PlayOn Cloud

PlayOn Cloud is a mobile app that can be used to record and then download video files during off peak times.  This is useful for those on satellite connections (who usually have unused off peak data), those who are experiencing network congestion, slow equipment and those wanting to download movies and clips for times when you need to watch offline e.g plane trips and travel.

BIRRR also has an article on PlayOn Desktop

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NB: PlayOn Desktop doesn’t actually have 24 channels available in Australia, because the recording device (the consumer PC) is located in Australia (which is not the case with Cloud).

 

How PlayOn Cloud Works

PlayOn cloud is a streaming video recorder that is located in the cloud.  When you select a video file in the app, PlayOn streams and records the file to their server in the cloud (the recording does not use your data/connection).  Once the recording has completed you can download the file from the cloud to your device, and downloads can be scheduled to occur in off peak times or times when there is no network congestion. Cloud recordings are stored for 7 days, or longer if you purchase a storage plan.

The PlayOn Cloud App is both Apple (iOS) and Android compatible.

Steps on using PlayOn

  • Download the app from the Apple Store or Google Play
  • Set up your PlayOn Cloud account

68701113_448858545962418_5045470074576568320_nRecording Credit Packs 17/8/19 in US Dollars

  • Purchase recording credits from PlayOn (see above for prices in USD as at 17/08/19), prices vary depending on the pack you choose. Recordings can be as low as 18 cents (USD) per video file.
  • Purchase a storage plan if needed, otherwise all recordings will expire if not downloaded in 7 days. PlayOn Cloud Storage plans are optional, you can download your recordings to your device for free at any time during the 7 days. Check with your Internet Provider for any special discounts available for PlayOn Cloud.

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  • In Settings, select download options.  Select Auto-Download on WiFi & Restrict Downloads to off peak, set the off peak times (nbn Sky Muster off peak times are 1am – 7am for all providers).  PlayOn Cloud works off your local time.
  • Set your video quality (High Definition if wanting to watch on a large screen)

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  • Select channel settings and sign in to any channel accounts that you have e.g. Netflix, You Tube
  • Select the channel you want to stream from and the video, file you want to record.  Select record. The video file will now begin recording in the PlayOn Cloud, this will show in your Queue section.
  • Your video will download (this is the part that uses YOUR data) during the times you have setup in the settings tab.  Your device must be plugged into power with the app left open for this to occur, you must also have enough storage space on your device. The file will then be downloaded to your device and can be located in the Recordings tab, select device at the top of the tab to see your recording..
  • You will also receive an email notification when your recording is complete.  The notification email will contain a direct link to download the recording to your PC or Mac or any device you’d like, please note that downloading via this link will use your data allowance.
  • PlayOn Cloud allows AdSkipping – Automatically skip ads when you watch recordings.

Synching between devices

If you login with the same PlayOn Cloud account, your recordings will sync across all of your devices that have the app installed. Please ensure your settings are updated in each version of the app.

Recording Failure

In the unlikely event of a recording failure, you’ll automatically be issued a replacement credit. If you encounter any further issues, contact the PlayOn support team at support@playon.tv

Playing your files on a big screen

To play your downloaded files, you can watch them directly from your device or cast them to your TV screen using a device such as Google Chromecast or Apple TV.

PlayOn Cloud Supported Channels

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Recommended channels for Australia are highlighted orange below.

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*May be available without a US based account.

BBC iplayer is also worth looking into for Australia.

As PlayOn Cloud Audience increases in Australia, PlayOn will explore opportunities to expand with other channels such as as Stan, SBS on Demand, ABC iview etc.

You can suggest alternate channels via email to support@playon.tv

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with PlayOn regarding any issues.  

Thanks to Jeff from PlayOn for his assistance in compiling this document.  Prepared for BIRRR by Kristy Sparrow,  updated on 17th August 2019.

Using PlayOn Desktop to Schedule Off Peak Video Downloads

What is PlayOn?

PlayOn Desktop is a program that allows you to schedule the download of movies and tv shows during Sky Muster ‘off peak’ data times. It is relatively cheap and very simple to use, you don’t have to be very tech savvy and its an excellent way to utilise your off-peak data that often goes unused.

What Do I Need?
You need an existing Netflix account or You Tube account to use PlayOn and a PC or laptop with Windows installed. Unfortunately PlayOn Desktop doesn’t work for Macs. 

BIRRR is currently researching the Play On Cloud app which works in a similar way on idevices, we will update when our research is done.

How Much Does it Cost?
PlayOn costs $4.99 USD per month or $30 USD annually or you can pay a one off lifetime membership charge of $69.95 USD. Prices do change regularly so check out current pricing on the Playon Website. Look into downloading a limited time trial, if you want to test the software without the commitment.

PlayOn charges are  an additional cost on top of your Netflix subscription. (Netflix AUS costs $9.99 per month for the basic package, which allows you to stream or download Netflix on 1 screen at a time in Standard Definition). Other plans are available, however it is not ideal to download from more than one device on Sky Muster. You may want to ‘trial’ Netflix for free for a limited time first.

How Does It Work? 

You can set your Play-On to record and download videos as .MP4 files during Sky Muster off-peak times.  PlayOn will start and end the recordings automatically. The recording works in a ‘streaming’ fashion. Meaning that if a movie is 3 hours long it will take 3 hours to record, and you can record up to 6 x 1 hour episodes of a TV series during your off-peak times. This means you can download up to 180 hours of movies and TV shows per month during your off peak time (subject to your data limits). This enables Netflix and You Tube to be more accessible to those on limited data connections.

PlayOn records during normal times too so if you find yourself at the end of your billing period with some leftover peak data and not enough time to use it up you can use PlayOn to record shows during peak times as well to use your data effectively.

How much data does it use?
You can easily adjust the quality of your recordings (similar to adjusting the streaming quality on your Netflix account), which will reduce the amount of data that is used per recording. However, I find anything less than Medium quality to be unwatchable and if you have a decent sized tv then you may want to stick to a High quality download setting.

Low Definition: reduced standard definition video quality, can use up to 300MB per hour.
Medium Definition: standard definition(SD) video quality, can use up to 700MB per hour.
High Definition: high definition(HD) video quality, can use up to 3GB per hour.

How to Watch?
Once you have downloaded your movies and TV shows there are multiple ways to watch them. You can use a streaming device (such as Chromecast) from your desktop, tablet or device. You can also put the files onto a USB or hard drive and plug that straight into your TV. If you have downloaded onto a laptop you can also use an HDMI to plug your computer directly into your TV.  Mirroring apps (try Googling one that is compatible with your TV and device) are also an easy way to watch.

Problems & Tech Support
PlayOn works really well the majority of the time. You can have issues where shows have not recorded properly or not at all (this can be from a minor Play-On glitch or a short Sky Muster outage or update). The program will flag the ones that failed to record overnight so you can add them to the queue to record next time.

PlayOn is a US based company so doesn’t offer phone based support in Australia, however there is a ‘tech support’ button in PlayOn settings which details problems and glitches and how to fix them.  PlayOn tech support can also be contacted via email.

How to Use?

  1. Create an account on the PlayOn website. (you will also need to have created a Netflix or YouTube account)
  2. Choose which payment option you want.
  3. Download the program to the computer you want to use (remember it is not compatible with Mac Computers)
  4. Follow the prompts as instructed.
  5. Once the PlayOn desktop program has downloaded go into settings and the ‘channels’ tab and enter your Netflix or YouTube logon and password details.
  6. In that same settings screen under the ‘General’ tab you can choose the quality of your download from HD to Low Quality as discussed above.
  7. Once this is set up you can go to the top right hand side of the screen and see an ‘off peak’ button. Click it to set up to record during off-peak times. You will need to enter your off-peak times in. PlayOn is very definite and only starts once the off-peak time has begun, it also won’t continue to record past the off-peak time you have set. e.g. If you have a 55 minute episode to record, but only 45 minutes of off-peak time remaining PlayOn will simply not record that episode (rather than record most of it or go over the specified time) and it will remain in the ‘Recording Queue’ until next time.
  8. Now the fun part. Click on the channels tab and choose the Netflix channel. Now you can choose whichever movies and tv shows you want to download. Once you have found what you want to record you will see the button on the far right of the show/episode description that says ‘record’. Click that and it will add it to your ‘Record Queue’ to be recorded during off-peak. You will have to click record for each episode of a series.
  9. Click on the ‘Record Queue’ button on the top right of the screen to see everything you have in your queue. You can change the record order etc from there if you want.
  10. Keep your computer turned on and connected to the internet overnight for the recordings to work (turn the volume down on the computer if you don’t want it annoying you through the night).
  11. You can see which recordings have downloaded successfully and which haven’t in the ‘new recordings’ and ‘failed recordings’ tabs on the left hand menu. Any ‘failed recordings’ you can just add to the ‘Record Queue’ again for next time and they will usually record successfully.  If you continue to get failed recordings or have other problems go to the ‘Help’ button at the bottom left of the screen.
  12. Sometimes when you open the PlayOn program you will get a screen that says ‘Server can’t be found’. Simply click the ‘Open Settings’ button and you will see a ‘Start/Stop Server’ button on the right of your settings. Click it and wait for the box to become green and say ‘Running’ and you are good to go. This happens often and is due to settings that don’t start the server automatically (to save data).

How to View
Refer to the How to Watch section above. You can open the PlayOn program to watch them, otherwise the recordings are also stored in a ‘Play-On’ folder in your Video files on your desktop. From that folder these can be transferred to a USB or hard-drive for viewing (and travel etc) if you want.

Check out Skymesh’s PlayOn hack article

Prepared for BIRRR by Sophie Parbury & Ben from SkyMesh.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your eligibility and best plans available. Page updated 25/10/18.

Upload videos to Youtube during off peak hours

This is a Google Chrome Extension – you must be using the Google Chrome web browser, which is a free download from chrome.google.com
This allows you to schedule the uploading of videos to YouTube to occur during off peak hours.
This is completely different to the YouTube video scheduling feature, which does NOT schedule the uploading, only the publication time.
For details on installation and use, click https://chrome.google.com/…/ocpgggmabipnhemenjflgnflbcieplc…

Go to the page above.
Choose the green “Add to Chrome” button.
Double check it is enabled:
In a Chrome window, choose the 3 dots at right of URL box.
Choose More Tools.
Choose Extensions.
Should be ticked with the word Enabled. Close.

How to use:
Open Chrome tab to your YouTube upload page.
It will look slightly different to normal.
Where it normally has a fairly large grey arrow with “Select files to upload” (this will still show momentarily), in its place now is new text (see image):

To schedule:
Change the date/time in the box manually to your planned off-peak time.
Press Choose files. I would suggest that you have all the files you want to upload in a dedicated directory, go there, select all (mac: command A), press open.
Then press the schedule button.

***It says you must leave the browser and tab open. This means if you wish to keep using the browser you need to open this as a separate window that is kept open.

(This agrees with my recollection that when I have been uploading manually in the past, if I opened another tab to do other work, it cancelled the upload. This also suggests that you may not want the computer to go to sleep or the screen saver to come up, but I’m not sure of that.)

If you upload multiple files the first is uploading and the others say Upload Pending, then as one finishes the next starts to upload.

Remember: Once uploaded they are NOT published. You can come back at your leisure, go there and edit the description, title etc. And publish when ready. (and YouTube does have a publishing scheduler).

The above instructions were contributed by BIRRR member Deb Maxwell. While all efforts are taken to ensure BIRRR documents are correct at time of publishing, BIRRR cannot guarantee that the linked software is free of any fault or malicious software.

Web Page Optimisation (WPO)

nbn SkyMuster uses a system called Web Page Optimisation (WPO).
Web Page Optimisation is designed to help speed the loading of pages, as you browse.
A downside of WPO is that nbn counts all the data that WPO pre-fetches, including data collected to speed up your page loads even if you never see them.
Some providers (if asked) will disable (turn off) WPO.
You may experience some pages loading a little slower, but for many there is little change in speed.
Disabling WPO will stop the addition of the WPO overhead to your account.
The amount of additional data that WPO uses will vary with the the day to day internet activity of your household.
For those on SkyMuster who are struggling to keep within their account quota, disabling WPO may be something to consider.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with NBN or your ISP regarding your own connection issues.

Kindly prepared for BIRRR by John Kitchener 21/7/2016

Ways to speed up a slow Windows Computer

Windows PCs typically slow down as applications are installed and used. Whether you are using a word processor, writing a spreadsheet, surfing the internet, playing games or anything else, hard drives fill with temporary files that do not always get removed when no longer needed. Hard disks can succumb to this wear and tear over time. Read on to learn of ways to help keep a PC running smoothly.
1.     Clean up the Desktop
  • Empty Recycle bin – see below
  • Only have short cuts on your desktop (they should look similar to below … the little blue arrow indicates a shortcut). If there is no arrow, it isn’t a shortcut.
    Windows1
    Move all files stored on the desktop that don’t have the shortcut symbol to a folder in your Documents folder (you can create a shortcut, if you want quick access to it, on your desktop)
2.     Empty the Recycle Bin

Simply deleting files from the disk doesn’t really delete them at all; rather they are moved to a temporary holding area on the hard drive for easy restoration. This area is called the Recycle Bin and is usually displayed on the Desktop. Review the contents before emptying. Once emptied, the space on the hard drive that the data occupied is made available for reuse and the restoration of any files emptied from the recycle bin becomes extremely difficult if it is overwritten by new data. Note that this will only speed up your computer if the hard drive is nearly full.

3.     Log onto Windows Safe Mode

Windows’ Safe Mode is a boot option that only loads the operating system with absolutely necessary basic files and drivers. It is generally used to troubleshoot issues in Windows, as many components, such as graphic drivers or software that automatically start with Windows, are not loaded.

To start in Safe Mode you need to reboot your computer.

Repeatedly and gently tap the F8 key as Windows begins to boot. (This is the usual key you press, if that doesn’t work try Shift+F8, if that doesn’t work you will need to Google your brand of computer asking how to start in safe mode) If you see the Windows logo, you missed the right time point; just start over. Once you see Advanced Boot Options you know that it worked. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to select Safe Mode from the options and press Enter to boot into Safe Mode.
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If your computer no longer appears sluggish when you are in Safe Mode, you can assume that your hardware is fine. A trouble-free Safe Mode is an indicator that a software issue is the source of problems you normally see. There are still many candidates, for example a driver or software conflict, malware, or simply too many programs launching at startup.

Note: Accessing Windows 10 Safe Mode is a bit different – see http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows-10/start-your-pc-in-safe-mode  for details.

4.     Freeing Up Resources

Stop all unneeded background processes.

Look at the right corner of your Taskbar, to the left of the time, date, and essential system icons. You will see a group of small icons, collectively called the ‘notification area’ or ‘system tray’.
Windows3

Each of these icons represents a program that has been at least partially started or is running “in the background”. Regardless of state, each causes a reduction of available memory and processing power, or resources.

Closing, exiting or cancelling any unused background process returns those resources to the system, and becomes available for use by the application(s) started specifically by the user.

Go to your task manager and click on the Process tab. To access the Task Manager, you will want to hold down  CTRL and ALT keys, then tap the DEL simultaneously,  then click on the task manager button in the window that appears.  This will show you what processes are using your computer (If you aren’t sure what the process does, Google it and see whether it is important or not to the running of your computer)

A utility is built into Windows that can enable/disable task bar programs and processes from automatically loading with Windows at Startup

To access it, go to Start > Run > type in “MSCONFIG” and click OK.
Windows4

You may need to choose the Start-up tab (Windows 10 does it differently. From the taskbar, search System Configuration. Select the top result, System Configuration desktop app.)

If you do not know what a process does, search its name. Do not disable processes if you are unsure, as some processes are necessary for your computer to function normally. You can stop applications like Skype, your printer applications, camera updaters etc from being automatically loaded at start-up. Applications like your antivirus software need to be loaded at start-up.

5.     Install anti-virus software and keep it current

Today, anti-virus (AV) suites are an absolute must. There are many from which to choose at the software store, but there are free AV solutions that do a very good job, too. Three popular free AV solutions are Avast!, AVG, and Avira AntiVir. All include regular “virus definition” file updates that allow the AV program to detect and protect from the latest viruses being released. Note that while installing antivirus software actually slows down your computer, it does not slow it down as much as a virus does. Here is a 2016 review of Antivirus Software and Apps (http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-antivirus,review-2588-5.html)

6.     Install Malwarebytes and check your computer for malware

Malware is short for malicious software. It is a piece of software, such as a virus, adware, or a worm, that you did not authorise to install but it eats up your system’s resources. It can decrease your systems performance, like any other running software, and can also compromise your operating system. Download the free version here https://www.malwarebytes.org/  Read the installation screens and make sure you UNTICK the option for a free trial.

7.     Clean up the primary partition

Click “Start” type “Disk Cleanup” and press “Enter” key. Select your primary partition (Windows installed drive, in most cases C:/ drive) and scan it for junk files. After few minutes, it will show a list of unnecessary files and simply select all these check boxes and start cleaning your drive.
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8.     Desktop Services

Turn off unneeded Desktop Features that try to make things look better. The fancy rounded window corners, the way the menus fade in and out, and the 3-D button styles on modern Desktops all require some computing power and can overwhelm older machines. To turn off these appearances only enhancements:
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Vista – Click the Start button, then Control Panel, then choose System and Maintenance, then Performance Information and Tools. Click Adjust visual effects. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. Click the Visual Effects tab, and choose “Adjust for best performance”. You can also try the “Custom” option, and turn on and off individual settings to see which ones will work without slowing your machine down.

Windows 7 – Click the Start button, then Control Panel, and then System and Security. When you see System, click on it and then Advanced system settings. From here you can make sure you’re on the Advanced tab and click on Settings under Performance. Here, you can also choose Adjust for best performance or choose Custom if you’d like to compromise between fancy visuals and performance. On a side note, this menu can be accessed much quicker by right-clicking on Computer, from either the Desktop or Start menu, selecting Properties, and then Advanced system settings.

Windows 8 and 8.1 – Search for “adjust visual” in Windows 8 Start menu, Choose “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows”,  Click “Settings” then select “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows” in the Settings are in the top left, Select “adjust for best performance” in the Performance options box that appears. Then Click Apply.

9.     Uninstall all applications that are no longer needed.

When applications and games are installed to a Windows PC, some files are written in the Windows directory structure and dozens (or more) changes are made to the Windows Registry file. Most of these changes are not readily apparent to the user, so proper removal requires uninstalling the application through the Control Panel’s “Add or Remove Program” or “Programs and Features” icon.

If the program is not listed in the Control Panel use the “uninstall” command provided by the application.

Please note: Simply deleting the entire application directory is not the same as uninstalling, as all the files written to the Windows directory and changes to the Windows Registry file will remain and may be reloaded when the system is rebooted.

Make sure that you do not uninstall any programs that are required by others. e.g. iTunes® will not work if Quicktime® is uninstalled, and many programs rely on other Microsoft programs.

10. Do a Cold Boot
(only necessary if you didn’t do the Safe Boot above)

Do a shutdown/reboot also known as a cold reboot. Some programs do not release memory properly when they close, which is the case for some operating systems. Even doing a warm restart will not release some of the memory drivers and other core programs had allocated. The computer has to be completely shut down and then restarted. When a program is asking for some memory, a space would be allocated for it by the operating system (like Windows). This allocated memory cannot be used by any other programs. “Well-behaved” programs typically let go of their hold of this memory space but some programs don’t – this is known as a “memory leak”, which is caused by a programming error. A memory leak is easily evident when a program uses up an abnormally high amount of resources because it keeps on asking for more and never gives back any of the allocated memory space. The user workaround is to terminate the program or process, but some processes and core processes cannot be closed. Shutting down the system will have the operating system forget which memory locations aren’t free, so on the next boot, all memory locations are free to use.

Be realistic.

The “high end” computer purchased as new 5 years ago may run the latest version of Windows, but that doesn’t mean that it will do it very well. Keep in mind that the Minimum System Requirements on the software box is indeed, minimum. The best experiences usually require that the system is configured to Recommended System or better, instead. Technology marches on and it seems there is a game of “one-upmanship” played between software developers and hardware designers. Regardless, eventually new software will require new hardware or vice versa. It seems that the amount of frustration you can endure best determines how long you will run your current setup.

Tips

Be aware that some of these steps are specific to a specific version of Windows; not all are cross-compatible.

  • Keep malware in check. If running utilities mentioned in this article gives you an “Access Denied”, “You don’t have rights to run this”, or the program will not run, you probably have a malware infection. Symptoms other than these are frequent phony, but realistic-appearing, anti-virus warnings that your system is infected, or your web browser sending you to pornographic websites or search sites you have not configured it to send you to.
  • Consider the use of an Adblocker in conjunction with your browser. An Adblocker may improve speed and appearance of pages displayed by your browser. Check that the Adblocker does not disrupt valid site pop-ups for the sites you visit. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_blocking
  • Add memory. While not free, adding memory is a very effective way of boosting performance, especially if your system has 1 GB of memory or less. Increasing the amount of memory installed reduces the need for the computer to write to and read from the hard drive. Check the motherboard or system documentation to determine size, type, speed and permissible configurations of memory before purchasing and installing additional memory. Systems with lower amounts of memory (256 MB to 1 GB) installed receive the greatest boost when increased to 2 GB or more (as this represents a 100-400% or more increase in system memory). Systems that have 2 GB or more memory installed also receive a boost – but it is less noticeable.
  • Keep your PC cool. When a computer gets too hot, the CPU fan will speed up. If the CPU is still too hot, the CPU will enter something called “thermal throttling” which slows down processing speed in order to prevent the CPU from breaking down. Turning off or hibernating your PC when not using it, increasing airflow, and keeping the room which your PC is located in cool will help keep your computer cool — and fast.
  • Keeping Windows Up-to-date, especially with Security Updates, is very important and can prevent BADWARE infections which slow a computer.
  • Consider re-installing Windows. It may be easier to format the hard drive and re-install Windows on the computer. Be sure to back up important data first and have all program installation disks ready for re-installation. Be aware that the format process will delete all files on the disk. This means that you will need to reinstall all software and restore all documents from a backup. This can take days!
  • Consider using a different operating system. If you have a slow or old computer considers switching to Linux. This has its own set of issues such as needing to learn a new Operating System, and much more.
Warnings
  • Do not delete unknown types of files, because they may be System Programming Files.
  • Discharge any static electricity. Touch an electrically grounded source (a heating or plumbing pipe or the metal case of an electrical device powered by a grounded 3 prong cord connected to a grounded receptacle) prior to touching components inside the PC case. Static electricity can pass through hands and could cause delicate electronics inside the PC case to fail.
  • Beware of using MSConfig. Using MSConfig as anything but a troubleshooting tool is considered dangerous by many in the IT field to long term computer stability. If you’re unsure of something do your research and don’t remove it until you know for sure you don’t need it. You can always uncheck it and come back later.
  • Download files from trustworthy sources. The developer’s page is best; P2P, newsgroups and anonymous file hosting sites are more likely to be infected with a virus.
  • Do not download any software which tells that they will speed up your computer. More downloads can also cause your computer to slow down as they (software) put more load on your PC’s processor and eat up its RAM.
  • Shut down your computer and disconnect all the cables from it prior to opening the case. This eliminates the chances of electrocution or damage to system components.
  • Do not use registry cleaners. Registry cleaners can be dangerous. They may seem legitimate, but after some amount of usage, they can fragment your registry. Leave them alone, if you feel that it must be cleaned up, make a backup and defragment afterwards. The registry does not need to be cleaned, so cleaning it can only result in nothing, or damage.
 Other things to try ….
Run “Error Checking” on all hard drives.

Right-click a drive icon in “My Computer” and select “Properties” followed by “Tools”. Choose “Error Checking” to let the utility scan the drive for damaged files that can contribute to slow drive access speeds. This process may take several minutes to hours or more to complete. Warning: Do not do this if you have an SSD. (solid-state drive)

Run “De-fragment” on all hard drives.

Right-click a drive icon in “My Computer” and select “Properties” followed by “Tools”. Choose “De-fragment” to let the utility clean up fragmented files and consolidate free space on the drive. Note: this is not needed on an SSD drive. This process may take anywhere from several minutes to hours or more to complete depending on size of the drive(s) and amount of unused capacity or free space. Consider starting the defragment process so that it will run overnight or prior to logging off. You may have to disable your screensaver as well.  After completion the speed of hard drive read and writes times may improve significantly. Warning: Defragmenting an SSD will yield no performance gains, and can actually damage the SSD.

Set your computer’s energy settings to High Performance.

This is especially useful in Laptops and Netbooks where the processor speed is altered in accordance to energy settings (and if you are running on battery power).

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with a professional if you are unsure.

How to: Block Windows 10 Upgrade

How to: Block Windows 10 upgrade on Windows 7 & 8.1 using “Never10”

This program disables Windows’ pestering insistence to upgrade Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10.
Many users of Windows 7 and 8.1 are happy with their current version of Windows, and have no wish to upgrade to Windows 10.  For more information visit http://www.grc.com/never10

If at some time you wish to proceed with a Windows 10 upgrade, this little program also provides the functionality to allow the upgrade to proceed.

If this is you,follow the steps to install the program.

  • Download the small “Never10” application from the following link https://www.grc.com/files/never10.exe and save it to a known location or USB drive – don’t worry its quite tiny
  • Run the file simply by double clicking, it will adjust your registry settings and leaves nothing behind.
  • You will be presented with one of the following 4 screens:
  1. Yay!– the update doesn’t apply to you. Close the box and have a good rest of the day!
    Never10_1
  2. Boo! The version of Windows update on your machine CAN’T be instructed to not upgrade. Click the “Install Update” button to upgrade your windows so you can block the update by running Never10 again afterwards.
    Never10_2
  3. Yuck! Your machine is currently enabled to receive the update! Click the “Disable Win10 Upgrade” button to block the update from occurring You can also click the “Remove Win10 Files” button to remove the files Microsoft so kindly downloaded to your computer in the background (ahh -that’s where all my data went….) On system restart the little “Windows 10 Upgrade” icon should also be gone from the system tray.
    Never10_3
  4. Congratulations !– one of two things has happened – you have either correctly completed the step above or someone else has beaten you to it! If you haven’t clicked the “Remove Win10 Files” button do that now to free up some space! If you change your mind you can also RE-ENABLE the update here…..
    Never10_4

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with a professional if you are unsure.

Kindly prepared and illustrated for BIRRR by Tim Stockman 2/6/2016

How to use your off-peak data

This article is particularly helpful for nbn Sky Muster Satellite customers. 

SKYMUSTER hours (regardless of your provider) will be:

PEAK: 7am – 1am and OFF-PEAK: 1am to 7am

Wondering how to best utilise your off peak data?

Here are some ways to get the most out of your satellite plans.

Mac Systems: You need to perform a few simple tasks to prepare for scheduled downloads. First, go to System Preferences > Energy Saver and press the Schedule button. Check the Start up or wake check box and select the time for your Mac to wake. You want it to wake at least 1 minute before your Calendar event will fire, to ensure that you are connected to the Internet. Once you have set the wake day and time, click OK and close the Energy Saver window.

OPERATING SYSTEM SOFTWARE:

Operating system updates for Windows 10 and Apple iOS are AUTOMATIC, you cannot schedule them. Earlier versions of Windows can be scheduled.

How to Schedule Windows 10 PRO UPDATES

RECORDING PROGRAMS

Playon 

PlayOn is a program that allows you to record movies and TV shows during off peak times. You can record streaming video from over 100 popular streaming sites including Netflix. Recordings are saved as .MP4 video files which can be easily transferred to an iPad or iPhone via iTunes, or to an Android mobile device. Cost is $2.50US a month. WINDOWS Compatible Only

Playon Cloud

  • Is compatible with both Windows computers and Apple devices. More information about PlayOn Cloud is here. 
  • PlayOn Cloud is a mobile app that can be used to record and then download video files during off peak times.  This is useful for those on satellite connections (who usually have unused off peak data), those who are experiencing network congestion, slow equipment and those wanting to download movies and clips for times when you need to watch offline e.g plane trips and travel.

SCHEDULING ITUNES DOWNLOADS

MAC Users: The following link shows you how to schedule downloads (apps, music, movies, TV shows etc) in off peak times in itunes using a Mac CLICK HERE  You can also use this method to update apps in off peak times and then connect your i-device to the computer / itunes and update on your device or transfer downloads without using data.

DROPBOX SYNCING

Use the following links to sync your dropbox files at night during off peak times.

MOBILE DEVICES SOFTWARE UPDATES

APPLE: Apple iOS are only automatic if you are connected via WiFi or cable. If the device is Cellular only, it is NOT automatic, and can be scheduled but therefore can’t use your Sky Muster off peak data for these updates.

DOWNLOAD SCHEDULERS

Install a DOWNLOAD SCHEDULER to your computer that allows large file downloads to be scheduled during off peak hours. They work by adding a link to the file you want downloaded and then scheduling this download.  Some recommended download schedulers are:

Once you have installed the download scheduler application you can choose the time/day you wish to download the file(s).

WARNING: Please be careful with download manager add-ons, some have been known to be malicious and deliberately spam users or Hijack user’s computers.

Do not click on any pop ups, links, ads or programs that promise to speed up your computer or internet connection – these often contain malicious software. These links or ads are especially common on popular speed testing websites.

SCHEDULE EMAILS

GMAIL SCHEDULER DOWNLOAD

Email Scheduler for Gmail lets you schedule email messages inside Gmail with the help of a Google Spreadsheet. You can write your messages now and Gmail will send them later at your specified date and time, thus you can schedule it to use your off peak data. The scheduler can also send recurring emails that go out automatically on daily, weekly, monthly or yearly repetitive schedule.

MICROSOFT OUTLOOK SCHEDULER

Microsoft Outlook can also schedule delivery (and reception) of email messages.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your ISP regarding off peak data if you have any concerns.  As the #datadrought mainly impacts satellite customers with off peak data we have focussed on off peak data for these customers.   Thanks to BIRRR members  Julie Stott & Kye Rosendale for assistance in compiling this document.  

Reducing Data Usage on iDevices

One of the most-often asked questions on the BIRRR facebook page is ‘How can I save data? It seems to be vanishing without me doing anything!” While sending photos and uploading big documents are often unavoidable as we conduct business via the internet and can eat into our data limits, there is actually quite a lot we can do to curtail some of the often-unseen big data users chewing through our very limited monthly gigabytes.

Many of the things you can do to manage data usage are

  • Save data in iOS
  • Track how much data you use
  • Stop Apps from using your data
  • How to see which Apps are using data
  • To save cellular data and use WiFi, turn off cellular data
  • Turn off autoplay in Facebook
  • Manage how you use Facetime
  • Manage how you use iCloud
  • Manage how you use iTunes
  • Manage data roaming
  • Use Safaris reading list to read articles offline
  • Manage the data guzzler Photo Stream
  • Turn off push notifications
  • Manage how you get emails
  • Stop Background App refresh
  • Manage WiFi
  • Use WiFi Hotspots

Solutions to the above data usage savers can be found here

Whether you use mobile or satellite broadband, if you own iDevices this is a short checklist to follow (as well as doing what is mentioned above)

 I-DEVICES

Operating system updates for Apple iOS are AUTOMATIC if you are connected via WiFi or cable. If the device is Cellular only, it is NOT automatic, and can be scheduled.

Disable a feature called Wi-Fi Assist which is enabled in the default settings of iOS 9.  Our iDevices can chew through ENORMOUS amounts, through updates and syncing. Go through the following checks to ensure your iDevice is NOT automatically chewing through precious data. The first step is to find the SETTINGS on your device.

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 7.17.00 AM

CONTROL UPDATES

TURN OFF i-CLOUD UPDATES

The constant syncing of i-cloud on iDevices, especially if you have several devices, can really chew through your data. You can always turn them back on if needed, but make sure you aren’t in ‘automatic update’ mode:

  • Go into Settings>iCloud
  • Uncheck ‘icloud drive

This is a good spot to uncheck any other ‘auto-updates’ you might not need synced.

icloud

APP UPDATES AND WI-FI ASSIST

Check that apps that aren’t needed all the time are not updating and turn off wi-fi assist. Wi-Fi assist automatically defaults to using your mobile data when Wi-Fi signal is poor. This means your mobile data could be used without you realising, causing your mobile service to exceed your monthly quota and accrue excess data fees.

  • Go into Settings>Mobile
  • Go though your apps and  UNCHECK those you don’t need constantly accessing data.
  • UNCHECK the Wi-Fi assist option at the bottom

NB: Wi-Fi assist is a feature that is enabled by default in iOS 9. If your i-Device is running an earlier version of iOS, your device will not have this feature.

  • wifiassist

APPS REFRESH

  • Go into Settings>General>background app refresh
  • turn off (this will also save battery life)
  • BAR

AUTOMATIC UPDATES

WARNING: Your i-Device will automatically download iOS updates (when a new one is available) while it is charging, connected to the internet (thru WiFi) and there’s sufficient free space on the device. It will then prompt you to install, turning off updates will NOT prevent the auto download of iOS updates. Turning your device to airplane mode whilst charging OR having your device ONLY on cellular may prevent this.  

  • Go into Settings>App and iTunes Store>Update
  • Scroll down this page until you see the AUTOMATIC DOWNLOADS heading. All new content that you buy after you turn on Automatic Downloads automatically downloads to all of your devices. When you turn on Automatic Downloads, your device associates with your Apple ID.If you use Family Sharing and turn on Automatic Downloads, content bought by other members of your family won’t automatically download to your devices. Only content that you purchase with your Apple ID downloads automatically.Here, you’ll see four options. Turn off Updates and other automatic downloads such as Music, Apps and Books.

Music – When turned on, any purchased iTunes music will download automatically.

Apps – When turned on, any purchased apps will download automatically.

Books – When turned on, any purchased Books will download automatically.

Updates – When turned on, updates for any apps on your device will download as soon as they become available.

  • turn off Use Mobile Data for automatic downloads

See expert tip at the bottom of this article to adjust settings in your router (at OWN risk), this is the only way to prevent automatic iOS updates.

Turn off Automatic Downloads in App & Itunes

PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

  • Go into Settings>Notifications
  • If your iDevice has an Internet connection and you turn on Push Notifications, your content automatically downloads to your device. On devices that don’t support Push Notifications, your content automatically appears in your iTunes download queue. You can manually download the content in iTunes.
  • Turn off any apps that you don’t require push notifications for.

12669776_10154770136082316_598626597_o

All of the above tips will often need to be re-applied after completing an update.

An easy and easy to forget tip is also to shut down all your apps and browser windows when you have finished with them.

  • Double click HOME button
  • Swipe apps (and browser windows) closed.

This is a small selection of the many data-saving tips you can employ – find more here Data Saving Tips

Expert Tip: Your iDevices will automatically download iOS (when new one is available) while it is charging, connected to the internet (thru WiFi) and there’s sufficient free space on the device. To disable automatic download, you will have to put a block on your wireless router to prevent your Apple iOS devices from contacting Apple update servers. Add mesu.apple.com to your router in access control.

Tips if you have multiple iDevices: You can use a computer with iTunes to download IOS Updates once, and then manually install the update onto multiple devices. Instructions for doing this are available by clicking here.

Another option, if you have a Mac computer, you can install the macOS Server app from the mac App Store, which costs $19.99. This has a feature called “Caching” which, when turned on, will intercept any downloads from the mac and iDevice app stores, and keep a copy. Next time a device requests the same file, it will download it from the mac instead of from the internet, saving your data. There is no need to tell your iDevices to fetch the updates from your mac, it just happens automatically  This works with every device on your network. I have used this in a school with lots of iPads, and it was saving 100+GB per week at one point. Some more info is available here.

* Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your service provider regarding your own connection issues and best plans available.  Information compiled for BIRRR by Julie Stott, Amanda Salisbury, Kye Rosendale, John Kitchener & Kristy Sparrow.  BIRRR updates articles as time permits and when new information is available.

Telstra Air Explained

FREE WiFi with TELSTRA AIR

Telstra Air is Free Wi-Fi at thousands of Telstra Air hotspots across Australia for eligible Telstra mobile (available 15 December 2015 – 30 June 2016 ONLY) and broadband customers.  You can check your eligibility here: TELSTRA AIR

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.04.20 AM

There are two options for Telstra Air:

OPTION 1 Mobile Customers: For those using mobile phones, prepaid devices, sim only plans etc. You can access the internet via FREE Telstra Air Hotspots from 15 December 2015 to 30 June 2016. If you activate the offer, you’ll get access at no charge to available Telstra Air Wi-Fi hotspots in Australia for your personal use until the end of the offer period.

NB: BigPond Mobile Broadband, satellite mobile broadband and business customers are NOT eligible.

OPTION 2 Home Broadband Customers: If you have ADSL, Cable or NBN connection and have a compatible gateway you can become a member of Telstra Air.  This uses your home data allowance when you are away from home, it accesses the internet via Telstra Air hotspots.  You will need to become a Telstra Air member first.

To join Telstra Air – CLICK TO JOIN

To find a Telstra Air Hot Spot use this tool

The Telstra Air App is also a quick and easy way to connect, locate hotspots and more

I’m a bigpond mobile broadband customer for my home internet plan and a business customer for my mobiles, which makes me ineligible for Telstra Air.  However thanks to the generosity of fellow BIRRR members I have been offered Telstra Air passwords (for Option 2) to use when I am travelling.  You may also be able to find family or friends who have large home broadband accounts that are willing to share their data.

*Compiled by Kristy Sparrow for BIRRR 15/1/2016 Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with Telstra regarding  your plans and the use of Telstra Air.

Cloud Computing : Dropbox , iCloud, OneDrive, Google Drive

Cloud computing has gone from a ‘buzz word’ a few years ago, to an integrated part of both Apple and Microsoft operating systems. We have Dropbox, Onedrive (Microsoft), iCloud (Apple), Google Drive etc.

THE GOOD

  1. You have a backup.
  2. You can also access to your files from anywhere that has an internet connection, across multiple devices.
  3. You can even share files with others.

An example of using DropBox:

‘I went to a party and took a lot of photos and a few movies with my mobile phone. As soon as I returned home, my phone connected to the WiFi and uploaded the files to the ‘cloud’.  These files were then accessible from my PC, my Laptop and my Tablet which not only meant that they were backed up they also could be viewed on the larger PC screen.’

THE NOT-SO-GOOD
Multiple movements of files: Internet use is calculated by both uploads and downloads. In the above example the picture and movie files were counted as data when they were transferred UP to the cloud, and then were counted AGAIN to DOWNLOAD to my PC. Then they were counted yet AGAIN to download to my laptop. By itself, it may not be a big thing, but it does add up.

What to do?

  1. Try to identify if you are running any cloud applications
  2. be aware that newer operating systems (by default) may automatically use cloud apps eg: iCloud and Onedrive.
  3. Consider turning them off completely – I have stopped using Dropbox and removed the apps from my mobile devices. Not only that the new install of windows 10 can automatically connect to Onedrive – event though no files were yet shared to it yet. And the new version of Microsoft word wants to save to Onedrive by default.
  4. Choose (instead) to save to the local computer.

(Thanks to Cliff Tindall From Christmas Island Computer Services for the above information.)

DROPBOX

How to PAUSE and RESUME syncing from Dropbox

Dropbox allows you to pause and resume syncing through the Dropbox menu in your system tray or menu bar on your computer.

When syncing is active, Dropbox will try to be smart about the amount of bandwidth it uses. Dropbox will use any remaining bandwidth available to download changes and only 75% of available bandwidth to upload changes. You can also adjust your bandwidth usage through the Dropbox desktop application’s preferences.

If you’d like to stop Dropbox entirely, you can do so through an option in your Dropbox menu.

Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 7.36.51 AM Screen Shot 2015-11-08 at 7.36.41 AM

(The above information is taken from Dropbox)

How to DISABLE AUTOMATIC PHOTO UPLOADS in Dropbox on iPhone / iPad:

Step 1: Open Dropbox

Step 2: Tap the Settings gear icon (bottom right)

Disable-Automatic-Photo-Upload-in-Dropbox-iPhone

Step 3: Now, tap on the “Camera Upload” option

Step 4: Turn the switch to OFF

Turn-Off-Automatic-Photo-Upload-in-Dropbox-on-iPhone

That’s it. Dropbox will now stop automatic syncing of photos from your camera album.

Thanks to iGeeks Blog for the screenshots and tips.

iCLOUD:

Turn iCloud features on or off:

Depending on which device’s settings you want to change, do one or more of the following:

On your iOS DEVICE: 

Go to Settings iCloud, then tap to turn on or off iCloud features.

idevice cloud off

On your MAC

Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click iCloud, then select or deselect each feature.

idevice cloud drive off.jpg

NB Some features aren’t available or are listed differently in earlier OS X versions.

On your WINDOWS computer: 

Open iCloud for Windows, then select or deselect each feature.

To make your changes take effect, click Apply.

S0012_WiniCloudPrefs

  • Some features aren’t available on your Windows computer, or are listed differently, depending on whether your computer has Microsoft Outlook 2007 or later installed.

    Outlook installed: You use iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Tasks in Outlook. Note that iCloud reminders are called tasks in Outlook. If you turn off Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Tasks, the iCloud information remains available in Microsoft Outlook, but it isn’t kept in sync with iCloud.

    Outlook not installedYou can use iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders in your web browser on iCloud.com.

TO TURN iCLOUD OFF COMPLETELY

Depending on whether you want to stop using iCloud on all or only some devices, do one or more of the following:

On your iOS deviceGo to Settings > iCloud, then at the bottom of the screen, tap Sign Out (Delete Account in iOS 7 and earlier).

Note:    If you sign out of iCloud (or delete your iCloud account), iCloud no longer backs up your iOS data. You can still back up your device in iTunes. For more information, open iTunes, then choose iTunes > Help.

On your MacChoose Apple menu > System Preferences, click iCloud, then click Sign Out.

On your Windows computerOpen iCloud for Windows, then click Sign out.

Note:    If you turned on automatic download of music, app, or book purchases (in iTunes preferences or in Settings on your iOS device), your iTunes purchases are still downloaded to your devices.
 
(Above information taken from APPLE SUPPORT)

OneDrive:

Windows 10 will put your documents, music, and photos automatically into its cloud service, if you don’t tell it not to.  Microsoft wants you to store your data in the company’s cloud-based storage service.   You have to change some settings to avoid this, as not only will it consume your data allowance it will also start to charge you when you use up your available space.

Turn off OneDrive for your documents, music, pictures and videos:

Right-click Documents in the Navigation pane (must be the Documents library, not any of the folders listed below it) and select Properties.

In the resulting dialog box, select the local location (probably C:\Users\yourname, where yourname is your login name) and click Set save location button.

1106-change-default-100622079-largeWhen you close the dialog box, your local Documents folder will be your default Documents folder. While both folders will be part of the library, new files will default to being saved locally.

Repeat and change the library settings for your Music, Pictures, and Videos libraries.

If you already have documents, music, pictures & videos stored in onedrive follow the steps here to store them locally on your computer rather than in a ‘cloud’ based program.

Information obtained from PC World 

Google Drive:

Google Drive for Mac/PC is the sync client. When you install Google Drive for Mac/PC, it creates a folder on your computer named Google Drive. Anything you put in this folder is synchronized with Google Drive on the web, and also becomes available on all your Google Drive devices. Google Drive provides bi-directional sync, so changes you make online are reflected on all your devices, and vice-versa. You can use Google Drive via your browser where it won’t automatically sync your files.

Turn off Google Drive Syncing

If you DO HAVE the Google Drive app downloaded to your computer or device, and you wish to keep your documents and photos from automatically syncing to the Drive folder on your computer, you can turn off syncing.

  1. On your desktop, click the Google Drive icon google drive desktop icon.
    • On a Mac, the icon is usually found in the menu bar at the top right of your desktop screen.
    • On a PC, the icon is usually found in the taskbar in the bottom right of your desktop screen.
  2. In the top right, click the overflow menu .
  3. Select Preferences.
  4. Uncheck the box next to “Only sync some folders to this computer.”
  5. Click Apply changes.

Change how much bandwidth Google Drive uses

You can increase or decrease the bandwidth used by Drive on your Mac or PC while syncing your files. Decreasing this bandwidth can allow more bandwidth for other programs on your computer.

  1. Click the Google Drive icon google drive desktop icon.
    • On a Mac, the icon is usually found in the menu bar at the top right of your desktop screen.
    • On a PC, the icon is usually found in the taskbar in the bottom right of your desktop screen.
  2. Click the overflow icon in the top right .
  3. Select Preferences.
  4. Go to the Advanced tab.
  5. To choose a different rate, click the radio button next to Limit to and use the up and down arrows to change the rate. The numbers are measured in kilobytes per second.
    • To use the full bandwidth for Drive, click the radio button next to Don’t limit.
  6. Click Apply.

Note: Changing the rate for downloads or uploads to a higher rate than your Internet connection allows may significantly slow other programs that you’re running using the Internet.

(Information Obtained from Google Support)

All efforts are taken to ensure BIRRR documents are correct at time of publishing, please contact your device manufacturer or cloud provider for further information.

Controlling Internet Data Usage with Gargoyle Router

Are you regularly running out of internet “downloads” or data? Kids keep on using it all? Not sure where it’s going?
This document describes the process of setting up a “Gargoyle” Router to enforce data usage quotas for each device on your computer network.
Unfortunately, due to the many variables of different internet connection types and equipment types, it is not simple to give a single step-by-step guide, but this may hopefully help some of you out, even if you have to get a computer tech in to set it up for you.
There is a New Zealand company selling Gargoyle routers (posted to Australia), and will help you set them up if you pay for their time.
http://www.portable.geek.nz/
These Gargoyle routers will allow you to set quotas limiting how much data each device on your network can use over a given time period, so as to ensure you do not use all of your monthly internet allowance. You can see how much data each device is using, and set limits for each device. These limits can reset every hour, every day, every week, or every month, and can be set differently for different devices on your network.
The Gargoyle program is free, and can be downloaded from Gargoyle , however you need a special router to put it on, and this can be a bit tricky for those who are not experienced with computer networking.
IMPORTANT – PLEASE READ: You, and you alone are responsible for what you do with this information. It has the potential to stop your internet from working, and to destroy your new Gargoyle router. BIRRR & I are not responsible for this, and cannot necessarily help you fix any problems occurring as a result of this. This is complicated stuff, and you may need help from an experienced computer tech to get it working.
Due to the large amount of possible modems, routers and network types, I cannot give step-by-step instructions for every router available. However the Gargoyle website provides some instructions for the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND Router, which is fairly cheap (about $70) and can be purchased from many online retailers, and maybe your local computer shop or IT Technician, who may also be able to assist you with the setup. (But they quite likely will not know of Gargoyle, so you would have to show them the website – http://www.gargoyle-router.com)
Types of Modems/Internet connections
Your setup will also vary depending on the type of internet connection you have. BEFORE YOU START, take note of how everything is plugged in and connected together. Draw pictures, write notes, take photos, whatever is needed to help you put it back as is if you run into trouble.
If you have a modem or router that has an Ethernet port (to take a cable that looks like this),

cable

then it is reasonably easy to make work. If you have satellite, ADSL, Next G Wireless Loop or a Telstra/Bigpond Network Gateway, this is what you should have. When you are finished, It will all be plugged in like this:

gargoyle 1
If not, you will likely need the assistance of someone experienced with computer networking, so I will attempt to provide some examples of how to set it up for them to follow.
If you have a 3G/4G USB Dongle, you will need to get a router to connect the USB dongle to. This will be another separate piece of equipment to purchase. Check out http://ofmodemsandmen.com/ If you do this, you would then end up with the scenario in the drawing above, and can continue setting up Gargoyle. Alternatively, and preferably, if your Gargoyle router has a USB port, you may be able to connect the USB dongle directly to the Gargoyle Router, and use it as the internet source. I have done this once, and it worked quite well. However, Some routers will not supply enough power to the USB dongle for this to work reliably.
You may also have a wifi only device, like the Telstra 4G Wifi modems. I have never tried this, but you should be able to set it up like this:

gargoyle2

Getting Gargoyle installed onto a router

You cannot just use any router, and this page has some links to different options: Gargoyle Router

But, for the sake of this document, let’s go with the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND – it can be purchased from many Australian retailers, look here for places to order it from: Static Ice

There are currently three versions of the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND router, V1.x (old), V2.1 (current) and 3.0 (current). Version 2.1 and V3.0 are identical in appearance.

Version 1 is the oldest. Version 2 is newer and is well proven. Version 3 (latest), may be problematic, as it is not yet directly supported by Gargoyle (at Jan 2016). When buying the TP-Link TL-WR1043ND, check with your supplier to determine which version they can supply.

Note: Here is a link to other routers which run Gargoyle:
https://www.gargoyle-router.com/wiki/doku.php?id=supported_routers_-_tested_routers
It is recommended to select one of the newest routers with a fast CPU and larger RAM / Flash Memory. Atheros AR71XX based Routers have a proven track record with Gargoyle.

You must download and install the specific Gargoyle file for the router you have / bought.
https://www.gargoyle-router.com/download.php
Select the file which ends in … squashfs-factory.bin. This is the correct .bin file to flash your factory firmware router.

For a V1, get this file: V1 FILE   – clicking on file will automatically download it

For a V2, get this file: V2 FILE – clicking on file will automatically download it

Each of these files are about 8mb in size, and should only take, at most, about 5-20 minutes to download, unless your internet is really, really slow.

  1. Save this file onto your computer.
  2. Physically unplug your computer from the internet, or disconnect the wireless.
  3. Connect the router to the power, and to your computer with the supplied network cable:cable
  4. Open up the webpage that controls the router, which should be at either of these addresses: Address 1  or Address 2 – try each of them.
  5. Next, on the menu on the left side of the screen, click System Tools, then Firmware Upgrade. Then click browse, and choose the file you downloaded earlier. Then click Upgrade. (If you get the error message “please choose a file to upgrade”, then rename the firmware file to something shorter (i.e. “gargoyle.bin”) and upload it again)
  6. Wait about 5 minutes then you should be able to open the website http://192.168.1.1/
    If after 5 minutes 192.168.1.1 won’t open, restart both the Gargoyle router and your computer and try again. To restart Gargoyle, just pull the power cable out, then plug it back in. If this doesn’t work, you are going to need to get help from someone experienced with computer networking. Or you can try repeating everything you did earlier.
  7. The Gargoyle website provides a detailed procedure for the initial configuration of your new Gargoyle router. See http://www.gargoyle-router.com/wiki/doku.php?id=getting_started.
    The following steps take you briefly through this procedure.
    1. Log into 192.168.1.1 via your browser. It will ask for a password. The password is password, so type it in and login.
    2. Once logged in, you should see a screen that looks similar to this:
      GargoyleRouterHomePageScreenshot
    3. Click the Connection button on the left side menu.
    4. In the Internet/WAN section, you need to choose DHCP (wired) if Gargoyle is to be connected to your modem via a network cable. This is the default setting and will work with all nbn™ NTU or modem connections scenarios. Choose DHCP (wireless) if it is to be connected by WIFI.
    5. You must turn on and secure the WIFI. Use WPA2 PSK security, set the Access Point SSID (the WIFI name) and the Wireless Channel. Default is Ch 11 is fine. The remainder of the default settings should not need attention at this time.

Plugging it into your computer network

Once that is done, you can connect Gargoyle to your internet modem (either by LAN cable or wirelessly), and connect your computers and other devices, either by cable or WIFI, to Gargoyle, instead of the original modem.

If it is all done right, you should be able to connect to the internet; in which case you are almost done.

NOTE: No devices should be connected directly to your old modem, as they will be bypassing Gargoyle’s quotas. You may need to turn the WIFI off on your old modem, or change the password, to keep kids (and big kids) from bypassing Gargoyle. If there is no connection, re-check everything you have done. Maybe get someone else to have a look, as it is easy to get frustrated and confused, and overlook simple things. Failing that, you may have to get a computer tech to look at it. But, in the meantime, you should be able to go back to your old setup.

Setting up quotasGargoyleSideMenu

But before you do that, you may wish to use Gargoyles bandwidth monitoring feature to determine just which computers on your network are using data and when. See https://www.gargoyle-router.com/wiki/doku.php?id=bandwidth_usage

Now you just need to setup your quotas.

Open the gargoyle router page at http://192.168.1.1 and login. Then, click Firewall in the left side menu, then click Quotas.

Once again there is a good Gargoyle website explanation for setting quotas. See http://www.gargoyle-router.com/wiki/doku.php?id=quotas

The Quota page has a variety of options. Have a play around and set it up as you want. Then click Save Changes. Sometimes you may have to restart the Gargoyle for it to take effect. To do this, navigate to System then Reboot or pull out the power cord, count to 10, then plug it back in.

To monitor the quotas, click Status on the left side menu and then click Quota Usage. This page will show you in real time, how much each device has used.

That’s about it. I hope this helps out some of you.

I am sorry I can’t give more specific instructions. Dependant on your equipment and users there are many variations for how it could be configured.

Here is an interesting read on a similar project using Gargoyle on a satellite service in the USA: http://raisedbyturtles.org/limiting-daily-bandwidth-on-home-router

Prepared by Nick Marlow from Mitiamo IT for BIRRR 4/11/2015 – Updated 6/06/2016.

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your own IT consultant regarding this and other latest programs and equipment.

Disable Automatic Updates (Mac Desktops & Laptops)

Mac has a handful of features that rely on a constant internet connection, these include the update feature.

OS X El Capitan, (10.11) the latest version of the Mac operating system is approximately a 6GB download.

Operating system software and all apps in the Mac App Store will automatically download and update themselves. However if you have metered internet or are living in a data drought you’ll probably want to stop these updates from downloading in the background.

Automatic app updates are controlled by the Mac App Store. To change the App Store’s settings, go to System Preferences > App Store. You can still enable checking for updates, by ticking the AUTOMATICALLY CHECK FOR UPDATES BOX, and leaving the other boxes blank.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 10.22.11 am

This enables you to update when you have access to the appropriate data needed and allows the system to alert you to new updates available but does not download them without your permission.

NOTE: Install system data files and security updates is recommended to be checked.

When you are ready to install the updates go to System Preferences > App Store>Show Updates.

You can then decide on which updates are the most important and click on UPDATE or UPDATE ALL (if you have the required data available).

Important: If you’re going to use this automatic system update option, be sure that Time Machine backups of the Mac are allowed to be made on a regular schedule. Time Machine will do this automatically as long as it’s setup and the backup drive is available. If you do not make regular backups of your Mac, it is not recommended to use an automated system update installation feature.

Installing via a USB Memory Stick

How you handle Apple IOS updates is going to depend on which update it is.  To install onto a memory stick or external hard drive follow the instructions below.  You might be able to do this when you have access to free wifi or a friend / relative who has a larger data plan than yourself.

  • For major upgrades like 10.11 (e.g. El Capitan) your device will download an installer through the App Store
    • copy the installer file from the computer you downloaded it to, to an external drive
    • It’ll show up in the Applications folder when you download it and you can just move that or right-click and copy/paste it to your external drive
    • You can also use that method to create a bootable disk in case you ever need to reinstall OS X on your computers
  • For the minor updates they’ll be posted to the Apple website
    • you just need to download it from there to your external drive

Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your system operator before implementing any changes.  Operating software can also be downloaded at any Apple Store, there may be a charge for this.

Tips shared by BIRRR taken from Apple Chat help, October 2015.  While all care is taken compiling these fact sheets, we advise you check with Apple Support if you have issues or concerns.

Footnote: All information compiled by Amanda Salisbury & Kristy Sparrow for  BIRRR and is current as at 18th October 2015.

What is unmetering and how does it work?

What does Unmetering mean ?

Some Providers are offering what is referred to un-metered data, this means that any data you use will not be counted against your actual data allowance. While no unmetered access is offered on satellite connections, some ISPs like SkyMesh, iiNet, Optus and Telstra (Bigpond) offer certain services that are not counted as part of your data allowance.

These are some common questions and answers:

What ISPs offer Unmetered services?

  • Skymesh (for NBN Fixed Wireless and NBN Fibre – Netflix content delivered over Australian peering links will not be counted against your data allowance. You have to be an Australian Netflix subscriber)
  • iiNet ( See here for details)
  • Internode (See here for details)
  • Telstra/Bigpond (See here for details)

Freezone

The Freezone offers a range of video and radio content for iiNet, Westnet, Netspace, Internode and Adam Internet customers to enjoy without taking a hit to their monthly quota. Everything from movies, music, sports and gaming content is available along with several live streamed events throughout the year.

Netflix

Skymesh, iiNet and Internode offer unmetered access to Netflix in Australia on Fixed Line NBN and Fixed Wireless NBN. In the Case of iiNet and Internode this is also offered on standard ADSL bundles (Not Naked DSL connections).  Netflix works on a per month subscription payment.

Presto

Telstra offers unmetered access to Presto and a variety of services,  detailed in the link above, on Bigpond Wireless Broadband, Telstra Home Broadband (including NBN FTTX and ADSL).  Presto works on a per month subscription payment.

presto
Presto unmetering shown in yellow on a Bigpond Usage Chart

Bigpond Movies

Bigpond Movies is unmetered for Bigpond customers, movies need to be purchased (rented) individually , however downloads are free.

Some movies are also free on Thanks Thursdays

NB: Whenever you see the BigPond Unmetered icon (green dot), download as much as you like and it won’t count towards your monthly usage limit.  Please note that the Green Dot may not be on all pages,

Education Sites Telstra/Bigpond

Telstra/Bigpond also offer unmetered access to some distance education sites and Portals:

A letter written to ICPA Federal (Isolated Parent’s Childrens’ Association) from Telstra Country Wide re unmetering education websites used by distance education students.

Telstra is committed to listen, learn and respond as positively as possible to issues raised by the ICPA. In this day and age, the internet is a vital source for students and in a country the size of Australia, there are geographical, capacity and commercial realities why it’s not possible to provide the full range of broadband services in some regional and remote locations. What we can do is help families better manage their broadband allowances. From 1 September 2015, Telstra will be un-metering a number of key Education websites for all BigPond and Telstra Mobile Broadband users.

This is on top of the 21 sites that are already unmetered. This was in response to a motion made at last year’s conference and following a visit by Andrew Coull and the Telstra Country Wide team to the Alpha region in Queensland where ICPA members and local families talked about what was most important to them.

To address one of the challenges regional and remote communities face in order to provide children with the best possible tools and support to further their education, Telstra is adding value to their broadband allowance through the un-metering of educational websites. These sites were identified with the ICPA and relevant Departments of Education. We may change sites from unmetered to metered at any time. Of course, as these are new unmetered sites, we don’t expect to make changes anytime soon.

Unmetering Terms & Conditions
On and from 1 September  2015 unless otherwise advised, a number of key education websites will be unmetered.
Some of the key sites include:
Queensland Department of Education and Training (e.g. det.qld.gov.au, education.qld.gov.au)*
WA Department of Education and Training (e.g. http://det.wa.edu.au/*)
SA Department for Education & Child Development (www.centra.sa.edu.au)
Creative Generation (www.creativegeneration.deta.qld.gov.au)
Scootle Community (https://www.scootle.edu.au)
Moodle (http://Moodle.openaccess.edu.au)
When accessing these sites, Telstra Mobile Broadband users, as well as BigPond Broadband Members on ADSL, Cable or Mobile Broadband plans (excluding hourly plans), can access downloads, video streams and editorial content without affecting their monthly usage limit. Note that the un-metering does not apply to Telstra Satellite users.

Please note that unmetering won’t apply if you’re accessing the internet using International Roaming. Additionally, some elements of an unmetered site may be metered if they are sourced from other websites that are metered, including things such as advertisements, YouTube videos, Google maps or social media services. Every time you visit or refresh a page you will incur the download of that content.

Kind regards
Libby Dalton
Executive Officer | Telstra Country Wide

Note: BIRRR have been working with Telstra Country Wide to ensure elearn and iconnect are included on the unmetering list for QLD distance education students. As of 4th term 2015 these sites were unmetered however changes have been made in early 2016, if QLD families find themselves ‘shaped’ whilst these sites are being worked through please contact BIRRR ~ birrraus@gmail.com  For further information contact the department of education in your state.

UPDATED February 2016

  • These sites were identified in consultation with the ICPA and a number of Departments of Education.  We will continue to monitor and refine the websites included and make changes from unmetered to metered as appropriate.

The sites below are in addition to those already unmetered as listed on Telstra.com (https://www.telstra.com.au/support/category/broadband/manage/bigpond-unmetered-sites).

SITE IP ADDRESS UNMETERED
elearn.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.81, 203.104.12.58
iconnect.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.82, 203.104.12.82, 203.104.12.58, 203.104.12.59, 203.104.12.60, 203.104.12.61
learningplace.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.83, 203.104.12.80, 203.104.12.90, 203.104.12.91, 203.104.8.80
iconnect-06.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.58, 203.104.12.58
iconnect-07.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.59, 203.104.12.59
iconnect-08.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.60, 203.104.12.60
staff.learningplace.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.90, 203.104.12.91
students.learningplace.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.91, 203.104.12.91
iconnect-09.eq.edu.au 203.104.8.61, 203.104.12.61
www.centra.sa.edu.au 203.122.254.35
www.centra.sa.edu.au 203.122.255.228
www.centra.sa.edu.au 203.122.254.36
www.centra.sa.edu.au 203.122.254.45
http://Moodle.openaccess.edu.au 221.121.151.143
https://www.scootle.edu.au 182.255.102.66
http://det.wa.edu.au/* 203.14.52.90
hrmisdev.det.wa.edu.au 203.14.52.104
itu.det.wa.edu.au
jobs.det.wa.edu.au
portlets.det.wa.edu.au
schoolsplus.det.wa.edu.au
scripts.det.wa.edu.au
swandeo.det.wa.edu.au
womeninleadership.det.wa.edu.au
http://education.wa.edu.au/*
biggerpicture.education.wa.edu.au
http://webcollaboration.det.wa.edu.au/*
http://portal.det.wa.edu.au/* 203.14.53.48
http://carnarvonsota.wa.edu.au/ * 129.94.183.231

 

So How does the Unmetering work?

It’s very simple, assume you have a Telstra Bigpond wireless plan with 4GB of data. You browse to Presto.com.au and start watching a whole heap of movies to the amount of 10GB, and then you browse to say youtube.com and use 3GB of data on Videos.

Telstra will calculate your actual usage to be:

  • 3000mb (3gb) of 4gb used (while viewing YouTube) +
  • 10gb of unmetered content (while viewing Presto) for a total of
  • 13gb used but only billed for 3gb, leaving with 1gb of metered data for the rest of the month.

Once you use that 1gb of data, then your service will be slowed down (shaped) to 64kbps which is as fast as dial-up. Unmetered content will also unfortunately be shaped.

Remember with bigpond you are free to change plans once a month to reflect your usage habits. However the highest plan currently available is 25GB.

Why Not satellite services as well?

Unfortunately, the cost of providing a satellite service to a consumer or business, added in the limited amount of backhaul (backhaul is like a very heavy freight train, the more locomotives at the front the more wagons it can pull) available, means it is not affordable to provide this service.

 

*Please note, while all care has been taken in compiling BIRRR documents, we recommend that you check with your ISP regarding unmetering.  As the #datadrought mainly impacts mobile broadband and satellite customers we have focussed on unmetering for these technologies.  Your provider may have other sites that are unmetered.  Thanks to BIRRR members  Julie Stott & Kye Rosendale for assistance in compiling this document.  

 

 

 

Malware and Spyware Removal Tips for BIRRR Members

A Big thanks to Alan from ‘Smedley’s Engineers – Bits & Bytes’ for providing the following information on Spyware and Malware for Windows users. It will work for all versions of Windows from XP on up to Windows 10.  The use of some free and definitely safe applications and methods listed below can assist in removal of Malware and Spyware that can cause unwanted, unusual and excessive data usage.

These notes are based on experience in dealing with system performance issues and malware, virus and other infestation over a number of years and from shared and sharing of that experience with other Windows support professionals.

Download the following three applications that are all freely available from the: www.bleepingcomputer.com web site. Download them all before executing any of them. I recommend that the three applications be run in the order listed. Also it is important to run them all in order as only partially completing the steps may take your system off-line. At the end a reboot of the system initiated by Adwcleaner is an absolutely essential step.

Save any open work before proceeding.

There are detailed descriptions of each utility on the same page and more technical details of each ore available on their home pages.

Using the “Download Now” will get you the most current version of each one. The http://www.bleepingcomputer.com web pages also list other utilities that may be needed in more complex infestations but these are the three that I use almost all of the time.

JRT – Junkware Removal Tool 

  1. Save it to a known location on your computer.
  2. Execute the JRT.exe once it has completed downloading. It is a Command Line interface, it checks itself to verify that the newest version is being run and will update itself if necessary.
  3. Follow the prompt to press any key to continue. If “System Restore” is disabled the creation of a “System Restore Point” creation will fail. The application may show some commands that it cannot perform. This is dependant of the individual system configuration. As JRT runs it may stop any already running processes including open web browsers.
  4. Once it has finished it will produce a notepad txt file of the items it has cleaned or eliminated.

Roguekiller 

  1. Save it to a known location on your computer.
  2. Execute the Roguekiller.exe once it has completed downloading. It will run an initial check on the system as well as check that it is the current version.
  3. Once the check has completed press the Scan button to continue. The completed scan will show any Processes, Registry settings, Host file issues, AntiRootkit, Files/Folders, MBR (Master Boot Records) and Web browser items that have issues.
  4. A pop- up screen offers the purchase of the PRO version. It is your choice to subscribe of not. From my experience I select all Processes, Registry settings Host file items but only selectively choose and Web Browser add-ins to be deleted.
  5. Then hit the delete button.
  6. Once completed close the application.

For those who are running an x64 bit Windows system there is a version built for it that is downloadable from the Roguekiller home page at: http://www.adlice.com/software/roguekiller/

Adwcleaner 

  1. Save it to a known location on your computer.
  2. Execute the Adwcleaner.exe once it has completed downloading.
  3. Press the Scan button to continue.
  4. Once the scan is completed press the Cleaning button.
  5. This will be followed by three OK buttons.These close all running applications and will reboot the system. This is essential in the cleaning process as it can leave your system off line if not completed. So save any open work first.
  6. Once the system has rebooted a notepad txt file listing the items found and fixed by Adwcleaner will be shown on the screen.

Making it a habit to run these three utilities on a regular basis from the previously downloaded files will assist in keeping your system free of malware unwanted or uninvited infestations. Each application checks itself to verify that you are using the most current version.

Note: Alan supports individual and small business users as a part of his Smedley’s Engineers Pty Ltd business and if BIRRR members are in real strife with their Windows systems and wanting remote support he is happy to assist.  Alan has clients all over Australia and Internationally on systems he never actually gets to see.

Operating in the Hinterland of the Central Coast of NSW

Alan RG Smedley | 0419 919 969 | alan@smedleys.net.au