Installation Instructions for VUWER

(Email Data Delivery – Installation Option 1)

 

Option 1 involves using Google’s free email and web services to operate VUWER remotely.  The setup process is relatively quick and easy, and while the maximum data transfer rate is not as fast as for Option 2 or Option 3, it should still be satisfactory for most users.  The main difficulty with this option is that Gmail (along with other email providers) is increasing making it more difficult to use a separate email account as a proxy for forwarding data from your computer.

 

Introduction – How VUWER Works

The following procedure describes how to set up a web page and email account for controlling and using VUWER.  To understand how this works, see the diagrams below.  VUWER runs in the background on your computer and monitors an external web page that you create.  The VUWER web page contains a command line that you can edit when needed.

During normal operation, VUWER checks the web page on a regular basis (typically, every 15 minutes).  If the command line indicates that nothing is wrong (i.e. “ok”), VUWER will periodically send a “check-in” email (depending on the command line settings), but otherwise keeps waiting in the background.  Note that VUWER uses its own email account to forward messages to your personal email account, which provides an extra layer of security.

 

 

If your computer is lost or stolen, simply update its status on the VUWER web page that you created.  Once your computer connects to the Internet and accesses the web page, it will begin to transmit iSight/FaceTime camera images, screenshots, and geolocation information to your email account at intervals that you specify.  You will continue to receive this information as long as the computer remains online.

 

 

Part I – VUWER Email Account and Web Page Setup

(1)     Create a new Google Account.  Even if you currently have a Google Account, you’ll need a new one to use VUWER.  Next, create a new Gmail address for the account, if one was not created automatically when the account was created.  Make sure that the password you choose for your new Gmail address is different from any password(s) you use for your normal personal email.

(2)     In order to use your new Gmail address with VUWER, you must change the Gmail security settings to allow VUWER to function.  Do the following:

a.    Log into the VUWER Google account (if you haven’t already done so).

b.    Go to https://www.google.com/settings/security/lesssecureapps.

c.     In the  "Access for less secure apps" box, select the "Turn on" option.

 

 

(3)     As an alternative to setting the “less secure apps” option, you can also activate two-factor authentication for your VUWER Gmail account, and create an application-specific password for VUWER to use.

(4)     Now go to Google Sites while you’re logged into your new account.  Click on the “Create Site” button on the right side of the screen.

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(5)   Choose a name for your site.  In this example I’m making it the same name as the VUWER Gmail account.  Type in the security CAPTCHA word at the bottom of the screen, then click “Create Site”.

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(6)   Click the “Edit Page” button on the upper right portion of the screen.

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(7)     Type “!!!!! 15 15 15 15 ok !!!!!” in the text field in the center of the screen, then click on the “Save Page” button.  (Once you’ve confirmed that VUWER is working, you’ll probably want to change the values in this control string.  Please see the “Completing the Installation” section at the end of this procedure.)  IMPORTANT: The Google Sites web page that controls VUWER must be publicly viewable.  VUWER will not function correctly if the web page is set to private access.

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(8)     Note the web address at the top of the new VUWER web page.  Copy this address, since you’ll need it for the VUWER installation.  You can edit this web page by logging into your VUWER Google account and clicking on the “Edit Page” button if you need to change the control text string.

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Part II – Installing VUWER

(1)   Download the VUWER disk image to your laptop.  Double-click the VUWER.dmg file, and a disk image will mount on the desktop.  Double-click and run VUWER Setup.app.

 

(2)   The first two screens show the copyright notice.  By clicking “Agree”, you agree to the usage and distribution terms for VUWER.

 

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(3)   Choose the “Install / re-install / upgrade VUWER” option.

 

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(4)   Select Installation Option 1.

 

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(5)   VUWER setup will use the previously stored configuration (if one exists) unless you specify the default configuration instead.  Note: If you are installing VUWER for the first time, you will get a warning message that the configuration file does not exist, and VUWER will automatically use its default values.

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(6)   By default, VUWER uses Gmail to transmit data.  However, you can select a different email service if desired.  Do not modify the email settings unless you know what you are doing!

 

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(7)   Enter the email account name that you just created for VUWER (in this example, wthvuwer).

If necessary, you can also independently specify a different name for SMTP authentication.

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(8)     Enter the SMTP password for the VUWER email account.  For most users, this password is the same as the account password.

 

 

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(9)   Enter the email address that you will use to receive VUWER messages.

 

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(10)       VUWER will send a test email using the information you provided.  Confirm that you received the email before proceeding.  The installer will warn you if an error occurs while transmitting the email.  If that happens, make sure the VUWER email account name and password are correct.

 

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(11)       Enter the address of the web page that you created to control VUWER.  If the installer does not acquire the correct control string in the next window, check the web address, and make sure you entered the control string properly as shown in Part I.

 

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(12)       Next, you have the option to turn on VUWER desktop notifications.  As long as VUWER is in standby mode, you will see a brief desktop notification every time VUWER updates its status, even if you log out of the VUWER Dropbox account.

(13)       Enter a password to activate VUWER in case your laptop is stolen (the default value is ihavebeenstolen).  The password should not contain spaces or quotation marks.  Don’t use the same password you use for your email, or for the administrative account on your laptop.

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(14)       If you want VUWER to capture iSight/FaceTime camera images, click “Yes” on this window.

 

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(15)       VUWER will save a test image to the desktop to confirm that the camera is working.

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(16)       You have the option of setting VUWER to transmit a set of image / IP data at every login.  I personally recommend this, as it might get you at least one image of a thief before you realize your laptop is stolen.  Furthermore, this option will help confirm that VUWER continues to function properly.

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(17)       If you have not previously done so, you can now enable various user accounts on your computer to run VUWER.  (You can enable or disable user accounts from the main menu at any time.)

 

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(18)       Set the enable / disable status of the user accounts on your computer, then click ‘Done’.

 

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(19)       Remember to log out, then log in, (or restart) to complete the VUWER installation process.

 

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Š      Completing the Installation

Restart the computer (or log out and then log in to the user account), and VUWER should now be running.  If VUWER is working properly, you should begin receiving email within 15 minutes.  Click here for more information about testing and using VUWER, and for more detailed information about setting values for the control text string.  This page provides information about VUWER geolocation, and the format of the image and data files created by VUWER.

(a)  During initial testing, “15 15 15 15 ok” tells VUWER to check the web page every 15 minutes, and send a status update email every 15 minutes.

(b)  Once you’re confident VUWER is working, “15 360 15 15 ok” is probably a good setting for most laptop computers.  This control string tells VUWER to check the web page every 15 minutes, but only send a status email once every 6 hours of laptop operation (which will probably result in about one email per day).  This setting lets you know that VUWER is working without filling up your inbox with dozens of VUWER emails daily.  For a desktop computer that is always left turned on, “15 1440 15 15 ok” sends an email once a day, while “15 10080 15 15 ok” sends an email once a week.

(c)  If your computer is ever lost or stolen, “5 5 15 15 ihavebeenstolen” tells VUWER to send a screen capture image every 5 minutes, a camera image every 15 minutes, and IP geolocation information every 15 minutes.  (Replace ‘ihavebeenstolen’ with whatever activation password you chose during installation.)

(d)  Once you have some good photos of the thief, “5 5 60 60 ihavebeenstolen” sends camera images and IP geolocation data only once an hour (so the thief is less likely to notice the blinking camera light), but a screen capture image every 5 minutes.

The same VUWER web site and email account can be easily shared in situations where multiple laptops must be monitored and controlled.  A single Google Sites account can be used to create a different web page (with a unique web address) for each computer.  Furthermore, the same VUWER Gmail account can be shared among several computers under normal circumstances, since most people will probably choose to have their laptops send just one or two check-in emails per day.  For a typical family with two to six laptops, using a single Gmail account should raise no red flags with Google.

 

Part III – Securing Your Computer

Once VUWER has been installed and tested, your last task is to secure your laptop.  At the very least, you should create a firmware password for your computer (by default it does not have one) so that a thief cannot erase the internal drive and remove VUWER.  If you want to protect your personal data, you should also add a guest account for the thief to use, and use a login password for your personal account.

Click here for more information on how to set a firmware password, create a guest account for your laptop, and implement password protection for your personal account.

 

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