A virtual private network (VPN) may confuse some people. At it's core, a VPN is a private network that is made available to authorized users from the internet. Examples of a private network would be the network at your work, at college, or government locations.

Those networks have internet access, but the internet does not have access to them, hence the term private network. The private network becomes virtual when you are able to access it from the internet. The internet still does not have access to the private network, but your computer does. As far as the private network is concerned, your computer connection is at work or school.

How does a It work?

When you connect to a VPN, you are connecting to a set of servers over the internet. This process is known as tunneling. Anything you do on the internet will go through these servers. All of this data is encrypted, which provides great privacy for you.

As far as your internet service provider knows, you're connecting to some IP address. They cannot see what the data is or anything.

Why Should You Use One?

The most important, and obvious, reason is security. As we stated above, all of your internet data is encrypted once you have created that tunnel. Hackers, for example, would not be able to intercept your internet browsing activity. Hackers will often attempt to do this when you use public WiFi in places like coffee shops and airports. If you make a purchase with your credit card on public WiFi, hackers could get a hold of your credit card number. This is why you should use a VPN.

A secondary benefit, which ties into security, is privacy. Because all traffic is encrypted, all data secure and private. What you search for, watch, read, or listen to is your own business. You ISP and hackers will not know what you are doing online.

VPNs will not, however, protect you from tracking by various website trackers, such as cookies.

VPN provides encryption to network traffic. It ensures the communication cannot be easily eavesdropped/tampered with by adversaries. It does not impact application features like cookies. So yes cookies can still be set on your browser if you are tunneled through VPN.

Ximning Ou from the University of Southern Florida

In order to prevent these tracking efforts, you can surf the web with your browser's incognito/private mode. Another option would be to install an extension that prevents this, like ghostery.

Another reason for using a VPN? Virtual locations. Many providers will have servers in multiple locations. This was an option many Netflix users chose to access content that was not available in their region. Just because content has a block in your country, does not mean it is in another country. All you need to do is tunnel into a VPN server in a country that does not have the block, and you will have access.

The same works in reverse too. For example, you're traveling out of the country but your bank blocks access to users outside of your homeland. You can use your VPN to tunnel to a server located back home to gain access.

On a side note, just because using VPN allows your to potentially bypass restrictions, do not forget you are still operating under your countries laws. VPNs will make you anonymous online, not invisible. If you start doing anything illegal or suspicious. Given enough time and resources, government agencies could, in theory, still find you.

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Choosing a Good VPN Provider

Today, there are tons of VPN providers to choose from. Some providers are great, some are not. Below are some things to consider when choosing a VPN provider:

  1. Security vs Cost
    • A general rule of thumb is that more security equals higher costs to the users. Most providers charging $4.99 to $12.99 a month will provide solid balance between cost and security. Stay away from free VPN providers, because they do not have your best interests in mind.
  2. Logging
    • Does the provider keep any logs of your activities? If yes, then this data could help identify you. If no, then you have an extra layer of anonymity while using their VPN service.
  3. IP Sharing
    • Does your VPN provider run multiple users through the same IP address or does each user get their own IP address? IP sharing provides extra protection to you the user. It is harder to identify you when your IP is not unique to you.
  4. Server Locations
    • Providers with more VPN server locations allow for more flexibility. This is especially true when you need to use a virtual location, as we mentioned above. Another benefit of more server locations is that you have more options to find the fastest connection in your area. More users connected to a server equals slower speeds.
  5. Multiple Device Support
    • There is a good chance that once you sign up for a VPN service, you will be using the service on multiple devices. Be sure to double check the device limit per account or service plan.
  6. IP Leaking
    • IP leaking occurs when your computer or device connects to the internet accidentally, instead of through the VPN service. VPN providers will not advertise this. While connected to your VPN provider's server, see if your actual IP address or your physical location shows up at IPLeak. If you see either of the two, you will want to invest in a different VPN provider.
  7. Software / Usability
    • For a lot of people, manually setting up a connection to a VPN provider is complicated. Many VPN providers minimize this with desktop software or mobile device apps that streamline the process for you. Is their application easy to use? Usability makes a huge difference in using a VPN service and ensure that you will want to still fork your money over each month for use.

What are the Drawbacks?

One of the biggest drawbacks is internet speed. Depending on the provider, you will see reduced internet speeds. Sometimes, the reduction is small, other times its large. It all depends on the number of users connected to the same server as you, the location of the server, and the providers setup. Longer distances between you and your VPN server means longer distances for data to travel in order to reach to the internet.

A secondary, and minor, issue is that when you use a VPN as a virtual location, you can see some issues while shopping. Say you live in the US, but have a connection through a tunnel in the UK. While shopping online, your pricing may show in pounds instead of US dollars. The simple solution is to use a server in your country while shopping online.

Final Thoughts

Using a VPN is becoming more of a necessity each day. The krack attack has proven that access to home WiFi traffic can occur. Connecting to a VPN service protects you from this vulnerability. Ensuring you have a good VPN provider will help ensure you are better protected.

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In today's world, you can post content online and within seconds millions of potential users can see your post. If you are posting a photo online, like a social media account, you may not 100% own that photo. Many social media websites have terms and conditions, that a lot of people do not necessarily read. When you create your account, you may be agreeing to handing over the rights of that photo or video. Here is a refresher on copyrights for the internet and how your ownership changes with social networks.

Copyright and the Web

In simple terms when you create something, a song, painting, video, etc, you are the copyright owner. This happens automatically, without the need to fill out forms or make any claims. If you believe what you create has potential to make millions, then you will want obtain some documentation to prove you are the creator of said work. This also applies to stuff you post on the web.

According to the US Copyright Office:

Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. 

Copyright does not protect:

  • Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, or discoveries
  • Works that are not fixed in a tangible form (such as a choreographic work that has not been notated or recorded or an improvisational speech that has not been written down)
  • Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans
  • Familiar symbols or designs
  • Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring
  • Mere listings of ingredients or contents

In short, if you have a revolutionary idea, seek legal counsel before you start talking and posting online about it.

One loop hole with copyright is fair use. Fair use allows others to use copyrighted material in certain cases, like:

  • Criticism
  • Comment
  • News reporting
  • Teaching
  • Scholarship
  • Research

Fair use a huge grey area, something we will not dive into any further for this article. The point of this article is to provide you with a low level understanding of who owns the content you are posting online. Now that you know the basics, lets look at how terms and conditions can modify those basics on certain platforms.

The Terms and Conditions of Social Media

Thanks to the terms and conditions, once you upload those photos to the Facebook servers, you have given them a license to reuse those photos however they like. You will not earn any money from that license. The same is true for the majority of all social network. Below are some word heavy excepts from the terms and conditions of various platforms:

  • Facebook
    • non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license
  • Twitter
    • worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sub-license)
  • Instagram
    • non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sublicensable, worldwide license

As you can see, the terms are all about the same. They are also vague purposefully. Being vague gives Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook substantially more legal grey areas to work with. At the same time, that large grey area allows retweets to occur on Twitter, or Facebook to post photos to a persons news feed, and your photo showing up in a hashtag search. And these companies can do so without the need to pay you or the worry of copyright infringement.

We will stress that those terms do not negate your copyright to your photos, or videos, or etc. If a photo you post on Instagram shows up on a website, and you did not grant permission to, then you can pursue legal actions. Now remember, most social platforms's privacy policies promise to not allow your content to be seen by anyone, unless you grant that person permission.

It is worth noting that if you connect a platform to another website or service, there is a separate terms and conditions clause you will be agreeing to. The important thing to remember is that most will still state you keep the copyright to your content. The only way you lose your copyright is through licensing like Creative Commons 0

How Content You Post Can Be Used

Services like IFTTT are able to do things like copy tagged Facebook photos to Twitter because of the terms and conditions you grant to Facebook, IFTTT, and Twitter. Many third party companies will use the API's for a social platform to provide you with expanded features. The problem is figuring out the licensing and sub-licensing of your content to third party platforms. In fact some of these companies are not as ethical with your data as you would like them to be.

In theory, big platforms can potentially license your content to other platforms, for free. They have not done that yet and probably will not. The privacy policies put in place by these platforms helps protect your photos from being sub-licensed out to stock photo services and such.

In the end, we are all trusting these platforms with our data and the safety of that data. The copyright for your content always belong to you, but we all agreed these platforms can more or less do whatever they want with that content. And those terms and conditions can change, sometimes without the need of any legal notice.

How to Protect Your Content

Going through every platform available on the web would be an exhausting read. The best advice we can provide is to read the terms and conditions for any website or service you sign up for. Pay attention to the areas that talk about the licensing and sub-licensing you are granting the service. If there is something you do not want being shared, it is best to keep it offline. Or you could create your own service to host that content, but that is a whole other article.

Only use a service who's terms and conditions you are comfortable with. Some services will not sub-license out your content, like Yahoo's Flickr. Another services, Medium, has a clear clause on your content. Your content is only available for display on Medium's website. There are no sub-licensing issues, unless your choose to publich your work under any of the Creative Commons rules.

In the end, you own your content. And you need to be mindful of the licenses you grant to platforms and services on the internet.

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I love new gadgets. Chance are you are too. But, just because it's shiny and new doesn't mean you throw common sense out the door. Below I'm going to go over the most common mistakes I see people make when buying new gadgets.

Not Checking When an Upgrade is Due

Everyone should know that a new iPhone comes out every September. Common sense would dictate that that buying an iPhone in July or August is going to be a waste when the new phone is coming out in a few months. Especially if that new phone has new features the older phone does not have.

Now, not all tech companies will have such a strict upgrade schedule. But, thanks to the internet you can get a relatively close idea of what new gadgets are coming out in the next few months. Point and case, the new Samsung Galaxy S9 comes out next month, so don't going buying a Samsung Galaxy S8.

The general rule of thumb is if there is a gadget you're thinking of buying, like a cell phone, keeping up on tech news can help prevent you buying something that could be replaced in a few months. This is not an exact science and not everything is always clear cut and dry, but you will get a better understanding on a product's upgrade cycle.

Not Checking for Compatibility

I'm not going to lie, buying a phone case is not a simple process, especially online. You have to check and double check to make sure the case you're ordering is the right one for you phone. But, the same thing can be said for buying a sound bar when your TV might be five years old.

When you keep your gadgets fairly new, typically less than two years, chances are you will not run into too many problems with compatibility. But for gadgets older than five years you might start to run into issues with older gadgets working with your newer gadgets. Will your new laptop work with your old projector? Will those USB cables work with the new phone? Does your Blu-ray player allow for 4k videos for you new 4k TV? If you answered "No" to any of those types of questions, you might need to buy adapters or upgrade additional gadgets. And if you do not know the answer, then asking a sales person or research on the internet might help find an answer. And when you research on the internet, the first place you should go to is the manufacture's website.

Another issue is cross platform use. Apple products generally play perfectly with Apple products and nothing else. Unless Apple chooses to work with certain product, chances are you might run into some issues. Microsoft and Google products general play better with other products, outside of Microsoft and Google products. But, you still might run into some odd bugs.

In the end, doing your homework on your current gadgets and determining how they will work with the newer gadgets will go a long way from preventing buyer's remorse or spending additional money. Also, when there are multiple versions of a gadget, like computers, that have various levels of performance, make sure you buy the one that will fit your needs currently and in the future.

Not Doing Your Homework

Even though it's 2018, many people will still walk into their local electronic store and see what catches their eye. The problem is, the products that have most shock and awe factor, on the display floor, may not be the best product to buy or the best product for you.

A perfect example is a super flashy and colorful demo video playing on a big 65-inch 4k OLED TV. That TV looks damn impressive on the display floor. But will it fit in your TV spot in the living room? How many HDMI ports does it have? Can you get your Blu-ray, your PS4, your Chromecast, your Roku, and all other devices hooked up to the TV without any issues?

I know I am beating a dead horse here, but knowledge is power. Knowing the specifications of the gadgets you buy helps you make an informed decision. Most companies know that shiny, bright, colorful, sharp images are designed to make something look amazing. In your world, that TV might not look the same as it does on the display floor. That phone might not work correctly for your life. That stereo might not sound like a live concert in your living room.

Once you know more about the products you're buying you will be able to determine which gear is good and which items are cheap. And you will know when gear is cheap because it's actually a bargain, not just cheap components. If you're ever doubting yourself, then step away and go back and do some more research.

Not Spending Enough

Sometimes because the gadget is cheap, does not always mean it's going to work the best for your needs. The money you save might be canceled out when you have to upgrade that gadget sooner. There are times when spending some extra money up front can truly mean the hardware is going to last longer.

In the real world, this means that instead of buying the $800 dollar laptop that works for what you need today, you spend $1200 for the laptop that has more space and faster CPU. Because you spent that extra $400 you ensure that laptop will run faster now, but run smoother three to four years down the line. The $800 laptop might not hold up well, due to hardware and performance demands, a year from now.

The general rule of thumb is that products with multiple configurations to choose from, you will find that some upgrades can give you a lot more power or performance for not a whole lot of extra cost. This is not a definite rule, but it's a good starting point. The multiple configurations to choose from plays right back to doing your research. If you have taken your time to learn about the options, you will be able to determine when something is a good use of your money.

Not Shopping Around

These days most people take "guaranteed low prices" for granted. There was a time when people had to drive store to store to find the lowest price. The problem with "guaranteed low prices" is that most people do not take the time to still double check if that statement is true. It's so easy to compare prices, thanks to the internet.

When you compare prices, it's not about comparing a retail site against a retail site, it’s about watching prices over time. There are plenty of tools online to help you monitor prices, so you really have no excuse to not compare prices. The Camelizer is great for tracking Amazon prices. Price.com helps with looking for cheaper details elsewhere on the web. The Amazon app for Android and iOS will even let you scan barcodes in a store to see if products are cheaper on the web.

Now, just because you found the product cheaper online does not always mean it's cheaper. Do you have to pay shipping and handling? Is it just the cheaper configuration of the same item? Sometimes you think you found the item cheaper someplace else but turns out it was not exactly the same item you were hoping to buy.

Hopefully everything I have talked about has expanded your purchase power knowledge. Technology is always changing. Sometimes you buy something only to find out it was not exactly what you expected. Knowledge is power in this day and age. Leave a comment below and let me know about your best tips to make sure you do not screw up with buying new gadgets.

Your Synology NAS comes with web hosting features. With Web Station you can easily host and publish your own website with Virtual Host support and additional HTTP/HTTPS settings for each single instance. You can also select the back-end server and PHP settings for each Virtual Host created. This allows you to create dynamic, database-driven websites for your personal use or business.

The problem users might run into with running WordPress on Synology, is folder permissions. By default, the Synology packaged version of WordPress will work just fine. But if you run multiple versions, you will get alerts to setup FTP settings in order to download, install, and update your WordPress plugins, themes, and core updates.

Never fear, I have a solution. Just follow the simple steps below.

1. Enable Terminal / SSH on Synology

Enable via Control Panel > Terminal & SNMP > Terminal. This allows your Synology NAS to support Telnet and SSH command-line interface services. You can also change the security level of the SSH encryption algorithm.

To enable Telnet/SSH service:

  1. Check the box next to the desired protocol (SSH or Telnet).
  2. Click Apply.

2. Log Into Synology via Terminal with Root Access

For system security reasons, Synology limted access to root. If you need to get the root permission, you will need to log in to your DSM in the command line interface , via PuTTY with any account credentials belonging to the Administrators group, and then run the sudo -i command to switch to root access.

Below is an example of the steps to get root access to a Synology NAS:

  1. Launch PuTTY to connect to the server of which the IP address is "192.168.xx.xx".
    ssh 00
  2. login as: admin: "admin" account belongs to the Administrators group on the server "192.168.xx.xx".
  3. admin@192.168.xx.xx's password: Enter the password of "admin".
    ssh 01
  4. admin@Jettlee:~$ sudo -i: Run the sudo -i command, and you may see a default message concerning user's privacy.
  5. Password: Enter the password of "admin" again.
    ssh 02
  6. root@Jettlee: You are now logged in with root permission.
    ssh 03

3. Update WordPress Folder Permissions

Synology Web Station uses a special HTTP user for it's default web folders, including it's WordPress package. If you create your own folders, like for multiple WordPress sites, the system will use your permissions instead. This is what causes the issues with installing/updating plugins, themes and WordPress. Now that you are logged into your Synology via Terminal/SSH, you can navigate to the systems WEB folder and update all of your WordPress folders and files.

Below is an example of the steps to update your WordPress folder Permissions:

  1. cd /volume1/web
  2. dir
  3. chown -R http:http [wordpress site folder name]
  4. chmod -R 775 [wordpress site folder name]

dsmFolderUpdate

Continue to use the above steps for all of your WordPress folders. This will effectively resolve the issues with WordPress prompting you to setup FTP in order to install/update plugins, themes, and WordPress.

Read our latest article: How to Choose a Good VPN

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