Monday, January 26, 2015

RAID != Backup

Today, my raid 10 degraded as a drive fell out of the raid configuration for no apparent reason. That’s what I get for buying a slightly cheaper raid card. I won’t say which one. I do know which one I will get next. I just need to come up with a good plan on how to transition my stuff over. But I am VERY glad that it is a raid 10 set up. As the only thing I lost is some time. I think the computer spent about 7 hours altogether repairing the raid. And NOTHING was lost. So that’s good.

Worst thing is that I also lost a drive that I was using as a scratch disk. Will have to replace that as well. Nothing important was lost, just some minor temporary stuff. Irksome that I lost it, just have to remind myself that it is not a big deal.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A dying technology

Does anyone have VHS tapes? Laserdiscs? Very few people do. Main reason is there’s almost always something better that comes along. The DVD killed both. Bluray is marginally better than DVD, but you had to have better equipment to get the full advantage which made it a tough sell especially during a down economy. Plus it had to go through a couple of years of fighting with HD-DVD. It’s all about timing with consumers.

In a business, you would never bet your company on a dying technology. For example, very few companies are made entirely with Visual Basic 6, because that produce came way back in the late 1990s. And while very popular, no one wants to use an unsupported product. What if there are bugs? What it there are security holes? Who’d want to deal with those issues?

I’ve recently found out that Grails, a very powerful web framework built on top of Groovy, is looking for a new sponsor. Apparently, SpringSource decided that they wanted to fully support their own framework and not a competing one. I’ve been using Grails for my own projects and really like it because it doesn’t require a lot of boilerplate code to get going. Unlike the Spring framework. Plus the database ORM hides a lot of configuration files necessary to get Hibernate going. There’s a lot going for it. But only if there’s active development on it. Unlike desktop applications where the user is responsible for their own stuff, a web application and by extension, the web server is by definition reachable on the web. Therefore, security must be one of the most important criterion for all software running on a publicly accessible server. And if the product is no longer supported, security holes will show up.

That’s why I decided to rewrite some of the projects and move them off Grails. I’m still in the deciding phases of which to move them to. Node.js? Python? PHP? Whatever I choose, it will have to be a very active ecosystem. And fairly stable.

Monday, January 19, 2015


As a technology person, I’ve become used to all sorts of different technologies and can see how it can be applied. I typically forget that others may not see the same things I do. For example, my father-in-law recently got an iPhone 5. It really is a computer in his pocket. It will take him a long time to even know about all the different features, much less use them all. But as with many things in life, passion for something will drive the learning process. In his case, it is the love of music. He asked for my collection of classical and jazz music. And he’s been listening to that all the time in the house with his headphones on. I then ordered a small bluetooth speaker first for us as Li wanted more music around the house. But once he saw it in action, he of course wanted to know how to use it. He thought it was using cellular service to get the music from his phone to the speaker. And I had to explain what bluetooth was and how devices can talk to one another. It is so weird to see that wires are going the way of the do-do bird. There probably always will be a place for wires, but most of the common things will be wireless.

Needless to say, we do have lots of music around the house now. It just isn’t my music.


Lately, I’ve been on a kick to minimize the things I carry. I’ve noticed that I carry around a bunch of junk, things that I don’t need. Or rather, things that I don’t need with me all the time. How often am I going to use that Ikea family card? Or that Barnes and Noble Kids’ club card? And really, how many keys do I need to carry with me. Every little thing adds up to some weight and bulk. So I’ve added two things to my lifestyle which reduces the clutter:

A KeySmart holder


And a HuMn mini wallet

HuMn Wallet

These two products help to eliminate much of the clutter in my pockets. I feel much lighter and streamlined. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Getting busy

The lull of the New Year holiday season is over. Things are starting to get busy again. Time flies as you get older. The reason is that a second/hour/day/week/month/year is get a smaller and smaller percentage of my life.

Friday, January 9, 2015


With many devices, I try to find applications and utilities that let me choose whichever device I happen to be using and let me get to my media. I’ve suddenly find myself installing iTunes for Windows on my Windows server because it’s the computer I have with loud speakers. it’s nice to hear music without having to have to wear headphones. Although sometimes it is necessary to put on headphones to keep from waking Richard or when it is late at night.

One nice benefit of using iTunes on another computer to hear music is that I can stream the music from my library to the other computer without having to copy the music over first. That’s nice when the media library exceeds 50GB. Another nice feature is the iTunes Match. It finds duplicates! And it is fairly fast. Now, if only I can squeeze my files to fit onto my phone.

Work and Fun

This is my workstation. It’s a mish-mash of various techs. It’s part of my love of technology. But having that technology available doesn’t mean a thing if I can’t get my work done. Of course, it isn’t all work. There’s time for fun and games as well.

IMG 0092

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


We all get too much email. Mail from coworkers, friends, businesses, and most of all spammers. One thing I’ve noticed that when I upgraded to Mavericks, I recovered about 125GB of disk space. My boot disk is a 500GB SSD and when I was on Mountain Lion, I had about 100GB free. And due to trim support, it was still fast IO. And when I upgraded to Mavericks, I had about 225GB free! I think part of it was the spotlight index had grown considerably thanks to the email I get. I usually keep a close eye on the computer just to know where extra cycles are being used. And of course, one of the biggest drains on computing resources was the mail program. Huh?

Why is that? I opened up Activity Monitor and sure enough the mail program was using 100% cpu pretty consistently. What could it be doing? I’m not that paranoid, but I can’t help but think that Apple must be scanning my email and sending them to their servers. But even then, I would see more bandwidth usage rather than cpu. Ugh… At least the email program is free and came along with Mavericks. So I started looking for different email apps. I didn’t want to use the web interface. Have to admit that Google has done a very good job of improving it over the years. It feels like a real web application now, but doesn’t feel like a desktop application. Having grown up with Outlook, I’ve gotten spoiled with the consolidated contacts, calendar, tasks and email. There really isn’t any desktop application like that for Mac. I’ve found Postbox and I’m currently trying it again. I used it a few iterations ago. And my complaint back then was that it was resource heavy. I was quite pleasantly surprised with how little cpu it used when it was just fetching and sending emails. And when I wasn’t using it, it was just idle and not using much cpu!

More to come about this product, but so far so good!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Apple Products

What is it about the Apple products that make them cool and desirable? I think it is the way that they look, but the even better reason for me is the way they work together. As recently mentioned, I’ve upgraded my MacBook Pro to Mavericks. This gives me a way to have both a desktop version of the ebook reader and a mobile version and have the reading position shared between devices, making moving between devices seamless. I also have an Android Nexus Tablet that I use for reading as well. But a BIG problem is that it doesn’t share the reading position. They’re not the same library. I don’t want to have to organize 2 different libraries and somehow keep them in sync. That’s way too much work.

Another piece of the coolness puzzle happens when you have more than one family member with an iOS device. Li has an iPhone and she has my older iPad. But we recently gave Li’s dad my old iPhone 5. Sharing photos and videos is sooo much easier now that we all have access to iCloud photo sharing. It’s really neat to see his face light up he can see pictures we’ve taken almost right away.

For me, it’s also not just the books, but also my reading context in Safari. I was using Chrome all the way. But after running some benchmarks, I’ve decided to use Safari on my iOS devices. For reading continuity, I used to use Pocket and save web pages to it. I’ve decided to switch to Safari on my Mac desktop as well, just so that I can get my tabs saved to the cloud and being able to pick them up on my iOS device. It’s just the little things like that that make it easier.

Using cross platform applications such as Pocket or Evernote isn’t too hard, but saving the extra click or having things done in the background and available to me right away is really awesome and made a convert out of me.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Time Machine

Along with not blogging, I have been lax with backups. Ever since my 3TB USB 2 time machine drive died, I haven’t been good at backing up my main work machine. I have a Carbon Copy of my entire boot drive which I update every now and again, but I don’t have anything for my secondary hard drive.

I added a secondary hard drive a long time ago by adding an OptiBay drive kit from It doesn’t take too long and the videos provide all the information necessary. They even give you a housing for the optical drive in case you wanted to use it externally. However, it requires 2 usb connectors, one for power and the other for data. I previously have an external usb dvd read/writer that uses a single usb port. Sometimes, I don’t get what the designers were thinking.

Elsewhere in the house, I’ve been using Crashplan for my offsite backup. That has worked really well and I’m glad to say that I haven’t had a need to restore anything from there yet.

So finally, I ordered a 4TB drive from Amazon and it got here today. I installed it and my Mac helpfully told me that my last backup was in February 2014. Thanks. The Mac is now busy backing up 608GB worth of stuff (excluding VMs too!).

After this is done, then I will update my Carbon Copy ( since I’ve upgraded to Mavericks.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

SSDs on Mavericks

As I use Mavericks more and more, I like it because of various utilities that required Mavericks. Apple is an interesting company due to its closed door and leave them behind policy. If you’re not on the latest and greatest, whether it is hardware or software, you’re going to get left behind and things don’t work as well anymore. It’s great if your economy depends on new revenue, but it sucks as the consumer because you have to upgrade.

In any case, while people do say that the OS is faster, it started feeling slower for me. Disk copy of large files would take a while and using Vagrant, I can see the transfer speeds of some large file IO would give me 1-10 MB/s. I have SSDs on my system and while the boot OS is more than 50% full, I don’t understand how it could be soooo slow. I ran some benchmark test and sure enough, I was getting maximum of 20MB/s on the boot drive. It didn’t make sense and then I remembered that Apple doesn’t like third party SSDs. So I checked around the Internet and ran across this link ( I downloaded the linked utility and enabled trim. Rebooted and voila! I’m getting faster disk IO again (145 MB/s). Not as fast as a brand new SSD, but still plenty fast!