Switching back to dropbox

So after switching to BittorrencSync for a few months (which was working well) they bloated out the software and made it no longer completely free. Next I tried Synching, but it had issues with files that were open while it was syncing (for example KeePass).

So now its back to dropbox with EncFs encryption. DropBox’s synchronization just works really well. They have fast servers, and over all its a great solution. Only issue is trusting them, but so long as we are encrypting everything that doesn’t matter.

Additionally what i’ve done is created a small script to run on any freshly formatted computer i’m trying to setup for use.

This makes my dock sync across all computers, the screen shot default location to dropbox, and documents being stored on dropbox.

mv ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.dock.plist ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.d$

ln -s ~/Dropbox/File/osx/com.apple.dock.plist ~/Library/Preferences/com.apple.d$

defaults write com.apple.screencapture location ~/Dropbox/Screenshots

mv ~/Documents ~/Documents.old

ln -s ~/Dropbox/Documents ~/Documents

New Photo Backup Solution – Amazon Cloud Drive?

Recently Amazon Cloud Drive announced that they were doing a free unlimited photo storage deal for amazon prime members. After looking a little further into it I realized that indeed I can upload the .CR2 files from the Canon 5D, which is actually pretty awesome.

Next step was of course to figure out how to get my photos into their cloud (Approximately 500GB of photos, currently in an Aperture Library). They have a downloadable desktop application for OS X, but it doesn’t support any sort of syncing, just purely uploading. Additionally after using it a couple times it just started to hang on me. So ultimately I end up using multiple tabs in google chrome to upload one large folder each. I’m maxing out the crappy Comcast 150mbit internet I have (uploading at around 30mbit consistently to Amazon). The upload does prevent duplicates from being uploaded.

The interface is basic, but slick. I won’t likely use this as the primary place I keep my photos (currently a raid 0 dual SSD thuderbolt enclosure) but I do trust amazon to be around a while and see this is a great opportunity for some free off-site storage. And may someday, who knows, their website may be more powerful than the local computer based apps I currently use (i.e. Aperture).

I also tried a few other services such as Yahoo’s 1TB (doesn’t support raw) but Amazon seems to be the only unlimited, free photo storage supporting raw file formats.

Switching from iCloud to gmail

I get way too much email now and using the default apple service to manage email is hopeless. Both iPhone and OS X email applications suck at handling multiple email accounts or thousands of messages.

Since I’m using Google Apps on my own domain, the option to import email from your old email provider is not available so I’m using a tool called imapsync. According to google there is approximately a 500 megabyte per day IMAP transfer limit, however I found this not to exist, sending over 5GB of email over to google last night.

Now its jus ta matter of sorting out the hundreds of folders that were sent over and converted into google labels.

<update>

After using google apps gmail for a month or so now, i’m loving it. It works great. Only real thing lacking now is the ability to automatically PGP sign all outgoing emails without having to use thunderbird.

Gmail’s filters blow apple’s out of the water.

The search feature is fast and easy to use.

 

Voip Provider Review Followup

So after a few months I’ve narrowed down the voip providers I use to the following:

Voip.ms

I’m using voip.ms for all my US based DID’s. So far it works really well. It also supports SMS which is a great added plus.

FlowRoute

I’m using flowroute for outgoing domestic calls.

LocalPhone.com

While localphone.com has great rates as well as DID’s from all over the world (and lax verification on if you’re actually a resident of such places) it doesn’t scale well. I use it for one dutch number, but when trying to add multiple numbers, I haven way within Asterisk to differentiate between the DID’s coming in over the same trunk.

LocalPhone.com has good outgoing call quality and prices, so I’m using it for all my international call routings.

Encrypted Simplicity

With TrueCrypt’s recent issues I have once again redone the way I handle encryption, replication, and backup.

Encryption

For encryption I am using encfs (installed via home-brew). This is fast, efficient, secure, file based encryption (so it works well for syncing).

Sync

For syncing I am using BtSync. It is free, open source, multi-platform, and works well.

~/Documents/ – Non-secure syncing of the documents folder on all my machines.

~/.crypt/ – Secure (enfs) encrypted files directory.

~/iPhone-photos/ – Unencrypted iPhone photos (sync’d whenever phone is on wifi – i prefer this over apple’s iCloud photo sync).

~/.ssh/ – Syncing password encrypted ssh private (and public) key pairs.

Backup

Using the Time Backup utility of Synology NAS I backup my documents, ssh, and encrypted files hourly to an external USB drive, maintaining many historical versions of each file incase something bad happens.

I also have traded BtSync read-only keys with a few friends to increase the number of copies of each file that is available in the BtSync cloud, this provides redundancy as well as speed in syncing.

SSH-Keys

Using ssh-add -K <path> in OS X I have managed to automate authentication to most of my remote servers.

Back to iCloud for email

After a few months of messing around with various mail solutions (iRedMail, hosting my own osx server, open bad mail server, citadel, Zohomail, etc) I have decided its just too much work and am going back to OS X. I have decided that instead of finding a better way to manage all the e-mail I receive that I am going to start aggressively reducing the number of emails I get. No more mailing lists, unsubscribing from all newsletters, etc. E-mail is just not an adequate way of communication any longer because it’s overwhelming. For all communications that occur regularly via email I am going to request we migrate the conversation to Skype chat or via one of the other messaging services (if necessary, encrypted with OTR).

Over the month of June, I received an average of 182 emails a day, I hope to get this to 20 or less over the coming months.

Search for VoiP Provider…

Communicating while traveling can be difficult and expensive. In order to alleviate some of the headaches, I setup an Asterisk PBX at home to route calls using hard and soft VoiP phones. Recently I migrated from having a dedicated machine at home for this to using the DIgium Asterisk package on a Synology NAS unit.

The first task is to figure out which VoiP provider is going to work.

What’s needed:

  • Ability to receive and place up to 3 calls simultaneously.
  • Easy, high quality international calling (both incoming and outgoing).
  • Support numbers forwarding to multiple support ‘agents’ so that someone can always answer.
  • Ability to forward a primary numbers to multiple extensions or outside lines. (i.e. from one US number to a variety of international prepaid sims without any additional configuration – i.e. handle no longer functioning phones automatically).
  • Incoming US and Dutch phone numbers.

FlowRoute

I have been using FlowRoute for some time no as my outgoing provider. They provide good quality calls and I’ve never had an issue with them. However their trunks for incoming lines are priced at $17/month, which I find to be preventative from considering them as a serious solution. I would like the ability to handle 2-3 calls at a time once in a blue moon, but am not going to pay for that capacity all the time at such a high rate. I still do recumbent them for outgoing calls, where a incoming trunk is not necessary.

CallCentric

CallCentric is one of the main reasons this search has even begun – they discontinued their free incoming DID service which I was previously using. I’m not so interested in CallCentric at this time because when I was using their free DID service, the calls were often poor quality and network often lagged. I also do not find their pricing model to be very attractive.

VoiP.ms

In my search for VoiP providers I started by trying one that I had tried to use about a year ago, VoiP.ms but am still unable to add credit even after having a hold put on my registration when I registered way back when (I was trying to top up using paypal, for their minimum amount, $25). So now to just wait for them to contact me and verify me again (last time this process took days).

DIDLogic

I cannot get my asterisk server to tie into DIDLogic correctly.

IPKall

IPKall has been giving away free incoming DID’s for a long time now. This is a very simple and easy to use service with decent quality (considering its free). Its not a good business solution, but figured I would mention it as I have used it for a while and never had any issues with it. It is also great for testing things out, or if you need a ‘burn’ number (i.e. a number just for a few days).

LocalPhone

LocalPhone seemed very promising at first, however I have run into problems with them. They don’t transmit the DID number, but rather your account number to the asterisk server. As such asterisk cannot differentiate between different DID numbers on a single account. To alleviate this I created a second account and added a DID to it. However upon adding that second trunk to asterisk things started to get messed up. When a call comes in on LocalPhone2 it is still picked up by inbound call rules of LocalPhone1. I believe this is because of the insecure=very option that LocalPhone requires in order to function.

In addition to the above problem, for some reason one of the phone numbers on my local phone account is forwarding to someone who I have no idea is – and i didn’t set it up that way.

OS X Server for email and contact sync

I have now been using OS X Servers + iRedMail on an old mac mini I had kicking around to handle my e-mail services. So far so good.

Some key points:

  • Unlike iCloud, unlimited server side email filters can be setup within iRedMail and these rules can be far more complex than iCloud allows.
  • Push e-mail works on the inbox and inbox only.
  • Contact, Calendar, and notes all sync without issue.

So far no issues whatsoever.

 

iCloud sucks – OSX Server an alternative?

A while back I switched from iCloud to hosting my own iRedMail server for my email solution. iRedMail doesn’t work how i’d like and doesn’t work well with iPhone with (the z-push stuff is garbage).

As such I’ve repurposed an old mac mini to be my new mail server and so far i like it. here’s a few of the key points:

  • Unlike iCloud, server side mail filtering is not super basic, nor limited to 99 entries. One can easily install roundcubewebmail (it’s a double click install on osx server), which supports server side sieve filtering.
  • push just works correctly on my iPhone.
  • osx server handles Contacts, Calendars, Mail, Notes, Reminders, and can even handle (some) messaging.
  • Multiple domains are seemingly handled flawlessly (just make sure to correctly specify your email address in your mail client).
  • Install is quick and easy.