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Monday, July 09, 2007

Over the July 4th holiday, I bought a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. Since my laptop hard drive (160 GB) is full and makes this high pitched buzzing sound, and my backup hard drive (40 GB) reports write delay errors when more than 30GB of data are stored on it I really needed to look into a data storage solution. I went to Fry's with Christine to check out storage solutions and found a small section of the computer components section of the store dedicated to NAS devices. After some help from the associate, and a review of the price ranges, I settled on Seagate's Maxtor Shared Storage II (MSS II) 1 Terabyte for around $410.

Since I had not put any research into the purchase and knew very little about NAS, I did not open the box. I instead opted for doing some research on the Internet.

The box indicates that the 1TB (1000GB) can be configured to mirror the data between the two hard disks inside the NAS. This reduces the available data storage to 500GB but, protects the data on the drive if and when one of the drive should fail. I think this will work out fine, since I don't really need 1TB at this point anyway. Unfortunately, I found a few individual experiences with the MSS II that state there is no supplied software to recover the data from the mirrored drive if a problem does occur, and that Seagate does not warranty the data against loss. Instead, it seems necessary to send the entire unit back to Seagate for replacement, as opening the unit to replace the individual hard drives voids the warranty. I would assume if only one of the hard drives were replaced after the unit was sent in, the mirrored drive would rebuild itself. However, if there was a data or hardware error that affected both drives, there would be no way to recover the data using another computer. Having Seagate recover the data turns out to be a very expensive service. I used the Seagate Recovery Services Solution Wizard for a hard drive with hardware issues that yielded a $1800.00 price tag and a two to four week wait on their return. (Please read the following sarcastically) Fortunately, if they don't recover your data, they won't charge you for their services.

Even if I can buy into that scenario, there's still other issues. Using on board software, media files(audio, video, and pictures) can be streamed to devices that support the protocol. This is done with a standard called UPnP-AV, which the MSS II supports. Unfortunately, the two devices that I would use for this purpose (TiVo and Xbox360) will not even see the device because of the proprietary way that UPnP-AV is implemented. It is possible to get the Xbox360 to recognize and use the data on the NAS if they use a version of the UPnP-AV protocol made by Twonky Vision but, I've seen no evidence that I could install this on the MSS II.

I'm pretty sure that I'll be returning the Maxtor Shared Storage II in favor of a more customizable QNAP TS-201.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Well, I'm back in line again for a fun filled trip back to Austin. This week went by pretty quickly, since I didn't come into the office until 3:00 on Tuesday. I booked the hotel the day before and found my regular hotel was full, so I ended up staying next to Camden Yards, where the Oriels play. This was the first time that I stayed in the downtown area, and it was a cool experience. I can't really take advantage of it since I need to wake up so early and the drive to work is a pain in the ass, so I'm heading back up to Pikesville nex week. On top of that, the new hotel had no parking, and the TVs had no input for my Xbox (drag, yo).

I missed trivia night, but made up for it by attending a meetup group in the downtown area. I think I may have made a friend or two in the process.

Wednesday night I just ended up at a bar after eating dinner with my co-workers. I drank three local brews (two from another local bar / brewery called the thirsty dog) and called it a night. It was too late, as I found out and ended up getting to sleep around midnight. So, the next day (today) I had to wake up at 6:00 to get to work at 7:00. Unfortunate some wires got crossed and I ended up at the wrong meetting place and did'nt realize it until 8:20. The subsequent drive to Owings Mills was total shit. There was one area where two lanes becomes one on an onramp and the "zipper method" was posted on the signs and I fell in line behind my perscribed "tooth". Then a guy rolls up on my left and hangs there until the lane starts to collapse. I'm sticking behind my leader in the line like glue, so this jerky (in a Ford Probe) makes a total dick move and jinks right giving me two options. Run into him, or run into the barrier. It was a really low speed, so I just yielded an honked and flipped him the bird. It didn't make me feel any better, though.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Yesterday, I called Pontiac to see if they could do anything about my dead GTO, and it turns out the car is still under warranty, and even the towing is covered. So, James at Champion Pontiac-GMC should have my car today and it should be ready by Friday, so I can walk over and pick it up. Hopefully, the Toyo Proxis T1-R tires that I bought yesterday will be in sometime this weekend as well, so I can get some new summer shoes on my Goat. I can't wait to burn out my old tires until they smoke.

For dinner last night, I ordered 1 sushi, 1 nigiri, and 1 roll (which ended up being 8 pieces). On top of that, I ordered tonkatsu (pork cutlet schnitzel) udon (thick wheat noodles), but they just gave me a plate of tonkatsu, with salad on the side. I should have been tipped off by the waitress offering me miso soup before my meal. Since the tonkatsu udon was in broth, so I said as the lady walked away "I already ordered soup". Anyway it ended up being too much food, but I'm too disciplined an eater so I cleared everything on my plate, except for the bowl of rice (that I took back to the hotel with me).

On the way back, I looked for a store that sold Gears of War for the Xbox 360. There's an EB Games right next to Edo, but they had none that were used or new. So I searched the stores that were along the route back to the hotel. I first stopped and bought a copy at Toys 'Я' Us, but found a blockbuster just a few blocks away. So, I just rented a copy and returned the game to Toys 'Я' Us. I played a little bit, but couldn't really get into before I had to get some sleep. I figured I'd be sleeping in a little, but still needed time to get the ice off my rental car and get into the office before 8:00.

Sure enough, I was awakened by the sound of ice being scraped off windshields and the tapping of icy snow on my hotel window. The snow was icy but, powdery and my dress shoes sank right into it. Fortunately, I upgraded to black gym socks from thin dress socks. My feet were warm, even when buried in the snow. My hands, however, suffered quite a bit as I was brushing the snow off the glass. It flew off the back face of the scraper and pelted my hands with icy pain. One that was over, I took the slow drive to work, practically idling the entire way. Other than being very slow it was uneventful. Still, there's plenty of work to do today so, even though my co-workers are heading to the airport this afternoon (or earlier, due to the weather) I'm here until tomorrow afternoon.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

I checked into the (very new) Hilton that's right next to BWI airport. In the room I find a Philips widescreen flat panel TV. "All right, I'm going to play some serious X-Box tonight", I thought. I find the composite inputs behind a panel on the left side of the TV and plug everything up. Then I search for the input switch button, but find nothing. There is a menu button on the side of the set, but it does not function. Finally, there is a button on the controller for "menu", but it only changes the SAP options, and sets a timer on the TV. So, I call the front desk, who sends a guy over. Apparently he's dealt with this one before. There's no way to activate the additional inputs, so I'm totally out of luck. I'm headed back to the Pikesville Hilton next week, so I'll be back on Xbox Live then.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I spent the last couple of nights in the hotel, trying to figure out how to make my Xbox360 work with the hotel's wireless network. Unfortunately, it required me to get the Xbox360 wireless USB dongle to make it all finally come together. Even still, it has some connection issues and tends to lag a bit. My plans were to go to a meetup here in Baltimore last night, but the address was hidden, and by the time I was contacted with the directions, the meeting had already started. I plan on going downtown tonight.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life on the road, Cage. Life on the road.

Yesterday, I got introduced to the crew at my new job. My impression is that I will be working with a lot of intelligent, well educated, very motivated group. My boss took me out for "first lunch" which is always sushi. We went to a place called Nobel Fish which had very high quality at reasonable prices. I had a bunch of Michigan Rolls (salmon, avocado, and crab meat, wrapped in nori and sushi rice on the outside) and a really fresh fatty tuna. So much food, I actually ate sushi as a meal (which I usually don't do, because of the price). We walked out for right around $15 each, and I was full.

After work, I decided to deal with a problem that I encountered the first night that I got into the hotel. It turns out, the TVs only have an RF input on the back of the box, and since all I had was A/V (RCA) and component video (for HD), I needed a converter. Since I didn't rent a car this trip, I was hoping there would be a local shop that would sell a product I could use.

Turns out, the RadioShack that was nearby had something that worked, but... they were over 3 miles away, and it was getting dark... and it was starting to snow... and it was very windy. I figured I could make it there and back on foot, but it turns out, I couldn't. I got about 2/3 of the way there (without gloves or a hat) and had to stop in to a CVS to warm up. Fortunately, I really needed toothpaste and some chapstick so I walked around inside for a while while I soaked up enough heat to get me all the way to the parking lot of the mall that contained the RadioShack. I say the parking lot because, as I was walking from the edge of the lot to the mall entrance, the wind really picked up and blew every degree of heat from my head, starting with my ears, then jolting down the sides of my face. My eyes were watering from the cold gusts that blasted them dry. I finally made it into the mall, and found a directory that took me 20 minutes to decipher, probably due to the lack of warm blood to my brain. The whole time that I was frantically searching through the lists of mall vendors, I was thinking that the RadioShack was not really in the mall at all. I didn't bring the directions with me, so it was possible that it was out at the edge of the parking lot. Fortunately, I found the number, and then the location. I bought my goods and had dinner in the food court at Chester Fried Chicken, where they had an assortment of fried fish on a homemade sign next to the register.

The fried chicken warmed me up, but not enough to, persuade me into a walk back to the hotel, so I called a cab using 411 on my phone. I ended up leaving a message which, after repeated calls to different cab companies, turned out to be some sort of Detroit area cab call in number. The were supposed to call back, but my cell phone died as I was leaving a message, so I wasn't sure if they even got it. I went back into RadioShack, but they wanted too much for their phone charger, and half of the kiosks around the mall were cell phone accessory vendors. A charger, and about 15 minutes of charge cost me almost $20! I talked with the middle eastern guy who sold the charger to me while he was watching "Night at the Museum" on his computer (which was still in theaters).

I finally got through to a cab company and was picked up a few minutes afterwards. Once I got back to the hotel, I set up the Xbox and got ready to log into Xbox Live. The Xbox wouldn't log in for the exact same reason as my first attempt to log into Live at Bo's. Something to do with the MTU setting on the router, which I most likely couldn't access, so I was stuck. Perhaps the next hotel that I stay at won't have the same problem. I ended up playing the demo to Dead Rising until it was time to get some sleep. I will have to get up early to meet a few more people, and get some final coaching on how to do my new job.

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