All posts by Patrick Zimmer

Back to life

So after more than 2 years of inactivity, I decided to bring my site back to life! I had some other projects running, which still are, but I wanted to have my old site up again.

Not that it had been offline, but I didn’t continue to post content on it anymore. I’ll be trying to bring back some articles in the future. I’ll start with a series of articles on how to improve your wordpress site. I’ve been updateing and keeping running a few sites and honestly, the same questions usually stick up again and again. An ofthen I have to do some research to find solutions, but I’ll be doing that more in the future again.

I’ll share these searches and the outcomes in this spot with you, as well as other thoughts on computers, internet & security as well. Cheers and stay tuned!

RasPad Test

So before getting started, i need to clarify something. I’m not getting paid for anything! This is a personal review and was in no way influenced by anybody! This said, here comes my review.

So i fell onto that Kickstarter campaign just before it ended and quickly decided to give it a try. Getting a touchscreen for the raspberry pi platform had always been my wish. I also included a nice screen, casing, and a battery for off grid usage. Honestly the only similar product i know is the pi-top device which comes at another price. Even it’s crowdfunding price was way more expansive… So this was why i decided to give it a try!

Only 4 month later, and this honestly is for Backer’s a really short and fast time, i received my device. Packaging and quality seems to be more than okay! Only a small hunch was the back cover where you place the raspberry. I don’t know if it was meant to be like that but still it closes completely and does what it’s meant to do.

Because i ordered a new Raspbery Pi B+ for my new toy, and because i ordered it to late, i first tried out to connect it to a Windows10 Computer. So as described in some pages on the net, i connected a HDMI from the PC to the Raspad and as well i connected it via Micro-USB to the PC as well, like any regular USB Device. And right out of the box without any more drivers needed Windows accepted the Touchscreen. So very positive for the first impression.

After receiving my Raspi, I continued my tests and out of the box with a new SD-Card with Rasbian on it, it simply worked! No need for touchscreen drivers, no calibration, everything worked fine! You might want to add a keyboard and mouse, because not everything is simply possible without these. But still… You find small and fancy things like that for reasonable prices.

I continued with a few security distributions and I have to say that they all worked fine for the touchscreen! No issues at all. But I realized that you might need to tweak the system for sound reasons. After reading around on the net, I saw a few posts about temperature issues. Some people even modified their houses and added fans to get rid of the heat. For the moment I can not yet confirm that, but I will definitely keep that in mind for the longer tests.

Another thing I will have to test out and keep an eye on, is the battery. I´m not sure yet if it simply is the way the battery indicator works, but I´m pretty sure this is the case. I will use my device for a long term test but here again you can read in some posts that the run time might be shorter than thought. What I can say is that by adding an additional USB WLAN Adapter the indicators dropped immediately to the last indicator, which might confirm my initial idea, that the battery indicator orientates himself on the voltage of the device. Turning of the Raspi immediately brings up one more indicator light of the device.

The only objective critics I have, are those for the internet and social media. The makers did put a web page on the packaging, which is non existing! That´s poor! A very simple page, with the digital descriptions and links to their project pages as well as some technical details or maybe the story of their Kickstarter campaign, some pictures. If you raise over 600k $ from more than 3.000 Backers, you should be able to do this… And to become member of their Facebook page, which is restricted to backers only apparently, you need to enter your details of your order to get accepted. Not very open minded there as well… I know that they might have other priorities but nowadays, this is a few hours of work and for your PR in my opinion a must have.

For the rest I can not complain about the product. Seems to bee good quality, properly worked out with a lot of thoughts for some details and the speed of the campaign was remarkable!

As always I’ve added a few pictures of the device, because they always tell more than a Story.

Third step – Finally

So finally i realized the final configuration on my network. I integrated my Security Gateway into my network and i am enjoying the statistics the thing is showing me. I am fully satisfied for the moment. For sure i am hoping for more options especially some kind of protection for children or other non wanted pages. I’ve been used to Ipfire for some time, but for my private needs the USG should be doing it.

But what should i tell you? I’ll show you some screen shots which is better than any long report! Ah yeah… I just ran into one issue during installing my device. It’s default IP is in the 192.168.1.X Range which may become a problem if your router / Internet Connection is in the same range! So before i realized that i really had a hard time. But finally changing the Modem’s IP solved everything and from that on the system keeps running.

           

Second step – Make my W-LAN big

So after my start with one hotspot I ordered last month one UAP-AC-LR and this month another UAP-AC-LITE from Ubiquity. So my network now counts 3 hotspots, on 3 different floors and it covers most of my home. Maybe next summer I will reorganize everything but I am confident that the system should be able to handle my wishes ;-)

So where to start? First I needed a controller for the hotspots. My Virtual Computer could program everything but I wanted statistics to see the problems and the usage of my home. To be honest I didnt want to buy the controller. It is nice, it does its job, but I think that doing it yourself is always the best way to go. So I took a Raspberry Pi Model 3, packed everything together with a PiDrive from Western Digital I had lying around and with a little help from over here, I created the controller myself. It now runs for already some time, without any issues and the power consumption is okay. So the controller issue was solved easy and fast.

Buying more hotspots was the second step and it only was a question of time. I will have to see where I will place the different devices, but that’s for the summer and I need to get a network cable into the garden to maybe place one over there. Time will tell.

Next step in my project will be the Security Gateway (the USG) which I want to include. This should give me more detailed statistics and it should increase my security level for the connection. We’ll see that next time =)

First step – Reorganizing my W-LAN at home

So i started of a few month ago to reorganize my W-LAN. The problem is that i need a hotspot on every floor. The concrete is of such good quality that the signal will not pass. Even from the basement to the first floor is such bad quality that it will not pass. When I installed my first system, I didn’t pay attention to the devices. The only plan was to stay cheap and to have a good signal everywhere. After a year I even needed to ad an extra hotspot so I had network on the terraces on the outside of the house. Long story short, I realized that the private hotspots which are sold on the regular market often don’t bring out updates for their devices. Never ever! So if you have devices older than a few years, there are definitely security issues. So I decided to upgrade my network and finally get a semi-professional system.

As you might know, I am a fan of a company called Ubiquity. I found them a few years ago and ever since we had devices from the company at work. An on a professional level I cant complain at all! Prices and ranges for those devices are more than correct. Quality is excellent and even after years you get updates and the devices work in extreme conditions. So I give them a thumbs up. I finally decided to get their W-LAN Hotspot system for my home as well, due to the fact that you can manage them centrally, that they update regularly and the range is better than regular devices I used.

After having a look at the actual product range I decided myself for one of the UniFi Mesh devices, the UniFi AC Mesh to be exact. The decision was taken because of its size, because I wanted to hide it behind furniture or on top of it. So the fist devices was bought for testing purposes and start of finally.

The software of the “UniFi Controller” to manage the hotspot was installed on a Virtual Machine. The first thing I realized after that was that this controller always needed to be on otherwise you couldn’t get the statistics. Okay… Not everybody wants statistics but I do ;-) So I needed a solution for the second step.

Eclipse by Native Union – My first impression

Today I would like to talk about a Kickstarter Project called “Eclipse” I backed a year ago, and where the product was delivered a few weeks ago. I really wanted to give it some testing and usage before producing my review.

So first I have to say that the creator Native Union did communicate over the whole time in an exemplary way! They explained delays and problems they ran into an always kept the backers up to date, so I never got the felling that the product would not be delivered. So thumbs up for that! As a backer of such projects, you have to consider that the product will arrive later than they expected! But if they keep the clients updated, I think regular clients will not argue around the delay.

So the product itself arrived at my home. Again shipping and tracking etc was no issue at all! Perfect packaging made it again a thumbs up again. So the unpacking could take place. I have to admit that the box, its content and the protection of the device itself were perfect. Honestly, I haven’t had so much fun unboxing a device for some time. Yes I was excited for some time because I was anxious to get the charger into my hands since I knew it was on its way, but I have to admit that the designers definitely did put time into the packaging! Nice job there again! But the packaging isn’t everything. How does the device work and behave?

The device definitely does what it is designed for! It charges up to 3 devices simultaneously, has an LED light which can be turned on and for the main part it looks good. Yes! It is a nice looking, well designed stylish charger for Phones and other USB devices. The cables appear to be of high quality and I think that the designer did put a lot of thoughts into the small details of the charger.

So the first look was not disappointing at all! I had decided myself to buy a nice, well designed and stylish charger to put it onto my nightstand and to charge my phones. That was the idea and unfortunately my story has a downside…

After a few weeks my wife decided to ban her charger from her side of the bed! Why? So at night, when everybody calms down and everything becomes quiet, you often hear the things and the sounds your house makes, which you do not realize due to all the background noises during the day. And unfortunately the Eclipse does such a noise… Yes you have to listen very closely but if you charge at least one device the device starts to make some humming noise, some dissonance or whatever you would like to call it. It is that kind of noise which is annoying if you ever heard it and that once you know it is there, hunts you over and over again. It is that kind of noise cheap chargers might do, but I am sure that the creators used high quality components.

So my final opinion is not yet fixed. I will not be using the chargers, I bought two of them, for the purpose they were thought for. I am using one now in the living room and it fits in there perfectly! The second one has not yet found its final position and that’s why I am a little bit disappointed about the product. But that’s the risk if you invest into a Kickstarter Project! You might not get the product you hoped for.