10T Backup Server Project


Craig Severson explained his backup system one time. it seems over the top until you hear, “I can take that drive over there, plug in, reboot and I’m back to five minutes ago.”

I needed a backup device that transparent like Apple Time, was more cost effective then a appliance NAS drive, give me the most storage for my money and it had to be something I could self repair. I ended up building a 10 terabyte server powered by FreeNAS for under a $1000.

the problem that caused the need for this project presented itself in a rude way. a hard drive died inside a MacBook Pro which had a backup but it wasn’t up-to-date. this was caused by the movable nature of notebook computers. you have to remember to plug things in so that other things can happen automatically. the back up drive for Time Machine won’t work otherwise. and because nobody thinks like, “hey, so I’m going to lunch I guess I will plug this in so it will do it’s thing.” we have to make sure that backups just happen.

which brings up an ugly rule: the only time you think about backups is when you need one.
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enter the age of 3D printing


my problem with things today is that it’s going to become virtually impossible to play. electronics is a good example. so many of the parts are surface mount only. meaning you can’t just whomp something together on a bread board. but to push the idea even further, there is no way for two guys in a garage to make an iPod. okay they could but look at the skill set they have to have to make it happen.

I read a Rudy Rucker book where lots of the tech is mindblowingly complex. tech that was so hard that a humans couldn’t even be involved after a certain point. yet interfaces to tech creation allowed the characters to control making without thinking about who made who (robot making tech based on human interaction). the book Makers mentions combining complex programming projects into a greater object. this concept of reusing code is tossed out there like it’s no big deal. but fiction always over simplifies making because the story would become boring otherwise. to most people man landing on the moon is a sound bite even though it took the better part of 20 years (don’t forgot all the work before the Kennedy speech) to get there.

I’ve had a lot of printers in my life from letter quality daisy wheels to dot matrix to dye sub to laser. and at some level the businesses I ran wouldn’t have been possible without the leveraged use I got from printing without limits. Tom pointing that this same thing is right here with 3D printing is telling.

1) it’s ground zero. think of MakerBot“>Makerbot as a Epson MX-80
2) there potential for hundreds of new business
3) be prepared to see lots of failure as it engages
4) plastics and resins are toxic. stand by for regulation in California.
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Mac Maintenance


if you look at the marketing for commercial and freeware “Mac maintenance apps” you see stuff like “Apple should bundle this!” or “it totally saved my bacon!” and finally “best app ever!” dubious marketing at best. the thing is most modern Macs aren’t in a “regularly scheduled program.” people just use them without doing anything special to them to keep them running.

the people of Know Tech are divided on the care and feeding. Chris has a Windows centric attitude causing him to rebuild and reinstall the System and all his apps twice a year. Kenji lived with a broken MacBook Pro keyboard for nearly 2 years before he bothered to get it fixed. Craig has a detailed backup system. Kristin just uses her Macs. and all the Macs that John takes care of just seem to work without any messing about.

so why do people have a need to maintenance their Macs? it’s something that is built into all consumer products. your car needs regular care, you have to put chemicals into the pool, the heater filter gets changed, the coffee maker needs de-liming and the refrigerator needs to be de-iced. maintenance is all around us and were programmed to accept doing it. some people actually like the peace of mind that they’ve “done something” and other people “just like doing” maintenance because it makes them feel good.
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taking apart a floppy for parts

the idea was simple enough, take the obviously corroded floppy disk that came from a Roland HP-1900 and grab all the useful parts from it. the floppy disk drive is a simple device. it uses a stepper motor to position a read/write head that moves across a spinning disc made of mylar powered by a unique motor.

from a personal computer point of view there there only 3 sizes of floppy disk in common use: 8″, 5.25″ and 3.5″. smaller sized floppy disks emerged late in the game which got used for things like music players and cameras. but these formats never found a foot hold in computing.
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the last Macworld Expo


Remember when Macworld used to get 30k people coming to it? Well we have days were over 1m people visit our stores.
steve jobs

Macworld Expo has been “the tradeshow” for all things Mac for the last 25 years. there was a time when it was mandatory for anyone who had an interest in Mac to attend. companies came here to announce products, users came to learn, buyers came to do deals and the press could see all their contacts. it was all under one roof.

today it’s not the show that it once was.
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3 Shot Pano


the 3-5 shot panorama is a really cool way to capture a scene. it’s not really a pano but think of it as a S-U-P-E-R W-I-D-E picture as you aren’t doing a full 360. you can take these with any camera. it doesn’t have to be expensive. and you don’t have to have a super wide lens. in fact you may want to shoot you pano using a more zoomed lens instead of the widest setting.
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Continuous is a mode on your camera that takes picture after picture for as long as you hold down the shutter. the frame rate of the shots depends on the camera. the Canon shoots about 4 FPS, Fuji is .3 seconds per frame, Nikon has a mode called 16 (which turns the flash off automatically, there is also has a mode that does 1.5 FPS and the Sony have different rates that depend on the camera. there are several Casio cameras that have super fast frame rates like up to 1000 frames per second!

so what is Continuous mode good for? it turns out there are lots of things that you can shoot. it’s a great way to get perfect candids. group shots are always a problem. don’t forget squirming kids and pets. you get that winning moment for sports photos. in a nut shell Continuous mode is good for anything that moves.
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making holes and adding color

back in August I walked into the studio and noticed that one of my mics was missing. it wasn’t stolen thankfully but it was sprawled out on the floor. and then I discovered why. SNAP! eventually same thing happened to the other three clamps. I’m pretty sure that this clamp was never designed to be used as a permanent installation. why? they all broke in the nearly same place.
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project 365


if you are looking for a project to start with the new year look no further, this is it. the idea is to take one photo every day. easy you say! sure, we all take more photos now that we have some kind of camera with us. but when this kind of project started it was a little different and certainly not as easy. you took a camera of some kind, loaded a roll of film that you liked and over the next 24 or 36 days you’d take exactly one photo every day. of course you didn’t see what the photos looked like until the end of the roll after you got them back from the developer. this made it more special. you know, that anticipation of “how’s it going to come out!?”
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