Archive for July, 2008

FreeNAS Idiosyncracies.

July 27, 2008

I enjoy using FreeNAS. I have three FreeNAS servers. Why would anyone need three? It’s because of the idiosyncrasies associated with using the software. For one thing, Vista doesn’t like FreeNAS very much in certain configurations and I have 3 Vista machines. For example, if you set up one of your servers in a RAID 5 configuration, Vista will read it just fine. But it won’t write to it. It won’t write to it because it thinks the disk is full. Vista can’t get an accurate reading of the disk size. So it won’t write to it at all. XP does not have this problem, thankfully. If it did, I would not be able to use FreeNAS in a RAID 5 configuration.

I overcome this idiosyncrasy by having another server set up with its disks mirrored. Vista reads disk mirrors without any trouble. All I have to do is use an XP machine to sync up the data from the disk mirrors with the main server. This way I have all my data on one machine. I use the third server to back up the main server. In a way, it seems ridiculous. However, FreeNAS servers are cheap (the software is free). Moreover on a gigabit network, data transfer is fast. You could accomplish what I do with a Drobo. However, it wouldn’t be nearly as fast. Also I’m not sure that you could stream video from a Drobo. FreeNAS servers make excellent video servers.

I started out using Rsync to keep my servers synced with each other. This quickly crashed. I couldn’t figure out how to fix it either. So, I moved to Allway Sync. This program has worked wonderfully. Of course FreeNAS wouldn’t be FreeNAS with out idiosyncrasy here as well. You have to reboot the servers more than you should. Often, after transferring gigabytes of data, the server will drop out and need to be rebooted. I haven’t lost any data and the servers are fine once you reboot them. Sometimes, with Allway Sync, sinking directionally as opposed to bidirectionally works better.

The latest FreeNAS joy has been having two of the servers spontaneously switch IP addresses. I have no idea why this happened. I thought for a moment that maybe there was some malice involved from a third party. But no. My best guess is that IP addresses opened up and that the servers rebooted and picked those. I’ve been using FreeNAS for a long time and it has never done that.

You might think that is a lot of effort to use these servers. But I can tell you that that is not so. While I have identified the above issues, they are all manageable. The servers have great up time and I can move my data around quickly.  Plus, it is awesome to have all my data in one place.  It’s like having an old car that has problems but you know what the problems are and you know how to fix them. And in the meantime the car gets you where you want to go. With all the redundancy I have with these servers, I believe my data is safer than it has ever been (knock on wood).

Friday Night Party Line Episode #31.

July 20, 2008

Tonight’s show features Scott, Rym, Viga & Thaed. Here are the topics:

1. Which is worse: jealousy or greed?
2. Does being in control add happiness to your life? There were some nursing home studies involving patients who were able to care for a plant and others who could control visits from interns doing the study that indicated that having control is essential to happiness (and well being) So we should aspire to control and we should also give people the power to control?
3. Now that I bought a Kindle, version 2 has been announced for the fall. How about it? Are you going to buy one? Why or why not.
4. What are the top 5 things that every human being should do before he or she dies?
5. (Rerun from Episode 13) If you could meet any three celebrities alive today, who would they be? what would you say to them? How would you like to meet? Over dinner? At an event? In your living room?

Sites where you can find more information about Scott, Rym and Viga:

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Scott’s Box Makes Me Want To Read Comics Again.

July 18, 2008

Shopping with The Kindle.

July 12, 2008

I told my friend Howard (from FNPL) that the Kindle is a life changing device.  His response was “Oh yeah?  So was the 8 track player in my old Vega.”  It’s hard to top that, but if you read a lot, the Kindle really will change your life.

It’s not the screen which has fixed contrast and is not back-lit.  The screen seems to be designed to work best in bright light.  I’ve had it at the pool and it is perfect in sunlight.  In dim light, one blogger said it best:  “it’s like reading wet newspaper.”  Again, while quite functional, the screen isn’t the mainstay here.

The game changing aspect of the Kindle is the built-in wireless service.  This is wireless service as in cell phone data service and it is free.  More precisely, they probably get paid when you buy books, but you don’t pay them anything directly as a consumer.  This service lets you buy any book Amazon sells for the Kindle anywhere.  Want a book on how to keep your kids busy on a rainy day?  Done!  Want to learn about improving your focus?  Done!  Want to buy a romance novel?  Er, done?

You can also read sections of books before you buy them.  This has created a dilemma for me.  I’m cheap, you see.  So if I download a bunch of samples from books, I could figure out which ones I like and then request them at the library.  Sure it would take longer to get the books, but they would be free!  I have to resist this.  The whole point of the Kindle is that you get what you want immediately.  No bookstores, no libraries, no gas money to get you to these places either.  It’s the biggest bookstore in the world that you put in your briefcase.

The 1st book I bought was Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. I’m going to use it mostly for reference.  That’s another Kindle advantage.  It’s also a reference library anywhere you need it.

So yes, in 20 years, I’ll look back fondly on my 1st Kindle as the amazing device that it was, although probably not the same way Howard thinks about the 8 track in his Vega.
The Kindle

Japanese Beetle Trap in Action.

July 6, 2008

You can’t see all the beetles in low-def, but there really were a lot!

Japenese Beetle Traps

Building a 3 TB Backup Server Using FreeNAS.

July 6, 2008

My computer videos are the most popular thing that I do online for fun. Here is my latest.

Friday Night Party Line Episode 30.

July 4, 2008

Lisa Bettany ( is our special guest on FNPL! Ray, Viga and Thaed are the regulars in the lineup. Here are the topics:

Esperanto related comments from the last show.

Does having children make you happy? Not all of us have kids yet, but this article (as found by Scott Rubin) seems pretty bleak. What do you think?

–According to this article, new software can quantify how many people are at a given place by identifying the number of cell phones present at a location by tying the information to GPS data. Thus, if a person wants to know where the crowd is on a given night, all he or she would have to do is check online. Is this good or bad? What other things could this technology be used for?

–Video editing. What is the best software for editing video for YouTube and home use? Which hardware is best for editing videos? Mac or PC (yes, I want to go there).

–While I think this blogger might not have been serious, what do you think about this concept of a Transhuman Olympics? So long as everyone knows what’s going on, would people watch? Is this desirable? Would it help science?

–Here’s an article about scientists who were killed or seriously injured in the line of duty. Beyond the risks that everyone must face every day by virtue of getting out of bed, would you risk terrible injury or death for your job?

–You have $5000.00 to spend. You can’t save it, you must spend it. What do you buy?

–What are you reading this summer? Plus, Ray creates an image in our minds.

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Direct download: FNPL_29_final.mp3