Arrival: New Drobo

New Drobo

A few weeks ago, I noticed that my trusty, long in the tooth Drobo external direct attached storage device was getting flakey. Long time to spin up, unreliable connection, and using the FW800 (IEEE1394b) to Thunderbolt interface was iffy at best.

system failureAdd to that the fact that it was definitely slowing down, its transfer speed not even able to keep up with streaming a standard definition rip of a classic cartoon (The Jetsons for those who are interested), it had been relegated to “near line” storage. But even that had become worryingly unreliable. Not “lost data” unreliable, but “when I plug it in, it doesn’t mount” unreliable. It did work as expected when plugged into a USB port, but it is a pre-USB3.0 device, so that is painfully slow.

Apparently, the upgrade to OS-X 10.13, or “High Sierra” put a higher bar on attached devices, and the thunderbolt to FW interface was squiffy at best, and very unpredictable.

Having bought this in the last decade, and using it for both near line storage and system backups, it has served me well, but it was time to retire it.

Yesterday, hot off the press from Amazon, arrived the replacement Drobo 5Dt, which has significant upgrades from the ancient Drobo Gen2 unit that I have. First is support for much larger drives. When I bought the unit, 1TB drives were common, and 1.5 or 2 TB drives were coming onto the market. Right now it has three 2TB drives, and one 1TB drive, for a total of 7TB, or 4.66TB usable space (for the parity and recovery capability.) The new Drobo has 5 bays, and supports much larger drives, which I will systematically replace the lower capacity drives to improve the performance. Lastly, it has an mSATA port to add a small-ish SSD to act as a cache, and boost for the data transfer. Populated with a 128GB SSD by default, it certainly helps the responsiveness of the unit.

Upgrading is dead simple. There is a quick guide to follow, but it is simple. Upgrade the firmware in the old Drobo. Plug in the new Drobo without any drives, and update the firmware. Power both off, and move the drives to the new Drobo, and power on. It will “Rebuild” the disk pack, but is perfectly usable while this is happening. In fact, to test this, I fired up VLC and pointed it at my Jetson’s directory and started watching episodes. Perfect. (The original unit, with firewire-t-thunderbolt adaptor couldn’t serve data fast enough to have smooth video playback.)

I will admit that I was tempted to just create a new blank disk pack, and move files over, but the thought of 3TB of data being moved by the glacial USB 2.0 interface was a non-starter.

I have added one new 4TB drive (a WD NASware Red drive), and will replace two more drives with them after the rebuilding is complete, that will bump the total usable space to about 8TB, a comfortable cushion.

It does take (an estimated) 7 hours to rebuild the pack (on the move, and the replacement of a drive), but that is not a huge deal. So it takes a week or so to get to normal, replacing 2 of the original drives. I can deal with that.

So far, great experience.

Bicycle Dreams

Lately, I have been back in the saddle again. Riding, at least on weekends, it gets my heart rate up, and I enjoy putting the miles on. But, I begin to get ideas. Could I ride to work? What would make that more pleasant? This bike is old, I need something new.

Yeah, that is pretty much the discussion I have with myself. My roadbike, reviewed here (my most read blog post by far) is getting old. A 2002 vintage Lemond Buenos Aires, a reynolds steel frame, Shimano Ultegra equipped, road bike. Minor upgrades, the standard bottom bracket failed early (it was a cheap downmarket unit), and replacing the standard Bontrager wheels with much better Fulcrum Racing units. Continue reading →

Photography Workflow Musings

I never heard or really used the term “workflow” until I worked at Open Text, but subconsciously, I always had some sort of workflow, regardless of how skimpy it was. Unlike some of my more serious photography friends, who have a ton of discipline, and rigid practices, I remain somewhat chaotic.

Part of that is legacy. Starting with iPhoto as a photo management system, I just imported, and organized into albums or collections that were related. Trips, family and friends, work, dogs, and critters were easy categories to setup, and to use. That worked until two things happened.

First, buying a DSLR, and starting to shoot in RAW format quickly swamped iPhotos. Second, Apple iOS-izing iPhoto and Aperture, finally replacing it with the homeless abortion that is Photos. Continue reading →

Souring on the Apple Ecosystem

Along the recent grumbling and the pending cancellation of my Apple Music subscription, a wider topic is how the Apple Ecosystem has become less an asset and more of a liability in the world of Apple. At one time, the bundling of great applications, like Garage Band, iPhoto, iTunes, and iMovie was a huge benefit for those who bought Mac computers. These applications just worked, were plenty useful, and very usable for even tyro computer users. Just compare early versions of iTunes, and the homeless-abortion that is the “Windows Media Player” and you got a pretty clear picture.

Throughout the ’aughts, this was true, especially iPhoto, where when you got your first (or second, or third…) digital camera, you just plugged it in and like magic the iPhotos application would load, import your images, and give you ample opportunties to do minor tweaks, and management of your library. Continue reading →

Music Streaming changes

In the wayback, about 2015, I did a pretty thorough personal review of the music streaming services. Apple had just launched their “Music” offering, I spent time with the then-new Google Play subscription service, and Amazon’s subscription service, as well as Spotify.

The result was that Apple’s Music had better curated playlists, and their “Radio” function was head and shoulders above. I ended up canceling my Spotify and Google Play all-access account before the trial was up.

Later, I discovered that Amazon’s subscription service was quite good, and added that to my listening options (paying for both Apple Music and Amazon.) I find myself listening more and more to Amazon, over the Apple service, mainly because, there are native apps for windows that ahem doesn’t suck. Continue reading →

Photo Management – 2017

As a quasi-serious photographer, I have at multiple times posted about the trials and tribulations of photo management, here, here, and here as I struggled with the zigging and zagging that Apple has done on native photo management on OSX. The net result was me going all in on Adobe Lightroom that I got as part of my Photographers Bundle from Adobe. It is an amazingly powerful package with many built in capabilities that are immensely useful, and it got me completely out of the iPhotos/Aperture/Photos morass.

I also did a little diversion into the Google world with the now defunct Picasa, shudder no, Google photos is not a product that I am willing to use. They already can mine too much of my data, no need to add a couple hundred gigabytes of personal information, thankyouverymuch.

Continue reading →

Dying Drobo

My old Drobo, a second generation, 4 drive unit that I bought new in 2008 has been a faithful servant. It spent a lot of its time as the time machine backup and deep storage for music, photos, and videos. A couple of failed drives (easily replaced) and not a single byte of lost data in the 9 years that I have had this tethered to my Mac(s), it is hard for me to point out a fault. Continue reading →

New music – The Source

I was listening to music last week, the “For You” selections on Apple Music. After clicking through to a couple of albums that I was grooving to, there was this title “Aryeon” and the album name “The Source“. What the heck, I clicked on it.

Before I go further, I must confess that I am a fan of “Project” albums. Like the rock operas of old (think Tommy, or Quadraphenia from The Who, or “Operation: Mindcrime” from Queensryche), and this was an epic in that mold. The brainchild of Arjen Lucassen, Aryeon is one of his projects, and spans more than 20 years and now 13 albums, each having its own character.

Listening to this, I knew that a) I wanted to support this effort more than the mice-nuts that streaming pays, and b) I needed to own this. It had some kick ass guitar riffs, always something I am grooving to, and in general, the album just “hangs” together. It tells a story, very dynamic, and just lovely music. Continue reading →

Netflix Original – The Killing

I have often bashed the Netflix Originals, as they in general don’t appeal to me. Either I am not the right demographic, or I am picky, or as some readers say, I have no taste. No arguments there.

But I recently found a show that is pretty solid. The Killing turned up in a search for shows similar to my last binge watching, “Broadchurch”.

If you want to avoid spoilers, you should probably stop reading now. Continue reading →

The Lawn

For the first time in my life, I have a house with a yard that I take care of, or, more importantly that I care about. Something about a $700K house.

One of the factors in our selection of this house was a safe, sane yard for our dogs, at the time an epileptic greyhound, and his older brother, a well aged greyhound. The small back yard had a pretty decent piece of grass, my lawn, and I have put effort into keeping it nice.

The first challenge was the west end of the yard, it is perpetually in shade, and when it rains (which happened a lot the last year), it never dries out, grass didn’t get enough sunlight to grow, and it was almost a permanent bog. Continue reading →