What happens when your smart device becomes broken or obsolete. Should you throw away that old or broken phone or tablet ? If its and Android : Don’t ! There is still life in it !

Enter Servers Ultimate.

Servers Ultimate turns your Android device into a home server. It offers you the ability to run “services” on a smartphone or tablet, that are usually reserved for a VM or a beige box. But think about it ! : Your old phone is light, small, powerful, always connected AND has a built in UPS (uninterruptible power supply) called “A Battery”. Why not hook it up to its charger, plop it down somewhere in a corner and start “Serving”.

Servers Ultimate lets you run the following Services on your Android Device

  • https (webserver)
  • dlna (mediastreamer)
  • dyndns
  • irc (chat)
  • socks (proxy)
  • Webdav (web storage)
  • Scp (secure file transfer)
  • SSH 
  • ……

The free version of the app lets you run 2 services at the same time, the payed version lets you check all the boxes and turn that old DroidX into a small home server. Storage capacity depends on what you hook up to it ( Internal SD card of your phone or some external storage) Power depends on the processor in your smartphone. But all in all  : its a great way to setup a server in your house and re-use an old device.

I’m personally using Servers Ultimate to mess around with my MK802.22 stick to turn that into a home server with the Carbon Footprint of a small fly (its very low power) and hook it up the the wild wild web.  Servers Ultimate is Free , but the Pro version will cost you a measly 4.99 in the Google Play Store.

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This is why the internet should never be censored.

Nov 28

You hear a lot online about net neutrality and governments who try to “protect” their citizens from the dangers of the world wide web. From the great firewall of China to the corporate IT control freak who wants to whitelist ‘his’ part of the internet. The world is filled with people who try to impose their view of what is wrong or right. Here is what I have to say about those who try to regulate what we see :” DON’T ! ”  Yes, the internet is a crazy place without borders, and YES there are creepy guys out there trying to do all kinds of strange stuff… But its also a fun place, a wild unpredictable place where , under the banner of anonymity  we can expose our soul , our strangest cravings and our weirdest creativity. But more importantly .. the free and wild internet lets us connect with other humans on a fundamental level. In the blink of an eye we can share a moment, and experience with a total stranger. Behind the veil of anonymity and far away from the social clutter that is called Facebook .. We find the one thing we share in common with EVERY stranger on the internet. The fact that we are both human and can share the most primal emotions. Watch the video below and watch the reactions on all those faces. It takes a minute to get furiously angry at someone .. It takes only a second to share a common smile.    And I DARE YOU … try not to smile while watching the video … If you do ? Then you’re human after all 😉 

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Setup your new Ipad or Iphone in Record time.

Nov 27

With the holidays coming around, there is a good chance that you and your loved ones might be catching some Apple-Love under the tree in the form of some i-Devices. The new iPhone 5 might be the biggest overpriced gadget this year, but maybe you are going for one of the new iPads or iPad mini. The bummer with these devices is that you have to configure them. Set up the right Email accounts, Icons on the screen, links to websites or other i-Device related settings all need to be punched in after you unwrap your shiny new toy. What if we showed you a way to do all of that configuration work ahead of time AND from the comfort of your own desktop ?  Let us teach you how.

All you need to download is Apple’s iPhone Configuration tool. This nifty little program lets you pre-configure tons of settings on whatever I-Device you are going to purchase. 

  • The name of your device.
  • Set a passcode to unlock the device
  • Preconfigure the wifi network you want your iPad to connect to (including the wep or wpa2 password)
  • Setup a VPN configuration (should you have such a thing at home)
  • Preconfigure the email accounts on your iDevice.
  • Preconfigure the exchange connection to your Gmail account so you have Mail, Calendar and Contacts in Sync.
  • Connect to your own Calendar and contacts server (You can use Owncloud to set those up should you need to)
  • Preconfigure webclips (Website Shortcuts) on your homescreen.
How do I do it ? 
Just download the iPhone configuration utility (available for Windows and IOS) and open it up. From the filemenu choose “FILE > New configuration profile” and start dabbling away. Once you have configured the settings you want hit the ‘EXPORT” button. This will generate a profile file that, when opened on your iDevice, automatically configure the settings as you set them up in the iPhone configuration tool. You can choose to make a single profile with ALL your different settings ( Mail accounts, Wireless settings etc) or you can make a configuration file for each category. (A separate profile file for wifi , several for email etc etc) 
Letting it work for you.
If it comes down to “auto configuring” your own device, it might be a bit of a hassle to use the configuration tool, but it does come in handy when I want to make web-shortcuts to all the web-based devices and servers I have in and around the house. I just shoot out the profile to my iPad (using eMail or Dropbox) and I’m done. 
But the power lies in your service to others. Want to prevent the hassle of getting a phonecall from your parents or aunts over in “far-away-istan” the day after they bought their shiny iDevices ? Do you know the horror of talking a total newbie through setting up an email account on an ipad (without the possibility to see the screen) Have you ever explained “swipe here, pinch there” to a touch-interface-lamen ? Save yourself the hassle. Configure grandma’s email account in the iPhone configuration tool and just have her download the profile of your dropbox share. You will be thankful to me once the holiday rush commences.
The iPhone Configurator can be found HERE.

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‘Refurbished’ music by Planet Boelex.

Nov 26

if you listen closely to every episode of the Knightwise.com podcast, you are in fact, very familiar with the artist mentioned above. Our outro track is known as ” Sisumies”, a collaboration between Mosaic and Planet Boelex. It’s been a little quit around Planet Boelex after his release of the wonderful album “Suntaa” , so we are very happy to report that there are new sounds emanating from the north as winter is coming. (Can you tell we are watching Game of Thrones  ?) Today we bring you the new track by Planet Boelex “Refurbished”  The track is available on bandcamp as a drm free and money free download.. So get it now.

You can support Planet Boelex by buying his albums online

“Refurbished” by Planet Boelex (Track).

“Suntaa” by Planet Boelex (Album).

“Various” by Planet Boelex. (Album)

Meanwhile , enjoy the full “without me blabbering over it” version of Sisumies.

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Turn your home into a virtual datacenter with Virtualbox.

Nov 24

You’ve heard us talk lots of times about Virtualbox. Our FAVORITE free (as in ‘Gratis’) cross platform virtualisation software. As we mentioned in the previous podcast episode about “Proxmox” (a more serious virtualisation tool) the machines in our home with their I5 and i7 processors and “Gigglebytes” of ram .. are mostly idling around in a corner when you’re not playing Call of Duty (and perhaps you even do THAT on the Xbox) So lets give those machines something to DO ! Running a ‘dedicated’ solution like dropbox might just be a little too much, but perhaps you have some cycles to spare on another system that is also being used as a desktop ? Why not try Virtualbox.

As an example : Currently I have dragged my I7, 16 gigabyte’s of ram Mac Mini downstairs and hooked it up to our tv. Since it carries most of our media it was a little silly to have it running in my upstairs office and having to stream everything back to the TV using a second (front end) box. So now the little bugger sits in our media cabinet with some 4 terrabyte of USB Harddisks hooked up to it. Having it just sit there running OSX and acting as a mediaserver or fileserver was a waste of power and cpu cycles. So with virtualbox I gave it something to do. I installed Virtualbox, hooked up a big external usb drive and started cooking some VM’s.

  • Ubuntu 12.10 vm with LXDE : This is my ‘internal’ ubuntu desktop. I use it for running cronjobs, copy operations and scripts that are meant for internal use only. Its my ‘Secure box’. I’ve enabled the RDP server on it (a builtin function of Virtualbox) so I can cantrol the screen of the virtual machine from afar.
  • Ubuntu 12.10 vm with LXDE : The second machine has a torrent client running as does the ‘dirty deeds’ that need to be done on the internet. Insecure surfing, downloading and remote access via SSH are its main goals. Once a week I ‘roll back’ the machine to its original (clean) post install state with the “snapshot” function of Virtualbox.
  • Ubuntu 12.10 Server : The main task of this machine is running OWNCLOUD (also featured in one of our podcasts) as my personal cloud storage.
  • Nas4Free : With a 1800 gigabyte virtual disk, this VIRTUAL machine acts as my main file storage system. So instead of putting my files on a disk and sharing them out via the file-sharing options on my (host) OSX system, I made a virtual machine of a linux application geared towards storage and filesharing … and put all of my files INSIDE a virtual machine. Performance is very good so far and the added perks to running Nas4free are going to be a topic for next weeks podcast.

In the end, controlling these virtual machines is a little messy sometimes. I mean you can’t just interrupt @Niejana when she is watching “Blood and Chrome” to say : Sorry about that, I need to mess with something on my Virtualbox and for that I need to use the TV ?   You need ‘remote’ ways to manage that virtual machine situation.

  • Controlling the Virtual Machines. Remote controlling the virtual machines is easy. You can use the built in RDP server in Virtualbox to use an RDP client (on any operating system) to open up the remote machine. If you also want to access them from the outside, try installing Teamviewer on the Virtual Machine.  If you are using a Linux operating system as your virtual machine you can enable the SSH Server and go in via the terminal.
  • Controlling Virtualbox. Unbeknown to many, virtualbox has a powerful set of terminal commands you can use. With a simple terminal window to my Mac (SSH) I can use the ‘VboxManage’ commands to do just about anything. Make a new virtual machine, clone a drive, resize a drive. Everything runs in the background and its a very very powerful tool. You can find the entire list of Virtualbox commands HERE
  • Controlling Virtualbox with a web interface. Virtualbox also has a web interface that helps you control your virtualmachines. In a point and click way you can start and stop VM’s and do anything you can do on the ‘regular’ desktop window. Installing it might be a little chore (depending on the host operating system you use) but the results are pretty spiffy. Find the howto HERE.  

And with those little tips you know can turn that headless box OR that powerful machine upstairs that is always on, but sometimes used by your kids for gaming… into your own personal datacenter. Don’t have the spare beige box for Proxmox ? Just have a desktop and want to get it to do some cool things ‘under the hood’. Want your own invisible datacenter ?  Here you go ! Download Virtualbox NOW.

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