na na na nas

May 31, 2006 under Computers, Hardware, NAS, Networking

Dena and I gearing up to buy a house at some point. Throwing money away on rent has become unbearable. As such, I’ve been visualizing a place to call home. I prefer to be clutter-free. I looked at the ugly rack of CDs and DVDs that we have, that occupy way more space than they should. I’m seeing NAS and media centre computers in our future. We have plenty of digital music in the form of MP3s and a whole lot of CDs taking up space. Also, managing a digital libary is insanely easier and more convenient than dealing with a physical one. Why not rip all of our CDs and add that to our existing digital library? Well, that would require a lot of disk space. Lots ‘n’ lots. Sure, hard drives are cheap, but they fail often because of said cheapness; I’d like a solid disaster recovery plan. Traditional backup media (CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, tape drives, external hard drives, remote storage, etc) are fine for backing up your documents and files, but not more something like a music library. RAID is better suited for a task like this. Here’s where a NAS device would come in handy.

Buffalo has a pricey NAS line for the home market called TeraStation Home Server. However, Infrant‘s ReadyNAS X6 really impresses me. Its proprietary X-RAID technology allows you to hotswap disks, even adding larger disks, to resize the array on-the-fly. So if 300GB disks are starting to fill up and 2TB disks become the norm…swap-y swap-y 😉

These RAID-ready NAS devices aimed at consumers are still a tad pricey for my tastes. You’re looking at over $600 just to get started, which is why I’d also consider something like FreeNAS. The OS is free and the hardware required wouldn’t be that expensive if I build it myself: a Celeron/Sempron CPU, a modest amount of RAM, RAID card and that’s pretty much it (minus the drives themselves, of course). Although, I’d preferably want a tiny case from Shuttle or whoever, and solid noise reduction/heat dispertion. Here’s where the consumer NAS devices shine, it would appear.

Either way, add media centre computers (Shuttle PCs or Mac Minis) in the rooms that count, and Bob’s your uncle.

Once that’s taken care of and the opportunity presents itself, I’ll surely look towards X10 and/or INSTEON gear. Writing code using the X10/INSTEON APIs to program an entire house would be wicked. If I walked in the door at the end of the day, the house would turn on the lights in the kitchen and play the most recent Radio 3 or TWiT podcast (stored on the NAS, of course) for me while I got supper started. On the other hand, if Dena were the first in the door, the house would do the same as it did for me, but play the latest Pearl Jam album (also on the NAS) or maybe turn on the TV and automatically flip to that CTV affiliate channel from Calgary so she can watch the day’s Dr. Phil episode that she missed while at work. Programming an entire house would be fun and keep me busy…and Dena thoroughly annoyed 😉

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round 1 of 2006

May 27, 2006 under Golf, Life, Sports

This morning, Dena and I played our first round of golf this year at Beaverdale at 7AM. Due to some confusion between the proshop and schedulers, we were only able to play 9 holes since a tournament was also scheduled. The first round of the year is always tough. I didn’t do all that bad, manging to shoot a 43 and parring the par-5 sixth hole. Dena hit some good shots but didn’t keep her score on a few holes. We were both owned by ravenous mosquitos that dominated most of the course. We concluded our round with a visit to a Booster Juice near our place. Thus begins another season of golf 😉

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we're number 5, not 1 not 2 not 3 not 4

May 21, 2006 under Kitchener, Life

According to this Money Sense study, Kitchener is the fifth best city in the country to live in from an economic standpoint. I’m not totally shocked by this, since the area has a good balance of lifestyle, culture, and business (thanks to all of the technology and manufacturing companies here). Here’s the list of the top 108 cities.

I was a bit suprised to see that my hometown of Timmins made the list, appearing in the 63rd spot. The current elevated price of gold must have something to do with it, because I wouldn’t think that Timmins had a chance of making the list a few years ago.

Here in Kitchener on the May Two-Four Long Weekend, it doesn’t look like the fifth best city in Canada right now – it’s fairly deserted. The only people remaining in the city are those of us who are not on a 3-day bender at cottages 😉

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reach out and touch someone

May 16, 2006 under Computers, Internet, Skype, VoIP

Last night I read on Digg that Skype is allowing SkypeOut calls to/from Canada and the US for free…at least until December 31, 2006 for now. Read more about it here:

http://share.skype.com/sites/en/2006/05/free_calls_to_all_landlines_an.html

Apparently there’s a problem in that if your IP address is within the range of 70.x.x.x to 79.x.x.x, this might not work. I’m in that range at the moment 😐 I’ll test it out tonight and hopefully discover that I’m not affected. If it works, I’ll pat myself on the back for not signing up for a long distance plan when I switched my landline service from Bell to Rogers earlier this year. If it doesn’t work, I’ll continuously renew my IP in the hopes that I’ll end up in a different pool 😉

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on a brighter note

May 12, 2006 under Computers, Hardware

In my last post, people commented that I should write about whatever I want. I’ve posted many despairing things in the past little bit – deservidely so given the situation – but I think I’ll try to get back to what I usually do…writing about whatever the hell strikes my fancy at any given moment. I may write more about my mom; stay tuned. For now, though, I’ll mention something dorky. If it ain’t dorky, then it ain’t me 😉

Backup tip: tape sucks, optical is kludgy and RAID5 (or better) isn’t practicle for everyday computing budgets. Thanks to Red Flag Deals, I nabbed a 160GB WD Caviar drive for $90. I then popped down to a local computer store in downtown Waterloo and found a Vantec USB/Firewire 3.5″ drive enclosure for $35. After throwing the drive into the enclosure, I had myself a nice ‘n’ fast backup drive. Oh sure, I could’ve bought one of those fancy pre-built “external hardrives” from a store, but those end up being $100+ than it would cost to just simply buy a drive and enclosure and put it together myself. I’ve been recommending this to people for a couple years, but I finally actually did this for myself recently. Do as I say, yada yada… 😉

Also, again thanks to Red Flag Deals, I found a Dell Inspiron 6400. I configured it to have a dual core CPU, 1GB of RAM, DVD burner, ATI Radeon x1300 graphics and 3-year warranty for ~$1350. Dena and I totally needed a second computer and this one works like a champ. I’m a dual-core CPU believer because of this notebook. I can have iTunes (yes, I’ve dumped Winamp for iTunes…I’ll explain later), Firefox and Visual Studio running while I have Windows Server 2003 coupled with IIS and SQL Server kickin’ inside of a VMware virtual machine. No hiccups or sluggishness at all. None. Yes, it’s still smooth with Ubuntu (LAMP-style) in a VMware virtual machine too. ZSNES runs like the wind, if you were wondering 😉

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where to, now?

May 4, 2006 under Life

It’s been a week since my mom pased away and I have no idea what to write about now. I leave it up to you. Should I write about life without my mom? Should I rant about the Flames pitiful playoff performance this year? Would posting some techie-geeky thing be apropot? Music? Let’s hear your suggestions.

This could be akin to a Choose Your Own Adventure book. What awaits you around the corner; gold or the Minotaur? I guess that scenario is more like Greek mythology or even King’s Quest 6, than Choose Your Own Adventure. You get the gist, though, right?

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