Kick out annoying Ads by using Pi-Hole and your Synology NAS!

First things first: I did fell in love with my Synology NAS! After a year of running my DS-218+, I can’t believe how I used to work without it before. What is so special about the DS-218+ Synology DiskStation is not that it is an incredibly flexible network storage, BUT much more that it is capable of running docker containers!

When I first realized that I can seamlessly run my home assistant automation system as well as my MQTT broker right from my Synology NAS I was astonished.

No more additional hardware, no additional power consumption, just run it inside your NAS (which is powered on anyway).

But now, I came across another absolutely amazing use-case, which is to block all the annoying advertisements from every website I am reading. By running a Pi-Hole Docker container on my DiscStation, I can route all DNS requests through that local DNS server in order to block all the advertisement domains.

Sounds cool? It definitely is, as it is transparently blocking all ads for all your devices in your local network without any change within your browser.

Best thing is: As your browser is not even aware that all ads are automatically blocked by DNS, all the news sites can’t detect that you are blocking their content requests.

Blocking all the ads within the web pages you are loading by DNS is even speeding up your local network, as it simply avoids to load all the ad resources and annoying video ads and it renders web pages much faster than before.

How to set up Pi-Hole with your DiskStation?

See below the necessary steps for installing Pi-Hole on your NAS. I will go into detail for each of the steps in the following sections:

  1. Install Docker package within your DiskStation
  2. Install Pi-Hole docker image
  3. Launch Pi-Hole docker image on your NAS
  4. Configure your router to use your NAS as new DNS server
  5. Alternatively, configure your local devices network to use the NAS as new DNS server
  6. You are ready!

1. Install Docker package

First step, if you not already done so, install the docker package within your Synology package manager as shown below:

2. Install Pi-hole Docker image

After installing the docker package, you are ready to download your Pi-Hole docker image. You do so by navigating to the docker package, open it, search for the Pi-hole container, as shown below and download the image:

3. Configure and Launch Pi-Hole Image

Launch the Pi-hole docker image and configure all its ports to ‘Auto’ except the DNS ports, as shown below:

Once the Pi-hole image is launched, you can check which port was automatically assigned to the HTTP administration interface. In my case it’s the port 32781. If you open your web browser you can reach your local Pi-Hole web interface by typing your IP along with YOUR_NAS-IP:32781/admin.

Your Pi-Hole web interface will show statistics about how many ads were already blocked, as shown below:

4. Configure your Router to use Pi-Hole as DNS server

The router configuration depends on your own router model. Check your router manual and search for the configuration of the DNS servers. Typically, you will find a Google DNS server configured there, which you delete and replace with the IP of your own Synology DiskStation.

Once you replaced the DNS configuration on your router to point to the address of your DiskStation IP, all devices within your network will route the DNS queries through your DiskStation’s Pi-Hole DNS server. The Pi-Hole server will then only return a correct DNS address for non-advertising addresses, which leaves all your browsers to not show the embedded adverts.

5. Alternatively, configure your device to use Pi-Hole as DNS

In my case, unfortunately my router does not offer the possibility to configure the DNS address.

An alternative here is to change the config on all your local devices, such as laptop, PC and tablets, to use your own Pi-Hole DNS server, as it is shown below:

I hope that my short article did gave you some ideas how to get rid of all the annoying ads within the websites you are reading day by day.

Overall, the Pi-Hole DNS server is a great way of kicking out the ads and to speed up your browsing experience.

Again a fine solution running on my beloved Synology drive.

Finally, I want to thank the team around Pi-Hole for building and maintaining such a great solution!! 🚀 🚀

MobileVNC Embedded VNC Server Library Version 2.1

MobileVNC embedded VNC server library version 2.1 now also supports outgoing connections to VNC repeater software. Find here a detailed tutorial how to connect with VNC behind a Firewall or a NAT router. This lightweight, embedded VNC server is perfectly designed to be integrated within your own hardware or software products.

Windows CE, Windows and Windows Embedded Compact VNC Server Library

Ingress – Google’s Underground Augmented Reality Game

Ingress LogoIngress is an augmented reality massively multiplayer online video game created by Google’s NianticLabs. It was released in closed beta release for Android devices. People around the world are fighting for invitiation codes over the last weeks. Luckily i got one invitation code two weeks ago and ever since i am exploring the Ingress reality overlay in my hometown. The gameplay is rather simple, as players of the game belong to one of two factions, Enlightened (color green) and Resistance (blue). The game-play is designed around the mission to capture virtual Portals, in order to enclose regions between portals with virtual links and fields. Despite this really simple game play, Ingress happens to be quite addictive. Exploring a secret world that exists like an overlay on your real world urban environment offers interesting experiences. Ingress also motivates people to go out and explore the real world, like visiting an old sculpture on the way to work in order to hack the virtual portal there. Negative sideeffect of Ingress could be a massive increase of gas usage, as thousands of people are driving through the streets to discover new Ingress portals.
Ingress Augmented Reality massive Multiplayer GameIngress Augmented Reality massive Multiplayer Game Portal

And trust me you will need a power extension for your smartphone to play Ingress 😉

Book – The Human Face of Big Data

Did you ever wondered what the Big Data Hype means to us in reality? Information and communication technology, advanced network bandwidth and intelligent data analysis and prognosis enable fantastic insights into our modern society. No matter if you are collecting data within urban areas, such as the different ways Pizza delivery is taking in Manhattan on a Friday afternoon or analyzing the crop in large agricultural facilities. Within the book The Human Face of Big Data, the authors Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt present the human and society dimension of this new hype on analysing and prognosis of all kind of information.

The Human Face of Big Data captures, in glorious photographs and moving essays, an extraordinary revolution sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, healthcare, and everyday life. It’s already enabling us to provide a healthier life for our children. To provide our seniors with independence while keeping them safe. To help us conserve precious resources like water and energy. To alert us to tiny changes in our health, weeks or years before we develop a life-threatening illness. To peer into our own individual genetic makeup. To create new forms of life.  And soon, as many predict, to re-engineer our own species. And we’ve barely scratched the surface . . .

The Human Face of Big Data

Udacity – 21st Century University

image taken from

Adult education and lifelong learning is changing a lot within the last years. Traditional universities and lecturers often do not accept the fact that time and technology has changed and that the next generation of scholars will learn differently than the generations before. One famous lecturer that recently talked about this change is Peter Norvig, one of the leading Artificial Intelligence experts worldwide.

The American computer scientist and Artificial Intelligence expert startet a virtual class along with his college Sebastian Thrun on artificial intelligence. His class was visited by 175 students from Stanford and more than 100,000 via an interactive webcast. Peter Norvig is talking about the fact that we are teaching knowledge in classes with the same methods today as we did hundreds years ago. So he argues that today we have the possibility to change the way we are teaching and that we could produce a lot more positive educational effects with our modern infrastructures.

In order to use the economics of the Internet, Udacity was founded to connect some of the greatest teachers to hundreds of thousands of students all over the world. Udacity emphasises to offer high quality Web delivered lectures all over the world, no matter if you are sitting in UK or in Africa. So far Udacity offers a good number of mostly technical courses by different quite well known teachers.

Udacity was founded by three roboticists who believed much of the educational value of their university classes could be offered online. A few weeks later, over 160,000 students in more than 190 countries enrolled in our first class, “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence.”


udacity, 21st century university
image taken from, 21st century university

Onyx Smartphone with e-Ink Display

Onyx e-Ink Android Smartphone
Onyx e-Ink Android Smartphone, image source:

The Chinese company Onyx, which is mainly known by their Onyx-Boox ebook readers, announced these days to publish an Android smartphone that integrates an e-Ink touch display. To use e-Ink displays has several advantages as well as some major negative aspects too. As many e-Ink based ebook readers already proved, e-Ink displays offer great readability in direct sunlight. The perfect contrast of e-Ink displays is not comparable with traditional displays. Also the fact that e-Ink displays can show and persist scenes over days without using energy is a really cool feature that helps to run the Onyx smartphone for at least a week without reloading. Negative aspects of e-Ink displays are the low update frequencies and very reduced color capabilities at best, which makes it hard or even impossible to use e-Inks for multimedia applications. This Onyx phone is definitely not the best choice for multimedia evangelists but it could prove a valuable design for outdoor purposes, passionate e-book readers, travelers or elderly people with debility of sight.

Remote Controlling embedded Windows CE with RealVNC Android VNC Viewer

Today i purchased the RealVNC VNC Viewer for Android based devices, in order to test the compatibility with my MobileVNC Windows CE based VNC server. RealVNC takes €7.55 for this piece of software, which is quite high compared to the typical prices within the Google Play marketplace. Despite my initial fears, the RealVNC VNC Viewer successfully connected to my Windows CE 4.1 embedded thin client device without any complains and i was able to remote control my embedded device by using the touchscreen of my Samsung Nexus Android smartphone. The movement of the remote mouse pointer is shown by a small pixel on the smartphone, according to the fact that every touch is converted to a relative mouse movement, which works really good. See some screenshot of my experiment with RealVNC Android Viewer App in combination with our MobileVNC server and a HP t5000 Windows CE 4.1 thin client.

Connect an Arduino to a $7 Bluetooth Serial Module

Today, i connected my Arduino Uno board to a really cheap Bluetooth serial module ($7 at ebay) in order to communicate with my Android smartphone (tribute to Massimo Banzi for this fantastic piece of engineering, see a tutorial video about starting with Arduino). The image below shows my $7 Bluetooth serial module. It offers 4 pinouts (5V, Ground, RX and TX), that you have to connect with the right pins on your Arduino Uno board. No additional electronic parts are necessary.

Cheap Bluetooth Serial Module for Arduino

So if you have already written a simple Arduino Blink program (equivalent to a typical HelloWorld program), it should be an easy task to connect your Bluetooth serial module to your Arduino Uno board.

You will need to identify the 5V and Ground Arduino pins on your Arduino, in order to provide the power source for activating your Bluetooth serial module. Connect the Bluetooth module’s RX pin to the Arduino’s TX pin. Connect the Bluetooth module’s TX pin with the Arduino’s RX pin.

Connect Arduino to Bluetooth serial module

After connecting the Bluetooth serial module with your Arduino you are able to pair the Bluetooth module with any Bluetooth enabled device. Use ‘1234’ as pairing key.

Challenge – VNC Remote Control for Industrial Touch Panels

Three days ago the new release 2.0 of our Windows and Windows CE based VNC Server (MobileVNC, also known as PocketVNC) was published and is ready to install. Over the last 7 years i got a lot of response from customers and partners. This feedback also included information on a wide spectrum of different application areas, in which the customers are using MobileVNC. This application areas range from remote controlling high end steam saunas, remote controlling a fleet of thin clients in fitness studios, navigation boxes in truck fleets, Point-Of-Sales terminals, Barcode Scanners in logistics and a lot of industrial touch panel applications.

The common requirement of all these application areas is the need for simple remote control and maintenance of distributed and networked systems. Especially in this domain the mature VNC technology offers a widespread solution that is compatible with an unlimited set of VNC viewers on all different platforms. Recently there is even an implementation available in plain HTML5 in combination with websocket protocol.

network, vnc server, remote control, remote maintenance, PocketPC, Windows CE, Win CE, WinCE.NET, Windows CE.NET, WindowsMobile, PocketVNC, AutoPC, Windows Embedded Compact, Embedded Compact 7, Windows Embedded Compact 7, Smartphone, Windows, pos, point-of-sale, terminal, cashier, thin client
HTML5 based VNC viewer communicating with MobileVNC

MobileVNC 2.0 Released with Win32 Support

network, vnc server, remote control, remote maintenance, PocketPC, Windows CE, Win CE, WinCE.NET, Windows CE.NET, WindowsMobile, PocketVNC, AutoPC, Windows Embedded Compact, Embedded Compact 7, Windows Embedded Compact 7, Smartphone, Windows, pos, point-of-sale, terminal, cashier, thin client, cash register, 3700 POS, 9700 HMS, Dell Wyse S30, Dell Wyse Winterm, HMI Panel PC Ex, HP t5000, IPC277D, IPC577C, IPC677C, MICROS e7, MICROS Kiosk, Mobile MICROS, Motorola Symbol MC3190-G, NI PPC-2015, NI PPC-2115, NI TPC-2012, NI TPC-2106, NI TPC-2106T, NI TPC-2512, NI TPC-2512D, NI TPC-2515, NI TPC-2515D, Panel PC 477B, Panel PC 577B, Panel PC 677B, SIMATIC 477CToday, the new version 2.0 MobileVNC was released! MobileVNC now comes with full Win32 support and  Websocket HTML5 client included (noVNC). MobileVNC implements a tiny, copy to install, VNC server that offers remote control for your Windows CE and Win32 based devices. The range of supported devices ranges from mobile barcode scanners, Point-Of-Sales terminals, industrial terminals and smartphones. The MobileVNC server offers tiny footprint and low prices (9.95€ for full commercial license/device). MobileVNC represents an easy solution for remote control and maintenance of a large number of distributed Point-Of-Sales (POS) or logistics terminals.