Archive

Archive for April, 2007

Attack of the Data Storage Robots

April 8th, 2007 3 comments

droboI was pretty intrigued by the short bit Scoble wrote about Drobo today after Gizmodo posted their story. Data Robotics has come up with an almost idiot-proof external storage array. To hit the highlights, it connects to a Mac or PC with USB 2.0 (480 Mbps theoretical maximum) and requires no special software – Drobo manages the storage all by itself – so it just looks like a big USB drive to your computer.

There are a few features that I really appreciate about their solution…

  • There are simple LED indicator lights that tell you if the drives are healthy and if the array is getting full.
  • SATA drives are added through the front of a very slick tool-less chassis. The drive chassis may be the coolest feature I’ve seen – I’d like to have that setup in my server case.
  • Drobo makes sure that your data is protected.
  • You can expand the size of the array at any time by adding additional drives (there are four slots) or swapping out smaller drivers for larger drives.
  • It supports both Mac and PC hosts
  • The external case has a cool design that I wouldn’t mind seeing on my desk.

It might not be ideal for everyone. It’s still an external drive enclosure so it requires a host computer and cannot be connected to ethernet directly as Network Attached Storage (NAS). I’m not sure how quiet it is either, which would be important for a HTPC media storage application. That said, it could be a great solution for the photographer or graphic artist that needs a large storage solution that can protect her data and still grow over time.

If you want to see what I’m talking about, I highly recommend the demonstration video on the Drobo site.

About the only thing that I don’t like about Drobo is the grammatical error in their tagline, “Drobo – whose minding the storage.”

For those looking for a NAS, this newish solution from Promise looks interesting. Of course, I like my personal budget server (based on Solaris), but it doesn’t have the convenience of these stand-alone solutions, even if it does cost a lot less and have more flexibility and capabilities.

Initial Solaris Transfer Speeds

April 7th, 2007 No comments

Using my Gigabit switch, I was able to transfer 1.25GB in 51 seconds by copying a file from my MacBook to my Solaris box. That’s 200Mbps if I convert the terms. I’ve heard of people getting close to 400Mbps on Gigabit networks, so I’m going to try and see what I can do to speed this up. In particular, I need to look into jumbo frames on both the MacBook and the Solaris box to see if there’s anything I can do to push up the speed.

I’m going to try and finish the install writeup this week. I took a lot of pix of the screen during install, but a lot of the images came out blurry (handheld P&S camera against LCD screen) I’ll try to clean up what’s usable and finish writing up the process I used.

Joost Beta

April 6th, 2007 No comments

Joost released beta invites to another wave of people yesterday and I finally got mine. I haven’t had a chance to look at it thoroughly, but my first impressions are pretty positive. Joost is an interesting combination of streaming servers and P2P filesharing to help speed up downloads. They also have made deals with Viacom to showcase a number of their properties including MTV and Comedy Channel programs.

What's Joost promotion video

The only real downside is that Joost still looks like internet video. In full-screen mode, the resolution isn’t quite high enough for my 1680 x 1050 display. It looks a little sharper in windowed mode where (I believe) it’s scaled to 1:1 resolution.

That said, my son and I watched the soccer channel for 15-20 minutes to watch a highlight reel of exciting goals from European matches (can Zidane strike the ball, or what?!). It was great to browse programs in Joost and pick programs similar to what you might see in an onscreen guide with your cable or satellite box. The playback bar lets you grab the pointer and move back and forth in the program quickly.

One thing I haven’t played with much yet are the Joost widgets that let you chat with other people watching the same program, rate the program, set favorites, share videos with friends, and so on. Apparently Joost is going to open this up to outside developers so that people can create their own widgets and share them with the world.

All in all, I’m cautiously optimistic about the future for Joost and internet TV in general. I think that the on demand, a la carte programming that a service like Joost makes possible is going to create a bunch of opportunities for consumers to get exactly what they want, when they want.

New Features – Tags and Shared Items

April 4th, 2007 No comments

You may have noticed a couple new tabs across the top of the site. I’ve added a couple new features that I thought I would point out to my readers. I’ve been reluctant to do some of this stuff, but I figure I just need to embrace the whole “living online” thing and share a little more with the world. I’ve done two things – more prominent use of tags and more shared items from outside of the blog.

First up, Tags. You may have noticed the tags listed at the end of articles, but now I’ve added a small tag cloud to the right-hand sidebar. I’ve also added a dedicated tag page, which is available from the tabs across the top of the page. Currently the tag page shows both the full tag cloud (sorted alphabetically) and a “long tail” bar chart (sorted by frequency of use).

I’ve also done more to share items with readers and visitors. I’ve added the most recent articles from my “shared items” RSS feed to the left sidebar. This is done with Google Reader and a widget that Google provided. But really, I’ve focused on creating a new “shared” tab that highlights a number of aspects of my online life. There are a couple main features. I’ve tried to sort the page by putting the most transient information at the top and the longest lasting stuff at the bottom. So at the top, you’ll find what I’m currently reading from various RSS feeds that day. Below that is a summary of recent bookmarks I’ve posted to my del.icio.us account. Then we get to my personal library of books, and finally music, movies, and TV shows. The Listal portfolios don’t seem to work perfectly (they aren’t complete) but they still look cool so I’ve decided to leave the flash widgets in place rather than going with the (boring) text rolls.

I hope that you’ll find the more prominent use of tags useful and the shared items interesting. If you have other suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Exclusive Scoop on Google Vinyl

April 1st, 2007 1 comment

After my groundbreaking investigative reporting on the upcoming 2.0 release of Delicious Library, I’ve been inundated by more rumors than a ValleyWag tip line. I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter about a secret project at Google codenamed “Google LP” that frankly didn’t make sense until just this morning.Gmail Paper
Most of you are likely familiar by now with Gmail Paper, an amazing new offering from the wizards of Mountain View. You can get hardcopies of all your email sent to you at no charge, albeit with large red ads on the back of each page. All visual attachments are also sent to you, whether those be documents or image files (no word on whether or not the glossy photo paper also has red ads on the back or not). In the notes, you’ll see that the only attachments that are not supported are audio files like MP3 and WAV files. Here’s where the secret project comes in.

Apparently, while investigating alternative methods of high-density data storage and reliable backup medium, Google has patented a new process for permanently recording audio information onto a new type of disc made from a copolymerized version of vinyl chloride and vinyl acetate with small amounts of carbon black added. These improvements apparently build on the legendary work (patent # 4472295) of Fox and DiMarco, now rumored to be Google Fellows. These discs are somewhat resistant to dust (they can be wiped clean with distilled water when combined with other surfactants as additives to act as grease solvents, particularly for fingerprints) and can therefore be reliably used as removable media with a special “player” that can read the information imprinted on the surface of the vinyl disc.

This system is platform agnostic and will apparently work independently of any operating system on your computer. There is absolutely no need to be concerned about compatibility with your digital media player device. In fact, the audio output is said to be compatible with any equipment that has stereo phono input jacks.

This is where it gets exciting! Even though this project wasn’t ready for simultaneous release with Gmail Paper, this new system will allow Google to inscribe your MP3, AAC, WAV, etc. audio file attachments to these new PVC discs which Google will then mail to you for playback on the required player device. The player devices are available from a variety of manufacturers although they will be hard to find in most mainstream electronics stores for some time, although there are reports of the players being seen in high-end audio shops and, surprisingly enough, in pawn shops and thrift stores.

Here’s the final evidence. You’ll notice that in the images announcing Gmail Paper that the woman in the first picture (You click) is listening to audio content on her computer. She obviously wants to archive this material to physical media as well. BUT PICTURE #2 (We stack) WAS SUBSTITUTED AT THE LAST MINUTE when it was clear that the secret audio project wasn’t ready. Here is the original image that will go out again when the audio file support is ready.

Google Vinyl is coming, and it’s going to rock your world!

BREAKING UPDATE! – I’m trying to confirm if targeted audio ads are going to be placed on the disc between tracks or if red text ads are going to be printed on the surface of the disc. The latest rumors point to the possibility of both methods being used. There are also unsubstantiated rumors about less expensive ad placement for advertisers that don’t mind having their content show up when the discs are played backwards. The craziest rumors are that the highest priced placement will be audio ads *embedded* in your audio files at levels that are imperceptible to the conscious mind and therefore don’t affect the audio quality of your files. These are called subvinyl or perhaps sublaminate ads. Something like that – the audio was a little scratchy on the message I received.