Archive for November, 2008

Macy’s Parade Gets Rick-Rolled

November 27th, 2008 No comments
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Coldplay’s Prospekt’s March EP is $0.99 at MP3 Store

November 25th, 2008 No comments

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TheAppleBlog Art

November 24th, 2008 No comments
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So True

November 21st, 2008 No comments

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LIFE Photo Archive on Google Image Search

November 20th, 2008 No comments

Google seems to be backing down from their previous “index everything” stance taken with their book project and is spending more time partnering with copyright holders with sponsored channels on YouTube and now a joint-effort with LIFE to catalog all their images. They have about 20% of the collection scanned and should finish the rest over the next year.

Frankly, having access to this amazing collection of images is a perfect example of why I still like the Internet.

You can read the Google Blog post that explains the details here…

LIFE Photo Archive Available on Google Image Search

Categories: Technology Tags: , ,

Long list of stuff that you might like for the iPhone

November 20th, 2008 No comments

Pretty good list that someone pointed me to today.

46 Tips for the Business iPhone User

Categories: Apple, Technology Tags: ,

SATA Cards for Solaris 10

November 13th, 2008 No comments

My 1.25TB Solaris “experiment” is becoming more and more important as I archive my digital life and move more of my media to the AppleTV. Digital video, unsurprisingly, happens to need a lot of storage. I’ve just about got it filled up and I think I’m ready for more free space. I’ve considered alternatives like Drobo, etc. but I just don’t have a solid desktop machine to host the files besides my Solaris server. Dedicated NAS devices are still relatively expensive (consider Drobo+DroboShare, TerraStation, ReadyNas, etc. – starting around $700 for an empty chassis). It’s a lot more economical to just add more storage to my existing Solaris server. Plus, the wireless connection from my MacBook to the Solaris box has been rock solid since the last Airport update from Apple.

There are a couple ways to do this, of course. I can create a new raidz set of 3-4 drives and then expand the zpool to include this new space. I still maintain data integrity because every drive in the zpool is part of a raidz set. My other choice is to create a new raidz set of 2-4TB and then move the data from the old zpool into a new zpool. After that’s done, I would destroy the old zpool and repurpose or sell the 250GB drives. What I don’t want to do is add single drives to the zpool because then I lose data integrity if that drive fails, since it’s not part of a raidz set.

Right now, I have five 250GB drives in the existing raidz set. 4 are SATA and 1 is ATA. For my situation, I’m interested in reducing the total number of drives (to reduce both power and heat) by taking advantage of the pricing on higher density drives. At presstime, 500GB drives are around $70 ($0.14/GB), 1TB drives are $120 ($0.12/GB) and 1.5TB drives are $150 ($0.10/GB). I can do 4x 1TB drives for $480 or 3x 1.5TB drives for $450 and end up with the same usable storage (3TB).

If I wanted to save a little money, I could get 4x 750GB drives for $360 (2.25TB usable). The other drive sizes don’t make sense for trying to replace an existing 1TB array. If you had room for 4 more drives in your box, then I would consider adding a 4x 500GB or 4x 640GB set because the cost per GB is pretty close.

Of course, I’m out of SATA ports on my motherboard and almost out of drive bays in the case. If I create a new zpool and move all my data, I’ll need to have both drive sets online at least for a day while I copy 1TB of data. My plan is to get a 4x SATA II PCI card and attach the new drives there. Then I can move the zpool from the old set to the new set. Once that’s done, I’ll probably move the drives to the motherboard SATA connectors and leave the PCI card idle until I need to do something like this again.

Cheap SATA cards are plentiful, but hardware compatability with Solaris 10 is always a crapshoot. I’ve heard enough anecdotal evidence that I’m convinced I can use a card based on the Silicon Image SIL3124 chipset. In fact, the card I have in mind is this specific model. This is one of those areas that is make or break for home-brew Solaris servers. Cheap SATA drives are the whole reason for wanting to build a box like this, but sometimes finding cards with drivers that work can be a showstopper.

If anyone has other recomendations for SATA cards, I’d love to hear about them.

$100 Off Blu-ray Players at

November 8th, 2008 No comments

You can use the following link to save $100 on a Blu-ray player at The promo requires that you buy 4 Blu-ray titles from Warner at the same time. There are some decent movies available like Batman Begins, Superman Returns, Corpse Bride, Speed Racer (incredible visuals in HD), and I am Legend. Jump on it, because the deal is scheduled to end Monday, 11/10.

$100 off when you buy a Blu-ray player and 4 Warner Blu-ray discs together

The choice of players is decent too. You can choose from Sylvania’s entry-level player (which gets you into Blu-ray for under $200 – including 4 movies), Samsung’s and LG’s Netflix-enabled players, and Panasonic’s amazing DMP-BD55K. Several of these players are Profile 2.0 so you can take advantage of all the capabilities of BD-Live content, even if the reality isn’t quite as good as the promise in today’s titles.

I’ve been waiting on the sidelines to see how all this HD media stuff would work out, but I’m ready to jump on the Panasonic BD55K. This player decodes all the HD Audio formats and has 7.1 analog outs. My receiver doesn’t do HDMI audio, so I would need the analog outs from the player to take advantage of the new high-def audio formats like Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTSTM-HD Master Audio Essential. The Panasonic has great upscaling for SD-DVDs as well. The upscaling is said to rival the current king, the Toshiba HD-XA2 with the well-regarded Reon chipset. Since I have the Toshiba in my system now, I’ve been waiting for something like this to replace my player.

Just remember that for Profile 2.0 players you will probably need to add a SD memory card (at least 1GB) for all the features to work.

Categories: HomeTheater Tags: , , , , , ,

Airport Update Fixes SMB Volume Drops

November 8th, 2008 No comments

I’ve been having intermittent issues with my MacBook dropping the connection to the SMB share on my Solaris server. It wasn’t bad enough for me to spend any time trying to troubleshoot it because a quick stop and start on the airport would usually allow me to mount the network volume again. The problem usually showed up a few times a week and never lasted more than a minute or two. My Windows PC, which is wired to the ethernet network, never had any issues with dropping this connection to the same SMB share.

After the AirPort Extreme Update 2008-004 that came out just a couple weeks ago, I haven’t had any problems at all. My connection to the share on the Solaris server has been rock solid. It’s one of those things that took me a while to notice, but after a week went by getting the disconnect message from the Finder I realized how nice it was to just have the connection work.

If you’re wondering why I care, it’s because I manage my iTunes library from my laptop, but have my iTunes music folder on the network share. All the content is stored there, but the library file (like an index of iTunes content) is on my MacBook. When iTunes can’t find the network volume, it saves any downloads (usually podcasts that download automatically) to the local volume on the MacBook. It’s simple to copy the content back into the assigned iTunes Music folder when it’s available, but running “Consolidate Content” takes a while and locks up iTunes while it runs.

I’m also extremely grateful for how the Finder was rewritten in Leopard to allow multi-threading for network shares. Anyone who’s had a Mac for more than a couple years will remember the pain of watching the beachball in the Finder when a network volume disappeared, or you put a notebook to sleep with a share mounted and then woke it up on another network and it spent eternity trying to figure out why this new network didn’t have the old network share available. I still occassionaly forget to put away my home network share when I leave, but now the Finder lets me know much more gracefully without any lockup of the computer while it figures out what I’ve done.

Anyways, thank you Apple for fixing this bug that looks like it was caused by the Airport driver.

Categories: Apple, Technology Tags: , , ,