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Features - more

Once you've gone through the initial setup inside the administration menus, you'll move on to creating a user account. Figure 6 shows the setup screen as I defined my initial user account.

 User account creation

Figure 6: User account creation

In addition to the standard name and password fields, an item of interest on this screen is the public URL. The TonidoPlug has a feature that allows you to access your Plug from anywhere on the Internet via a personalized URL. Note that when you do this, you're utilizing the Tonido public web server to get to your data. This might make some people uncomfortable for a couple of reasons. One might be a privacy concern, but CodeLathe assures that they are just acting as a relay service back to your unit and all data will be encrypted if you utilize an HTTPS connection.

The other concern might be the fear that if you rely on this feature and CodeLathe folds up and goes away, you'll be left without access to your data. As to this point, you're not relying on CodeLathe to get to your data locally, and if you want to set up your own dynamic-DNS configuration and poke holes in your home firewall, you can get the same remote access.

Also note that CodeLathe specifies that this remote-relay service is free during their beta period, implying that this will be a paid-for feature in the future. This is not surprising, since when you relay through their servers, you're using their bandwidth. However, with some of its competition like PogoPlug no longer charging a service fee, CodeLathe may decide to skip charging for relaying.

The other item of note when creating a Tonodo user, is that the ID you create can be a part of a larger Tonido network. If your friends, colleagues or family also use Tonido, you'll use this ID for sending email, sharing files, backing up data etc. over what CodeLathe calls a Personal Cloud.

The Tonido OS that runs on the TonidoPlug can also run on Windows, Macs and Linux computers so you can form a heterogeneous cloud. If you want to try it out, download the Tonido application for free here. I installed the Mac OS version and created a two-instance "cloud" to test sharing between the platforms.

So once you're logged in as a normal user, what capabilities do you have? Figure 7 shows the top-level user menu. (CodeLathe also has larger screenshots of many of its application screens here.)

 Tonido main menu

Figure 7: Tonido main menu

This menu has a selection of links to commonly accessed tasks and also a link to a more "Advanced view" which I'll use here as it's a superset of the above menu. Figure 8 shows the advanced view menu.

 Tonido Advanced view

Figure 8: Tonido Advanced view

This screen gives some general status messages, quick links to Tonido developer blogs, Facebook, etc. plus access to nearly all applications and functionality available on the device. The first area we'll explore is the Settings menu (Figure 9).

 Tonido Settings

Figure 9: Tonido Settings

The Settings menu holds numerous configuration items and displays for user account, activity, general status, network parameters, etc. The menu was somewhat confusing, as the settings for defining network ports, throttling network speed, viewing logs, etc. appeared to overlap with, or at least be better suited to, the administration configuration menu.

But in general, settings in this menu apply to the Tonido application itself vs. the administration menu, which contained settings that are usually relevant at the operating system and the physical TonidoPlug device.

The one glaring exception to this was the setup and configuration of the media streaming application that is found in the administration menu instead of the user menu where other applications are configured.

Moving back to the main menu from Figure 8, we'll next dive into the Apps menu (Figure 10).

 Tonido application management

Figure 10: Tonido application management

As mentioned earlier, the Tonido platform is designed to be extended by the use of free or paid plugin apps that can be downloaded from the Tonido app store. In the out-of-the-box state, you'll have access to a dozen or so apps not all of which will be enabled. For me, I used the Resume all Apps button seen above to fire everything up, but you can go down the list and pick and choose. I won't have space in this review to cover all the included apps, but I'll touch on some of the more interesting ones. For a complete list check out the list at the Tonido web site.

The first app I'll explore is fittingly enough is the Tonido Explorer which is designed to allow you to browse the file system of your shared disk using your web browser. Figure 11 shows the basic display.

 Tonido Explorer display

Figure 11: Tonido Explorer display

Using this interface, you can do basic file operations such as delete, rename, download etc. And you can also configure a directory for sharing over the Internet using the same web interface.

If you're looking for a bit more functionality, you can move on to the WebSharePro that comes for free with the TonidoPlug but is a $14.99 add-on for other Tonido users. Figure 12 shows the WebSharePro interface for adding a new share.

 Tonido WebSharePro interface for adding a share

Figure 12: Tonido WebSharePro interface for adding a share

Note the setup for Photo Gallery. This app has a built-in ability to process directories full of photos and present a gallery through the web interface. Where the standard TonidoPlug provides CIFS support for mounting a network share on your local network, this app brings support for WebDav, so you can mount the exported share as a filesystem across the Internet and access it just like a local drive.

I was able to mount my exported shares from both my Mac and my Android cell phone without problem. (mounting my home network share onto my cell phone over 3G. Wow! Strangely enough, my wife wasn't impressed...) All modern Linux, Mac and Windows systems should support WebDav out of the box.

Another interesting app that comes with the box is a music Juke Box. Figure 13 shows the web interface of the app after it has cataloged a collection of music from my USB drive.

Tonido Juk music player

Figure 13: Tonido Juk music player

This app will allow you to access your music collection across the Internet for playback anywhere you have a Flash-enabled browser. iPhone and iPad browsers need not apply, since neither supports Flash.

If you need to perform backups of your data, there's an app available for that. Figure 14 shows a menu where I am setting up a backup job.

 Tonido Backup specification

Figure 14: Tonido Backup specification

The destination of the job can be either local, or it can be another Tonido instance across the Internet. I used it to backup one of my directories on the TonidoPlug external USB drive to a Tonido instance running on my Mac. But if you're looking for a quick and dirty way to do a site-to-site backup without paying any monthly fees or trusting your data to the cloud, this is it.

If you're into downloading large files via the BitTorrent protocol, you can use the Torrent app. Figure 15 shows the in-progress state of a Ubuntu download that I tried out.

 Tonido Torrent Download

Figure 15: Tonido Torrent Download

This worked well and was a nice way to manage a long-running download job via a fire-and-forget interface.

I also played a bit with the Photo app. As expected, this app allows you manage a photo collection and present a slideshow to users. Figure 16 shows the photo management page of the app.

 Tonido Photo management

Figure 16: Tonido Photo management

One interesting feature of the app is its sharing ability. You can set a group of users up and your photos will then be synchronized among the users, across the Internet, by physically copying the images to each Tonido instance.

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