Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Backup, Backup, Backup and the Linksys NSLU2

last month I suffered an unfortunate incident in which an external hard drive died with 200 GB of very important data on it.
The disk was not spinning at all, so I had to send the drive to a specialist to recover the data as this drive was dead to the world.
The good news is they were able to save the data....for nearly $1400!!!! and this did not include a replacement drive.
Lesson learned - back up all data to DVD 1st, better yet, make two copies and save the 2nd disk in a safe place at another physical location.
...So the data is back. While resolving never to do this again, I did some research into Network Attached Storage devices (NAS). I was looking for a relatively simple, economical RAID solution. There are many solutions out there, but I discovered that the Linksys NSLU2 device has had some interesting possibilities and snagged one up with my Christmas money.
The NSLU2 with out-of-the-box settings is simple enough to configure, but be aware that this does not support FAT and NTFS formatted hard drives very well at all. An unadvertised fact is that this requires the Linux Ext3 file system to operate. This is fine by me, but I wish I had known this before had all of my recovered data save to an NTFS formatted drive (Doh!!!). I needed a 2nd hard drive anyway for this project, so I installed this and formatted the drive as required. The native firmware for this device does not offer RAID support, but I did not buy the NSLU2 for it's native firmware. The beauty of the NSLU2 is that the firmware that can be upgraded by 3rd party developers to do all this and so much more. Developers can then vastly increase the device's native capabilities.
For now, I have settled on a particular distribution call uNSLUng. There is a online community that support this and all other flavors here.
In a nutshell:
Unslung is one of the streams of replacement firmware for the NSLU2.

It is designed to allow you to expand the capabilities of your NSLU2, without losing the standard product functionality and still retain full compatibility with stock Linksys firmware.

This can be configured as a media server for music, Tivo streams, a PBX box and so much more. My only need is for a mirrored RAID file server, and so this is what I am currently working on.
Presently, I am manually backing-up gigs and gigs files to DVD. When this is done, the work begins.

On another Linksys front:

I have a large Epson 7600 printer in our garage which I have been printing through an old PC connected to the printer (Also in the garage)
My experience with this has been horrible. I spoke with another user who only prints from the local printer (copying files to the PC, then printing, not printing through a shared printer) It is my experience that Epson printers just plain suck as network printers and I found myself taking a large chunk of time to get a simple job printed.
I hated having a junk PC taking space and eating power for such a simple task that really didn't work well for me. What I needed was a print server. Although I'd prefer a wireless device, i settled on a wired Linksys unit, the PSUS4.
After a few issues caused by user negligence (RTFM!) I got the device working and couldn't be happier. So far, network printing is a breeze.

The two above devices now take-up very little space in the garage and consume far less power. They take up less power than a flashlight and the NSLU2 is capable of running as a full-fledged Linux server. ...Whatta Bawgin!!

( I also have a wrt54 router updated with DDRT firmware that increases the router capabilities many times over what the device was designed to give out of the box. I have increased the wireless signal strength well enough to get a great signal on the other side of my house, going through many walls. )

...So it took up quite a chunk of change to get this far, but now I know I will never encounter data loss again. As the business grows, so will the potential for loss, lawsuits, and a much larger financial loss. Better now than later, so for that I am grateful.

There are other devices out there that accomplish the same task, but for my money, Linksys devices are great and allow 3rd party developers to make them capable of so much more.
These are great examples of what open-source software provide. The idea that you can take a device designed for one purpose, allow outside software developers to re-write the firmware and provide new features and capabilities, all for free (no paid upgrades, no licensing!) is amazing. I am a reluctant Windows user who for various reason will not go Mac. The concept of force upgrades that must be paid for and licensed is just not fair to the end user. I know that vendors need to make $$$ to survive, but at some point it just reaks of extortion, IMHO

My dream is for Adobe products to be fully ported into Linux, So that I can finally be rid of all licensing BS besides that which Adobe provides. better one nuisance than many.

I should post more about open source software. I have no idea how many readers that I attract would be interested in this, so any feedback is appreciated.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


We had cousins visit from Texas this past weekend.

My father's nieces, Kathy and Laurie, along with her husband, Allen (did I spell those names right?) Spent a few short days out here.
Kathy has not been to California since 1969!
It is great to reconnect with extended family, especially since the passing of my Dad, who was dearly missed during this visit.
The photo above was made at the home of Dottie & Odell (Aunt & uncle).
Laurie brought the battered remains of a 3rd generation family album. I scanned some of the photos for sharing.

This one is my favorite. It's my great uncle George and his buddies, who used to jam on the front porch, hill-billy style!!! According to stories, he as a real Mayberry type of charactor. I love this photo & will eventually give a fll restoration to it in Photoshop.
It was great to see 'yall again & we look forward to visiting sometime in the near future.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Our 2nd anniversary

This past Monday Sandy & I celebrated our 2nd anniversary.
As part of our honeymoon, we went to the Santa Barbara wine country to visit the sites and locations of one of our favorite movies, Sideways. As cheesy as this sounds, we loved the area & discovered the Hitching Post restaurant be cause of this. They have the BEST fillet mignon ever, great wine and a nice atmosphere despite the crowdiness. We have gone back twice on each anniversary now and may make this an annual tradition.
We didn't have to to catch more than one winery, which was Fess Parker's. This is a neat place that is also in the movie, but the samples were rather disappointing, IMHO.
After the hitching post, we went to the Firestone Brewery and I found the best beer I have ever had, Liberty Pale Alet. It was an IPA even better than their regular IPA.
We also went window shopping in Solvang & I bought Sandy the really cute coat you see in the picture.
The following morning we went to mass at the Santa Ynez mission , where I shot the photo before moving on back home. It was a relatively simple weekend away from home and a nice way to spend our 'versary together. We may do the same next year, but I promised Sandy a Disney cruise by the time of our 5th anniversary & I hope to accomplish this early. ..stay tuned.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lunch with the [b]ecker : part 2

..So I met with Becker today and all I can say is wow!.
This guy is as real as he presents himself online and chock-full of advice and ideas.

He is so cool to avail himself to anybody the way he does for his ''Buy me lunch" program.

We met at Javier's at the Irvine Spectrum (great place! I will go here again).

I somehow managed to get all of my discussion topics addressed without hardly bringing them up myself. I suppose he has a gift for answering one question from a broad prospective and managing to answer related topics at the same time.
In addition to learning more about his history and how he got as far as he is today, I learned a lot about simple networking and sharing techniques that I will be applying from this point on.

Thanks Becker for "paying it forward" to me. I'll be doing the same myself.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Christmas with the Brandons / Congrats to Brent and Noriko

....So among other photos from the holidays that I need to post-up, I have uploaded pics from our post-Christmas visit to the Brandons on my flickr site.
The best news to come out of this was Brent's announcement that he and Noriko had just got engaged earlier that day.

Brent is an amazing musician, bartender, and general good guy who currently playing with a group call Plan B.
I have known him and his family for years and regard them as a sort of 2nd family. it is great to see little Brent all get all growed-up. ;-) and see him find such a cool gal.
We wish Brent and Noriko the best.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cubensis - 20 years and still going

-4, Craig Marshall and Cubensis, sandavi.

This is a repost from my now former blog. I feel this deserves a spot here:

Last weekend I almost literally dragged Sandy to see a band whom I embarrassed to say I have seen for nearly the entire span of their 20 year history. (Am I embarrassed to be a deadhead, or about my age? you decide)

Cubensis is a Grateful Dead tribute band who have made a sideline career for themselves playing at least 1 show per week on a consistent basis for 20 years. They celebrated that fact at the Galaxy Theater last week to a packed house of the most hippies I have seen in over 10 years.It was great to see people whom I haven't seen in as many years almost all back together.
I used to see these guys play most every Tuesday nite and this was such a big part of my life. Things have changed for me quite a lot since then (definitely for the better) but I love to get a dose of them whenever I can, and there was no way I would miss this celebration with (almost) all of their former band members.
This Band was started by Craig Marshall and friends and has created it's own enigmatic history not unlike that of the Dead themselves.
To Craig and everyone who has been of part of Cubensis, Thank you for a real good time.

Lunch with the [b]ecker

...So In my downtime I like to look over photo blogs. This is a great way for me to see what other photographers are up to and get in inspiration. One of these blogs is by a photographer known as the [b]ecker.
This guy is an rock star among wedding photographers and lives here in Orange County. He is up to some new projects for the year, one of which is the [b] school, a site in which he hopes to help aspiring wedding pro's learn their craft. One side project of this is called ''buy me lunch" In which he selects anybody willing and able to spend an hour or so over lunch and talk shop. I happened to be the 1st to replay and, being that I was also fairly local to him, I got selected!!
For me, this is like a basketball rookie getting to hang with a seasoned MVP.
The meeting will take place later this week at a secure, undisclosed location. I'll post an update about it this weekend.

The Cleptomaniacs

IMG_1639, originally uploaded by sandavi.

The Cleptomaniacs are a band that Sandy & I have been enjoying in our neighborhood for a few years now.
We have heard their rehearsals and observed them evolving into what can well be a successful band. They have played at 2 of our parties, but we never saw them on stage until last Friday nite.
The boys rocked and I look forward to seeing them on stage again.

More pics can be seen here: