Add a NAS drive to your Livedrive account for free

I used to be a customer of popular cloud backup service Livedrive. The upload and download speeds were nothing to shout about and one annoyance was having to pay extra to add a NAS drive to your account, but there is a workaround!

How so?

All you need to do is add a symbolic link to your NAS drive from your computer. Think of a symbolic link as a fancy shortcut, the only difference being it masks the destination instead of taking you straight there – you’ll see what I mean when you read on.

Imagine you have a Windows computer with your NAS drive with the root of the drive already mapped to Z:, you have a folder on your NAS called MyFiles and would be able to browse to Z:\MyFiles to see whatever is stored there. Next imagine we have a folder called C:\Backup which is already uploading to your Livedrive account, using  the following command we will make C:\Backup\MyFiles lead to your NAS and in turn be included with your Livedrive backup.

mklink /d "C:\Backup\MyFiles" "Z:\MyFiles"

For me, this worked absolutely fine and I had a couple of TB uploaded without ever being caught out. I’ve since jumped ship to Amazon Drive, whilst it is more expensive per year I’ve got it running from multiple computers and the upload and download speed always tops out my connection, so I can’t complain!

Notes

  • Use the above guide at your own risk – I won’t be held liable if anything happens to your Livedrive account, files or anything else because of this!
  • This doesn’t work with Dropbox or Google Drive  – sorry
  • You only need to run the command once, after that the link will be remembered
  • To remove the link just delete it as you would any other  file or folder

TRENDnet TV-IP310pi Night Vision Fix

Let’s face it, it’s not fun when things don’t work properly which is why I was a little annoyed recently – very big understatment! – when I discovered my TRENDnet TV-IP310pi cameras had a slight flaw, a flaw which is scarcely documented but fairly fundemental to the overall use of the camera… oh and did I forget to mention I own 5 of these cameras, all installed around my house, all which had the same problem? Yup!

So what is the actual problem?

Well the cameras work perfectly in the day delivering 25 frames per second of crisp 1080p footage which is great BUT when the night time comes – as it does – performance takes a dramatic hit and you are lucky to get a maximum of 4 frames per second… which is pretty rubbish! For months I’ve been thinking it  was a problem with my home server – an Intel I7 920 quad core 2.4GHz  running VMware – and I came to the conclusion that I needed a new rig as it just couldn’t cope with the amount of data passing through but oh was I wrong!

Anyway, long story short after pestering my friend Chris at work – who also runs his own CCTV system, only with the identical Hikvision DS-2CD2032F-I cameras – some extensive testing was done – I’ll spare you the details – but we came to the conclusion that the hardware was good, the network was good and were stumped until we found an Amazon review which also mentioned the same problem!

This unfortunatley opened up a can of worms and what followed was a very stressful 3 days which involved not sleeping much, scouring forums, downloading all sorts of firmware and almost losing ALL hope and contacting support! However, I’m very pleased to report that all of my cameras are now running the latest TRENDnet firmware – v5.3.4 – and are delivering 25 FPS 1080p footage at night time – Wow!

So how easy is it to fix?

The fix is easier than you might think, but you do need to be brave as we are essentially going to ‘brick’ the camera and make it an expensive paper weight by installing the Hikvision firmware, then we will reload the TRENDnet firmware fresh and enjoy ALL the frames per second! You might think this is a mad idea, but the TRENDnet TV-IP310pi is actually a rebranded version of the Hikvision DS-2CD2032F-I, so deep down the hardware is the same it just has a different sticker on the side.

I used the following files found below, combined with an XP laptop that was connected by cable directly to the PoE switch, this was connected to the camera directly and ideally  you’ll want to unplug all other devices so you only have the camera and the laptop plugged in but I might have got a bit lazy towards the end… Also, my Windows 7 laptop struggled to transfer the firmware as the TFTP file transfer kept looping and wouldn’t complete, hence using an old XP machine.

I’m up for the challenge!

Great! Before you continue please be aware that I won’t be liable if this goes wrong and it will reset your camera back to the factory default settings! I’ve done this process 5 times flawlessly so far but still – proceed at your own risk!

Whenever the camera boots it scans a predefined IP for a TFTP server, if it finds this server it looks for a specific file and because of this we can do the recovery without having to open the camera up or get ‘hands on’! I reflashed all my cameras with them still fixed in position on the house, minimal effort required!

  1. Download the files found here, extract them somewhere safe and keep reading
  2. Change your computers network settings so the IP address is 192.0.0.128, see picture below:
    trendnet_tv-ip310pi_recovery-network-config
  3. Connect your computer to the switch along with the camera, disable any other connections network – FLASH VIA ETHERNET CABLE ONLY!
  4. Copy the Hikvision_5-1-6–digicap.dav file into the TFTP Server folder and rename it digicap.dav
  5. Run tftpserv.exe and then restart your camera, after a few seconds you should see the following:
    trendnet_tv-ip310pi_recovery-tftp1
  6. Now you won’t get any confirmation here, so leave it 2 or 3 minutes then unplug your camera, close the tftpserv.exe and repeat step 3 but this time use the Trendnet_5-3-4–digicap.dav file
  7. Now start tftpserv.exe again and connect your IP camera, this time after a few minutes you’ll see a system update complete message like below:
    trendnet_tv-ip310pi_recovery-tftp2
  8. Close of tftpserv.exe and reboot the camera, after a few minutes check your router and you’ll have a fresh IP camera sat on DHCP waiting be configured! If you can’t find your camera straight away, don’t panic! Install the auto discovery program (SADPTool_V3.0.0.100.exe) and find the camera that way

Conclusion

I did try updating to the latest TRENDnet firmware via the web interface before going down the TFTP route but it still gave me low frames per second at night using the identical 5.3.4 file… I’m guessing installing the Hikvision firmware first completely screwed things up, after that the camera is left fresh, ready for the TRENDnet firmware? Either way it worked and I’m a happy nerd!

Notes

  • Again, I can’t be liable if this goes wrong for you!
  • The files in the link above were all found on the Internet, I take no credit, all  credit belongs to the respective authors (presuming that is Hikvision? Thanks!)
  • If you get really stuck I can reflash your cameras, after all not everyone has an old XP relic lying around! Drop me an email, pay for postage and send your camera in a box along with a little gift!
  • I found an easy way to tell the camera state during the reflashing process which is to do a constant ping to the IP addresses below – Note that in order to use this method you’ll need to assign your network card two IP addresses (192.0.0.128 and 192.168.1.128):
    • 192.0.0.64 – Camera is in rescue mode
    • 192.168.1.64 – Camera firmware has updated but not yet rebooted
    • No response from either – Somethings not right!
  • You can find the latest TRENDnet firmware direct from their website here
  • From various forum posts I read some people were saying you can flash using any TFTP server software, however this isn’t the case as you must use the Hikvision TFTP server as there is a special initiation process which waits for certain key to be sent back and forward before the firmware updating process begins
  • Make sure you clear your browser cache before logging in again otherwise things might not work properly

Windows 10 Automatic Login at Boot or Switch of User

There may come a time in your nerdy life where you want your computer to automatically log in at boot or whenever anybody signs out, this can be especially useful if you are running software that needs a user to be constantly logged in.

For example, I run CCTV software on my computer via a user called Console, the software displays live camera feeds on a second screen at my desk, the same signal is fed via a splitter through network cables eventually reaching various screens dotted around my house.

The setup requires my Console user to be constantly logged in, be it when the system boots or after I have finished checking my emails or being nerdy.

It is fairly straight forward to get going, in my case on Windows 10 Pro I ran the built-in netplwiz(.exe) utility and added one string value to the registry.

Part 1: Configuring automatic login at boot

  1. Run netplwiz(.exe) and uncheck the box saying Users must enter a username and password to use this computer.
  2. Press OK then enter the username and password you want the computer to automatically login as and press OK again

That’s the first part completed, so now whenever you boot your computer it will automatically sign in as the user account you have set.

Part 2: Configure automatic login when signing out/switching user

The next part involves adding a regsitry key with a string value, once this was done I found it worked straight away without having to reboot my machine.

  1. Open regedit(.exe) and navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

    Right click on Winlogon and select New > String Value

  2. For the value name enter ForceAutoLogon, double click the line you just added and enter the  value date to 1

That’s it! Now when you sign out it will automatically sign back in to the user account set in first step.

Notes

  • If you want to log in as a different user, hold the shift key whilst locking your account, you’ll then see the normal Windows login screen
  • You can do step 1 via the registry if you want, but why over complicate things!

Unstick a LinkStation Disk Backup

Imagine this… you have two decent network attach storage boxes which regularly backup one to the other using a built in Disk Backup tool –  Brilliant huh, sounds almost like a nerdy dream! Now imagine part way through a backup you get a power cut or you just trip over the power cable ripping the plug out the wall… not to worry, things will pick up where they left off… unless those decent boxes are Buffalo LinkStations!

I first discovered this flaw a few weeks back when one of my nightly backups seemed to be taking longer than usual. I gave the box about a day or so to try and fix itself but it still kept saying that the disk backup was in progress and in the admin interface and I was unable to cancel or remove the backup, so it was pretty much stuck as you can see below:

stuck-backup

I headed to the official Buffalo support website which seemed to have a fix for this common problem – See for yourself below:

buffalo-stuck-disk-backup
Okay so you have to restore the box to factory defaults… no thanks! I can only assume that because the HS-DHGL is one of their older discontinued products they just can’t be bothered to make a firmware update as it’s not worth their time or effort, but the other option is to use SSH to edit a file which will force the backup to complete.

Getting Unstuck

The following guide will assume you have already enabled SSH and are logged in ready to go, if you haven’t yet enabled SSH see this post here.

  • First of all we need to locate the backup configuration file and this depends on the job number specified on the admin interface, in my case it was number 1 so we need to type in the following command to open the file in a text editor:
    • "vi /etc/melco/backup1"
  • You will now see the configuration file open, hit I (for indigo) on your keyboard to allow inserting of new text and change the line status=running to status=done
  • Hit the Escape key and then type :wq to save your changes and quit
  • Head back to the admin interface to the Disk Backup section and you’ll now see the backup showing as complete as seen below:
    job-complete
  • That’s it – The backup is unstuck, and we haven’t had to restore anything to factory defaults!

Notes

  • This has been tried and tested on the following models/firmware: HS-DHGL/v2.1
  • Finally, if you could let me know if you encounter any problems or can confirm if this works for other models I’d be grateful

My experience with KGUARD and the Mars Home NVR Combo Kit

I’ve had a KGUARD Mars Home NVR Kit installed at my house for just over a year now, I bought it from eBuyer and paid a little more than I should have thinking it was a great investment and should last a good few year… it has been okay but unfortunatley the NVR side of it recently gave up the ghost.

The NVR initially started complaining about hard disk errors, randomly rebooted and is now just stuck on the boot up screen. Being familiar with embedded devices it ended up looking pretty bricked but unfortunatley there’s no obvious way to reflash the firmware. After a long email conversation with Danny Wu at KGUARD support, he wished me good luck at trying to reflash the firmware and has ignored me ever since, it would be okay but never actually told me how to get the box into recovery mode despite asking a fair few times… I’ll try fix the NVR at some point and if I have any joy I’ll write another post.

It’s not so bad right, you can still use the cameras?

In the meantime I installed iSpy connect – recommended by my friend Chris at work – on my home computer and thought that if I nipped out to Maplins and bought a slightly over priced TP Link PoE switch I could simply swap cables over and have some sort of CCTV system working in no time… was I wrong! Turns out the cameras aren’t 802.3af compliant so it won’t work without a little adjustment.

I didn’t want to go buy more kit without knowing the cameras would actually work, so I got an extension lead and a 12v 2A adapter trailing out the window at 2am, after a bit of tinkering I managed to get a stream from one of the cameras – annoyingly the cameras have their own static IP addresses which are own a different subnet to my home network and on reboot the settings revert back to default… adding a second IP to my network card sorted that.

The next day I nipped back to Maplins and got some PoE splitters, I popped into B&Q as well and got some IP rated junction boxes to cram everything into. After a bit of creativity the end result is that I can now use the KGUARD cameras but I have to have a slightly ugly looking box alongside them to shelter the PoE splitter, its not too bad but I’ve taken the opportunity to upgrade to some Trendnet TV-IP310PI’s and you can really tell the difference.

IMG_20160605_121000
PoE bodge

At least you won’t need to run new network cables?

Pah – Initially I wasn’t going to run new network cables as I thought the existing KGUARD ones would be good enough, unfortuantley not. When I went to put the new cameras waterproof connector in place I discovered that the existing KGUARD network cables only had 6 cores and just felt incredibly cheap, not wanting to take risks and to make things future proof I ended up spending the best part of a day feeding new cables through roof and under floors.

KGUARD network cable
KGUARD network cable

Where’s the happy ending?

It does come eventually, along the way I’ve ate a “cheddar and ham toasty”, got Chris up a ladder, learnt how to run and terminate my own network cables and recycled the KGUARD cameras to cover blind spots that weren’t covered before – those two both with the help of Chris one Saturday – and learnt that ultimatley you are always better building your own system as once you are past the year warranty neither the retailer nor manufacturer could care less!

I was torn between iSpy or BlueIris for software – I ended up going with iSpy which is opensource but should really be classed as freemium. If you want to do anything useful (playback footage, watch remotely or recieve email alerts) you have to upgrade to a premium version which is a monthly cost – not to worry though, I’m currently working on a VB program which will allow both live and pre-recoded playback of files possible and Chris is working on an alternative mobile ap.

I can’t thank KGUARD enough for this valuable learning experience and I would strongly recommend that if you are thinking about getting a KGUARD system then look elsewhere! If I hadn’t have had such good knowledge of network and computing then I’d have ended up with one very expensive set of paper weights.

Disable Virtualmin Two-factor Authentication

Virtualmin is constantly being developed and gaining ever useful features, and for a while now has featured two-factor authentication which is great, although what happens if you get locked out of your system? As long as you have SSH or console access then you can follow the steps below to easily get back in.

Disabling two-factor authentication for a single user

  • Get root SSH or console access
  • Edit the file /etc/webmin/miniserv.users, comment out the current line for the user then create a fresh copy above it
  • Remove any mention of “totp” and the long string of characters near the end and save, for example your file should now look like the following:
...
root:x::::::::0:0:::
#root:x::::::::0:0:totp:ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ:
...
  • Restart Webmin and log back in normally

Disabling two-factor authentication entirely

  • Get root SSH or console access
  • Edit the file /etc/webmin/miniserv.conf and find the line “twofactor_provider=totp” and replace with “twofactor_provider=” and save
  • Edit the /etc/webmin/miniserv.users as mentioned above
  • Restart Webmin and log back in normally

Notes

  • I’ve had success with this on Webmin 1.760 running on CentOS 7.0

Remove Adverts from All 4 Roku App

Disclaimer

This post is for educational purposes only, it briefly describes a technique for removing the adverts from Channel 4’s on demand service. I won’t be providing any working examples and won’t be held liable whatever the outcome if you try this, this was just setup as a test one afternoon and then destroyed shortly after. Do so at your own risk.

Why even bother?

Now I love TV but I always end up forgetting and then having to catch up later using on demand services via my NowTV box, some services are great – like the BBC iPlayer – where as others – 4OD or All 4 – lack basic features like being able to resume where you left off without having to sit through the ads again.

This got me thinking, is it possible to get around the ads? Picture this… you are watching an hour long programme on your Roku (or NowTV) box, you have 10 minutes to go and you have to nip out. You come back hoping to pick up where you left off.. but oh no, something happened and now you have to watch from the begining OR fast forward until you get to an ad break, watch the ads, then fast forward again… its not good right? This has happened to me many a time!

A quick Google suggested this is not possible, but that wasn’t good enough for me.

How did you get it to work?

It took a bit of nerdy know how, a decent router and a publicly accessible Linux box.

Decent router – I was using a NowTV (watered down Roku) box, these don’t have the option to manually specify the DNS server addresses so you have to set the DNS servers in my router

Linux box – I used a CentOS 7 box running BIND and Apache, BIND responded to the DNS requests aiming everything at the Apache server

The basic idea is to redirect any requests to ‘known advertiser servers’ to your own server which is returning a single pixel instead of the advertisers video, and it did work really well:

As you can see above the same programme has ads and one does not. This method also removes the ad cue points so you are literally just served with the entire video – cool, huh?

Notes

  • This was just a test, please don’t lecture me about the importance of advertising and the revenue it generates
  • I only tested it with the Roku app, although I think it would have worked for the Xbox app too
  • I guess the same tecnique could be used to create a ‘super’ ad blocker that works with more than just on demand services

Incoming search terms:

  • adblock roku
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  • roku app ad blocker
  • roku turn off video ads 2017

Bypass Queue-it.com’s Online Queuing Service

For Black Friday 2014 Currys enlisted the Queue-it.com online queuing service to presumably create some form of buzz and make impatient paying customers even more eager to see what amazing deals they had – there really weren’t that many.

A few people at work were trying to get onto their website but found themselves not getting very far being constantly pushed to the back of the queue. As a joke I was asked to get around the queue and within two minutes I was on the Currys website.

I tried reverse proxying and modifying my browser user agent string but still found I was being redirected, meaning something in the websites source code was redirecting me. After a quick look through the source I notice some Javascript coming from the Queue-it.com domain. I disabled Javascript and was browsing instantly!

So, disable Javascript and skip that queue!

Notes

  • If you are regularly faced with Queue-it.com’s incredibly useful service consider installing browser plugin such as AdBlock or NoScript to block the entire queue-it.com domain and resume happy browsing

 

Incoming search terms:

  • how to beat Queue-it
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Upgrade Windows Phone 8.0 to 8.1 Before Main Release Using Developer Preview

Recently I lost my smartphone and after lots of searching decided to give up and buy a new phone. As I only really use my phone for checking emails, a little remote desktop access and the odd bit of mobile banking I didn’t need anything overkill and I fancied a change from Android so I went for a Windows based Nokia Lumia 520.

The Lumia 520 can be picked up for £69.00 on O2 pay as you go (as of 01/07/2014, see here) but I paid a little extra and got mine the same day. I was initially blown away by the Windows Phone operating system as it was better than expected and I couldn’t find any flaws. I’d setup my email, installed the mobile banking app and so on which lead me to my final task which was to install the Remote Desktop app. You’d think this would be a straight forward task installing a Microsoft product on something Microsoft powered but no, when heading to the Microsoft Store on the phone the Remote Desktop app wasn’t showing so I searched the Microsoft Store online and it came up saying that it wasn’t compatible with the Windows Phone 8.0 operating system that was currently on the phone.

I had three options, to cry in the corner, wait for the update to be released or to try upgrade the phone manually. After a little research the update was said to be released within the “…first two weeks of July…” but there was no exact date and I just couldn’t wait.

After more research it turns out that you can use a free app called Preview for Developers which allows you to basically get the update there and then instead of having to wait.

Upgrading Windows Phone 8.0 to 8.1

Below you’ll find a guide on how to upgrade the Windows Phone operating system. Please note that any changes you do here are irreversible and this will no doubt void your warranty.

  • First things first we need to create a free account with Microsoft’s App Studio using the link found here as this will give you access to the developer previews service and give you the magical updates – I used my main Microsoft account that’s linked to the phone to keep things simple
  • Once you’ve created the account go to Microsoft Store on the phone, search Preview for Developers and install the app
  • Once the app has installed launch it and you will be asked to accept the terms and conditions and login using the account details created previously
  • Next you’ll see information about what the app does and so on, all we need to do here is tick the box next to Enable Preview for Developers and press done
  • Now that’s enabled head to Settings > phone update and press check now and then follow the on screen instructions – You may need to repeat this process several times as it took me two updates to prepare the phone before the update to Windows 8.1 was offered
  • After a little while you will now be running Windows 8.1! – You can check this by viewing Settings > about > more information under the OS version heading

Notes

  • Make sure your phone is fully charged before attempting any updates as things could seriously go wrong otherwise!
  • As with anything in development stages things may be a little buggy so be aware that you may stumble across the odd glitch every now and again
  • Although not tested I assume the same steps will work for phones other than the Nokia Lumia 520, if you can confirm this I’d be grateful

Incoming search terms:

  • how nokia lumia 520 update 8 0to 8 1
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Enable SSH on LinkStation Stock Firmware

Enabling SSH on the LinkStation is simpler than you might think and opens up a world of functionality (and nerdyness) that you never had before – All this with no firmware flashing which ultimately means no data loss and no risk of bricking your box.

My motivation to enable SSH came about when my older LinkStation (a 500GB HS-DHGL) was doing a Disk Backup to my newer one (a 2TB LS-WXL) and it just seemed to be taking forever. It turned out the backup had hung part way through and the only official way to fix this problem as listed on Buffalo’s support website was to reset the box back to factory settings – That’s a bit ridiculous in my opinion but there is a work around, see this post here for more information on how to unstick a backup.

The activation process is done by a program called ACP Commander which is a command line tool that can be a little confusing to work at times with its lack of user friendly interface (if you search for this online you’ll see what I mean) however by chance I came across a reworked version that has a decent interface and is fairly easy to use.

Enabling SSH

The following guide will assume that you are on the same network as your LinkStation and are able to access it freely as you normally would day-to-day,  also if you want to keep your warranty with Buffalo do not continue!

  • Download ACP Commander GUI for Windows (.EXE file) or Mac (.DMG file)
  • Run your newly downloaded file and you should see a screen similar to the one below:
    lsunlock-1
  • Select your LinkStation IP address from where it says Select LinkStation, then enter your password where it says Admin password and press Enable SSH
  • After a couple of seconds you will be shown a SSH enabled OK! message as seen below:
    lsunlock-2
  • The next step is to set your root password for SSH, click Set root PW, type in a password and then press OK and you will see another message like the one below:
    lsunlock-4
  • Now head to your favourite SSH software and connect to your box! If all is well you will see something similar to this:
    lsunlock-5
  • That’s all you need to do to enable SSH!

Notes

  • This method is proven to work on both Windows and Mac for the following models/firmware: LS-WXL/v1.68, HS-DHGL/v2.11, LS-QVL/v1.64
  • Common out of the box commands include: top – process viewer, vi – text editor, cp – copy files, mv – move files
  • Mine and my friends newer LinkStations had HTOP installed – Epic!
  • Enabling SSH will no doubt void your warranty with Buffalo but who needs that anyway?!
  • I didn’t create the program recommended and take no credit for it
  • Finally, if you could let me know if you encounter any problems or can confirm if this works for other models I’d be grateful
  • Thanks to Callum for confirming this works on the LS-QVL and Michael for confirming this works on the TS-X/R5 with version 1.66 firmware

Incoming search terms:

  • buffalo linkstation enable ssh
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