Author Archives: admin

Raspberry Pi

How-to Build a Low-Budget Usenet Downloading Machine: Setting up Storage

Since we’ve started this How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine series, we have shown you how to gather the parts necessary to build your Pi, set up the Raspbian OS, and set up remote access to your Pi using SSH over your network. All of this has been great so far; now you have a fully-functioning, low-powered mini-computer that can be used for almost anything, and it won’t consume more than $15 in energy per year. Yes that’s right, a fully-functional computer that costs next to nothing to run for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Are you excited yet? You should be! Now that our Pi is booted, primed and ready, it’s time to christen our soon-to-be Usenet downloading machine with some much-needed storage.

What You Need

The hardware you need for your storage solution is based solely on what storage configuration you would like. You could have one standalone external USB hard drive to dump your favorite downloads onto, or you could set up a dual-USB drive backup to keep a copy of ALL of your download files. You could also set up two independent USB drives to increase your overall storage capacity if that is what is most important to you. At the end of the day, your storage configuration is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Using one USB drive, your downloading rig will ultimately use less power; however, you will miss out on the obvious multi-drive benefits.

Setting Up Storage for Raspberry Pi

When we got ready to piece together this how-to, we discovered our friends over at How-To Geek had already created an excellent guide called How to turn a Raspberry Pi into a Low Power Network Storage Service. In How-To Geek’s article, you’ll find instructions to set up either of the two storage configurations we discussed earlier, as well as instructions on how to set up Samba to enable access to your storage via your windows network on your other computers and devices.

What’s Next?

Stay tuned for our last installment of the How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine, in which we’ll be setting up SABnzbd. In this final chapter, we will take you through the installation of the SABnzbd package on Raspbian OS and provide a step-by-step guide for configuring access to UsenetServer.

 

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What is a VPN?

What is a VPN?

Since we launched our VPN service, we’ve received a few inquiries from our users to the effect of, “what exactly is a VPN?” and “why do I need one?“ So in this post we provide clarification as to what a VPN is, and why everyone needs one.

What is a VPN?

VPNs provide many benefits, but one of the most common uses of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is as an encryption tool. You might have heard about using a VPN in the workplace; when an employee needs remote access to the company network because they’re traveling or working from home, they’ll typically log in to a VPN. You might have thought this was just a way to log in to the company’s network from outside the office, but the actual reason it’s used is to guarantee the connection is secure and the data that is passed back and forth over the Internet cannot be accessed by outsiders.

When connected to a VPN, all online traffic and data such as emails, instant messages, banking and credit card information is passed through an encrypted tunnel, preventing identity theft and cybercrime. When logged into a VPN on your mobile device or laptop, especially when using a public WiFi hotspot at your local coffee shop, you’re safe from hackers who would otherwise be able to easily access your private data and use it at your expense.

Why use a VPN?

A VPN does a lot more than keep you safe online.  One of the most desired benefits a VPN offers is the control it provides you over your IP address.  Your IP (Internet Protocol) address determines your geolocation, and depending on where you’re trying to use the Internet from, streaming services, websites, and social networks can be restricted or blocked altogether. When you are in control of your IP address, you’re also in control of your virtual location.

Some streaming services are censored in certain regions of the world, or the catalog they provide is based on geographic location. When you’re in control of your IP address, you can change your location, making this type of media more readily accessible, regardless of where you’re physically located. You also prevent your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from slowing your streaming traffic, a reported tactic that major providers use to divert users from accessing specific websites.

This works for Usenet access as well, by using UsenetServer VPN, you’ll have a secure tunnel to our servers, essentially bypassing any connection blocks or throttling.

How do I sign up?

UsenetServer VPN is available as a low cost add-on to your current UsenetServer account. Just log in and activate on the left hand side of the control panel. If you’re new to UsenetServer, for just a few extra dollars a month, you can:

  • Protect your online identity
  • Control your IP address
  • Bypass geolocation restrictions, and more!

UsenetServer VPN is as easy as pushing a button, try it today and see for yourself!

shutterstock_239326615

 

 

What can you do with a raspberry pi 2?

Innovation Challenge: What can you do with a Raspberry Pi 2?

Truth be told, we have a community of some of the Internet’s most adept minds. Subscribers of UsenetServer tend to be much more technologically-inclined compared to the average computer-user. We know it because we see it every day: on social media, on reddit and most commonly – through our exchanges in technical support. You, our users, are an untapped wealth of information, and we’re ready to crack it wide open.

Get those ~creative juices~ flowing, UsenetSever users!
Your challenge is to create something – nearly anything – using the Raspberry Pi 2.

You don’t know what a Raspberry Pi 2 is? We’re really glad you asked! A Raspberry Pi 2 is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into a monitor, keyboard and mouse. It’s a blank canvas for developers and coders alike, and people use it to create some of the most amazing things.

What can you do with a Raspberry Pi 2?

Gather your thoughts and send us the concept of your invention from June 17th-July 17th for a chance to win a second-generation Raspberry Pi and a $100 Visa gift card. You can submit your full concept, as well as find the Challenge Schedule and full set of rules on the UsenetServer Innovation Challenge contest page.

The Benchmarks

Once you have submitted the idea for your invention, it will be rated by a panel of judges based on four criteria that are each worth 25% of your overall score:

Raspberry Pi 2

Creativity – Open up your mind to the world of possibilities one can possess with the Raspberry Pi 2, and think of ways to either alter a current invention for the better, or come up with an entirely new concept.

Originality – Create something that is new and unique. Be sure to contemplate whether or not your invention- or something like it- has been created before.

Feasibility – Consider how realistic your innovation is, and if it would be easy for others to replicate. Make sure that it is not too difficult to explain or produce.

Inclusion of UsenetServer service – Be sure to think of ways that the Raspberry Pi 2 can be integrated into the Usenet and VPN services offered by UsenetServer.

The Judges

Bruno, ngprovider.com
Bruno has been running ngprovider.com since 2010. He is very passionate about computers and enjoys sharing his knowledge on his website. He also has a love for history and architecture.

Daniel, Binaries4all
Daniel is a website developer who has been working on Binaries4all for more than 12 years. On Binaries4all.com you can find many tutorials related to Usenet. In his spare time Daniel likes to play and watch basketball.

Owner, Newsgroup Reviews Blog
NGR Blog—the industry’s go-to resource for all things Usenet—provides a wealth of articles, how-to instructionals, and reviews of the best Usenet clients available.

Onisius, UsenetServer
Onisius is a self-proclaimed web head who can’t get enough of all things tech. A current Usenet junkie and UNS social community manager, Onisius is livin’ his binary-fueled dream.

Submit your invention now!

 

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Geeky Gadget Review

Product Review: A Day with the Amazon Echo

As busy as we all are these days, having an inanimate voice-controlled personal assistant that is as responsive, as intuitive and as powerful as the computer on board the starship Enterprise would be a welcome addition to our daily lives. So far, all the voice activated assistants are mediocre at best, leaving many of us with a mechanical, disjointed user-experience that feels much like talking to robot. Even Siri with her attempted vocal elegance and forced feminine wiles leaves us with a feeling of a flat, one-sided conversation. When we had chance to review the Amazon Echo and spend a day with virtual assistant Alexa, a new contender in this very unique technology space, we weren’t too optimistic about it being in any different than the others, but we were pleasantly surprised at what we found.

Continue reading

Raspberry Pi

How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine: Configuring Remote Access

In our last post, we wrote a step-by-step walkthrough of how to successfully setup your Raspbian Operating System for the first-time boot of your Raspberry Pi 2. Now we are going to show you how to configure remote access to your Pi. The reason for this configuration is simple: you want to avoid the extra hardware (monitor, mouse, keyboard, etc.) that comes with most computers. Setting up remote access will allow you to configure and tinker with your Pi’s setup, all from the convenience of your laptop or desktop computer (As long as your Pi is on the same network). Check out the first part of this series: Building the Pi

 

Configuring Secure Shell Access SSH (Command-Line)

The best and easiest way to administer your Raspberry Pi is via the command-line interface using a terminal connection over secure shell access (SSH). Using an SSH client like PuTTY for Windows or the default Macintosh app Terminal, you can connect to your Pi and send commands to it just as if you were typing commands via the Pi’s directly-connected USB keyboard. To enable secure shell access to login to your Pi, you will need to run the following command:

./raspi-config

This will launch the raspi-config utility on your Pi. Once the raspi-config is launched, do the following:

After you run ./rapi-config utility, go the the "Advanced Options," Go down to the SSH option and then select enable to turn on secure shell access for remote administration.

After you run ./rapi-config utility, go the the “Advanced Options,” select the SSH option and then select “Enable” to turn on Secure Shell Access for remote administration.

Turn on Secure Shell Remote Access

Go down to “Advanced Options,” choose “SSH” on the next screen, and select “Yes” to enable. This will authorize Secure Shell remote terminal access, allowing you to connect to your Pi from any other computer on the same network. Select “Finish” on the Main Menu and your Pi will reboot with the updated configuration.

Accessing the Pi Using SSHWindows

Now that you have enabled Secure Shell remote access, you’ll need to launch an SSH client on your desktop to test the remote access and ensure it is working correctly. If you are running Windows, you are going to need to install PuTTY. Once you open a copy of PuTTY, make sure you have the “Session” category selected on the left. Input your Raspberry Pi’s IP address (You can get this via your router’s DHCP table or by running ifconfig on your Pi), select the SSH connection type, and connect.

Connect via SSH using Putty client for Windows

Enter in your Pi’s IP address, select “SSH” as the connection type and click “Connect” to start a Secure Shell connection with your Pi.

You may be asked if you want to connect to your Pi, click “Yes.” If you are successfully connected, you will see a terminal window like the one below, prompting you for your Pi’s username and password. You will login with the username ‘pi’ and password ‘raspberry’ (Unless you changed it using ./raspi-config). After you have successfully logged-in you will see something like this:

Connect to Pi via SSH terminal access

After you have connected via SSH with PuTTY and entered your login information, you will see a terminal window to your Pi.

Accessing the Pi Using SSHMacintosh

Now that you have enabled Secure Shell remote access, you’ll need to launch an SSH client on your desktop to test the remote access and ensure it is working correctly. If you are a Mac user, you can connect to your Pi via SSH using the native Terminal utility included in your Mac’s Applications >> Utilities folder. To start a connection, launch the Terminal app and then type the following:

ssh pi@192.168.0.100

where 192.168.0.100 should be replaced with your Pi’s actual IP address.

Next, you will be asked if you would like to connect to your Pi, type “Yes.” After that, you will be prompted for your Pi’s login information. From this point, you can issue commands directly to the Pi without the need to connect a monitor or keyboard to it ever again.

 

In the next installment of our How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine series, we will walkthrough setting up physical storage devices on your Pi to store your Usenet downloads.

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Raspberry Pi

How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine: Setting Up the Raspbian OS

In the previous installment of How-to Build a Low Budget Downloading Machine, we covered how-to build a Raspberry Pi 2 with all the accessories needed to get it working. Now that you have all the hardware, the stage is set. What you need to do next is load your Pi with an operating system that will allow you to run your automated Usenet download software, SABnzbd. Your operating system of choice will be a customized Debian Linux installation called Raspbian OS.

How-to Install the Raspbian OS

  1. Download the Raspbian OS disk image here.
  2. Insert Raspberry Pi’s microSD card into the card reader/writer.
  3. Follow the instructions found here to copy the Raspbian OS disk image to the microSD card using your computer’s host operating platform (Macintosh, Windows, Linux).
  4. After the transfer of the disk image to the microSD card is complete, insert the microSD card into the Pi’s microSD slot. Once all of the cables and hardware are attached (keyboard, mouse and Wi-Fi adapter) to the USB Hub, HDMI cable to monitor) and your Pi’s microUSB power adapter is plugged in, you’re ready to power-up the unit for setup.

Setting Up Raspbian OS for the First Time

When booting up Raspberry Pi 2 for the first time, Raspbian will automatically detect and load drivers for Pi’s hardware.

Raspbian-OS-Boot-up

Raspbian OS boots-up on Raspberry Pi 2 for the first time, detects hardware and installs the drivers to make it function.

Then it will load-up the Raspbian config so that you can build your Raspbian OS first-time boot options.

After Pi loads the Raspbian OS, it will run the Raspbian-config utility so you can configure the Raspbian OS options for the first time boot.

Configuring Raspbian Boot Options

While there are many options that can be configured for Raspbian OS, this tutorial will only focus on what is needed to get the download project going.

1. Expand Filesystem – Select this option and then choose “Yes” to expand the Raspbian Filesystem, which enables use of all available space on Pi’s microSD card. This is recommended to give the OS more room for installing packages etc., should you choose to install additional features down the road.

2. Change User Password – Select this option to update the default password pre-programmed for your Pi. This is recommended to keep the Raspberry Pi 2 safe and secure, as the default password is easily searchable on the web.

3. Enable Boot to Desktop/Scratch – Select this option to update the default way the Pi will boot-up. The Pi can be configured to boot to the graphical desktop, the text based console Command Line, or the programming environment Scratch. For this project, boot from the text console to save system resources while running SABnzbd (don’t worry you can tackle the Command Line terminal later)!

4. Turn on Secure Shell Remote Access – Go down to “Advanced Options,” choose “SSH” on the next screen, and select “Yes” to enable. This will authorize Secure Shell remote terminal access so you can connect to your Pi from any other computer on the same network, without the need for it to be connected to a keyboard or monitor. As long as you’re powered-on and connected to the Wi-Fi, you are good to go! Now that all your options are set, select “Finish” on the Main Menu and the Pi will reboot.

In our next installment of How-to Build a Low Budget Downloading Machine, you’ll learn how-to connect to the Pi remotely and log-in to configure storage devices for Usenet downloads. Go to Part Three: Configuring Remote Access

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Raspberry Pi

How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine: Building the Pi

It can be really annoying having to run your home PC overnight to complete a batch of NZB downloads. Using the Raspberry Pi 2 (retail value: $35.00), you can build a low-budget, low-power Usenet downloading machine that runs Raspbian and SABnzbd. In this multi-part series, you will learn how-to to successfully create a fully functioning NZB downloader complete with web-based queue management and a network-attached storage setup for all of your downloaded Usenet binaries.

Why the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B?

The cost of the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, especially when compared to the set of technical features that it offers, can’t be beat at $35 for the core unit.  The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B is the second-generation Raspberry Pi. Replacing the original in February 2015, the Pi 2 delivers six times the processing speed of its predecessor with an upgraded Broadcom BCM2836 processor. The board also features an increase in memory capacity to 1GB of RAM. The Raspberry Pi is an open-source product designed to be supported by Internet-based user forums. As a starting point, you can refer to their official website for your base operating system needs.

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

Other Features Include:

  • GPU provides Open GL ES 2.0, hardware-accelerated OpenVG, and 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode
  • GPU is capable of 1Gpixel/s, 1.5Gtexel/s or 24GFLOPs with texture filtering and DMA infrastructure
  • 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM
  • HD 1080p video output
  • Composite video (PAL/NTSC) output
  • Stereo audio output
  • 10/100 BaseT RJ45 Ethernet socket
  • HDMI 1.3 & 1.4 video/audio socket
  • 3.5mm 4-pole audio/composite video out jack socket
  • 4 x USB 2.0 sockets
  • 15-way MPI CSI-2 connector for Raspberry Pi HD video camera (775-7731)
  • 15-way Display Serial Interface connector
  • MicroSD card socket
  • Boots from MicroSD card, running a new version of the Linux operating system
  • 40-pin header for GPIO and serial buses (compatible with Raspberry Pi 1 26-pin header)
  • Power supply: +5V @ 2A via microUSB socket
  • Dimensions: 86 x 56 x 20mm

 

What You Need to Build the Pi

Once you have the Raspberry Pi 2 that is great, but it might as well be a $35 paper weight without the other components needed to prepare it for some serious downloading action. Remember you will need a proper power adapter to power the device and although the Pi 2 Model B has an Ethernet port, you might as well have WiFi capability to save yourself another wired connection. You are also going to need USB storage to store your data and USB input devices (keyboard and mouse) to setup the Pi on its initial boot. The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B has 4 USB 2.0 ports, but it’s always good to have more so we recommend throwing a powered USB hub into the mix as well. Finally, you will need a decent sized SD card (4GB or more) to load and store the Raspbian Linux operating system that your Pi will run. Here is our list of recommended components you’ll need to build the Pi 2 downloading machine:

  • Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
  • microUSB Power Adapter (+5volts @ 2Amps)

    Raspberry-Pi-2-Starter-Kit

    Raspberry-Pi-2-Starter-Kit

  • USB Wifi Adapter (We Recommend the Panda 300Mbps Wireless-N USB Adapter (PAU05))
  • USB Mouse & Keyboard
  • Powered USB Hub to Support Additional Devices (We recommend the D-Link DUB-H7)
  • External USB Hard Disk Storage (Two is better for data redundancy)
  • HDMI Cable for Video Display on Initial Boot
  • 8GB microSD card (We recommend 8GB, minimum of 4GB)

If you’re looking to save time and money, a kit can be ordered here that contains most of the components needed to get started on this project. But if you’re looking for a more customized build, a full list of compatible hardware can be found here.

A bit about audio and video: For digital video to a standard computer monitor that lacks an HDMI port, an HDMI to DVI cable is needed for the video signal and a 3.5mm stereo cable for the sound (as you’ll lose the sound in the HDMI to DVI conversion).

What’s Next in Our Series? Time to Load the OS, Raspbian

Raspbian OS

Raspbian OS

In the next installment of UsenetServer’s How-to Build a Low-Budget Downloading Machine, we walk you through imaging your microSD card with the latest release of the Raspian operating system. Go to Part Two: Setting Up the Raspbian OS

Enter to win!

Usenet Appreciation Month

At UsenetServer, we’re always looking for ways to give back to our users. We found our reason with a new month-long celebration: Usenet Appreciation Month! To show you just how much we value your support, we are giving away a 2TB USB 3.0 portable hard drive, along with A LOT of free Usenet access from March 19 – April 16!

Now the small catch is, we like to hear nice things too. Enter to win more storage space and the free service by sharing some sweet nothings. Simply let us know why you appreciate your UsenetServer Usenet access!

To be eligible, you must complete the Usenet Appreciation Month promotional entry form hosted by Rafflecopter and leave a comment on this blog post showing your appreciation for UsenetServer. Random winners will be chosen from all of the submitted blog comments and form entries. Complete the bonus entry options to increase your chances of winning!

Use the the entry form and comments section below for a chance to win one of the following prizes:

  • (1) 3-year Unlimited Account with VPN + 2TB Hard Drive
  • (1) 1-year Unlimited Account with VPN
  • (3) 3-month Unlimited Accounts with VPN
  • (5) 1-month Unlimited Accounts with VPN

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Promotional Rules

1) Winners will be contacted through the email address submitted with your completed Usenet Appreciation Month Promotion entries – you must use a valid email address so that we can contact you.

2) Entries on the Usenet Appreciation Month Promotion form submitted from March 19th through April 16th, 2015 at 11:59pm (EST) will be accepted. Any entry before or after this time will not be counted.

3) We reserve the right to change the rules of the Usenet Appreciation Month Promotion at any time, or any reason, with or without prior notice.

4) When you submit valid completed entries into the Usenet Appreciation Month Promotion, you are agreeing to all the Terms and Conditions found by clicking the link at the bottom of the entry form and the rules outlined in this section.

5) We will notify the winner and award current UsenetServer entrants their prize or extra Usenet account free time within 30 days following the end of the promotion.

6) By entering the Usenet Appreciation Month Promotion, you are consenting us the right to use your first name, blog comments and country of origin in any of our marketing materials, email campaigns or social messaging on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other relevant social media platforms for future posts both related and unrelated to the Usenet Appreciation Month promotion.

7) All rules outlined in this section, along with the terms and conditions found by clicking the link at the bottom of the Usenet Appreciation Month promotional Rafflecopter widget are subject to change at our discretion at any time.

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Plex

Playback and Stream Any Media with Plex

With the advent of plaforms like YouTube, Vimeo and Vine, there is no shortage of user-generated video content on the web. In fact, it is these services that have given way to the democratization of media with varieties of content coming from creators all over the globe. Whether a creator or a consumer of user-generated content, users today have the need for good media management software to keep everything organized and to provide instant access when needed. There are many media library software solutions out there that will indeed keep things organized and offer both playback and stream, but there are very few solutions that offer organization and playback across any device and platform. Plex offers the best of both worlds by making media playback and stream on virtually any platform or device possible, all while keeping things organized.

 

What is Plex?

Plex is a free multi-platform media management system that can stream playback of a user’s media library to almost every imaginable device, from a Chromecast to a Roku, iPhone, iPad or even an Apple TV. Plex consists of two main components: the Plex Media Server (to store, organize and stream media) and the Plex Client (To playback the stream from the server.) Although the Plex Media server software is free, the client apps for Android, and iPhone for example, cost a few dollars. The convenience and value the user receives is enormous when compared with the minimal investment of purchasing the client for payback on a favorite device. The Plex Media server can be installed on a wide range of platforms from Windows, Mac, Linux and FreeBSD to NAS systems like QNap, Netgear, Synology and Drobo.

Plex Features

For a full list of Plex features, visit their features page here. Plex also offers a subscription-based service called the Plex Pass for a small fee. Plex Pass members receive access to the new features while they are still in their beta testing phase, giving users a chance to try out the latest and greatest from the Plex development team.

Download Plex

Downloads for Plex are available on their downloads page.

Plex Client Apps

Most Plex Apps for mobile or connected platforms are paid apps. These include:

  • Android
  • Amazon Fire TV
  • Google TV
  • iOS
  • Roku
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Phone 8

 

Download Usenet Binaries on Android with Power NZB

In today’s connected world, almost everyone has a smartphone. They have become an almost extended part of our bodies and as such, we are demanding more and more from our mobile devices. From playing high-speed racing games, to checking the weather, to reading email – we truly carry the world’s most powerful tool right in our pockets. But did you know that your phone could download Usenet binaries?

Power NZB Usenet Download App for Android

That’s right! Using an Android smartphone or tablet, managing and downloading user-generated binaries from the Usenet can be easy and convenient! The Usenet apps available for Android range  from companion apps for client-side remote server management – where the Android app talks directly to a computer that downloads content from the Usenet – to fully-featured NZB download clients. The latter of which will search, download and extract binary Usenet content directly onto a mobile device making it ready for immediate use.

The best fully-featured Usenet download application we have found so far is Power NZB. With Power NZB, we can download and extract Usenet user-generated binary content directly to our Android device. The best part about Power NZB is that it is completely free, although donations to the developer are appreciated and will make further development of the app possible. Since the application is free, it’s a win-win all the way around! Visit the download page and simplify your Usenet downloading experience on Android.

Feature Rundown:

  • NewzNab search API built in.
  • Use the Webview to search various free NZB indexing sites.
  • Add NZB RSS feeds to always stay up-to-date and never miss favorite user-generated binaries.
  • The Par2 library lets us check and repair our downloads directly to our device, just like Quick Par. No more wasted downloads!
  • Easily and quickly extract multi-part RAR files. No need to use another file manager to extract your files. Even set downloads to auto-extract and delete!
  • Join split archives. No need to re-join on a PC! Power NZB will now auto-re-join binaries.
  • Slick built-in SAB client to manage PC downloads. No need for multiple apps!