Why I am checking out the Volareo Smart Speaker

I am writing this article to give my quick thoughts on the Volareo Smart Speakers, the one you may have seen on Indiegogo.
Update from the Volareo Team – Project is being put on hold for now. Waiting on further updates from the team. 
I am not affiliated with Volareo in any way, I am only an interested customer and am excited about the potential that the device they are selling offers.So,

Why I am looking into getting a Volareo blockchain speaker?

I have been looking at the various smart home assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Smart home and well, all the smart home initiatives and products that all the big tech companies are pushing out to consumers lately.

I have already picked up a Google Home Mini, using a Roku 3, Chromecast at home, so why am I keen to explore this device?

Well, a few key reasons:

  1. Sound/ Music – Sound music speaker that also has a Smart Assistant. It is Open Source and built on top of Musicoin which is the only live music streaming system with a blockchain
  2. Smart enable your TV (via HDMI) – to give it voice controls. It’s the only one on the market that does that. Essentially, it is a speaker that doubles Android TV box as well.
  3. The speaker that doesn’t spy on you

They are pitching it as the following, but the above are my personal highlights. As some of the following are more “nice to have” features, as at the end of the day, you need the device to perform it’s core purpose, which in this case is provide 1) sound/ music + 2) smart enable your TV.

The ability to tip your favourite musicians is an amazing bonus.

  • Volareo is the first open source smart speaker that is backed by blockchain technology
  • A Portable, Voice-controlled Smart Speaker that streams media from Spotify, YouTube, Twitch, Netflix, Musicoin, Emanate and many more.
  • Made to move! Enjoy your media on the go with 6-8 hours of non-stop usage
  • Android, WiFi, Bluetooth, Wireless Charging
  • Easily buy and spend crypto with your voice, tip musicians with crypto
I have not tried one physically yet, and will write a review when I receive mine in Q1-2019. I am really looking forward to it!
Here’s a bunch of videos and articles for those keen to research and explore more about them.

Smart Assistant and Playing video via HDMI on your TV

Portable speaker

Tipping musical artists

How do I check if SSL is working on my website using Cloudflare?

Prerequisite

These steps below assumes that you are using Cloudflare to manage your website property so it is available closer to your users around the world.

Please follow this “How to set up your website on Cloudflare” guide (selecting the Cloudflare Free plan), if you would like to have your website managed by Cloudflare. 

So how do I check if SSL is working on my website using Cloudflare?

Step 1 – Check that the Connection is Secure

When you type in your website, you should see it say the word “Secure” in the left of the address bar.
Then, when you click on this “Secure” lock, it’ll say, “Connection is secure”.

Step 2 – Check that the certificate is indeed live and verified by the web browser

You can check by using the Inspect element function available within your web browser.

  • You can do this by selecting the Chrome menu at the top-right of your browser window, then select Tools > Developer Tools.
  • Alternatively you can right-click on any page element and select Inspect Element.
  • You can use the hot keys, Ctrl+Shift+I on Windows device (or Cmd+Opt+I on Mac device) to open the DevTools (DeveloperTools).
Example of where to find the Developer Tools on a Mac device
You’ll receive a message if “This page is secure (valid HTTPS)

Step 3 – How do I check what type of SSL is working on my website?

Once you have confirmed that the SSL certificate is working on your website and it is secure, you can check how it appears to website visitors.

Cloudflare offers you a few different types of SSL certificates:

  • Free Universal SSL certificates
  • Dedicated SSL certificates
  • Custom SSL certificates
Each of these SSL certificates are secure, however, the link/ URL displayed will differ and who manages the SSL certificate.
  • Free Universal SSL certificates – shows ssl384038.cloudflaressl.com, managed by Cloudflare
  • Dedicated SSL certificates – shows yourdomain.com, managed by Cloudflare
  • Custom SSL certificates – shows yourdomain.com, managed by your SSL certificate provider
Here’s an example of the Universal SSL certificate (Example A) and Dedicated SSL certificate (Example B):

Example A – ssl384038.cloudflaressl.com – Using a free Universal SSL certificate
For my website https://www.dejavuguides.com/, you’ll notice that ssl384038.cloudflaressl.com appears as the SSL certificate for my website.

Example B – vulongtran.com – Using a dedicated SSL certificate
For my website https://www.vulongtran.com/, you’ll notice that vulongtran.com appears as the SSL certificate for my website.

Enjoy securing your website SSL!

How to get a custom domain to work on Blogger with SSL

For those trying to proxy your traffic through Cloudflare and are also using Blogger.com/ Blogspot.com to host your website you may find some issues with the HTTPS redirects and general loading of your HTTPS on your website.

This follows some of the posts that I have seen on the Cloudflare Community page on “Custom domain with blogger not working”.

I recommend setting up the redirect on Cloudflare.com, so that Cloudflare’s edge locations will do the redirecting effort, rather than you needing the visitor to send a request back to your origin as part of the redirect work.

So here’s a few things that I did to have this work.

1. Set IP addresses to the same per Google’s support article 

Add four A-records which point to Google IPs.
216.239.32.21
216.239.34.21
216.239.36.21
216.239.38.21

2. Set www. as CNAME to vulongtran.com

Set my www. as CNAME to vulongtran.com (mydomain.com)

3. Set SSL to Full mode 

Please try using the the SSL = Flexible mode if it is breaking, as  we cannot upload an origin SSL to blogger.com.

4. Set a Page Rule to redirect

This is more optional to do at Cloudflare’s edge rather than on Blogger.com’s settings. As that’ll set the redirect on the origin server, which means that the request needs to find your origin to complete the redirect.

I recommend setting up the redirect on Cloudflare.com, so that Cloudflare’s edge locations will do the redirecting effort and work, rather than you needing the visitor to send a request back to your origin server to do this redirecting work.

Page rule:

vulongtran.com/*
Forwarding URL: 301 Permanent Redirect
https://www.vulongtran.com/$1

5. Test that is working

So far it is working fine: https://www.vulongtran.com

Many thanks to Nico (Andronicus Riyono) from the Cloudflare Support team for sussing out the solution here and recommending the Page Rule level redirect!

Note – I brought a dedicated SSL certificate so it looks like this:

How to sign up for a free domain name with Freenom

Freenom is currently offering domain names for the first year.

They’re a domain name registrar which means that they allow you to buy and manage domain names off their marketplace.

While it is only specific domain names alias on offer, it’s still a great deal for those looking to create testing websites or get their foot online without spending any money first.

How to sign up for a free domain name with Freenom

Step 1 – Search for your own domain name on Freenom

Step 2 – Select your preferred domain name alias

Choose whether you want .tk, .ml, .ga, .cf, .gq as your domain name alias. Then click on Check out

Step 3 – Select your plan with Freenom

Select your plan from the list of options in the drop down menu after selecting your domain name alias.

Step 4 – Review your purchases 

You’ll then need to share details to sign up, such as email address, etc. as per domain name registration requirements.

Review and confirm your email address, as they’ll send you a validation email to click and confirm your email address. You’ll have up to 24 hours to confirm your email address.

Step 5 – Make sure you validate your email address is correct

Confirm your email address by checking for their email in your inbox.

Step 6 – Enjoy your new free domain! 

How to view your daily bandwidth stats on Cloudflare

This guide below details how you can view your Analytics including bandwidth statistics from your Cloudflare using an API call.

Requirements:

  • Cloudflare account
  • Command line tool such as Command on a Windows machine, and Terminal or iTerm on a Mac
  • Appropriate access level privileges to your Cloudflare.com so you can source identifying keys such as the (Zone ID and API keys which you will need).

We are going to use a Cloudflare API called “Analytics dashboard API”. This analytics dashboard API will give you a bunch of analytics that you would normally see in your dashboard, however, I am going to focus on showing you how to get your bandwidth numbers, including the cached and uncached bandwidth figures.

You can always view more analytics fields and other optional parameters by following the steps on the Cloudflare API page: https://api.cloudflare.com/#zone-analytics-dashboard

What is the Cloudflare Analytics Dashboard?

The dashboard view provides both totals and timeseries data for the given zone and time period across the entire Cloudflare network.

How do we retrieve data from the Analytics Dashboard?

To retrieve data we need to run a GET command. The following is an example curl GET command you would be using to pull from Cloudflare.

curl -X GET “https://api.cloudflare.com/client/v4/zones/example-API-key/analytics/dashboard?since=2015-01-01T12:23:00Z&until=2015-01-02T12:23:00Z&continuous=true”
-H “X-Auth-Email: [email protected]
-H “X-Auth-Key: example-API-key”
-H “Content-Type: application/json”

Cloudflare Analytics Dashboard

HTTP Method: GET
GET zones/:zone_identifier/analytics/dashboard

Step 1 – Find your Zone ID and API key

Zone ID – ZONE-ID-XYZ-HERE (you’ll find this in your Cloudflare portal)
API key – API-ID-XYZ-HERE (you’ll find this in your Cloudflare portal)

Step 2 – Run an API call – curl command

This will show you all your analytics in one go so the aim here is to check that it works and you have an output on your screen. You can dive into the other interesting fields here over time. 
curl -X GET “https://api.cloudflare.com/client/v4/zones/ZONE-ID-XYZ-HERE/analytics/dashboard?since=2017-01-01T12:23:00Z&until=2017-01-30T12:23:00Z&continuous=true”
-H “X-Auth-Email: YOUR-EMAIL-ADDRESS-HERE”
-H “X-Auth-Key: API-ID-XYZ-HERE”
-H “Content-Type: application/json”

Step 3 – Add output to API call

curl -X GET “https://api.cloudflare.com/client/v4/zones/ZONE-ID-XYZ-HERE/analytics/dashboard?since=2017-01-01T12:23:00Z&until=2017-01-30T12:23:00Z&continuous=true”
-H “X-Auth-Email: YOUR-EMAIL-ADDRESS-HERE”
-H “X-Auth-Key: API-ID-XYZ-HERE”
-H “Content-Type: application/json” | jq ‘.result.timeseries[] | [.until, .bandwidth.all, .bandwidth.cached, .bandwidth.uncached] |@csv’ > ~/Desktop/output.csv

Step 4 – Check your output file

You should put your output file (output.csv) into a spreadsheet tool such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel. Make sure there is data in there to work with.

Step 5 – Review your spreadsheet and set bandwidth columns

Once you have confirmed there is data in the spreadsheet file you have downloaded, convert the desired amount into the metrics you are keen to look at the data by. This will allow you to make sense of the bunch of long numbers you’ll see.

Be that in:
Bytes, Kilobytes, Megabytes, Gigabytes or Terabytes

1 Byte = 8 Bit
1 Kilobyte = 1,024 Bytes
1 Megabyte = 1,048,576 Bytes
1 Gigabyte = 1,073,741,824 Bytes
1 Terabyte = 1,099,511,627,776 Bytes

Here is an example spreadsheet I created using GoogleSheets.

I divided the “Bandwidth all” column field with the Megabyte number (1,048,576) to give me the “ALL (MB)” column you see in the screenshot below. Then I did the same for the bandwidth cahced and bandwidth uncached columns.

You can choose to divide it by another metric, depending on how large or small the number you see in your spreadsheet is.

Well done!

So there you have it. You now have stats to work with.

How to use Cloudflare to complete HubSpot’s SSL verification process

This guide is for website owners or webmasters that need to complete HubSpot’s SSL verification process so that they can provision an SSL certificate for your domain hosted on HubSpot.

Step 1 – Select domain you want SSL activated in HubSpot’s Domain Manager

Log into HubSpot and request an SSL certificate for your domain. It’ll take a up to 72 hours for them to get back to you with one of their Let’s Encrypt “Validate your domain” emails.

Step 2 – Sign up and set up Cloudflare Free plan for your domain

Set up your website onto Cloudflare’s Free plan. I have written a guide here if you need it.

Step 3 – Get Source URL and Destination URL

Get the Source URL and Destination URL details from HubSpot’s Domain Manager.

Step 4 – Add the redirect to Cloudflare

Add the redirect to Cloudflare in the Page Rules tab.
Select the “Forward URL” option.
302 – Temporary Redirect is sufficient

Step 5 – You should get a success message 

You should get a success message and now you just wait and follow the next steps as per usual. 
Happy HubSpotting and Cloudflaring! 

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms

Pretty exciting, Gartner released it’s updated Magic Quadrant for Content Collaboration Platforms.

The Gartner’s Magic Quadrant evaluates vendors based on their vision and ability to execute and help businesses to address their content management challenges.

Nothing particularly surprising here, as the expected key players are still leading. A trend that you would always see is that see that many of these players are either pure cloud based players (such as Google, Box) or have migrated their products to be cloud based (as Microsoft and Citrix did), including:

G Suite Basic vs Business plan for Businesses

Google has two primary plans for their G Suite online software. G Suite Basic vs Business plans, so which one should I use?

Should I use Google’s G Suite Basic and Business plan?

Short answer – Depends, on which stage your business is at.

Long answer – If you have just started your business and are a startup, I’d suggest the most basic plan, as you can always upgrade when you need it in the future.

If you are a large entity, perhaps thinking about moving from Microsoft Office and Outlook or another service, then the Business or even the Enterprise plan may make more sense.

I have seen multinationals using just the G Suite Basic plans even, although from the end-user perspective it can be painful sharing documents with my wider team. The G Suite Business plan is my preferred plan, given the amount of storage that you have.

Google’s release of the Team Drive, makes definitely life so much easier, as I was a Team Lead in one of my previous companies and was storing a lot of solid documents and files for the team to share, learn and leverage from. Although it is only available on G Suite Business plans and above.

G Suite Business vs G Suite Basic plan

What’s the key differences at a high level between G Suite Basic and Business plan?

Looking at Google’s website, G Suite Basic plan offers:

  • Professional email for you and your team, plus the complete G Suite.
  • Get 30GB of space in Google Drive and Gmail so you can store, access and share files from any device and keep your emails indefinitely.
  • Collaborate more quickly and efficiently using integrated online calendars, online documents with real-time editing, and video conferencing.

Whereas, G Suite Business plan offers:

  • Professional email for you and your team, plus the complete G Suite.
  • Get unlimited† space in Google Drive and Gmail so you can store, access and share files from any device and keep your emails indefinitely.
  • Collaborate more quickly and efficiently using integrated online calendars, online documents with real-time editing, and video conferencing.
  • Set alerts to know when people share, edit or delete files in Drive, including when they share files inside or outside your domain.
  • Enhanced security features with Google Vault:
    • Manage and retain your team’s emails and on-the-record chats, setting policies for your entire domain, organizational units, date ranges or specific terms.
    • Search and retrieve valuable information that you or your legal team may need.

I have bolded the key differences above, but let’s break down a bit.

What’s the key differences between G Suite Basic and Business plan?

Short answer – Control features is the key difference. That is, more oversight and control of important business data.
Long answer
  • Storage – You’ll get 30 GB storage in the G Suite Basic plan, whereas the Business plan is unlimited and indefinite. Although, do note that indefinite is true however it is as long as you use Google’s G Suite service.
  • Alerts – G Suite Business will give you alerts on Google Drive actions internally and externally for your business, useful if you need that visibility
  • Security audit features – Searchable and retrievable audit information that you and your business may need.
  • Team Drive – Shared drive that you can to share and collaborate use amongst your teams. Helps to ensure no one person has all the information on their drive alone.

Google is offering a free 14-day trial of G Suite. This applies to their Basic and Business plans, so if you’re keen to try it, visit their G Suite website to sign up.

Here’s some G Suite promotional codes for Singaporean businesses, please use this link if you want 20% off*:

Valid for G Suite Basic plan in Singapore (updated Jan 2019)

    • 34N6PDXDE9QAN6K
    • 34PQKNMTC3ERQ73
    • 34RVGPM3WFQELVF
    • 34RW3RARHLUQ4NH
    • 34TU3XJP7GEYW9A
    • 34V4XX4VFK437UX
    • 34VCCUTN7VMVU34
    • 34VLYXTFQJTDADY
    • 34W3Q7HP693EW7V
    • 34XJP4YDRDFGPVR

 Valid for G Suite Business plan in Singapore (Updated Jan 2019)

  • YAPV3WPC6TQWRVD
  • 37EFXPUXHTLMN4J
  • 37EWQFADLWYATJ6
  • 37GAUCCVMMUKKKF
  • 37GCA67JC9X64PN
  • 37GNEPHG3Y6GL9H
  • 37HDW7EVNL6MKKC
  • 37JMUDMYFQ77HUJ
  • 37JWDXWM93FPW9H
  • 37LVPVJ7WR4WPFN
  • 37P7HLM4J4W766N
Here’s some G Suite promotional codes for Australian businesses, please use this linkif you want 20% off*:
Valid for G Suite Basic plan in Australia (Updated Jan 2019)
933N9GVHVG7C6EJ
937R7JAREPQWUTM
939HWVE6KPGKHKF
93C74CHCJCFKT7Y
93D6XUUTUJQ9M6W
93DDE3YDQEFGCH9
93EEHA9KX3UPYPL
93EPXH4YVPHWKW9
93EY9KWWAMPWMEF
93FCHYCU7EPEWMX

Please reach out to me via mailforvu(at)gmail.com if you’re interested and these codes promotional have been used up already.

*Disclaimer – I’m a big fan of Google, so I have written this analysis based on my own experiences using Google’s G Suite as a personal and business user. The G Suite shared, that is, is a referral link, meaning I do earn a referral if you optionally use the link to sign up and use Google’s G Suite services. You will not lose anything in any way if you choose to use my referral link, instead you’ll gain a 20% discount plus just reward me for taking the time to write this article on Google’s G Suite offering.

Happy Googling!

How to get VPN Gate installed on your pc

What’s VPN Gate?

VPN Gate is an online service that originally was created in Japan which aims to, in their words, expand the knowledge of “Global Distributed Public VPN Relay Servers”.

I like using their services, as it’s a great way to test how visitors at specific locations around the world can access your website. What they can see, how the links operate, checking if Web Application Firewalls on my website are being blocked if I blocked a specific country, that sort of stuff. Very useful in my industry (working in IT).

Requirements for VPN Gate

VPN Gate Client is currently freeware and primarily available for Windows. You can download the software program directly from their website or from CNET’s Download.com website.

Which version of VPN Gate do I install and download?

Download SoftEther VPN Client + VPN Gate Client Plugin

As I am writing this, this is the current version, though downloading a more recent version is often even better vpngate-client-2017.06.03-build-9634.138562.zip

Languages available: English, Japanese and Simplified Chinese

Compatible OS:
Windows, CPU: Intel x86 and x64
(Windows 98 SE / ME / 2000 SP4 / XP SP2, SP3 / Server 2003 SP2 / Vista SP1, SP2 / Server 2008 SP1, SP2 / Hyper-V Server 2008 / 7 SP1 / Server 2008 R2 SP1 / Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 / 8 / 10 / Server 2012 / Hyper-V Server 2012)

You do not need to install SoftEther VPN Server to use it.

If you are using MAC OS X or Android or iPhone, please check their online guide for how to install it on those devices, as you’ll be looking to rely on the device’s specific native VPN (Virtual Private Network) functions to get this working.

How do I use VPN Gate?

Once you install it, you’ll be able to select the countries to VPN from. It’ll look something like the following, however, it’ll also have more Regions to choose from.

So you select the Hostname (DDNS Hostname) you want to connect to and follow the prompts. The speed will always vary depending on the server and currently load on the server.

Source – https://www.vpngate.net/images/ss/softether_win/en/05.jpg

Happy VPNing!

Apple keyboard lid won’t open due to battery leakage

If you are like me, you had a wireless Apple keyboard where there was AA batteries leakage and the threaded lid won’t open. Something definitely to dread, especially when the replacement costs isn’t cheap.

I hadn’t used my keyboard for a while until I found this. I saw white grains around my desk and realised that there had been a battery leakage (some white corrosion is outside the threaded lid area).

The corrosion joined the parts together strongly in a chemical fusion.

I immediately tried to open it but no methods seemed to work, I used a coin, pliers, a screw driver with no avail.

I followed someone’s tip online and removed the bluetooth module cover removes by squeezing the sides of the plastic tube together, which allows a jeweller’s screwdriver to get under the rear edge and gently lever it up. I did this but just couldn’t make it through to the battery.

Steps to try free your Apple keyboard lid

I am writing this article to show you some photos of what I experienced, and some suggested steps to try. This includes:

  • a coin
  • a coin with pliers
  • a screw driver
  • opening the bluetooth module cover
  • pour vinegar inside to dissolve the corrosion

Apple keyboard lid won’t open due to battery leakage

Here’s an Apple forum discussion on this topic if you’re looking for others in the same boat and my photos below.

Here’s the wireless Apple keyboard battery opening spot, you’ll see the corrosion around it.

Removing the bluetooth cover will give you this view
If you’re wondering, I couldn’t successfully fix it. I could see the battery within the bluetooth gap, but couldn’t break through it and adding vinegar didn’t work. Hopefully you might have some luck if you have this issue and you’re reading this!