December 2007


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Archive for December, 2007

Man, I suck.

Posted in Life on December 28th, 2007

I suppose if even Da Roomie has updated, maybe I should too (snerk).

So anywho, I am posting this from Tolerant’s new computer that I gave her for X-mas. (Part of the deal was if she got DSL, I would build her a computer that could actually use it.) And wouldn’t you know it, the silly thing seriously crashed Firefox on me about 15 times in a row – now I’m going to have to throw some diagnostics at it.

Mom was rather pleased with the basket that I made her – once she got up the nerve to ask me what it is :) She was apparently confused because her cat… (Monkeyface. She named her, not me. Funny though, because Trouble Underfoot’s brother is called Minky, which is Illyana-shorthand for Monkey.) …almost claimed it for herself. As soon as Mom unwrapped it and set it on the table, MF almost curled up in it. Mom thought it might be a kitty bed.

Pookie got buried in loot again this year, even with the restrictions the EMC put upon the relatives. She’s a good girl though, and made sure to play with the stuff that we got her first ;) Ratty has been out of work for a few weeks, so all he wanted was cash. The gift that always fits! I’ll be using what I was going to give him to help him get his license sorted out. Tolerant figured if he is going to be driving, then he should have a highway safety kit. So now he has jumper cables and a med-kit.

On Christmas Eve, we went over to Tolerant’s sister’s house for a little family party, and I realized her nephew AJ is one of my mortal enemies: he is very firmly ‘ninja’ to my pirate. I think I know what he’s getting next year. (Heh heh heh.) Yarr.

Okay, I be punchy now. Time to quit the typy-typy.

A storage robot?

Posted in Geekery on December 13th, 2007

One of the benefits of working for my Boss is the fact that he’s a bloody magpie when it comes to technology. If it is new and shiny, and even remotely usable by us or our clients, sure as shit he will buy one. even better, he is often too busy to play with the new toys, so he will hand them out to us to play with first :)

This week, he ran across an ad for Drobo, the “Storage Robot”. Yeah, it’s a silly name, but it got his attention. The marketing hype says “…we’ve created Drobo, the first fully-automated storage robot to take the pain out of keeping your important digital content safe.” They even have a video of the thing in action.

What it is, is an external storage device that uses a USB interface. Unlike all of the other USB drives out there, though, Drobo is a user-configurable multi-disk configuration that uses a proprietary control interface similar to a RAID array. You buy the box, then you go buy SATA drives to fill it with, stuff ’em in the drive bays (no trays), and then fill it with files. The cool part is that you can swap out disks whenever you like – WITHOUT having to back everything up somewhere else while you rebuild your RAID array.

“Too good to be true!” I thought – then I got it on my desk.

I’ll be darned – it works exactly as advertised.

Short story:
It uses a proprietary modified RAID, completely controlled by the unit (there is no need to install software on your computer, the initial activation can be done through disk management tools.) If you format the disks to FAT32, the unit can then be used on any operating system that recognizes USB storage. If you live in a simpler network, it can be formatted for Windoze or MacOS too.

Long story:
You will lose the largest capacity drive to data protection / overhead. I started with an 80GB and a 250GB disk, and was given +/-70GB of storage. I copied 6GB of data to the device, then popped out the 80GB disk. Lights went to warning, then I loaded a second 250GB. The dashboard software then told me not to do anything drastic while it went into “Data protection mode” I.E., it mirrored everything to the second disk. Once that was done all lights went green, and I had 250GB of storage available.

Then I stuck the 80GB disk back in, and in 15 seconds I had 297GB of space available. Popping one of the 250’s puts it back into data protection mode, and popping that one disk back in did not cancel this – I think it assumes that any disk inserted is a new disk.

The cool part, however, was just like in the demo video – I had access to all the data during the whole process of adding / removing disks. As long as you don’t mess with it while the lights are flashing different colors, you should be fine.

Now you might think it’s a bummer to lose your largest disk, but the way it works (as best as I can tell) is that it will store your data in the smallest disk first, then mirror it to the next largest drive, and use any remaining capacity for parity and future expansion. In the end, you get all the benefits of RAID, with the ease-of-use of a USB device that you can upgrade whenever.

I want one!