Synology DSM 5.0-4493 Update 4 Released


Synology has just released Update 4 for DSM 5. The updates fixes OpenSSL and Kerberos security issues among other things. The last Synology security exploit to hit the news was based on old vulnerabilities. So while it’s a pain you should plan to patch as soon as it’s practical. I updated my DS212J, DS212+ and DS1511+ without a problem. And so far, no new errors have surfaced.


Google dominates top 10 apps, says ComScore

Google dominates top 10 apps, says ComScore.

This is another “duh” survey. Android dominates in pure market share for smartphones (over 85%). The real story here is that Facebook is number 1. Maybe not a shocker, but people do have to install it and set it up.

Other non-Google apps are Instagram (owned by Facebook). Apple Maps and Yahoo News. Apple Maps surprised me being tied for #10. With all the bad press and the fact that Apple only has about 22% of the market this was unexpected.


Links: Tech Links for Saturday Dec 18th

Tile for posts in the Links category

Tile for posts in the Links category

There was news this week that Yahoo would be slimming down, both in people and products. On the product side only the Delicious announcement caused me to perk up. I use Delicious pretty extensively. Later there was a Delicious blog post saying that Delicious would live on outside of Yahoo, although details were lacking. Lifehacker, among others, posted alternatives to Delicious along with how to export the bookmarks. A lot of my Delicious bookmarks are cruft that I no longer need. Guess it’s time to clean them up, no matter what I do.

Dropbox left long-term beta and released Dropbox 1.0 (actually now 1.0.10). I found that my Dropbox client was still on version 0.7.110, which is pretty old. I downloaded and installed the latest version from the Dropbox website.

FlexRAID has been getting a lot of attention as a drive extender replacement for Windows Home Server v2. MSWHS has summary of why FlexRAID seems promising. I’m still heading down the Ubuntu Home Server path myself. In a couple months we should have a better idea of Microsoft’s commitment and plans for Vail.

Scott Hanselman has first hand experience as to why it’s so important to have a backup & recovery strategy.

I’m still trying to decide how to get media to my TV so I was happy to see Ars published their HTPC guide. Lifehacker’s popularity contest for Personal Media Streaming tools also provides a list of software for me to look at.

As someone who uses both Mac and Windows PCs and Ubuntu on servers it was interesting to read Harry McCracken’s Confessions of an Operating-System Agnostic.

Links: Tech Links for Saturday Nov 27th

Tile for posts in the Links categoryMost of my reading this week was related to the removal of Drive Extender fro Windows Home Server. And the interesting links for that topic are here. I added a couple new links today so if your interest head back there.

In keeping with the Thanksgiving theme (at least for those of us in the US) Lifehacker has a list of the 50 free apps their readers are most thankful for.

Forklift for the Mac has been updated. This is an FTP client/Finder replacement that I’ve always found intriguing but never pulled the trigger and bought. Every time it makes news I look at it again but it’s never enough for me to move away from Pathfinder and Transmit, which I already own.

A hard drive in a Delorean is pricey but if you’re a Back to the Future fan with extra money it’s a fine novelty.

MediaMonkey is a potential iTunes replacement that I came across recently. I’m taking the free version for a spin but have yet to try syncing to my iPod or Android phone.

Tom’s Hardware has a good analysis of when to add RAM to a system. My opinion has always been you can never have too much RAM but they help us decide when more RAM won’t help.

Technologizer touches on a topic I’ve been interested in recently, cutting the cable TV cord,  as I think about how I want to reconfigure my living room entertainment. I’ve been down to basic cable and I’d only save $5/mth for dropping TV (due to a bundle discount with my internet service) so I’m not looking to cut as much as I am looking to bring more in.

WordPress 3.1 beta has been released so it looks like the full release is getting close. Even though I use WordPress I usually don’t look at the betas, but it’s there if your interested.

Links: Windows Home Server Bombshell

Tile for posts in the Links category

Tile for posts in the Links category

[Last updated: Nov 27, 2010]

With Microsoft’s recent dropping of Drive Extender from Windows Home server I’ve been doing so related browsing and find the following links of interest:

Let’s not forget that Windows Home Server v1 is still around, and gets mainstream support from Microsoft until January 2013.

The Home Server Show Podcast, episode 114 has a good discussion about the implications of the announcement. They avoid the the extremes of either bashing Microsoft or being fan boys.

Paul Thurrott has a couple articles discussing Microsoft’s move, including info on discussions he’s had with Microsoft. In addition to being a tech writer he’s also been a big WHS supporter and user.

If your looking to replace WHS there’s the open source Amahi Home Server that seems interesting. I should mention that while I’m posting the links, I haven’t used this or any of the other software mentioned in this post. A migration guide is available that compares drive extender to Greyhole (the technology included in Amahi)

FlexRAID is open source software that provides a interesting take on data protection. I find it interesting in that they do say it’s not suitable for databases but is suitable for storing files. Almost sounds similar to Microsoft’s problems being on the SBS side rather than the WHS side of development. Might be that this will work on Windows Home Server v2.

FreeNas: from the site:  FreeNAS is an embedded open source NAS (Network-Attached Storage) distribution based on FreeBSD, supporting the following protocols: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, TFTP, AFP, RSYNC, Unison, iSCSI (initiator and target) and UPnP. It supports Software RAID (0,1,5), ZFS, disk encryption, S.M.A.R.T/email monitoring with a WEB configuration interface

I might look at the software out of curiosity, but at this point I think I’d stay with WHS v1 rather than moving to something else which may lock me in. If I leave WHS v1 before 2013 I’m more likely to go with a Linux server such as Ubuntu or the super-stable CentOS to serve my files and give me the maximum flexibility. WHS simplified everything, making RAID (OK, not RAID but data protection) stupid simple and it served out the files reliably. If I leave WHS I might as well go with maximum flexibility.

Drobo is offering a discount to WHS users (actually anyone with the coupon code) as a promotion. I have a Drobo but am not a fan. I don’t see the value proposition. Mine serves as a backup drive.

A little drive extender related humor.

Ars Technica has a good analysis of the Drive Extender removal and these two lines sum up my own opinion:

If Microsoft is going to stick with its decision and remove Drive Extender across the board, the company might as well cancel Windows Home Server altogether. I think, however, this is a bad decision.

Links: Tech Links for Saturday Nov 20th

These are the tech links that I starred in Google Reader during the last week.

Using Windows Home Server brought the Western Digital AV-25 hard drives to my attention. These are 2.5” drives intended to be used 24 X 7 and remain cool and quiet. Good for HTPC’s. I should have considered these as 2.5” drives for my recent Windows Home Server build. I will keep them in mind if I decide to go with a HTPC.

While the AV-25 drives are economically priced with a 320GB drive costing about $50, Tom’s Hardware brings new of a $11,500 300GB SSD drive.

Process Explorer has been upgrade to version 14.

Intel has lowered the price of their 120GB SSD just in time for holiday shopping.

Continuing the storage theme, Tom’s Hardware has an in-depth performance analysis of SSDs versus a RAID array of traditional drives.

Ed Bott is using a Mac Mini next to a Windows box, linked with Synergy, which is similar to my setup. Like him, I had issues with Synergy but got it working with a slightly older version on the Windows box.

Bruce Schneier is the Chief Security technology Office of BT (aka British Telecom), an author of security books and often quoted security guru. I follow his security blog and he has a nice collection of links related to the TSA Backscatter X-Ray controversy. Lots a links that will take some time to go through, but a pretty good overview.

As more news comes out about the Stuxnet virus, it’s pretty scary in that it appears to have been designed for industrial sabotage. The NY Times has a story about the research into the origin of Stuxnet.

AnandTech has updated their System Builder’s Guide just in time for the holidays.

Tim Berners-Lee, a key creator of the web, if not the creator, has a long article in Scientific-American about current threats to the web. I just came across it and haven’t read through it yet. But anything this guy says is going to be worth reading so it was sent to Instapaper for weekend reading.

Links: PC Monitoring, Benchmarking & Testing

Having just built a new Windows Home Server and doing some PC upgrades I’ve updated and refreshed my PC monitoring utilities and resources. These are links for tools and sites I find useful.

CoreTemp – Displays information about the CPU, down to the per core level in most cases. As the name implies, it’s primary purpose is to display and monitor the CPU temperature. Can display a notification or shut down the machine if the CPU reaches a predefined temperature. Check the Add Ons page for a Windows gadget and more.

AMD Utilities – System utilities and drives for AMD cpu’s and gpu’s.

ATTO Disk Benchmark Utility – I like this for benchmarking hard drives.

CPUID – makes of CPU-Z (cpu/memory/graphics info and more), HW Monitor (displays temp, power and other hardware info), PCWizard (more system information), PerfMonitor and TMonitor.

CPU-Tweaker and MemSet – two utilities for changing CPU or memory settings. I haven’t used these yet but have put them aside for future explorations.

GLINT – System activity monitor. I’m not a fan of the interface but there’s no installation required.

GPU-Z – Video Card/GPU information utility

HDTune – Hard Disk for benchmarking and monitoring. I use the free version (which is different than the trial for HD Tune Pro).

Hitachi Hard Drive Utilities – If you have a Hitachi hard drive you’ll probably want at least one download from this page.

Iometer Project – interesting open source software that I’ve yet to explore.

MemTest86 – Stand alone memory test for x86 architecture computers.

PassMark Software sells software for benchmarking and system testing. They do have som free utilities available for download. Their website also has numerous benchmarking charts and comparisons collected from people running their software on real systems. Useful for seeing how that component I’m about to buy stacks up against it’s competitors.

Prime95 – Commonly used to stress test a system.

Process Explorer – From Microsoft but written by Mark Russinovich of SysInternals fame. Displays a multitude of information about running processes.

SpeedFan – Monitors voltages, temperatures and fan speeds in systems with the necessary sensors.

The following links are to commercial software although there are limited use trial versions available.

Lavalys Everest is a benchmarking and system analysis program. It’s not free but there is a eval version. Also see the next entry for AIDA64.

AIDA64 is a benchmarking and system analysis program I came across recently. It’s not free but there is a limited eval version that I’ll be checking out. Aida was started by some of the same people who created Everest. This software is newer than Lavalys Everest and seems better supported at this time.

SiSoftware – maker of SiSoftware Sandra – System Analyzer,  Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant.

I find the following sites useful:

AnandTech – Hardware news, test and reviews.

JohnnyGuru – I used this site primarily for power supply info, but they also review other PC components.

Thermaltake Power Supply Calculator – there are others, but this is the one I use when I need to size a power supply.

Tom’s Hardware – Hardware news, tests and reviews

Any utilities or sites that I missed or that you’d recommend? Leave a comment. I’ll also update this list if I come across any new links of interest.

Links: Windows Home Server Vail

Tile for posts in the Links categoryWindows Home Server Version 2 (aka Vail) is still a beta but with my test box built I’ve been running it and collecting information. Here are some links that I’ve found interesting.

Microsoft had a 45-min Vail “Demofest” at the latest Tech-Ed. You can see the video here and also get the PowerPoint slide deck they used. The video is a nice overview of what’s in Vail.

Windows Home Server doesn’t really need a DVD drive after the installation. I installed from a spare DVD drive I have, but if necessary you can install Vail from a USB stick.

Jim Clark documents how he set up Vail as a Windows Media Center.

An example Vail system build.

My own Windows Home Server posts, both version 1 and 2, are in the Windows Home Server category.

A $330 PC build that can be used to test Vail. I’m not sure I’d really suggest this. I rather spend more money and have a server that can run Vail for years. But I can see someone wanting low cost hardware for testing.

Alex Kuretz has a good intro to Vail, written when it was first released in beta, on

AutoExit is already in beta as a Vail add-in. AutoExit provides features related to managing clients through Wake-on-LAN.

As for getting Windows Home Server Vail itself, it’s available from Microsoft Connect. Remember it’s beta software.

Microsoft’s community page for Windows Home Server still targets version 1, but will be a good resource when version 2 is released.

Any Vail news or information I missed? If so, let me know in the comments. I’ll also be updating the links in this list if I find additional ones of interest.