Monday, January 8, 2018

Asustor AS3202T

The Asustor AS3202T ($259) is a well-priced network-attached storage (NAS) drive (as DROBO B1200I ) with two drive bays, made for the person or family in need of a home base for years of accumulated files and downloads. It's powerful, and it has support for a wide variety of adjunct applications and services, though you will have to download and install some software to get all the services that come preinstalled on other NAS devices. The AS3202T$259.00 at Amazon will require tinkering or some NAS administration experience to reach its full potential, unlike our easier-to-use top pick for SOHO NAS devices, the Netgear ReadyNAS 202Best Price at Amazon. It works well as a file server, but you can turn it into a feature-rich media playback device and streaming server with some perseverance and exploration.

Design and Features

The black plastic on the front of the AS3203T has a diamond-check pattern molded into it, which is a bit more tactile than the plain white plastic on competitors like the Synology DiskStation DS216j$151.51 at Amazon and the Western Digital My Cloud Mirror Gen 2Best Price at Amazon. The drive bays are hidden in the case, unlike the removable drive sleds in the Netgear ReadyNAS 202. On the upper left of the front panel is a row of green LEDs indicating power, status, network connectivity, and disk activity. There's a front-mounted USB 3.0 port for connecting additional external hard drives, as well as an IR sensor for the included media remote control. The case measures 6.5 by 4 by 8.6 inches (HWD), so it's compact enough to fit next to your home router. The AS3202T comes with a three-year warranty, which is a year longer than many NAS boxes.

The side panels and interior drive bays offer tool-less access, using included thumbscrews to secure the case door and internal hard drives. The appliance is sold without hard drives, so I installed two Hitachi Deskstar NAS 6TB drives, which cost $249 each at the time of this review. They slid into the internal bracket assembly without a hitch, and I secured them using the thumbscrews. You'll need to budget for internal drives when you buy any diskless NAS, though you can run the AS3203T with only one drive and add the second later.

I formatted the Deskstar NAS drives together as a RAID Level 1 array, which protects your data by mirroring all your files on both hard drives. The NAS had 5.41TB free after I set it up. RAID Level 0 (striping) is also supported, in which case the AS3202T would have about 12TB available. I prefer RAID Level 1 for two-drive NAS arrays, since you're better protected in case one drive fails. In RAID Level 0 mode, if one drive fails, you could lose all your data.

The AS3202T comes set up for bare-bones file services. Core file serving functionality for Windows PCs is on by default, as is RSync (a file syncing service that replicates your data with any remote Asustor NAS also running RSync). Other files servers are supported, but you have to activate them manually. These include AFP (macOS), FTP, HTTP/Web Server, MariaDB (open-source MySQL database), NFS (Linux/Unix), SNMP, Terminal/SSH, TFTP, and WebDAV. You'll also need to turn on Time Machine support if you're planning to back up your Macs over the network. This might have you feeling more in control if you're a stickler, but other NAS devices like the Netgear ReadyNAS 202, the QNAP TAS-168Best Price at Amazon, and the Synology DS216j are easier to install in a mixed environment, since they at least have macOS, Time Machine, and NFS services enabled by default.

The back panel has the rest of the device's ports, including a jack for the AC adapter, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an HDMI port, a Kensington lock port, and two additional USB 3.0 ports. You can connect external USB hard drives or third-party accessories like an external optical drive, a USB printer, or a USB Wi-Fi adapter to the NAS for additional functionality. The settings for these external devices are in the Asustor Data Master (ADM), the Web interface you can use to administer the NAS. An included CD contains an installer for Control Center, a stripped-down administration utility program that can be used to configure and monitor the NAS hardware (network settings, drive health, and so on), but most of the administration (software and services) settings are in ADM. Control Center can also be downloaded from Asustor's website.

As with the QNAP TAS-168 and the Synology DS216j, you'll need to download a bunch of programs from Asustor's App Central app store to take advantage of all the AS3202T's possibilities. For example, downloading and installing the Asustor Portal app activates the AS3203T's HDMI jack, so you can enjoy locally stored media files on a 1080p or 4K TV. Portal also includes a Chrome browser, and access to services like Kodi, Netflix, Plex, Vimeo, and YouTube, which could let you use the NAS as a quasi-DVR for Internet video. You can control Portal with the included IR remote, or the AiRemote mobile app. Other utilities include Avast Antivirus, Download Center (an FTP and Torrent download manager), iTunes Server, LooksGood (a video player and streamer), SoundsGood (a music player and streamer), Surveillance Center (a DVR for security cameras), and a VPN server.

You can download lots of other apps from App Central, like eMule and Plex server software, but on the whole it's a lot more work to set up than the QNAP or Synology NAS appliances. You may be able to get to a point where The AS3202T is a perfect media store and server, but you may spend more than a few hours researching all the downloadable apps on App Central to figure out which ones meet your needs. For example, is Popcorn Time the right streaming video player for you, or is Kodi a better fit? The QNAP and Synology servers have fewer options in their app stores, but both come with more apps and services preinstalled and ready to use.

Asustor also has a small group of apps available on Google Play (for Android) and the iTunes Store (for iOS). You can use these to monitor your downloads (AiDownload), control the Portal interface and Chrome browser (AiRemote), check your security cams (AiSecure), or remotely manage your NAS (AiMaster), access your files (AiData), or enjoy your media (AiMusic, AiFoto, and AiVideos). They're all useful, but I prefer the simple, unified apps on the Western Digital My Cloud Gen 2 and the Netgear ReadyNAS 202. I suppose giving your kids access to a music and video player separately might be more secure if you withhold administrator access, but doing so could mean you'd end up manually managing a lot of apps.
Performance and Conclusions

The AS3202T is powered by a quad-core Intel Celeron J3160 processor running at 1.6GHz with burst speeds up to 2.24GHz, and is loaded with 2GB of RAM. While those specs don't seem impressive for a PC, they are very good for a NAS, particularly when you consider that the competition usually operates with power-sipping ARM-based processors and as little as 512MB of RAM. In any case, the NAS reacts quickly once you've woken it from sleep, and changes I made to the configuration using the ADM interface went through almost instantaneously.

On our timed transfer test, the NAS performed admirably. It transferred our 4.9GB test folder with a throughput of 70MBps write and 66MBps read over a Gigabit Ethernet connection to our testbed. That's much faster than the QNAP TAS-168 on both tests (44MBps write, 25MBps read), and faster write speeds than the Western Digital My Cloud Mirror Gen 2 (49MBps write, 73MBps read). The AS3202T is comparable in speed to the Buffalo TeraStation 5200DN$576.49 at Amazon and the Netgear ReadyNAS 202. When I switched to a wireless 802.11ac interface using our testbed's wireless router, transfer speeds slowed accordingly (10MBps write, 24MBps read), though these were still comparable to what we've seen from other NAS devices with one or two drives.

The Asustor AS3202T is a very good NAS, as long as you're willing to tinker with it. Out of the box, it's speedy at serving files to and from PCs on your network. To maximize its media functionality, however, you'll have to be willing to explore the settings in its Web interface and download and install one or more apps. The Netgear ReadyNAS 202 lacks HDMI output, but it is about the same price, and it is a lot easier to setup and administer, so it stays on as our Editors' Choice for SOHO NAS devices. If you're looking to set up a NAS as a media set-top box, and you're willing to forego the extra security of a RAID Level 1 array, the QNAP TAS-168 is another NAS that rewards power users, and it costs $60 less (not counting the cost of an internal NAS hard drive).

Friday, October 6, 2017

The best garage door openers

The Chamberlain MyQ Garage (MYQ-G0201) is the leading smart garage-door controller available, largely due to the huge popularity of Chamberlain garage-door openers (and those sold by its professional install brand, LiftMaster). The MyQ was the first smart garage-door controller to be manufactured, and it’s one of the simplest smart-home devices to install and set up. If you are looking for a way to control your garage door remotely and check on its status, and would like some basic integration with major smart-home systems such as Wink and Nest (Apple HomeKit compatibility is promised soon), the MyQ Garage is the best option.

In our tests, the install took under 15 minutes, with the only pain point being drilling some screws into the garage ceiling for the mounting bracket. First we mounted the door sensor to the door itself, using the included Velcro strips (you can use screws if you prefer), after which we attached the bracket for the main unit to the ceiling, near the door and near an outlet, using screws. We then slid the MyQ Garage into the bracket, plugged in the power supply, and proceeded to connect it to Wi-Fi with a smartphone and the free MyQ app. It really is a plug-and-play device, and it’s the only model we tested that doesn’t require any wiring, so you have no need to mess with your breaker. You will need a smartphone, Android or iOS, to set it up, and if you have poor Wi-Fi reception in your garage, you may need to purchase an extender, but the MyQ Garage does a pretty good job with a weak signal. We contend that anyone can set up the MyQ Garage in 15 minutes, as long as they’re handy with a drill.

Once installed, the MyQ Garage lets you open and close the door through its app from wherever you are. You tap the graphic of a closed garage door to open, and on the image of an open door to close. When you open the app, the graphic reflects the current state of your door and how long it has been in that state in minutes and hours. The device also emits warning beeps and flashes an LED light when the door has been triggered to close remotely (but not when opened). This feature is important for alerting someone in the garage when it is being closed remotely, and is a UL requirement for “unattended operation” of garage doors.

Within the app you can create as many customized alerts as you want for when the door is open and closed, and when you are alerted about it via push notification or email. Two especially useful alerts can notify you if the door has been left open for longer than a specified amount of time and inform you of the status at a particular time—say, between 7 p.m. and midnight. This type of alert customization is a feature that only MyQ and GoControl (through a smart-home hub connection) offer. The MyQ app also provides a full history of the activity of the door and allows you to add doors from different homes. Security features include the option of enabling TouchID or a passcode to log in to the app, access the account, or open the doors.

For home-automation enthusiasts, MyQ integrates with a variety of smart-home systems, (like MIGHTY MULE MM562 )including Nest, Wink, and Xfinity Home. Chamberlain is also the only garage-door opener maker that’s an Apple HomeKit partner, although HomeKit integration requires additional hardware. MyQ can also integrate with the Google Assistant on smart devices, like the Google Home, but you’ll have to pay for an integration service ($1 per month or $10 for a year).

Nest integration includes the Nest Cam and Nest Learning Thermostat. When you link the MyQ app to your Nest account, you get an icon for your thermostat and camera in the app; with one tap you can set your thermostat to Away or Home, access a video feed of your camera in real time, and get motion alerts. If you want to access previous footage, you can sign up for Nest Aware (starting at $10 a month or $100 a year), which gives you the ability to receive an alert if it senses a person, play back video recordings, and use the new Sightline feature to see snapshots of potentially important events.

We also tested the MyQ Garage with the Wink smart-home hub, and we were able to use Wink’s Shortcut feature to open and close the door from our smartphones. For example, we set up a “leaving” routine in which pressing the shortcut button in the app opened the garage door, shut off the connected lights, and set the smart thermostat to Away. We also tried a “welcome home” routine, where the garage door opens, the lights turn on, and the thermostat turns to a preset temperature. With shortcuts, however, you do have to press a button in the app to activate them, as geolocation sensing (which is available through Wink) is disabled by MyQ for security reasons.

According to, MyQ also works with its system, but Chamberlain would not confirm this with us. If the claim is true, it would make MyQ compatible with a whole bunch of security systems, including LiveWatch, our top security system pick.

If you already have a Chamberlain or LiftMaster door opener installed, the MyQ Garage is the clear choice for you (most of the other controllers we tested probably won’t work with your opener). Also, if your opener is a 2013 model or newer, it is probably MyQ enabled already, so you’ll need to buy only the Internet Gateway for MyQ Enabled Garage Door Openers to get the remote functionality; at less than half the retail price of the MyQ Garage, this device is definitely your cheapest option for retrofitting your door with smart controls. You can use this compatibility guide (PDF) to figure out what will work for your setup.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Solar panels innovation gives round-the-clock power without pricey battery storage

Imagine if energy from your solar panels (GOAL ZERO VENTURE 30 SOLAR KIT )could give you hot water around the clock without the need to buy an expensive battery storage unit.

That concept is already a reality, with cost-cutting energy devices which leverage the power of "big data" helping households get more out of their solar panels by effectively using their hot water system as a battery.

Now, rapid advances in the technology have made that system far more efficient, and are allowing homeowners to save much more.

One of the biggest gripes for solar panel owners is they typically only use around half of the energy they produce before it is exported back to the electricity grid.

Households are paid a tariff for the power they export to the grid — but that fee has been dramatically scaled back in recent years, providing further incentive for householders to want to use as much of the power they generate themselves as possible.

Expensive battery systems were touted as the only option to secure more power, but high-tech monitoring devices can provide households with a cheaper option.

The devices, which cost around $790, utilise "big data", which is the collection of extremely large data sets that are computer-analysed to reveal patterns and trends.

It is what allows people to do things like stream music, look up GPS directions and post pictures online. But it is also helping consumers cut their power bills.

"Big data allows households to optimise their energy use and allows people to have more control of what electricity they use from the solar panels," Curtin University sustainability expert Dev Tayal said.

"As electricity prices rise and as some of the more generous rebates and feed-in tariffs wind back, we're only going to see an increased uptake of smart intelligent devices."
Family's bills cut by $180

The Jukes family were early adopters and are learning how big data works in the real world at their house in central Queensland.

The household of six are trialling a new device called Paladin, designed to make sure 95 per cent of their solar power is used in their home and not sent to the grid.

"I have quite a large family, I have four children and and my husband so our power bills were quite large," Leticia Jukes said.

"Since we've had the Paladin put in it has further reduced our bill by another $180 per quarter, so big savings for a big family."

The device gathers huge amounts of data by monitoring the electricity network, the hot water temperature and their home's energy demands 3,600 times a second.

It then diverts excess solar power to the hot water system, which is one of the most power-hungry appliances for households, accounting for up to 40 per cent of usage and usually run by expensive grid power at night.

Any surplus energy is then fed back into the grid.

"The idea is to keep the hot water topped up to the max during the day so there will be enough hot water to see you through the night, and then as soon as first sunlight comes up, Paladin will go to work and start reheating your hot water," Paladin Solar Australia director Mark Robinson said.

The system has been successfully trialled in New Zealand, but Paladin Solar saw potential in Australia with rising power prices and falling feed-in tariffs.

"It can divert — in a 50th of a second — power back to the hot water system watt for watt, it does not need to wait for the solar to match the size of the hot water element," he said.

"Other products were doing a similar thing but weren't turning the hot water element off so then all of a sudden power was being drawn from the grid, and that's just defeating the whole exercise, whereas Paladin is monitoring both ways," he said.

The device also diverts energy to charge an electric car or heat a pool.
Customer demands predicted

Energy utilities have started leveraging its power to better predict customer demands, breaking away from the traditional method of using a rule of thumb or average to estimate needs.

"But now with a greater reliance on more specific and more accurate data, the network connection can be made to fit."

Western Power has worked hard to keep pace with rapid technology advances, installing smart monitoring devices to gather large data sets on consumer demands.

"In the past you got a read of a meter once a month, now you've got a read a day, you've got a read at intervals during the day," Western Power CEO Guy Chalkley said.

That information has helped the utility create its own software, cutting costs for businesses by as much as to 90 per cent.

"It is the first time we've been able to use this sort of data to this extent for this amount of accuracy," Mr Chalkley said.

"That average was always conservative because the last thing they (utilities) want to do is supply a customer and then not be able to meet their demand, so quite often networks have been overbuilt and customers overcharged," energy consultant David Martin said.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Cape San Blas is a perfect summer destination!

cape san blas fl

If you wish to consume rich meals, remain in luxurious hotels, and plug into all of your digital devices daily, San Blas Countries possibly aren't for you personally. If, however, you wish to relax, decompress, and revel in the planetis most magnificent elegance, you then should guide your holiday today at Cape San Blas hotels. San Blas provides guests spectacular sights and thoughtful people, a genuine heaven.

You will find 379 destinations within the San Blas chain, only 49 which are inhabited. If you have ever imagined being "stuck" on the deserted area, you've your chance. The inhabited countries are peopled by Kuna Indians, who have been pushed from mainland Panama by Spanish invaders. Nowadays, the Kunas live similar to they did in decades past, talking mainly Cape San Blas rental houses. Newer San Blas Kunas also talk Spanish and therefore are informed at colleges. There's a wealthy and lively tradition below that recognizes its customs, while creating space for improvement.

The Kunas are extremely pleasant to visitors and guests alike; it's a satisfaction to go to and also to experience as if you're pleasant while you discover the different destinations and shores. There's lots of sunbathing, surfing, swimming, kayaking, sailing, and relaxing to complete. Discover the crazy jungle and also the nice towns using their thatch-roofed homes. Everything is performed at your personal speed; if holiday means discretion, then this really is your number 1 location for rest.

Probably the most impressive feature of the Cape San Blas beach rentals may be the very stylish simplicity at Cape San Blas Rentals. The meals is clean: shrimp, crab, and seafood captured in the ocean that evening, and maybe some fundamental greens - tomatoes, peas, onions, apples, and yucca - privately. The hotels distinctive: fundamental, traditional resorts with stay-designed huts much like those of the residents. You might have energy for some hours each day, but following the machines are turn off, you'll have just sun light to rely on. The resorts often contain numerous dinner deals and several will require one to beautiful places for surfing, swimming, and sunning on incredibly perfect beaches and sandbars at Cape San Blas vacation rental homes.

There's nothing to disturb you in the amazing stunning water, the gentle comfortable mud, and also the rich swaying palm trees; there's nothing to preserve you from experiencing the Panama sunlight or even the food of the pleasant San Blas Islands Kuna people. The San Blas Countries may endear themselves for you instantly and permanently upon appearance using its amazing, and inviting elegance.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Top Five Online Business Opportunities for Women

Many women give up their careers after marriage so they can focus on managing the house and family. However, times have changed. Now, many women want to have it all – keep house, look after the children, and have a decent income – while staying at home.

Indeed, women these days know what they want and go after it. They realize that they don’t need to be part of the corporate world to earn money. They can do so in the most flexible way—take advantage of opportunities that make them earn money from the comfort of their own homes.

The continuous evolution of technology and the growth of the online world have opened up many opportunities for everyone, regardless of age and gender. Internet connectivity has made it easier to work from home and has provided women with the flexibility they yearn for. Many big, woman-owned businesses these days had their humble beginnings online, and women should take their cue from these.

While there are many online businesses that women can dabble in, only a few stand out from the rest.

Here, you’ll see the top five online business opportunities for women:

Thursday, March 9, 2017

5 Ways to Earn While Having a Regular Job

So your nine to five just isn’t cutting it anymore. Whether you’re struggling to make ends meet, barely saving a cent for the future, or having trouble keeping up the lifestyle you want to live, you feel the need to make more money.

Unfortunately, you can’t just quit your day job for whatever reason. All you can spend is the time when you’re not working. So what’s a cash-starved person stuck with a low-paying job to do?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Time to Hire a Professional Blogger for Your Company Blog

Whether you’re a solopreneur or the owner of a successful and growing business, you probably have a blog for your company (and if you don’t, you need to start one).

A company blog acts as your core branded destination on the internet to where all of your online (and offline) activities lead potential and existing customers. A company blog is a social place where you can offer meaningful and relevant information to your audience and build the brand experiences and brand perceptions that you want customers to have. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other social media destinations, you’re in control of your company blog.

Asustor AS3202T

The Asustor AS3202T ($259) is a well-priced network-attached storage (NAS) drive (as  DROBO B1200I ) with two drive bays, made for the pe...