Thursday, December 31, 2009

No Matter What!

This Is True
see more deMotivational Posters

Friday, December 25, 2009

Delta safety video

This video makes me want to smoke on a Delta flight just so I can be reprimanded by the safety lady.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Open Data Kit: This is why open is better then closed!

Researchers at the University of Washington have put together a software stack for Android that allows the collection of data in the absence of significant infrastructure. It is a simple idea, but one that is made possible by the open nature of the Android platform. This kind of innovation is possible when you provide the tools and documentation to make it possible. I hope to see a lot more of this type of innovation from the Android project: http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/11/getting-developing-world-data-with-android-and-open-data-kit.ars

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Content owners crying wolfe?

ArsTechnica has a great article up covering the x new technology will destroy y current thing that everyone loves phenomenon over the past 100 years.

It may come as a surprise that these objections raised by content owners are both not new, and also not predictive of destruction of that industry. It is hard to argue against the idea that the cassette tape did more to help the music industry then it did to harm it.

An interesting read, check it out: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/10/100-years-of-big-content-fearing-technologyin-its-own-words.ars

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm in love with the N900

I can't wait to get my hands on one of these devices and play around with it. The next few years are going to result in some REALLY cool new phone/computer mashups in the device world.



Sunday, October 4, 2009

WTF Ticketmaster?

Ok seriously the Ticketmaster sittuation has gotten WAY out of hand.

Check the breakdown of a recent purchase I made:

  • Price of tickets as advertised: $20

  • Convenience Charge: $8.35

  • Additional Taxes: $0.42

  • Order Processing Fee: $5.62

  • TOTAL: $34.39



Are you kidding me? it cost me $14.39 just to buy a fucking $20 ticket? Does anyone else see an issue with that? Why the hell didn't they just tell me the ticket cost $30. It would be a lot easier to swallow a $5 service fee on a $30 order, then a $15 fee on a $20 order.

Can you imagine? Go to buy some coffee at Starbucks, sure the cost of the coffee is $2.00 but there is a $1.00 line fee for waiting in line, plus tax, plus a convenience fee because Starbucks has so many locations... no one would stand for it. Stop calling it a $20 ticket and call it what it is, highway robbery, bait and switch, bad business practices, worth walking to the venue to see if they sell the tickets at the window.

If anyone knows how to cut Ticketmaster out of my event transactions I'll gladly entertain that idea.

Thi Chi robot!

This is really neat. Especially if you consider the irony of a robot doing the forms perfectly, but robots don't have any Chi... or do they!?

Thanks to Sara for sharing!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Help me raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

A cause that has touched very close to home for me over the past several years is the fight against blood cancers. Every year we The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society organizes a walk, the Light the Night walk around Greenlake in Seattle which I attend to show support for those in my life who have been impacted by blood cancers.

Several years ago a good friend of mine lost her struggle with cancer. Her story can be found on the site of my good friend Luke. Be warned it is a very emotional story. http://www.asianpersuasion5k.com/myangel/index.html

If you can please consider donating to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, thanks in advance!
http://pages.lightthenight.org/wa/SeattleL09/Plecebo

Friday, September 11, 2009

FUD from Microsoft to Best Buy employees against Linux

I made a posting onto facebook about this article:http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2009/09/microsoft-teaches-best-buy-employees-how-to-troll-linux-users.ars This posting is a response that was too long for facebook to comments on that posting, most people can skip over this unless they are interested.

Marketing is all good, it is fine to say Ford > Toyota. But to say Ford > Toyota because Toyota can't use Ford parts is a bit underhanded. What is worse, they use tactics like this:

Windows is better because it uses MSN Messenger and mail and photo albums. Those things aren't supported on Linux.

In reality, I am chatting right now with MSN Messenger friends, and could easily access Hotmail or whatever the name of the mail service is these days, people have been checking Hotmail from this computer running Linux all week with NO issues.

True the native client (MSN Messenger) is not supported, but the Linux community would love to have Microsoft build packages or release the source code so that it COULD be installed. Rest assured the reasons that there is no MSN Messenger native client is because Microsoft has chose NOT to release one. So to count this as a strike against a Linux OS seems a bit unfair.

Here are some other points of contention:
  • Media compatibility: there are TONS of media players for just about every format around. The ONLY formats that give a significant hassle are the DRM formats, and guess what, they are proprietary and the ability to play them are controlled by those license holders (Microsoft, Apple, etc). If people were INFORMED about the consequences of their choices they might choose differently. Like if you archive/purchase your content in this format someone else can tell you how/when you are allowed to play your content. To say that Linux doesn't have support for such formats as MP3 is insane, and plainly untrue, on the very site the slides reference for support of the claim that Linux has poor MP3 support lies this page: http://www.linux.org/apps/all/Multimedia/MP3.html which lists no less then 115 applications for playing MP3's. I can assure you there are many more. Not to mention the many Windows MP3 players that can be played through technologies such as WINE. I tried to check the Windows 7 compatibility information referenced as a source of the comparison to Linux, but it says “Windows 7 Compatibility Center Coming Soon!” http://www.microsoft.com/windows/compatibility/windows-7/Default.aspx

  • Authorized Support: You say potato (http://support.microsoft.com/) I say potato (http://www.ubuntu.com/support, https://www.redhat.com/apps/support/, http://www.novell.com/linux/services_support.html) So what is not authorized about Linux support?

  • The list of reasons that customers should choose Win over Lin: Hopefully this is not meant to be an “all questions are correct” type of thing. Because Internet connection? Values? Hardware? Etc etc etc. This is like saying you should buy a Ford over a Toyota because Toyota's don't actually drive. Saying untrue statements, while a common sales technique is not what I expect from Microsoft... I hope they would be a bit above that.
  • Linux doesn't support Zune Office 2007: Again Fords are better because you can't use Ford parts in your Toyota. Come on! I could turn this around and say that Linux is better because it doesn't run the Linux Kernel... duh! This is leaving out things like WINE and Crossover Office that DO allow you to run all the applications listed (except zune) on a Linux box.

  • Updates: Ok, my Linux machine has an update function that works a lot like windows updates. I've had WAY less issues with my updates vs updates on the Windows boxes that I use/administer. This same sentiment has been conveyed to me via other people I know who use Linux.

  • Security: This is hotly debated, so i'm not even going to bring this up... this post is getting too long already.


To quote the article, and echo my sentiments:
“This Microsoft training material for Best Buy retail staff is deliberately attacking Linux. While there are correct assertions in the slides, the majority of the statements are inaccurate, or are only accurate in the specific way they are worded.”


To deliberately use wordplay to “win” your captive audience over seems very shady, and I would expect that a company like Microsoft to use straightforward “Facts” rather then double talk to persuade people.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Why you should care about open source software!

Occasionally people ask me why I use Ubuntu?

The simple and fairly complete answer is choice. The thing that really appeals to me about the open source software movement is the fact that if I don't like the direction my distribution is moving, I can change to another without loosing out on much functionality. If you don't like the way your IM app works, try another one, or write your own. If you don't like something you are free to change it.

I was reading a posting on the infamous slash dot on a comparison between Snow Leopard, Windows 7, and Ubuntu 9.10 (http://tech.slashdot.org/story/09/08/31/1916238/OS-Performance-mdash-Snow-Leopard-Windows-7-and-Ubuntu-910) and came across a great comment from user KingSkippus (http://slashdot.org/~KingSkippus) which nails the issue for me, I've posted the whole comment because finding it over there might be challenging, and it really is a great post from that site.

99.997% of the people using these computers don't care.


First of all, I think that number is way too high. While it may seem that way sometimes, people do care. Maybe not even a majority of them, but enough that it does make a difference.

Second of all, those who in theory don't care, when explained why it's important, start to care. When you add up the cost of upgrading from Windows 95 to Windows XP to Windows Vista to Windows 7, along with all of its associated applications (I'm looking at you, Microsoft Office), versus the cost of upgrading through the various versions of Ubuntu or any of the other popular distributions and their associated applications, people really start to notice. One of my favorite things to do when I'm showing off Ubuntu to people is to open the package manager application. I tell them it's like the "Add or Remove Programs" applet, except that you can actually add programs. "All this stuff is available to you for no cost. Just click it, and you're good to go."

When you explain to these people how there is absolutely zero technical reason why they can't have a movie or song play on the DVD player in their living room, their iPod, their computer, and anywhere else (and anyway else) they want to play it, but that thanks to DRM systems incorporated into Windows 7 and Mac OS X, they are artificially restricted from doing so because some third party has decided to "manage their digital rights" for them, it definitely gets their attention.

When you explain to these people how honest competition from really smart people doing really smart things just because they can and because they feel that others should benefit from their collective knowledge is one of the reasons why a lot of commercial closed-source software these days that might otherwise cost hundreds or thousands of dollars is sold for really low cost or given away for free because of how hard it is to compete with volunteer work, it also gets their attention.

When I show people my web browser (Firefox with AdBlock) and how I don't see particularly onerous ads on web sites because the person who wrote my browser isn't beholden to financial interest or corporate mandates, it has raised a lot of eyebrows.

I could go on, but hopefully you see my point. Free and open source software benefits everyone, even people who don't otherwise care, even people who shun it in favor of commercial and/or closed-source options. And sitting back and saying that people don't care isn't very productive. It's in our best interest to actually educate people so that they will care.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I have worm fever!

Worms! Who would have known?

I can't even remember how it started now, but somehow the spark ignited and all of a sudden I had to be composting ASAP. I did some preliminary research and it was actually pretty easy to start something like this up in a small home or apartment. I have no yard, so it would have to be something that I could do easily on my patio or in a small space near the kitchen. This seemed to be pretty easy.

As someone who has ideals about DIY I looked for a way that I could build such a device for cheap, and on my own. First a little bit about worms. Keep in mind that this is from my own textual research on the internet (it never lies right?) not from experience or any kind of scientific research.

Worms are one of the worlds great garbage disposals. Some worms in particular are exceptionally good at turning food type wastes (salad leftovers, tea bags, coffee grounds, fruit rinds) into what amounts to the best thing you can do for your plants. There are 2 basic by products of worms doing what worms do:
  • Castings: This looks a lot like dirt, and it is kind of like that in its applications and uses, but it is very nutrient dense and works great as something to add to soil as a great nutrient boost

  • Tea: This is a liquid that is a byproduct of the activity of the worms. It is great as a source of plant food (read natural fertilizer) and can be used diluted as such



In my sittuation, apart from a few basic house plants I actually have very little use for either compost or tea. Why, praytel, would I want to go to all the hassle of setting up a composting system when I can't reap the benefits directly? Quite simply it is the right thing to do. While the city of Seattle does offer yard waste/compost collection they do not offer it for my apartment complex. So my food scraps go into a land fill where they benefit no one. In addition I know of several people who CAN take advantage of the wonderful work that my worms will be doing and they would likely share any veggie bounty that they have with me :).

There are a ton of great resources around on the net (see resources below) on getting started with your own Worm Bin for composting. Stuff as simple as getting a Tupperware container and drilling a few holes, to things much more elaborate. I chose to go with a simple Tupperware container system that should allow me to collect both Castings and Tea from my little buddies. I found the directions for this system at the Seattle Tilth resources page about compost. The system from that page I decided to build was the Off-the-Shelf Worm Bin. This looked pretty simple and something I could do pretty quickly.

So I printed off the plans and set out to build my bin.

Shopping List



  • 2x medium sized Rubbermaid storage containers with lids. Make sure they are dark in color. Also there is no need to go more then about 24" deep or so, shallow is better then deep.

  • 10x 1" Louvre vents

  • 2x 2" Louvre vents

  • 1x Male Garden Hose adaptor

  • 1x Female Garden Hose adaptor with some type of shut off valve

  • 1x Washer for sealing the garden hose adaptor where it penetrates the Rubermaid tubs

  • 1x Teflon thread tape


Pretty simple right? It was for the most part.

I had trouble finding 1" Louvre vents, and the 2" vents that I found came in packs of 6. I purchased 2 packs of 6 and installed them all into the bin.

Also The Home Depot has a really poor selection of the fittings required for this job, which I discovered pretty quickly. Lowes has a much better selection I found, and so bought all my supplies there.

Construction


So the construction of these bins is dead simple, I'll give some basic instructions but your best bet is to print off the very good documentation from the Seattle Tilth website (Download Here).

For the purposes of these instructions I will use the terms Bin 1 and Bin 2. There is no difference starting out, just be sure to keep them straight.


  1. Bin 1: Flip the bin over and drill 20 or so evenly spaced holes using a 1/4" drill bit. This is important for ventilation in your bin. Proper circulation prevents anaerobic zones which can bread some pretty nasty stuff.

  2. Bin 1: On the long sides drill 2" holes evenly spaced apart. I used a hole saw and put 4 holes on each side.

  3. Lid of Bin 1: Drill 4x 2" holes evenly spaced around the lid.

  4. Bin 1, and Lid of Bin 1: install the 2" Louvre vents into the 12 holes you just drilled. On the vents located on the side of the bin, there is an up direction that should be marked on the vents. Be sure to install them according to that marking.

  5. Bin 2: Close to the bottom, on one of the sizes drill a 1" hole. I used a spade bit for this. Be Careful, I had my drill spinning at very high RPM's and ended up damaging the bin (the hole was much larger then it should have been). I had to get a 2nd bin and drill much slower. This Worked much better for me.

  6. Bin 2: Attach the garden hose adapter to the bin. The male end goes on the inside with the washer between the male piece and the bin (this is what seals in the tea, so it should be water tight). Don't forget to put 3-4 wraps of Teflon tape to keep the threads nice and tight.



Now make sure that your valve is closed and drop Bin 1 into Bin 2. The vents on the side should clear the edge of the bottom bin (for ventilation). Now you are ready to put in the material.

Installation


I used a combination of shreded newspaper and cardboard. I was a bit unsure as to how big I should shred the paper and so I ended up making it about 1/4 the size of one full newspaper size. I crumpled these up a bit and put them in a 5 gallon bucket and put in some water. The trick is to put in enough water to soak your paper and get it good and wet. Then squeeze out most of the water and put it into your bin. The paper should be about as wet as a wet sponge, if that helps (it didn't really help me much). I filled my bin up about 1/2 full of paper and cardboard.

They say you should let your bin settle for a week or so to make sure it is good and redy for worms.

Worms


There are a few different kinds of worms, not all of which are great at being your leftover disposals. The worms you want fall into the Manure or compost worms category. By far the most popular variety of worms for composting are the Red Wiggler worms. Unless you have a need to use your worms as bait in addition to composting then I would stick with the Red Wigglers, otherwise you could try the European Night crawlers, which serve both purposes.

Now what


We have a problem


OK I have my worms and they are in the bin, and they have some veg to rock out to, now what? Well for some that is about the end of the line, they happily collect the food scraps and offer them to the worms. For whatever reason I have some fundamental issue that prevents me from leaving well enough alone. The main problem I have with the worm bin that I finished building a few days ago, is that I worry my compost will not be aerated enough. The bins fit in very tight with each other, they create pretty much an air tight seal. So while there are air holes in the bottom of Bin 1 they are not able to breathe properly because they are set into Bin 2. I'm afraid my worms are going to be very unhappy. Of course I don't know this to be true, and the plans supposedly produce a very good worm bin, but like I said I have an issue. So I needed another solution.

Almost, but not quite


I did what every self respecting nerd does when he is feeling light on information, I went to the internet. What I found was several sites that offered different, slightly more complicated DIY systems that seem to deal with this issue specifically.

One such system put ABS drain piping through the side of the tub and wrapped it in landscape fabric. This provided a tube circulating air that seems like it would offer pretty good ventilation and a mostly easy hack to what I had already.

Another system is what is called a pass-through system where you put the material into the top of a big barrel and at the bottom you access the end product. This had the benefit of cutting down the hassle of harvesting your castings (you literally just scoop them out with a shovel). That was appealing because removing material from my system seemed like a real PITA. The down side here is that it was a lot bigger (think 55 gallon drum) and required me to do some creative scavenging for the barrel in the first place. Which I'm not opposed to, but given the size issue it didn't seem to work for my apartment.

Solution


Then I came across some videos on YouTube going over the process of setting up a drop in solution called Can-of-Worms. The first of the videos can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4A9fq8WDN9g. In addition to having great information about setting up a Wormery the videos are pretty entertaining, which is nice. Anyway, the videos got me thinking about other solutions such as the Can-o-Worms and I eventually came across the Worm Factory line of products. Of which I purchased the 360 version of. You can see the manufactuers website here: http://www.cascadewormbin.com/. I really liked that they are a Bellingham company. When I purchased I went with a great company out of Lake Stevens who sells a bunch of great Vermiculture supplies as well as worms. They are called Northwest Wigglers (http://northwestwigglers.com/) and buying from them was great, I'll definitely consider them again for worm related purchases.

The idea with these systems is that you have a series of four trays and one sump. The sump goes on the bottom and catches the precious worm tea, and you put one tray on top of it. In the bottom of that tray you put your worms, and then a layer of nice tasty snacks for them. As the first tray gets full you simply put another tray on the top and start filling it with food for your worms. The worms eventually will move up through the trays into the food they want to eat and leave you with what you want in the bottom trays. The trays keep rotating from the top to the bottom of the system. They provide good air circulation and process quite a lot of scraps (7-14 lbs per day). A lot more then we can produce I'm expecting.

I've not used this yet, but I think it will assay my fears about me becoming an worm murderer in the near future.

That is all for now, I'll try and keep you updated as my Vermiculture progress'

Resources



  • Seattle Tilth: http://www.seattletilth.org/

  • Cascade Manufacturing Sales, Inc.: http://www.cascadewormbin.com/

  • Yelm Worms: http://yelmworms.com/

  • Northwest Wigglers: http://northwestwigglers.com/

  • Sky Nursery: http://www.skynursery.com/ (closes place near me that sells some supplies)

Diesel Hybrid?

This has been bothering me for quite a while. Where are all the Diesel Hybrid vehicles?

I know that there are applications of this technology in practice. Many of the buses operated by King County Metro are Diesel Electric vehicles. Train Locomotives use this technology to move rail cars across the country. Where is the Hybrid version of this technology in our Prius and Insight passenger cars?

I know the technologies are not exactly the same, the trains/buses use a different type of hybrid (series) then the Passenger cars I mentioned. However, there is nothing stopping auto manufactures from producing this type of hybrid for passenger cars (See the Chevy Volt as an example).

You may say, "What is the big deal, you are just trading one fuel type for another fuel type?" which is true, but when you consider why many people concerned with carbon emissions are choosing Diesel (Biodiesel technology, lower emissions, etc) and see how that would intersect with the same set of goals in a Hybrid vehicle (lower emissions, better fuel economy, etc) it seems like a complete no brainier. Lets make a hybrid diesel system that can take advantage of the environmental positives of both systems, the technology exists NOW!

I have been thinking about this specific issue for several years now, and it has been compounded by the fact that I need to start thinking about my next vehicle in a year or so. I would really like to take advantage of these two technologies together, but there are no plans as far as I know to produce such a vehicle.

Well someone has given the automakers a big middle finger and did just that, created a diesel hybrid that after preliminary testing seems like it could be possible of near 100 MPG efficiency. The article came up on Slashdot (http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/08/18/1534231/Worlds-Only-Diesel-Electric-Honda-Insight) this morning and I just had to write about it.

I've not read the site detailing the process because it has been brought down by the traffic that has been pushed onto it, but here is the link: http://www.redlightracing.org/ apparently the process is documented for those who want to attempt something like this on their own.

For my own auto purchase I will have to be satisfied with choosing one or the other. At this point it is looking like a VW, because it offers what I am looking for in a wagon (never thought I would WANT a wagon, but here I am). Now to start thinking about how to get one LOL.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Open Source Textbooks in California

The state of California is making a push to provide public schools with free, open source digital text books. I think this is a great idea, the ideas taught in K-12 are fundamental to life long learning. What is more is that the information taught is not proprietary (mathematics, biology, earth sciences) it belongs to EVERYONE!. So why should a school fork out $100 per book per student?

Instead provide a set of books that are freely available, and do not require printing (read unnecessary environmental impact). Gone would be the days of textbooks vandalized by students writing on them. Gone would be the day of using outdated information (get a new version for every class). Gone would be the common practice of schools writing big checks to publishing companies to provide text books to students.

This just seems like a win win win.

Ironically, in the investigation that the state of California did the Open Source books were the ones who came out on top pretty much across the board.

http://gov.ca.gov/press-release/12996/

Monday, August 10, 2009

1 year of Lex.

I really like this idea. I think this is the exact kind of thing that people are trying to capture when they take photos of their children, but few have the consistent perseverance to stick with it.

I'm not a huge baby person, but this makes me happy!



Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fun UI innovations from the SIGGRAPH 09 conference

An interactive, tactile hologram? SWEEET!



Keep Reading for more super cool interfaces.

This interface is pretty amazing. It uses a HUD kind of system to overlay information and provide some basic interactive elements that really enhance this game. Some minor bugs to work out, but TONS of potential.

Augmented Reality Toys.v2 (Work in progress) from Frantz Lasorne on Vimeo.



This is a fantastic interface. Imagine using the walls in your house as an input method to controll your home stereo or your entire desk surface to send basic commands to your computer. Very Cool.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mean people suck, car edition!

This is the exact kind of situation that made me begin making archival copies of my music ASAP, sometimes before I even listened to it. Someone lifted my book of music cd's from my car the other day, and I just noticed last night.

Lucky for me (how ironic) I made backups of them all, so I can replace them at the cost of burning new ones, however they won't have the great art, and they won't bet the CD's i've spent thousands of dollars collecting.

At least they didn't break my window to get at it, they very professionally disabled my alarm and opened the door took my CD's then put everything back the way it was. I noticed one time when I got into my car that the car last week that the hood was popped, I thought that was strange so I opened it up and took a look, everything looked fine, but everything was not fine. A few days later I noticed that I couldn't find my book of CD's that I keep in my car to replenish my visor CD holder thingy. It had been jacked.

It could have been a lot worse, but it could have been a lot better too. Now I know that nothing in my car is safe, good to know, if I have anything that I don't want thieved either take it with me when I leave my car, or put it in the trunk with all the locks activated.

This thevery coupled with the addition of a smoking area directly outside our door really makes my apartment a LOT less appealing of a place to live.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Media Server & NAS project - Part 2 Hardware Update!

As with a lot of projects there are often overruns, mis planning and issues that arise later in the project that necessitate the changing of certain key assumptions. This project is no exception, lucky for me I had the ability to identify some of the issues before hand and was able to get the bulk of my work done in the initial time frame. Here is a rundown of some of the issues I ran into that necessitated me scrambling to find fixes at the expense of rush processing fees/shipping costs/restocking fees.

Problem: Storing lots of media files takes a lot of space


After archiving a few DVD's and using that small (20 or so disks) as a sample I was able to see that my raid array would be a bit on the small side. Also I moved my configuration from a RAID5 array to a RAID6 array. The reason was because I was using consumer grade drives in my setup, which after a bit of research I found had some issues being used in a raid array. Issues like kicking out of the array causing it to be rebuilt over and over :(.

Solution: Buy more stuff!


I picked up two more 1TB hard drives to fill out my enclosure, giving me a total storage capacity of around 6TB when all is told. Also, the two extra drives I picked up were the raid certified drives that do not suffer from the raid issues that the “consumer” drives I got do.
I even briefly considered getting 6 more of the raid versions of the drives just to make sure things were going to run smooth, but decided against it when I found that there was a trick to disable the problematic process on the consumer drives. It is called TLER (Time Limited Error Recovery). From what I understand, on the consumer drives which do NOT have TLER, drive goes into a error recovery mode every now and then as a normal part of the operation of the drive. This is interpreted as a drive failure by many raid utilities (including mdadm, the Linux software raid utilities that I will be using) and so marks the array as degraded. Once the drive comes back on-line after the recovery period the array recognizes it again and begins to rebuild the array. You can enable TYLE, which makes the error recovery period shorter, and prevents the software from marking the array as degraded. I found the explanation at this link: http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/24609792/m/982006050931 as well as the tools to enable/disable TLER at this link: http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1191548

Problem: Processor Doesn't Work in My Motherboard


It has been a bit since I have built a system from the ground up (2-3 years). That being said this mistake is pretty rookie. Basically the processor I chose was not compatible with the motherboard I chose. The processor was one of the new AMD socket AM3 processors and the motherboard only supported up to AM2+. There are lots of reasons why it might have happened, all of which could have been avoided if I had taken a bit more time to research, but such is the way of it.

Solution: Buy More Stuff!


My eventual solution was to get another motherboard, one that supported the AM3 socket. I ended up going with a small form factor (microATX) board since they were generally less expensive and had a lot of the features I was looking for on the board. That was nice in theory but I'll talk about later how that didn't really apply in practice. In the process I accidentally (lets just pretend it was an accident ok?) ordered another processor, when I thought I might go the route of getting a processor to fit into the motherboard. Of course with rush processing and shipping. Good fun!

Problem: eSATA card not compatible with my application


It was pointed out to me in the Ubuntu Forums that the eSATA expansion card that I had selected was not going to wok with my particular setup because it likely did not support port multiplication. This is what makes it possible to plug in one eSATA cable and have it be seen as more then one (usually 4 or 5) devices. This functionality was essential for my project, so the option had to be discarded. The external enclosure I had chosen came with a card that would serve as a stand in the trouble was that the stand in was much slower then what I was expecting. Basically the bandwidth of the card (PCI-Express 1x) was too low to handle the bandwidth of 8 drives. Another eSATA card had to be found.

Solution:Buy More stuff


This was a costly addition to the project. The port multiplier cards run around $200 give or take. Another issue is that they don't all have great documented compatibility with Linux. I ended up getting one and spending most of my setup time wasted on trying to get the crappy drivers that came with it installed on Ubuntu, or RedHat, or OpenSuse... all with no luck. My compromise was to continue setup with the slower 1x card that came with the enclosure, and consequently worked very well if not slow, and deal with it later. Which I did by purchasing another controller and installing. So I'll have to return two eSATA controllers.


So far this project has been fun, and it is starting to get pretty spendy. I've exceeded my basic mental budget by quite a bit, but I should be good and not in need of hardware upgrades for quite some time.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Media Server & NAS project - Part 2 Hardware

I've always liked buying new hardware and assembling new computers, it is my favorite part of a new build. Doing the research and figuring out the right components for my particular situation, just something about it that I have always liked.

I have been formulating my requirements for this particular project for quite some time. Mulling over the benefits of pulling the trigger sooner, or waiting and doing it later.

The Server


The server has always been on the agenda, it is shameful that I don't have a better way to keep my valuable data (read porn) safe from drive failures. As it stands I'm vulnerable if one of my drives fail, sure I may have backups someplace... but I'm not sure how current they are etc. Suffice to say I need something better.

For these reasons mostly, and also for the speed benefits RAID is one of the fundamental requirements for this project. I went back and forth with my self over weather I would be doing RAID in hardware or software, from the research I did it seems that for all but the most taxing scenarios software raid works as well and can be significantly less complicated when it comes time to restore your broke ass system. Add that to the fact that a true hardware raid card with capabilities of handling 4+ drives runs $600+ depending on your features and the choice was pretty obvious.

Originally I had intended the RAID setup to be something we could expand into a bit, however the addition of the media center and the plan to keep archival .ISO files of all of my DVD's means that I'll probably not be able to get by with the 4x1TB hard drives setup in a RAID 5 array (3TB of effective storage). So I added another 2 drives to the 4 giving me 6x1TB drives in a RAID 5 (5TB of total storage). Since the SATA capacity of my board is 6xSATA drives I needed something more for my 1 boot drive, and my 1 DVD drive. I had to pick up a separate SATA expansion card in order to accommodate. So I shall have a total of 8 SATA devices in my setup.

This puts me in a tight spot, I'll probably need to reconsider my setup if I plan to expand any farther. My options become somewhat limited, 6 is my maximum capacity, my original plan of dropping in a few more 1TB drives to expand my capacity doesn't work much past 6. There are other options but they might be a bit overboard.

Luckily for me I found a 4 port SATA adapter that has 2 external eSATA ports. This means I can use an external enclosure in the future to put my extra drives. I've seen these for around the $350.00 range for enclosures that house 8 drives in addition to what I already have.... DAYM that is a lot of hard drives. I'm not there yet, but it is good to know I have those options if I need them.

The rest of the setup is mostly mundane a pretty basic system. One area I did spend a little more was to upgrade the processor a few notches. This was mostly to allow for the ability of trans coding the video into another format at some point (iPhone version anyone?).

Total Cost for the Server:

  • ASRock K10N78 AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 8200 ATX AMD Motherboard: $67.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157159

  • 6x Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 1TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive $539.94 (6x$89.99) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136317

  • CORSAIR CMPSU-400CX 400W ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS Certified Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply $59.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139008

  • G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory $54.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231166

  • AMD Phenom 8650 Toliman 2.3GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 2MB L3 Cache Socket AM2+ 95W Triple-Core Processor $78.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103253

  • SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD Burner $25.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151171

  • Rosewill RC-218 PCI Express x4 (x8 and x16 slot compatible) SATA II 3G Controller Card/ 4 internal SATA with 2 external eSATA Design $69.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16816132018



Total: $897.88

Media PC


One of the main reasons that got me excited about the media center concept was the very exciting stuff I was seeing out of the NVIDIA VDPAU project on the MythTV mailing lists. Essentially it allows you to lower your overall hardware costs by using your capable graphics chip to do the heavy lifting when it comes to the High Definition Video formats. Traditionally these tasks were pushed onto the CPU which was not optimal and often meant that if you wanted to play HD content you needed a pretty beefy machine.

Well with the new VDPAU technology you can divert your funds of purchasing a beefy machine towards purchasing more hard drive space, or more HD content ;).

To compound the coolness Intel recently launched the ION platform that combines the Atom processor in a super small form factor which should allow you to play HD video without breaking much of a sweat. AWESOME!

One of the major factors in the construction of such front end systems is often the amount of sound that it makes. The ION package will surely help with that, but in addition the other components of the system should be selected while spending close attention to the amount of noise produced. Things like fans, power supplies, and hard drives all make noise when they are operating, so keeping that in mind is important.

Ultimately I went with a disk-less system which I plan to network boot from my server. The front-end should have minimal cooling requirements and pull all of its content from the back-end server.

At this time I decided to NOT get a remote control for the Media PC, maybe that is a mistake, but I figure I can use the keyboard for most everything, and if I find out I truly need a remote then I can pick one up later.

Here is what I came up with for the Media PC:


  • ZOTAC IONITX-A-U Atom N330 1.6GHz Dual-Core 441 NVIDIA ION Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo $206.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813500027

  • JETWAY JC-300-B Black Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case 60W Power Supply $69.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811120015

  • G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory $46.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231122

  • i-rocks RF-6572-BK Piano Black 104 Normal Keys USB 2.4 GHz RF Wireless Slim Keyboard/Mouse Combo w/ Travel Pouch $42.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823204012



Total: $366.96

Not bad

Closing Thoughts


The prices I listed above do not include shipping & handling or any rush order processing fees I had applied in order to get all the parts before my long weekend from work over the 4th of July holiday. They also do not include mistakes in ordering that I may or may not have made. On a side note, know anyone who wants to buy an extra 3 core Phenom II AM3 processor? :D (hmmm maybe I'll be doing a PC build here soon.

I'm excited to actually get it all put together and fire it up for the first time. I'm worried that with the amount of time it is going to take for the raid array to build that if (when?) I muck it up it could take me a really long time to do over again. We will have to see. Next will be basic setup tasks of the back-end... I have a feeling that is going to take the longest. It may have to wait until I have the time off from work, though I probably will try and get started to see how it all goes when I get the parts in.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Media Server & NAS project - Part 1 Background

My house has modest computer needs. We have a few computers with what I consider quite a bit of data (maybe 1.5 TB total). Our computer sittuation looks like this:


  • Laura's Computer: Mainly used for day to day tasks as well as Photoshop work for her business and her hobbies. She shoots with a Canon 5D and has been doing so for a while. When you figure in scans from her film days she is quickly approaching the 1TB storage limit on her computer. Laura's data is stored on Striped (RAID 1) array of 2x 1TB drives, she is rapidly approaching full on those. I should note, it is Windows Raid, and her desktop runs Vista Ultimate x64, which if my experience with windows RAID means it could be difficult to recover if, for example, we were forced to reformat and reinstall everything. Though it is protected against a single hard drive failure. She does NOT back up her data (I know begin the boo's now).

  • Larry's Computer: This is mostly used for day to day stuff. I too dabble in photography, but to a much lesser degree then Laura. I have probably 100-200 GB's of photos. I also have a lot of music. I like to buy CD's and immediately rip them to my computer (I've been bitten before by the random car theft leaving me musicless). Because of my anal retentive OSS nutcase nature I tend to rip things in a lossless open format, so my cd's are ripped into FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec). I have some .MP3 files, but for the most part I'm a FLAC man. My music Collection runs about 100GB's. Throw in my willingness to support the Ubuntu project by seeding torrents of the latest various releases, as well as other .iso's I have accumulated over time and you can see I have a mish mash of data, running around 300GB). Most of this data is spread accross 2x 250GB hard drives that operate completly independently of each other. I occassionally backup the pair to a third 400GB drive that I keep in my case, but it is only irregular and manual backups. This is just on my main computer!

  • My Laptop: There is not much stored here, because I am frequently reconfiguring and reinstalling things to tweak it a bit, i'm a glutton. I do on occasion copy things down from my main machine to play around with them, so lets say... 100GB here (an overestimate I would say). My laptop has one 250GB SSD drive in it, it is not backed up at all.



As you can see your storage needs are not insignificant. And adding some data redundancy via a recoverable RAID solution seems like a good idea. So that is what I decided to do!

I decided to setup a NAS for our storage needs. I was thinking something that could cover our storage needs for the next 6 months without buying extra hardware, but would allow us to basically drop in extra disks to expand capacity.

I looked at a lot of different options, some ready to go NAS solutions from different companies (DROBO, Netgear, DLink, etc) and finally decided to build my own using a tower case (should give lots of room to add drives) that a friend has been storing for me for a while (Thanks Luke) and some new hardware.

We have been enjoying the Instant watch thingy on Netflix the last few months and I had been thinking how cool it would be to have the same functionality for my own personal DVD collection. So I got to thinking about adding a Media Center PC to the project. I looked at different projects like MythTV (http://www.mythtv.org/) as well as XBMC (http://www.xbmc.org) and decided I would try and throw something together using XBMC, since it did everything I wanted it to do.

Once I decided what I wanted to do I just had to figure out how to make it happen. Next you will see my shopping list for both projects :)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

How NOT to turn the opinion pools around

Every company wants their products to be the best. They want people to use what they have made and be amazed that it works so well that they tell all their friends and the theory of capitalism is proved once again. That is all good and fine until you resort to shady methods in order to produce information that pushes the masses in your favor. There is a difference between putting your best foot forward (read: marketing) and making false comparisons (read: deceiving).

Busting IE8’s Mythbusting

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Opera Unite: Will it change the web?

The makers of the Opera web browser have released an Alpha of their new technology to change the landscape of the internet. They call it Opera unite and the basic idea is to decentralize the content of the internet so that every connected computer is a server providing content for its users. It is certainly an interesting concept, but I'm not sure it will revolutionize the web the way Opera is intending. Here is a video that explains a bit better:



Monday, June 15, 2009

Obama speach to the American Medical Association

The Atlantic has up an article covering President Obama's address to the AMA.

http://politics.theatlantic.com/2009/06/obamas_speech_to_the_doctors.php

Did your concious lose its way?

It is a difficult thing to forget the betrayal and deceit. I am an avid subscriber in the time heals all wounds philosophy of recovery. So far it has proved an effective method in dealing with the trauma of divorce. However recent events have made it obvious to me that while time does indeed heal my wounds it definitely does not remove the scars from said wounds.

Two years ago was an interesting time in my life. I had been attending college on and off for 7 years and my time of my formal education was coming to a close . Graduation was around the corner and within weeks I would be finished. All of the money, time, and effort that I had put into improving myself was finally going to be paying off. There was one final push, a large capstone project, remaining. The project deadline was fast approaching and I was starting to feel the weight of the week bearing down on me. It was a stressful time in my academic life to say the least.

The culmination of my efforts (not just on the project, but also to an extent my graduate degree process as well) was to be displayed at a single event, the capstone event. My day of triumph, my day of success. In some regards it was more important than walking down the isle at graduation, because it was proof that I have what it takes to succeed in this career.

In my personal life, things were less exciting. I was still married to Alison and we were experiencing some tough times. There were many factors contributing to the stress in our relationship at that time. Nothing that needs to be drudged up here, but suffice to say it was not good times in my house. What is important is that we were both stressing out about it, which was NOT helping us to solve any of the issues.

Right before the capstone event the shit hit the fan. A series of events lead me to suggest that she leave, both our home, and my life. It was a phrase uttered in the passion of a moment, clouded by stress and compounded by the fight of the hour. She asked if I were serious and upon my affirmation she left our home.

Understand that this series of events was a lot like a water slide at a water park. The previous months or years we had been in a spiral, one event after another driving a wedge between us. Our relationship was sliding through the pipes of the system, sloshing left and right, through the dark and light, but always down to the impending drop into the water. It was this moment, this exorcism of her from my life, this giving in to the devil conscious in a moment of weakness when we both realized (I theorize) that our relationship was beyond repair, and that the rest of our time together was not about coming closer, but distancing ourselves from each other.

We had passed the event horizon of the water slide, and were now in the free fall before we plopped into the water below and were able to go our separate ways.

I write this in part for back-story, in part for my own therapy. The importance to glean from this is that this was the first traumatic event that, for me at least, signaled the point of no return in the end of my marriage.

It came on the day of my capstone event, early in the morning as she was getting ready for work and I was sleeping in. I spent the rest of the afternoon in my bed in a fetal position, horrified that I had made the single most horrible mistake possible. I was wracked with fear and guilt, and I was completely incapable of moving. The time of the event eventually came and I showed up. I am not sure how I made it through honestly. I put on a smile, and stood by my poster and explained what an iPeep was to those who were interested. It was painful and exciting all at once. I felt lost and found all in the same moment. I wanted to cry, but was not sure if they would be tears of joy or sorrow, it was very confusing.

We went out to celebrate that night after the event. We went with the friends we had shared the previous two years with, and I went without the only person I wanted to be with at that moment. I had often wondered how people could escape into substance abuse, and that night I got my answer. I dodged the questions of “where is your wife?” with answers of cheap beer. I made my body feel numb but my brain remained painfully aware of my situation. I walked home that night, alone, along the Burke Gillman trail crying at the irony of spending 10 years of your life with someone waiting for the day when school would be over and the rest of your lives together would begin only to have the film melt at the critical moment, the future of those events gone in that moment.

This was a painful time, however the human condition (or at least my condition) is such that we persevere. We continue on. In the coming months we attempted to bail out our relationship with a teaspoon, while we were taking on water a gallon at a time. Suffice to say within months we were officially not together anymore.

This capstone event has come to signify the moment in my life where I ceased to be Larry + Alison and started to be just Larry. For better or worse.

I have attended both the capstone events for the years proceeding me. They are a place to meet up with old friends and meet a lot of new people who share similar interests as you do. Year me+1 went very well. I attended, I brought a friend and things were good, many of us went to dinner afterwards and it was not until several days later that I realized just how nonchalant I was about the whole event.

Year me+2 was not quite so easy. I went alone, it was in the same space as it was in year me. I had a really tough time with it all. Being in the same space, brought back a flood of emotions and feelings that I was not prepared for. It got me to thinking again about the events of two years ago.

It sucks to drudge up the past and agonize over details that really don't matter. Who am I trying to convince, why do I need to place blame, why can't I just accept the fact that our paths diverged and we are two people leading two seperate lives? Maybe I have trouble with the fact that I feel like I can't be friends with her. That I feel too betrayed by her. Two years is a long time to have had these feeling bottled up and have the suddenly explode.

How much of what she told me was a lie, how much was not? Why was I never able to understand what she needed from me? Why was I never able to help her? Why does it all fucking suck still after two years. Two years, most of which I spent believing that I was fully over her. That she held no hold over me. Yet after two years there is a part of me that wants to reach out to her to reconnect on some level. Maybe I desire a resurrection of the friend I used to have, maybe its the lover I miss, maybe it is both.

I wish this could be finished, but somehow I don't think it is. What other monsters are hiding behind corners ready to jump out and scare me when I least expect it? I don't know... and that is actually scarier then the monsters.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Where is the shift from OS 1.0 or 1.5 to OS 2.0?

I'm going to geek out on everyone for a bit. These are not well thought through ideas, just random thoughts. Any glaring holes in logic I blame on anyone else but me ;)

I have a bone to pick with makers of Operating Systems. It applies to everyone in the game, the makers of Windows, to the people involved with the Linux movement and everywhere in between. For a while now we have been involved, immersed if you will in the Web 2.0 movement. There are a lot of different variations on the differences between the Web 1.x and Web 2.0, let us assume for the sake of argument that the Web 2.0 phenomenon involves partially, or mainly the difference between a web that is content driven, and a web that is user driven.

In thinking about this shift and how it has impacted the ways in which I use the internet it got me to thinking, as many things often do, about the implications in user design and user experience design. Mainly in the ways that the role of the architect in Web "System" has changed. It used to be that the act of creating a site and regularly adding content used to be a difficult task. Then the web evolved a bit and server side scripting languages (PHP, ASP, etc) connected to databases came into fashion. They made things easier, but things like adding users, or changing site design quickly/easily were still challenging.

You see where this is going, many evolutions later and we have entire management system that make the types of things that Architects usually do to sites incredibly easy. Take for example this site (schwerzler.com) it is the first domain I ever registered and a site that I have managed since 2001. Some of the advancements in the site are easy to see, and a lot of them are direct results of my own learning associated with web technologies like css and html and php. At some point however I discovered a content management system (Joomla at the time) and it changed the way I thought about the web and the way as I as a sight owner interact with it.

Fast forward a few years more and I'm still using a CMS, one that works a bit better for me (Drupal, which is the same CMS I use for this site). Looking back I would have been crazy to include a tiny fraction of the features I have on this site or on Schwerzler.com onto my old 2001 site. With Drupal I can create content, add features and change the look and feel of the site all within a few moments, where with my limited skills as a programmer would have taken me weeks or months (or lets face it years) to implement. As cheesy as it sounds the CMS allowed me to focus more on what I put on my site and not how to put it on the site.

So what is my point right? I man the title of this post has something vaguely to do with Operating Systems right? O.K. I'll get to the point. In the same way that the Web 2.0 has revolutionized the ways that we interact with the web we need a similar kind of revolution allowing people to interact with their computers. Gone SHOULD be the days where I spend 70 hours in a weekend setting up Active Directory. Gone SHOULD be the days where after 70 hours I am still running down permissions issues (seriously, share permissions Vs. NTFS Permissions WTF?). Why do I feel like the girl in Goonies who is playing the playing the music and her every mistake brings the death of her friends ever closer.

Where is my nice interface, where is my UX? Why do I HAVE to have a degree (not any of the ones I have obviously) in order to understand the settings? Why does it seem like the Web is ahead of the OS market when it comes to giving users what it wants? This is NOT an OS specific issue by a long shot, Linux I knows carries many of the same problems, if not exactly then in close proximity) and I can only assume that a Mac has similar issues, if not I could probably find them.

I know that the setup and configuration of Active Directory is a complicated task meant for system administrators. I also know that MS has come a long way in progress to make the steps necessary to setup Active Directory much easier then it used to be, but come on people, these technologies were introduced in the late 1990's and the mechanisms to manage them remain stone age tools.

I know people will say I should have used this version (likely small business server, or the Linux equivalent) and I would have but those tools are honestly too broad and general for me. I don't WANT Exchange on my system... we use hosted email, I don't WANT WSUS, we only have a few PC's and WSUS is as prone to muck things up as it is to make things easier, I don't WANT a database on here, If I needed a database I will install one. I prefer to start from a clean base and add the few components that I need. Simple and clean. I want to be able to interact with the system quickly and efficiently, without feeling like a hacker.

My needs are simple, why aren't my solutions?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Out with the Amarok in with the Listen

It happened one too many times, Amarok (Amarok) stopped playing my music. No good reason, just "too many errors". One last time it refused to play the one song I needed to hear right then. So it was time to switch. Pst... Listen (Listen), that is your queue.

I'm giving up form for function, the aesthetic for the operational. Its a tough choice, I've really loved Amarok, it was one of the first music players I scrobbled (My Last.fm profile) with. Now you can pick up scrobble integrated players at every turn.

First impressions, Listen just feels more like a Gnome app, which is not a surprise since Amarok has its roots so deep in the KDE world, and Listen is written in Python, which in my hobby coder world is my language of choice. We will have to see how things work out, I'm still hoping for something simple and elegant like foobar2000 (my all time favorite music player) or Songbird, and while I know I can run these via WINE, I'd rather support a native Linux option if I can.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

960 Grid System

Things that make my life easier make me happy. Cool ways that I can do complicated stuff quickly/easily make me even happier. When those cool things are actually things I would be doing day to day it is better then sex.

I ran down a intertube today, I followed a link trail into the rabbit hole and saw how deep it went. See if you can follow my train of thought here:


  1. Someone on Twitter linked in a Typography site. Me a student of web design and continually baffled by Typography for the web follwed the link Typogridphy

  2. This led me to the site 960.gs which looked pretty cool. A fast way to build out (as well as prototype) site layouts that are visually appealing and modern. I was intrigued, but I have a short attention span, I remember just a few weeks ago reading an article on the CAKE PHP framework and thinking... "OMG! I should like TOTALLY build my own CMS!" What a joke, there is no way I could make anything with as much elegance and power as any of the fantastic CMS' that are out there. So when I came to a link to a NetTute video showing the baiscs of the 960 system I followed.

  3. That led me to an article on NetTutes about getting started with the 960 layout. Here is a video: *heart blip*



It looks great, and I want to try to use it in a Drupal theme for my next project. There is even a Drupal Theme skeleton built using it.

Should be fun!

Tweenbots!

Take a small cardboard robot that moves in one direction only, afix an indication of its final destination and let people make sure it gets there.


This is the concept behind TweenBots. This is a really cute example of the "wisdom of crowds" concept. Basically the same principals that make things like Wikipedia or the Mechanical Turk Dollar Bill (also known as Ten Thousand Cents ) possible.

In this case instead of the robot developer building in expensive navigation equipment, she uses a simple flag to indicate the robots final destination and let people help it out along the way. It is probably not the most efficient path, but if you consider the time invested in total by the developer and all the 29 people who intervened to navigate the robot through the park and compare that to the effort it would take to incorporate navigation... well you begin to see how competitive a proposition like this becomes.

The result is a very cute video, and a super cool concept.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Practical joke played on my sister

Some friends of my sister's put 5000 Dixi cups half filled with water in the house. My sister came home from the zoo to find this HA!


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Nichole Young - Istockphoto

Nichole Young talking with Fredrick Van about her experiences with Istockphoto


Nicole Young - iStockphoto Contributor from Frederick Van Johnson on Vimeo.

DROBO, the future of storage?`

I have been looking for a way to expand my storage capabilities at home while adding in a layer of redundancy to protect my data. Data Robotics offers the DROBO products that seem to be a good fit. What I like most is that I don't have to worry about what RAID level I'm going to be using (I was thinking of doing a raid 5 array) and I can dynamically add/remove drives to add to my storage ability, or replace drives, without taking the array down.

I would LOVE to be able to do this with Linux and a small cheap server. It would likely compare price wise to what Data Robotics is offering with the DROBO line, but would allow me to use ext4 for example to have drive sizes over 2TB (about the size of total storage for which I am looking to start). Data Robotics does not officially support using a drobo on Linux, which is philisophically an issue for me. If they would add support for a linux filesystem that supports sizes > 2TB I would likely stop considering building my own NAS solution and start considering DROBO.



Friday, March 27, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Identity 2.0

I had never heard of the presentation, but while listening to a podcast the Opening Keynote presentation of OSCON 2005 given by Dick Hardt was mentioned and so I took the bait. Its a great presentation laying out some of the challenges that the web is starting to address. If you are interested in sign in technologies and how they are changing, this is a great place to start.

http://identity20.com/media/OSCON2005/

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This is why she left

Apparently this is the exact reason that my Romanian co-worker left her homeland LOL. This guy is an idiot.



Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mario Kart Love Song

How did I miss this? Great song!


And a reply from Bowsers point of view.



Very sweet.

Friday, March 6, 2009

What Web 2.0 Is?

Ok, I know I am late to the game on this one, and this question "What is Web 2.0" has been covered amply, but this explanation really struck a chord with me. Besides it is very Web 2.0 that I feel compelled to share my own experiences with this, no matter how late to the game I am.

I ran across this great article on Slashdot today that in general covers the changes that have been going on with the web for quite some time in the context of the downfall of Dreamweaver. As the article points out, it is not about bashing a product because it doesn't do its job well, quite on the contrary I'd say that Dreamweaver is one of the exceptional products that came out of the Macromedia company (which was bought by Adobe) and though I have long given up the use of Dreamweaver in favor of a plain text editor I do remember how wonderfully easy it made the transition from Infant Webmaster into Toddler Webmaster.

No, the problem is really that Dreamweaver is out moded. It is no longer a significantly relevant way to create content for the web. I can think of NO sittuations in which I was wanting to create a useful site where I reached for Dreamweaver instead of a tool that integrates the content creation experince into the application BEFORE I even get started. Because, and here is where the title comes in, the web is becoming a place where content is created by the content creator. In the words of the articles Author, Tom Arah:
The bottom line is that the old model of the central webmaster hand-spinning every page of every website and, worse, manually adding the navigation necessary to help users find it, just isn’t scalable or viable. The only feasible course for the future is for content to be posted by the content contributor, whether that’s the site owner or site visitors, and for the best possible navigation to be constructed around that content on the fly.


That's it... Web 2.0 marks the transition from Webmaster created sites, into user created sites. The webmaster (or the whole design team rather) is there to make it possible for content creators to do just that.

So simple, and profound.

Long live Drupal indeed!

Monday, February 2, 2009

More great stop animation music videos

Thanks again to @armyofmeat on twitter for sharing:


April Snowboarding

Here are some video's of my 4 year old niece learning how to snowboard. I've never snowboarded, but she looks like she is doing great for her first time ever.

YAY!













Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cool Music Video

This is a great video. Pretty cute and original:


Bubblicious from Rex The Dog on Vimeo.

Thanks to armyofmeat for sharing: http://twitter.com/ArmyOfMeat

Monday, January 26, 2009

Don't fear the digital revolution!

If you rely on over the air broadcasts and are not wanting to fork out the money for a better antenna then you may be interested in making one for yourself. Pretty easy all in all.


Maker Workshop - DTV Antenna & Steadicam on MAKE: television from make magazine on Vimeo.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Inauguration 2009

It was SO cool. It was a whirlwind trip, but totally worth it. We left Seattle around 12:30 am on Monday. Layover In MN then on to Philly. In Philly we jumped on a regional transit train and went to the Amtrak station. We met up with my co-workers sister and we took the train from Philly to Washington DC Arriving around 3:30PM EST. There were protesters in Union station protesting for Bush to be tried for war crimes. About 15 people, one dressed as bush, the others lying dead blocking the thousands trying to leave the station. It was pretty cool to see, even if it did delay us a bit.

We stayed with a friend of my co-workers who lives just like 10 blocks from the capitol. They were amazing, he and his roommate opened their home to 5 people who were mostly strangers. Our trip definitely would not have been possible if not for our host Cliff and Amy. Monday night we took a mini tour of the mall around the capitol and part of the way down the mall to the MSNBC broadcast tent.

Tuesday was amazing. We left our hosts place at 8AM and it took us 2.5 hours to walk and find a spot on the mall to watch the event. We went along the north end of the mall, which is where the parade route was so we had to walk all the way around the White House (the streets were PACKED with people.) We finally got onto the mall and settled on a spot in the shadow of the Washington Monument. We were between the Washington Monument and the White House. The mall was mostly full in front of us and as the time passed before the events started the mall behind us filled in too.

It was electrifying to be present and bear witness with my fellow Americans to such a historic event. The excitement was palpable as Obama took his oath and became our president. The crowd was ecstatic.

After the swearing in and Obamas speech we milled around the Washington monument a while to let the crowds clear a bit. We watched from the base of the monument as the helicopter carrying George Bush took off and circled the National Mall. We made jokes that the pilot was rubbing it in his face "look at these 2 million people who are so happy to see you go George". The crowd sang him out of town to Steams hit single Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Them Goodbye (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwnqqj5Q1BU) .

After that we took a tour of the monuments. WWII, Jefferson, FDR, Lincoln, Vietnam. It was humbling to stand on the Lincoln memorial at the spot where MLK gave the famous I have a dream speech and think what had happened a few hours earlier on the other end of the mall. The Symbolism was fantastic.

Then we walked down the mall watching the Jumbotrons broadcast the parade. We stopped briefly by the MSNBC Broadcast complex and snapped a few photos of our favorite anchors (Rachel we love you :) LOL). All told it was an exciting day, but long and cold. We figured we walked close to 10 miles and were on our feet for 10 hours with only 5 minutes combined time sitting and resting. It was exhausting, but SO worth it.

Wednesday was reverse travel. up at 5:30am EST and walked to a packed Union station. Off to Philly, where we had a 5 hour layover. We were not sure how long getting out of DC would take so we built in extra time in Philly. We jumped on the light rail from the Amtrak station to the airport. We had a layover in MN and were home in Seattle around 7:30PM PST.

It was an exhausting trip... but I wouldn't missed it. I have never seen so many people in one place before, and it was great to see so many people with such an enormous amount of hope for the future of our country. It feels like a weight has been lifted from my (our countries?) shoulders as we forge through the first few days of the Obama administration. We can put the last 8 years, and in some ways more then 8 years, behind us and work on healing this country, and our relationships with the world.

Here are some photos of our trip... so awesome: http://flickr.com/photos/plecebo/sets/72157612855357073/

Inauguration 2009 Photos

Here are photos from a trip me and several friends took to Washington D.C. around Jan 20, 2009 for the Inauguration of president Obama.



Friday, January 16, 2009

Faraday cage or no... I'll pass on this one.

Like this gentlemen, one of my all time fears has been electricity. Bad experiences as a child... awe and respect, not sure what it is.

UNLIKE this guy, I don't deal with it by hopping on a high voltage wire while they are turned on.

This is insane IMHO.



Star Wars from bits and pieces

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.


Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snoqualmie Falls at full tilt

In early January of 2009 we had some pretty substantial flooding in this area, no surprise that people got some video of Snoqualmie falls (the most famous of waterfalls in this area) at its full flood stage. Very powerful footage.



14 Gigapixel images of works of art

This is a really cool video on how a 14Gigapixel image was created of several works of art. You can use Google Earth to zoom in on the images and zoom in super close on the art. Very neat!


Tunnels are cool, but are they for us?

Here is a 3d rendering of what a tunnel to replace the Alaska Way Viaduct would look like:



I don't use the viaduct very often, but I know people who do... I'm not sure this is the best option, but it certainly would be cool to see.

Sashimi Tabernacle Choir

Not doubt this guy is from Texas.

What is it about our (Americans) drive to put things on our cars? If there is something outrageous/mildly annoying and we plaster it all over a car the annoyance increases 10 fold.

When I was in college there was a Chemistry professor that used to say about chemical reactions in his classroom: "If a little does a little, a lot does a lot more."
That is certainly the case with Larry the lobster.



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kelly Dobson and robots

This is a great video showing some of the robots that Kelly Dobson is working on at MIT. Sympathetic/companion type robots that have unique ways of interacting with people. I especially like Omo, a device that when you hold it "breathes" in time with you, and will adjust its "breating" to try and effect change in your breathing.

Super cool!