Monthly Archives: October 2016

VPN – Virtual Private Network Meeting Topic

MacMAD’s October, 2016 Meeting topic is VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). Here are some accompanying links and information.

People generally use a VPN for these reasons:

  • Security and privacy when using a public network, such as at a coffee shop or hotel.
  • To allow access to online content which is subject to geographical restrictions.
  • To allow remote access to a private local network such as your home network or your employer’s network
  • Provide privacy at home (prevent your ISP from knowing what you are up to)

VPN Features to Look For

  • Automatic connection and reconnection – prevents accidental leakage of unencrypted data
  • Choice of VPN endpoint – What country would you like to be in today?
  • Self Installation/Configuration – Avoids lots of technical settings

Client and Server

VPNs follow a client-server model. The client app usually runs on your computer or portable device. The server can be either a commercial VPN service or you can run your own VPN server at home on your router (some models) or on another computer. There are many (hundreds) commercial VPN providers. The following list is not at all complete.

Commercial VPN Providers

VPN Software

VPN Protocols

Your choice of protocol will probably be determined by what your server or provider supports.

  • PPTP – (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) Old, do not use. No longer supported in macOS Sierra. or  iOS 10.
  • L2TP – (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) needs IPSec or similar to be secured.
  • IPSec – (Internet Protocol Security) A modern protocol.  Can work in conjunction with L2TP.
  • IKEv2 – (Internet Key Exchange version 2) A modern protocol.

Here’s the MacOS VPN Dialog in System Preferences

vpn-dialog

MacOS Network Preferences — adding a VPN interface

 

openvpn-1

The iOS app OpenVPN

I tried out the Drop Tech Case for iPhone 6 from gumdropcases.com . [Disclosure: MacMAD received a review copy of this product.] Gumdrop makes a variety of case sizes and styles for various devices. This particular case fits the iPhone 6 or 6s.  It currently [Oct 2016] retails for $39.95.

Like many rugged cases, the Drop Tech case is a two-part case with an inner and outer case. In this case, the inner case is hard plastic, and the outer case is softer and more resiliant. This is opposite of some cases which feature the softer case on the inside. I think the inner and outer cases are a good idea, but don’t think it makes much difference which is on the outside.

Immediately on opening the package, I encountered the problem of how to open the case to install it. There were no printed instructions. I visited the web site and watched the install video, which still didn’t make  it clear. I had to email the company.

To install or remove the case you need to stretch the outer case over the inner case. The outer case is quite rigid when new and difficult to get hold of.  The tip I got from Gumdrop was to open the flap that protects the lightning connector, and begin to stretch the case at the thin section near that connector. With this hint, I was able to open the case.

Gumdrop Drop Tech Case

The Drop Tech cases are available in a good selection of colors. It’s nice to be able to get something that differentiates your phone from all the other phones out there. There are two bad things that can happen to your phone. First, it can get broken in a fall or similar accident. Second, it can get lost. Bright case colors help you see your phone, say, in a dark restaurant and make it less likely it will get lost.

Back of the case has heavy texture and bright colors

The case has plastic flaps that close off external ports on the phone. It won’t  make your phone waterproof, but it should certainly improve resistance to rain.

Gumdrop case bottom

Bottom of phone with protective flaps over ports.

Pros

  • Sturdy case protects against drops and other damage
  • Built-in Screen protector
  • Nice choice of colors
  • Removable Belt clip/holster/stand included (not shown)

Cons

  • Expensive (more $ than some Apple cases, which set the standard for high prices)
  • Too thick for many pockets and purse slots
  • Impairs access to Touch ID (a problem shared by many iPhone cases)
  • Difficult to install or remove

Bottom Line

If you are the kind of person who breaks your phones or subjects them to a lot of drops and falls, this is a good case for you. If your usage pattern is more gentle, this case will probably be unneccessarily bulky.