Choosing the fastest DigitalOcean server for you

DigitalOcean is my favourite online server provider. They have servers in Amsterdam, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Toronto, London, Frankfurt and Bangalore. The speed to the servers is dependent on where you are in the world so it can be worth checking out your connection speeds before you choose where to locate your droplet. Thankfully DigitalOcean makes this easy.

Each location has a speedtest you can run, just click the link and press the Begin Test button. You can choose which centre to test using the table below the button.

I ran tests at my four nearest locations (2 in San Francisco) and this is what I got. To allow me to compare I took a screenshot of the result using the Awesome Screenshot extension in Chrome.

San Francisco 2 came out the clear winner for me with the lowest latency and jitter, fastest download speed and second fastest upload speed, by a small margin. This is despite Singapore being 3,000km closer as the crow flies.

You can get $10 free for signing up using my referral link (I get credit too) if you want to see if DigitalOcean is for you.

If you aren’t sure of the locations of these cities a map on their homepage lets you see. You can even click on a location and run a speedtest.

Remember the speed is not just dependent on DigitalOcean; your hardware, internet connection time of day and every connection between you and them matters too.

Gmail settings for Nextcloud notifications

It can be handy to set up email notifications for activities on your Nextcloud installation.

You have to set up your own email address before you can do this (so Nextcloud knows where to send the emails). Click on your username at the top left of the screen and choose Personal. You’ll see a box for your email, just fill it in and press enter.

You can this when you are signed in as an admin by visiting http://<your nextcloudserver>/index.php/settings/admin/additional or clicking Admin in the dropdown menu at the top right of the Nextcloud screen where your username is shown and then on Addtional settings near the bottom of the menu on the left hand side.

Once there you’ll see some empty boxes waiting for your settings.

This is how to fill them in to use your gmail or G Suite account



Then click the Store credentials button.

To check it is working click on the  button.

Sending… will appear to the right of the button and be replaced with save image when it has worked.

If it fails the error message will help show what went wrong.

This what my screen looks like with the right settings.

I was inspired to write this post after following this excellent guidance on getting a Raspberry Pi 3 Nextcloud Box running on Ubuntu Core.

Xiaomi – the smart home (and car) puzzle

Xiaomi have gone big on home automation and offer the best value kit I’ve found. I’ve bought a few items and got them working well but there are a few vagaries to them. I don’t speak or read Chinese and bits of the Android apps aren’t in English. The instructions look comprehensive but again are in Chinese. Even the English can be challenging, it sometimes reads like it is straight from Google Translate.

Trying to get the devices to talk outside the Xiaomi ecosystem has been challenging and limited in success. I thought I’d collect my learnings and share what I know about getting Xiaomi kit to work.
I’m in New Zealand which means I can use Chinese plugs, just upside down with no need for international adapters.

My Kit at the moment

  • Xiaomi Gateway Gen 1 hooked up to 2 temperature and humidity sensors
  • non-zigbee smart plugs
  • smart powerstrips
  • Smart Band 2 (and a 1S still lurking)
  • Roidmi 2S – a bluetooth to FM adaptor for cars
  • a smart lightbulb too but I need to buy a lamp to see it in action as bayonet connections are standard here and they only come in screw in format…

I’ll be adding specifics around what I’ve found out over time.