Synology DSM 5.1-5021Released & Apps Updated

Synology has updated DiskStation Manager 5.1 to version 5.1-5021. The update includes (from the Synology DSM release notes):

Version:5.1-5021     
What’s New

This update includes all bug fixes as well as security fixes in the previously released critical updates since DSM 5.1-5004.
Fixed Issues

  • Enhanced data security by disabling “Mount automatically on start-up” after restoring an encrypted shared folder.
  • Fixed a vulnerability that allows senders to access unintended destinations during a backup job.
  • Enhanced stability on Amazon S3 on large file backup.
  • Upgraded OpenVPN to 2.3.6 to address a security vulnerability.
  • Fixed a vulnerability that allows local users to initiate a denial of service by queuing the maximum number of file descriptors (CVE-2014-7824).
  • Upgraded PHP to 5.5.19 to address multiple vulnerabilities (CVE-2014-3669, CVE-2014-3670, CVE-2014-3668, and CVE-2014-3710).
  • Improved DTV dongle compatibility.
  • Improved file-copying stability on DS2015xs.
  • Fixed an issue where DS213+ and DS413 could power up unexpectedly when backup tasks are scheduled.
  • Minor bug fixes.

Synology has also updated many of their packages (a.k.a. applications) with minor enhancements and bug fixes. Of the packages I use, the following have been updated:

  • Audio Station
  • Cloud Station
  • Cloud Sync
  • Download Station
  • Note Station
  • Video Station

All the changes are minor, the only one I personally noticed is that Note Station now sorts the Notebooks in the sidebar list which makes them easier to find.

I updated both my Synology DS415+ and Synology DS212+ without having a problem.

 

Synology Releases DSM 5.1-5004 Update 2

Twenty three days after the official release of DSM 5.1 Synology has released an update.

Version : 5.1-5004 Update 2

(2014/11/29)
Fixed Issues:

  1. Fixed an issue that could cause a false alarm in Security Advisor after upgrading to DSM 5.1-5004 Update 1.
  2. Fixed an issue where Firewall rules did not apply correctly.
  3. Fixed a security issue that could allow remote attackers to cause a denial of service via a crafted ECC certificate or certificate signing requests (CVE-2014-8564).
  4. Enhanced HA stability on system updates.
  5. Fixed an issue where DS213+ and DS413 could fail to execute scheduled tasks after entering system hibernation.
  6. Fixed the send-mail function in PHP.
  7. Fixed an issue where packages failed to start or users were unable to install packages on entry models.
  8. Fixed an issue where CGI cannot be executed in Web Station.
  9. Fixed an issue where DSM mobile was not correctly displayed on Chrome v39 on mobile devices.
  10. Fixed an issue where installation of digitally-signed packages could fail on EDS14.
  11. Improved QuickConnect mechanism on complex network environment.
  12. Fixed an issue where scheduled power-off function could fail to execute when DSM Auto Update was enabled.
  13. Fixed an issue where false warning could display in System Health on Play-series.
  14. Fixed “Customzie PHP open_basedir” function to accept directories that have not been created.
  15. Enhanced security on SSH/Telnet connections.
  16. Fixed an issue where EDS14 could fail to apply updates.

The update is available through automatic update in control panel. Like all firmware updates a reboot is required.

DSM Control Panel showing available update

The update took less than 10 minutes each on my DS415+ NAS, DS212J and DS212+.

Synology Note Station First Impressions

Synology Note Station main screenSynology Note Station is one of the new features delivered in Synology DiskStation Manager 5.1 (DSM 5.1) . It’s a additional package that can be installed (like Video Station, Photo Station, etc…) and includes mobile apps. Comparisons to Evernote are inevitable, and justified. It shows a lot of promise as a Evernote replacement for me even though it is far behind on any feature comparison checklist and being a new application it’s rough around the edges.

It does include the ability to import directly from Evernote which is a feature I’m still working through and testing. I’ll write about it once I’m done. It’s one of those rough around the edges areas.

What’s Missing

Based on the Evernote features I use Note Station lacks features that compare to the following (some of these Evernote features may be Mac only or Windows only.):

  • Cannot add notes via email.
  • Cannot add notes via a “print to…” selection.
  • Cannot set up a directory to automatically import files.
  • No Notebook Stacks – Note Station notebooks are a flat list.
  • Tags cannot be created in a hierarchy, they are a flat list in Note Station.
  • No integration with other applications or services.
  • There is no native app for Windows, OS X or Linux, it is web based. (There are mobile apps.)
  • Syncing to mobile devices is different than Evernote and potentially (depending on your needs) less robust and useful.
  • The mobile apps cannot accept links (or anything else) from other apps on the device. Likewise, they cannot share notes with other apps on the device.

What Synology Note Station Has

  • It has the look and feel of Evernote
  • Notes can be created with embedded images and other types of files can be attached.
  • Excluding mobile apps (more on them later) Note Station appears robust and able to scale. I’ve been regularly using Note Station with 30 notebooks with about 800 notes. I’ve also tested with another 1,000 (or so) notes in another notebook.

My Initial Impressions

I tested Note Station during the beta and began using it when the production version of DSM 5.1 was released. Much of that time was spent testing and deleting and then re-adding. It’s been part of my workflow for the last few days although I’m still figuring out where I’m comfortable using it.

Performance

It doesn’t run as smoothly as Evernote and this can be annoying at times. For example, scrolling a long list of notes in a notebook pauses as it works to refresh the list. I would sometimes reach what I thought was the end of the list only to have it refresh and grow a few moments later. The easiest way to get to the bottom of a list is to reverse the sort order.

The iOS app would also appear to hang up at times, most often when I tapped the menu button.

Mobile Apps

The iOS app is buggy (at least on my iPhone 5s). Unlike the Android app it hasn’t been updated since the initial release in September so hopefully these bugs will vanish in the next update. The app would frequently crash on me, usually after doing nothing except displaying a note for a couple minutes. Syncing was also quirky (and possibly the cause of the crashes). I had all my notes, yet DS Note would always be in a “syncing” state when it loaded. Often it would stay there until the app crashed, even when I knew there were no changes since the last sync. I didn’t notice any discrepancies in the notes between devices, so syncing seemed to be working. Along these lines, the last successful sync date was often older than the changes that were actually in the notes. Meaning, notes were syncing but the last successful date wasn’t updating. I never had missing notes, and changes synced quickly no matter what the sync date said.

Evernote has the ability to sync individual notebooks to the mobile device. DS Note (the mobile app) does not. All notebooks are synced, in a manner of speaking. Attachments are not synced although they can be downloaded one at a time when viewing the note. Inline pictures aren’t viewable when the Synology NAS isn’t available unless they were previously viewed and cached on the phone.

I couldn’t find any way to delete downloaded attachments or cached pictures so they appear to keep building up. There’s no setting to limit local storage. The only way I can think of to free up space is to delete, then reinstall the app.

Things to Know

These aren’t necessarily bad, just things to know.

* Images are displayed inline but all other files are attachments and show as links. For example, PDFs don’t display inline like they do in Evernote. Attachments must be opened in another application, or another browser tab if the browser supports the file.

* In a browser, the left pane, where the notebook list is displayed, is not sorted. Mine is still in the reverse import order (first imported notebook at the bottom). They can be sorted in the middle pane when “Notebooks” is selected in the left pane.

* Chrome or Firefox is needed to record audio notes.

* I use Evernote to take pictures of receipts, or any document, using an iPhone (I don’t have any other phones to check but it’s probably the same on all smartphones) and have found it does a nice job of automatically cropping to the receipt size. There’s no automatic cropping in DS Note and no built in manual photo editing either.

* I renamed “My Notebook” because I like my default notebook to be called “Inbox”. This worked fine until I restored Note Station. Inbox was restored just fine but “My Notebook” was also there since it was created when Note Station was installed. Neither could be deleted and both were marked as default. For the record, this was during testing and I have since reinstalled/reimported from scratch. I ignored any problems that occurred when I had two default notebooks so every issue in this article is based on a “clean” setup. While I hate the whole “My …” naming convention this problem wasn’t annoying enough for me to try and find a work around.

Wrapping Up

Synology Note Station is still young, so I’m optimistic it will improve. I don’t expect it will ever have “Mail To” or “Print To” support since I don’t expect it to ever have a native Mac or Windows app. I also expect it to remain browser based. I hope the mobile apps do get sharing features.

The inability to easily email a note is also a real problem for me as is the ad-hoc way attachments are synced to the device. I don’t want to have to pre-sync individual notes or rely on a connection back to home in order to get a note. This just adds too much uncertainty for some of my uses.

The slowness of the IOS app (when I tap the menu button) means I can’t quickly reach the icons to add a photo or audio note so it limits it’s usefulness there. A 5 or 10 second delay seems like an eternity.

With some recent Evernote changes (i.e. Contexts) I’m beginning to think Evernote is starting to see me as a product rather than a customer (I pay for premium) but this is a topic for a different post. I’m not getting out the torches and pitchforks, but I’m glad for the opportunity to move some of my Evernote usage to local tools.

This seems a little more negative than I mean it to be. But the fact is Note Station can’t compete with Evernote on features. A year ago I was using Evernote as a file cabinet where I manually opened and closed the drawer as needed. In the last year I began to use more integrations and time saving features. A year ago I could have dumped Evernote for Note Station and not missed anything. It’s the features I’ve begun to use in the last year where Note Station suffers the most.

I’ll continue to use Synology Note Station for Notebooks where I don’t need the missing features and I look forward to seeing improvements over time.

Synology Releases DiskStation Manager 5.1

Synology feature image tile - blackSynology DiskStation Manager 5.1 (DSM 5.1) has left beta and has been released by Synology. I’ve upgraded three of my Synology NAS’s and all three had a nearly problem free upgrade process. One was upgraded from DSM 5.0 (DS415+) and the other two (DS212+, DS212J) were upgraded from the DSM 5.1 beta.

There are a couple of screens that prompt for information after the firmware upgrade itself. The first asks you how you want the automatic upgrades delivered and installed. It defaults to automatic downloads and installations.

The second screen allows you to consolidate the various Synology services under MyDS. MyDS is Synology’s online service that provides QuickConnect and Dynamic DNS functionality. This can now be managed from a application on your Synology NAS. It now also keeps track of package purchases which is new (at least to me) along with your email subscriptions. This wizard failed for me but I’m not doing Dynamic DNS or QuickConnect through Synology but I do have a MyDS account so that may be the reason. After the upgrade I simply went into the App and entered my MyDS account information.

There’s a lot of new features and enhancements in DSM 5.1. The number of visible enhancements and changes probably would have allowed Synology to call this version 6.

I’m especially looking forward to Note Station. With some recent changes to Evernote I’m looking to get my note taking app under my complete control. I am a heavy Evernote user and don’t expect Note Station to match it on a feature for feature basis even for the subset of features I use. But my initial impression is it may give me the bulk of what I want for Evernote. I’ve got more testing & evaluation to do (first up being a test of a Note Station backup and restore) but I’m optimistic.

Cloud Sync now supports Microsoft OneDrive which is important to me. There’s more control overall as to what file types are Synced and it seems more reliable that the older Cloud Sync. I would sometimes find the occasional file wouldn’t sync to my NAS and couldn’t figure out why. This seems to have gone away in the beta. If a file didn’t sync it was because it wasn’t of a type set to sync.

File Station, Music Station and Video Station enhancements are relatively minor but add some very nice features. My main complaint about Video Station remains the inability to backup the database through the native tools. If the Photo Station and Note Station databases can be backed up through the built-in backup why can’t Video Station? This keeps me from adding my own metadata to organize videos in Video Station since I could lose it all. Synology has expanded what can be backed up through the built-in backup. Although I must admit that if it was really important I could probably find the database and back it up through a terminal connection.

The full release notes are here. Synology lists release notes by model so these are for my DS1511+ but I’ve found that the release notes are the same across DiskStation models and they also contain enhancements specific to other models.

I recently upgraded my main Synology NAS to a new DS415+. This was so new that the beta software wasn’t available for it. I’m happy that I can now upgrade it and begin to take advantage of DSM 5.1.

iPad Air 2 Ordered (and cancelled)

Screenshot of my iPad home screenI saved my money and was all set to upgrade my iPad once Apple released this year’s models. I watched the live event and ordered my iPad Air 2 the next day when they became available.

Then I cancelled the order this morning, before it shipped. There wasn’t one reason that caused me to cancel although price was the most significant factor. I decided the upgrade from my iPad 3 wasn’t worth the cost. I have an iPad 3 (Retina) so after its sale I figured the total cost of the upgrade would be $600, before considering accessories. Here’s why I wanted to upgrade and why I decided to wait another year…

  • The screen: I already have a Retina screen. The new Air 2 has a glare reduction coating and is a fully laminated screen so I have no doubt the screen will look better. So, this is certainly a reason to upgrade but I don’t really have any complaints about my current screen. Ok, maybe a few. Glare and smudges annoy me, so any reduction would be appreciated. But if I was to put a price on this upgrade I would put it at $100 which is generous since I haven’t seen the new screen.
  • Touch ID: It’s a huge convenience on the iPhone and I do miss it on the iPad. I don’t care at all about the purchase related features (or lack of them). Purchase friction saves me money. I just want it to unlock apps. It’s hard for me to put a value on this. I was thinking $100 but realized that was the price difference between the iPad Mini 2 and the new Mini 3 and the only difference was Touch ID. Of the two I’d save the $100 and get the iPad Mini 2 (if I was buying one). I do value convenience so even though this doesn’t add any real functionality I’m going to value it at $50.
  • More CPU Power: My iPad 3 has never been a speed demon but I’ve already upgraded to iOS 8 so I know what to expect. I’m not a gamer and I don’t use a lot of demanding apps. I’d value this at $50, at least until I have specific issues.
  • Improved LTE: My current iPad 3 is the LTE version on Verizon. I subscribe to a data plan about 2 months out of the year. The ability to pick a wireless vendor on the fly is nice, although I’m not sure how much I’d switch vendors. The lack of Verizon isn’t a problem as I’d like some variety as a backup and my iPhone is locked to Verizon. When I do use LTE I don’t have any complaints about speed but I’m mainly getting email and text files, no streaming. I don’t consider this upgrade to have any value for me.
  • Improved Wi-fi: Like LTE I don’t place heavy demands on my Wi-Fi usage. I do stream video in the house but what I have works fine. I do have a 802.11ac router so I could take advantage of the iPad Air 2 Wi-fi. So yes it’s faster and better in theory, in practice I won’t notice a difference in my daily use. So I don’t consider this to have any value for me either.
  • Camera Improvements – I don’t think I’ve ever taken a picture with my iPad. Maybe I tried it once. I don’t think a better camera will change that. Likewise I don’t use the front facing camera for video calls or FaceTime. So this has no value for me.
  • Thinner & Lighter: While Apples obsession with thinness is beginning to bug me this would be a big change from my iPad 3 and I would like it. It would be easier to hold the Air 2 for a longer time but I don’t currently leave the iPad behind because it’s heavy. I’d value this at $50 although I should point out the original iPad Air would have the same value assigned to it.

Adding this all up I’d value the upgraded features at $250. If I’m wrong and some must have feature or app appears where I’d want an iPad Air 2 it will still be around. Maybe by then it will be in the refurb store for less money.

I use my laptop a lot so that lowers the iPads value for me. I tried going iPad only before upgrading my laptop and found I didn’t like it.

Synology & “Shellshock” bash Vulnerability

Synology released a statement about the “Shellshock” vulnerability.

From the statement:

A vulnerability of a commonly used UNIX command shell, Bash, has been discovered allowing unauthorized users to remotely gain control of vulnerable UNIX-like systems. A thorough investigation by Synology shows the majority of Synology NAS servers are not concerned. The design of Synology NAS operating system, DiskStation Manager (DSM), is safe by default. The bash command shell built-in in DSM is reserved for system service use (HA Manager) only and not available to public users. For preventive purpose, Synology is working on the patches addressing this bash vulnerability and to provide them as soon as possible.

Only one of my three DiskStations is on the vulnerable list (the 1511+). That particular NAS always gets updated last. It’s used for all my backups and file storage. While recovery would be possible it would take a long time. My test NAS (the 212J) isn’t on the vulnerable list so I can’t test the updated firmware. My main NAS, the DS212+, isn’t on the list either.

Since I can’t test the update I’m not applying it to my 1511+. The 1511+ isn’t accessible from the internet, it isn’t even set up for quick connect, and my router wouldn’t send any Internet traffic to it. So the risk to me seems nearly non-existent and the risk of problems is higher than normal. I’ll wait until others beat on the update for awhile and apply it sometime in the future, maybe just the next update. As I write this the update for the DS1511+ isn’t available from the download center or through automatic update.

Installing the DSM 5.1 Note Station App

Note Station is a new Synology Package that’s available with the DSM 5.1 beta. Since I installed the beta I was eager to take a look at Note Station so I went ahead and installed it. I cover the install process below although it is the same as other packages.

  1. Open Package Center and locate the Note Station package. Then click Install.
    Install Note Station
  2. Once Note Station is installed its icon will be added to the main menu.
    Note Station icon
  3. Starting up Note Station reveals:
    Empty Note Station app
  4. I don’t typically work with the Synology Admin ID so I’ll need to give my regular ID permission to use Note Station. This is done through “Control Panel” -> “Privileges”.
    Synology Control Panel
  5. Highlight “Note Station” then select “Edit”.
    Edit Note Station privileges
  6. Click the user or groups that you want to have permission to Note Station. I like to restrict things on the ID level so I just give my user permission.
    User permission to Note StationPermission could be given to groups:
    Group permissions for Note StationDefault permissions can also be set:
    Default Note Station permissions

Note Station reminds me of Evernote, although it won’t have the application integrations. With all the apps that support Evernote along with other integrations it will be hard for me to replace Evernote but I will give Note Station a try.

While web access is possible, so far the iOS app for Note Station has not been released (and the existing apps haven’t been updated for DSM 5.1 beta either). The Android apps have been updated for the beta and Note Station is available on Android.

While Note Station is a nice addition to the DSM package suite it has an uphill battle to replace Evernote for me. And if it can’t replace Evernote completely then I have to decide if Note Station is worth splitting my data between two apps. I’m not optimistic but it’s worth giving it a look.

Upgrading To Synology DSM 5.1 Beta

I upgraded my test NAS to the DSM 5.1 beta. It’s a simple process that I’ll cover here. This is beta software so there will be bugs. The only unknown is the severity of those bugs. Downgrading to the older version can be done but isn’t officially supported and will wipe out the current data and settings. You may want to back up the data and settings before doing this. Do this update at your own risk.

My screenshots were done on a Mac but the only difference on Windows is the file browsing.

  1. Download the DSM 5.1 beta firmware for your specific NAS from Synology. Click the “Install now” button at the previous link and follow the directions. Download the firmware to your local computer.
  2. Log as admin on the the web interface for your DiskStation. Open Control Panel then DSM Update. Once there click the manual update button.
    DSM Update in Control Panel
  3. Browse to the firmware file you downloaded and select it.
    Browse to the firmware file
  4. It will take a minute or two to load the file then you’ll be prompted to confirm the upgrade.
    Prompt to confirm upgrade
  5. Now all you need to do is wait. I was prompted that it would take about 10 minutes. I get this same time estimate with every NAS and every update but in this case it was accurate. The DiskStation will reboot on its own.
    Upgrading progree display
  6. Once you log on a series of tips will be display. Click the screen to advance through the tips.
    DSM 5.1 beta tips
  7. Then a new tutorial is opened. The tutorial is geared to new DSM users, at least new DSM 5.x users. It doesn’t specifically call out new features in DSM 5.1.
    DSM 5.1 beta Turorial main menu

All my installed packages were upgraded when I installed the DSM 5.1 beta. From what I remember, in the past I had to do the upgrades manually after the firmware upgrade. So this was a nice bonus.

It seems that all my Android Synology apps received a recent update. (“Recent” meaning today.) The mobile Note Station app was also available for Android. None of my iOS apps have been updated yet and the iOS Note Station app isn’t available yet either. I’m hoping they’ll appear soon and are just delayed by the iOS 8 app deluge.

There haven’t been any obvious problems since the update. But I’ve yet to really give the software a workout.

Synology DSM 5.1 Beta Released

Synology has released Synology DSM 5.1 beta. As usual, even though this is just a “dot release” (DSM 5.0 to DSM 5.1) there’s a lot of new features and enhancements to existing features. There’s an entirely new Notes application with its own mobile app.

I’ll be installing the beta on my Synology DS212J later tonight to begin testing it. While past betas have been relatively problem free there will be bugs so I’ll be holding off on my production DS212+. I may like the beta so much that I’ll eventually put the beta on it. My big backup box, the DS1511+ won’t get upgraded until the production DSM 5.1 is released.

I’m looking forward to the Notes application although replacing Evernote may be a stretch. I’m also looking forward to the new security and backup features.

iOS 8 Installed

Screenshot of my iPad home screeniOS 8 was released around the typical time of 10 AM Pacific Time (1 PM EST) and I installed it on both my iPad 3 and iPhone 5s shortly afterward. I set aside about an hour to do the upgrade and it was done in about that time. Most of the time was just waiting. It didn’t take long for the download portion, most of the time was spent preparing and doing the installation. My iPad 3 took longer thanks to the slower processing.

I skipped the iCloud upgrade on both devices.

The upgrade was uneventful on my iPhone. I did have a problem with the Audible app. It would crash right after starting but this occurred prior to the upgrade and began when I upgraded the Audible app. I hoped the iOS 8 upgrade would fix the issue but it wasn’t to be. I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling the app which did resolve the issue.

My iPad upgrade was a bit more eventful. It got caught in a loop prompting me to “authorize” my app store account when I tried to download app updates after the iOS upgrade. I eventually cancelled it and all was well. I was also prompted twice for my iCloud credentials (three times if I count the prompt during the upgrade) but these did stop. I didn’t have either of these problems on my iPhone.

Apple apparently pulled Healthkit integration at the last minute until a bug could be fixed. I’ve also been having problems finding some iOS 8 apps in the app store via search. It may be that they haven’t been pushed out yet. Other than that it’s been uneventful although I haven’t used the updated software very much.