Archive for November, 2012

PPTP VPN Connection to Synology NAS on Windows 7

I previously wrote a post about connection to a Synology NAS VPN server using OpenVPN. Although OpenVPN is more secure, it does involve installing software and can be a bit tricky to set up.

The Synology NAS VPN server also has support for PPTP VPN connections, which Windows 7 (as well as other operating systems) have built-in support for, without the need to install software. It’s much easier to set up and get going.

Here’s how to do it:

Assuming that you already have the VPN Server package installed and running, go to VPN Server and make sure your PPTP VPN is enabled.

Also go to Privilege and make sure your user has permission to connect.

Lastly, make sure TCP port 1723 is forwarded to your NAS.

Setting up Windows 7

Click Start > Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center (view by large or small icons) and click Set up a new connection or network.


Click Connect to a workplace.


If you are prompted, click “No, create a new connection”


Select “Use My Internet Connection (VPN)


In the next screen, enter the IP address or hostname of your Synology NAS.


In the next screen, you can enter your username and password and click Connect.

Your PPTP connection is now set up. You can access it from your network connections menu.

Deciding whether to route all traffic through the VPN connection

By default, the PPTP link will route all traffic. This is good if you’re using your VPN session as a routing point to encrypt all your traffic. However, if you decide you do not want all traffic routed through the VPN, but only non-public Internet traffic, change your settings as follows (Windows 7):

Click Start > Control Panel > Network and Sharing Center > Change Adapter Settings

Right-Click on your PPTP configuration and click Properties.

Click the Networking tab.


For both IPv6 and IPv4, do the following:

Click Properties.

Under the General tab, click Advanced.


To route all traffic through the VPN link, check the Use default gateway on remote network.

To route only non-public Internet traffic, uncheck the box.

Questions or comments, please leave a comment below. Thank you!


, , , ,

Leave a comment

Re-enabling the thumbnail preview of webcam video in Skype

If you’ve accidentally closed the video preview window in Skype, it should re-open next time you start a call. If not, you can re-enable it by performing the following steps:

Go to Tools > Options, and click on Calls. Click the Show Advanced Options button, and uncheck Show call controls when Skype is in the background.

Now, hover in your call window, and you should see a new icon in the lower-right corner that looks like a square. Click that, and there will be a menu item for Pop-out video. Click that, and the preview window will appear and stay on all the time.

Tested on Skype

Leave a comment

How to manually change the Symform contribution port on a Synology NAS

Symform is a cloud-based backup solution which allows you to have 10 GB of backup space free, and get additional free space, as well as support, by contributing space.

In order to contribute, you need to have a port forwarded to your Synology device. However, in my experience, I wasn’t able to choose the port (as it’s chosen randomly during installation). If the port number that the Symform service chooses is already taken, or you prefer to assign another port number, here’s how to do it.

To do this, you will already need to know how to set up port forwarding on your router, and install and set up the Symform service on your Synology NAS, as well as be familiar with how to SSH into your Synology NAS. This only shows you how to manually edit the contribution port number chosen by the Symform service.

Make sure the Symform service is stopped

Do this by logging into your Synology on the admin port (usually 5000 or 5001) and going to Package Center. Under Installed, you can stop the Symform service by clicking the stop button. Once the service is stopped (as shown below), you can continue.


SSH into your Synology NAS

If you haven’t already, turn on the SSH (or telnet) service by going to Control Panel > Terminal, and enabling the desired service. Next, SSH (or telnet) into your Synology NAS box. Once logged in, go to the Symform configuration directory by typing:

cd /volume1/@symform/lib

Next, open node.config with the vi editor:

vi node.config

Locate a line starting with <contribution enabled="True" fragmentStorePath= and scroll to the right of that line, and you will see port="43100" (or another port number). If you’re not familiar with the vi editor, carefully follow the following commands to edit the file in-place:

  • Press the a key to enter append (editor) mode
  • Cursor to the value and use the keyboard to edit it
  • Press the ESC key to exit editing mode
  • Type :w followed by enter to save the file
  • Type :q followed by enter to quit the editor

Now go back to Package Center and start the Symform service.

You will be able to see the updated port number in your Symform control panel.

If you have any questions, comments, or thoughts to share, please do so in the comments below. Thank you!

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Convert an MP4 video file to an MP3 audio file using Audacity

You can easily convert videos to audio tracks by using Audacity. First, make sure you’ve downloaded Audacity and followed the instructions to download the LAME and FFmpeg libraries.

Now, select the video you want to open and open it in Audacity. Click File > Open and select the video file.

Once you’ve opened the video, you should see the audio waveform as shown below.

Next, click File > Export:


… and give the file a name.


You should see the export progress as shown below.


Enjoy your mp3 file!

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Install LAME and FFmpeg libraries for Audacity in Windows

To install the LAME and FFmpeg libraries for Audacity, follow these steps.

First, download Audacity from SourceForge, and install it.

Next, run it, and go to Edit > Preferences, then click Libraries.

You can click either download button, you will be taken to this webpage. Then, follow the links to download the LAME library and FFmpeg.

To verify correct installation, go back to Audacity’s Edit > Preferences, Library pane, and verify version numbers are displayed, as below:

That’s it!

, , ,

Leave a comment

Streamline your emergency contacts with an emergency email address

By now you’ve heard of In Case of Emergency (ICE), the encouragement to store one or more phone numbers in your phone prefixed with ICE, so that they can be quickly identified in case of a need to contact a close friend or loved one if something should happen to you. But there are several situations in which this could be improved:

What if your contact(s) are away from their phone, on vacation, or in areas of poor reception?

What if you have a large number of people that you would like to have reached in case of emergency, such as a large family or extended family?

What if you want to respect your contact’s right to privacy until the need arises that they be contacted?

Enter the use of an emergency email address.

Email is as ubiquitous as text messaging now, and is often an easier way to communicate. Many of us have our email delivered to our cell phones or our desk computers. An emergency email address has a huge number of benefits:

  • Quickly have all of your emergency contacts notified at the same time.
  • Have your contact’s right to privacy respected until the need arises.
  • Have a central point where all of your emergency contacts can quickly reach each other (through the use of your emergency email address) to quickly exchange information.
  • Have email alerts delivered via SMS text message to cell phones which don’t have email, via an SMS gateway.
  • Have a caregiver or doctor notified who can keep up with changes in a medical condition.

Setting it up is as easy as setting up an email distribution list which includes your emergency contacts, and creating a card with that emergency contact information you can carry around with you.

Here’s a quick walkthrough for Gmail users to set it up with their existing Gmail account, using the plus sign trick:

Before you can set this up, you will need to add a list of forwarding contacts who will receive your messages. In order to add forwarding addresses in Gmail, you will need to add and validate each of them individually. You can follow the instructions below for reference.

Adding forwarding contacts

Log into your email and click the gear icon and go to Settings.

Click on Forwarding and POP/IMAP, and click Add a forwarding address:

Add and confirm your forwarding address:

You will be notified that a confirmation code has been sent to verify permission.

You will need to get the confirmation code from the recipient in order to verify the address.

Once you’ve verified at least one address, the following will appear. You want to leave forwarding disabled, as you’ll be setting up filters later to handle the actual forwarding.

Repeat with any additional forwarding addresses.

Creating the filters

Now, decide what your plus sign suffix will be. It can be anything, and since it’s based on your email address, nothing is “already taken.” For this example, we’ll say my current email address is, and I’ve decided to use +ice as the suffix. So, my emergency contact email will be

Then, go to Filters, scroll to the bottom and click Create a new filter.

Then, in the new filter, enter your email address and emergency suffix in the To box. Since I’m using, that’s what I’m putting. Don’t copy and paste, use your own. Then, click Create filter with this search.

In the next step, check the box for Forward it to and select one of your destination addresses. Since Gmail only allows you to select one forwarding destination, you will need to create a separate filter for each destination address, using the same rules. I have tested it and it does indeed work.

After creating in this case two filters, I see the following in my filters list:

At this point, you’re done and can send the address a test message if you like.

Questions, comments, or thoughts about this? Please feel free to comment below!

, ,

Leave a comment

StartSSL SSL Certificate on Synology NAS using subdomain

This will explain how to generate and install SSL certificates on your Synology NAS to get rid of the pesky SSL certificate errors. I’ll be explaining specifically how to generate and install from StartSSL, who gives out free SSL certificates.

First, you will need to own or control a domain name, and have a subdomain set up and CNAME pointed to your Synology NAS’s IP address. You can find a walkthrough on how to set that up by reading this article. If you are having trouble with certificate domain mismatches, make sure you have read this article first: Synology DiskStation on a subdomain with dynamic IP address.

Once that’s set up, head over to StartSSL and follow the steps outlined below to validate a domain name and generate an SSL certificate.

Validate a domain name

Select the Validations Wizard and choose type Domain Name Validation


Enter the domain name you wish to validate, and continue. You are validating only the base domain name.


Select an email address to which the validation code will be mailed to, and then continue.


Enter the validation code you received via email, and continue.


Generating your SSL certificate

After verifying your domain ownership, you can now generate the SSL certificate.

Select Certificates Wizard and choose Web Server SSL/TLS certificate, as in the image below.


Generate a private key by inputting a password of at least 10 characters, choosing your key length, and selecting SHA1.

On the next screen, you will be given your generated, encrypted, private key with instructions to save it to a file called ssl.key, and what to do with it. For now, just create a new text file on your desktop, call it “encrypted_ssl_key” (or whatever), and hang on to it for later. I’ll explain what to do with it in a few more steps.


Next, you’ll be prompted to add a verified domain to your SSL cert. Choose the previously validated base domain.


Next, you’ll be prompted to enter a subdomain to add to the certificate. This is where you enter your NAS’s subdomain. For example, if your root domain is, and your NAS is accessible via, enter myds.

The ready processing certificate screen will show next, and should include both your base domain name and the subdomain, like this following image.


The following screen will appear, and prompt you to save the certificate, as well as the intermediate certificates, which you will need for the Synology NAS. Save the certificate in a file called ssl.crt as instructed. Hold on to both it, and the two downloaded intermediate certificates for the following steps.


Decrypt the private key

One more step before we install the certs onto the NAS box. Head over to the StartSSL toolbox and click on Decrypt Private Key.


In the top box, paste the saved encrypted private key that you generated and named “encrypted_ssl_key” (or whatever). In the Passphrase box, enter the 10-character-or-so password that you set on it, and click decrypt. Save the decrypted key to a file called ssl.key.

Installing the SSL certs

Now we’re ready to install the SSL certs onto the Synology NAS. Log in as admin and head to Control Panel > Web Services. Click the HTTP Service tab and click Import Certificate.

For each of the following select the corresponding files

Private Key: Your decrypted ssl.key file

Certificate: Your ssl.crt file

Intermediate certificate: The intermediate certificate you downloaded.

(If you forgot to download the intermediate certificates, you can get them again by following this link.)

Click ok, and you should see Restarting Web Server, like so


Assuming all went well, you should be able to go to the subdomain and see a good SSL certificate lock icon, like so in Chrome


Questions, comments, or otherwise, please feel free to share them in the comments below. Thank you!

, , , ,

Leave a comment

Not all rechargeable batteries are created equal

The charge in batteries is typically measured in milliamp hours, or mAh for short. This is a measure of the amount of current and time that a battery can be expected to deliver. The higher the mAh rating, the longer a battery can be expected to last.

While this applies to non-rechargeable batteries as well, the higher price of rechargeable batteries will often times have people shopping for a bargain, without paying attention to how long the batteries can actually be expected to last.

Below are some mAh ratings taken from batteries that I have here. As you can see, there are some significant differences in the mAh ratings for these batteries.


AAA batteries

EPT Battery 300 mAh

Energizer Recharge 700 mAh

Duracell Rechargeable 1000 mAh


AA batteries

Rayovac Rechargeable: (not listed on battery)

Energizer Recharge: 2300 mAh

Energizer Rechargeable: 2500 mAh


If you have some rechargable batteries, please check the mAh rating printed on the battery and feel free to post it, or any other comment, below.


Leave a comment

Piwik 1.9.2 does not honor DoNotTrack by default — Blame IE10?

Today Piwik 1.9.2 was released, and the first point of the release notes contains a bold move on the part of the Piwik development team: To NOT honor DoNotTrack by default for IE10. Why? Because IE10 has DoNotTrack enabled by default.

This is arguably a step in the wrong direction for the Piwik team, and DoNotTrack in general, as Piwik is forgoing honoring the setting just for the sake of collecting analytics data. It’s actually a step backwards from Piwik’s own 1.9.1 release, in which honoring DoNotTrack was enabled by default, and the user was recommended against changing it.

Click for larger image

Instead, what Piwik should have done is simple: Allow the user to choose at install or configuration time whether or not to honor the setting, with a clear statement of why each way, such as the following example text:

Respect DoNotTrack Preference?

It is encouraged to respect user privacy choices by respecting the DoNotTrack browser privacy setting. Please be aware, though, that IE10 has it enabled by default and some traffic may not be recorded.

How do you want to handle this?

[X] Respect DoNotTrack in all situations (recommended)
[ ] Respect DoNotTrack for all browsers except IE10 (for more accurate stats)
[ ] Do not respect DoNotTrack at all (not recommended)

I have opened a ticket against Piwik here:

This is just my thought. What are yours? Please feel free to share in the comments below.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

How to read and export iPhone SMS text messages on Windows

First, you want to do a local backup so that you have the SMS database on your computer.

Open iTunes, and select your phone from the list at the left, such as mine appears below:

Next, under the summary tab, make sure the backup option is selected to “Back up to this computer” and encrypt backups is turned off, like so:

Now, perform a backup of your iPhone.

Here’s an updated screenshot from iTunes


Second, download a SQLite editor so that you can open the database.

I used SQLiteSpy, available here:

There are other SQLite editors, but this one was the one I was able to get to work.

Next, open the database

Click Start > Run, and paste the following line to open the backup location.

%APPDATA%Apple ComputerMobileSyncBackup

You should see one directory for each phone you have synced to your iTunes.

When you open this directory, and then open the Snapshot directory within it, you should see a file named


This is your SMS backup database.Open it in SQLiteSpy (or your editor). The rest of these steps apply to SQLiteSpy. If you’re using a different viewer, adjust for yours.

Select File > Open and select the file. You should see the list of tables appear in the left pane.

Now, paste the following SQL query in the top right pane, which will query the database and return correct date/time stamps as well as the destination phone number:

SELECT datetime(, 'unixepoch', '+31 years', '-6 hours'),, message.text FROM message, handle WHERE message.handle_id = handle.ROWID;

This will return the correct date and time (you may have to edit the ‘-6 hours’ statement to reflect your local timezone) as well as the other phone number and body of the text message.

Reference image:


Now, click Execute > Execute SQL (or press F9) to run it. Your results will be displayed in the bottom right pane.

Tested on an Apple iPhone 4S and iOS 6.0.1

Comments and feedback are welcome.

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment