Category Archives: News

Drobo: Thin Provisioning

If you know me, you know that I’m a huge proponent of Drobo.  As of late, the frustration level with Drobo is increasing and it may have edged away at this enthusiasm.

My most recent frustration came when I upgraded a drive in my Drobo to increase the usable space to more then 2TB.  After the Drobo finished updating all of its partitions, I was left with a partition that was labeled ‘unallocated’ in the Drobo dashboard.  After searching the interwebs (which yielded absolutely nothing on Drobo’s site for ‘unallocated’) and posting on a couple of forums, I was led to this:

http://support.datarobotics.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/23/session/L3NpZC9LZFU0M3JWag%3D%3D/sno/0

This is telling me that I’m stuck with adding partitions to my Drobo of maximum size 2TB because of a decision I made when I originally set it up, at which time I was not told how this setting would affect me as I add disk space.  Further, I think that Drobo’s claims of being both “simple” and “scalable” are misleading as this limitation is not spelled out up-front and if you don’t understand this, the affects of scaling can be considerably different then what is expected.

Now that I have have realized this, the only way to have 1 single partition again is to (in Drobo’s own words) “migrate the data onto another Drobo or storage device, reformat the original Drobo device to the volume size of your choice, and then move the data back.”  With 2TBs of data, not only is this a huge pain in the ass, I need to buy another drive in order to fit the entirety of my Drobo on a disk before reformatting.

I think this a huge failure on Drobo’s part that could be fixed one of 2 ways:

  1. Be explicit about how setting this soft limit is actually a hard limit on the amount of space that can be allocated to a volume.
  2. Drobo creates a tool to resize partitions to change storage space on a partition.

A tool in this situation would prove extremely handy and would prevent any confusion or problems when going over this thinly provisioned partition cap.

Any help here, Drobo?

No way to limit IMAP SSL connections in Apple Mail

Such an annoying problem, especially for connecting to GMail via IMAP.  I constantly get the error: Too many simultaneous connections.  The worst part is this has been known ever since Leopard shipped:

http://discussions.apple.com/message.jspa?messageID=5820548

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=1207290&tstart=30

Any fix, Apple?

UPDATE

This problem seems to date much further back then Leopard.  I’ve found references to this same issue in late 2003 (v10.3!!), here:

http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20031130150826388

Unfortunately, I don’t have access to server configuration as my problem is with GMail.  It seems like Apple may never fix this…

Fraud on Ebay

Recently, I upgraded my iPhone from a 3G to a 3GS and was planning on selling the 3G on Ebay.  After listing it then going through the bidding process, a user named “charlesgaulle” had won.  Immediately after the auction ended I noticed that this person was from France and my auction explicitly stated that this was to only be sold to someone living in the UK.  Also, the person’s name (Branson Jean) doesn’t even match the username, which is when I started getting suspicious.  Even though he was outside of the UK, I decided to go ahead and calculate shipping to France.  Once I had the shipping number, I sent him a message through Ebay detailing the new total including the updated shipping.

The following day, I received an email (that looked to be) from PayPal telling me the funds had been transferred, but the total was £20 more then I had requested.   This was weird, but even more concerning was that “PayPal” said they were waiting for me to ship before they would put the funds in my account.  Checking my PayPal account, there was absolutely no record of funds being added to my account.  Now that I was skeptical of this entire transaction, I went back to my email and checked the header on the email and sure enough it was fraud.  Here’s the from address in the header: service@paypal.com <pay.palshipmentnotifies@emailaccount.com>.

Going back to Ebay, there seems to be absolutely nothing that I can do.  I can’t report the user as they are no longer registered on Ebay.  Also, Ebay’s reporting system is abysmal.  It’s a tangled web of links that never lead you to what you want.  The closest thing to reporting anything about a member was “Threats of Bodily Harm”, so I submitted my complaint there.

A few days later and I’m still receiving all kinds of fake emails from PayPal, Ebay and “Branson Jean” trying to get me to ship the product even though funds still don’t exist in my PayPal account.  The frustrating thing about this whole thing is that Ebay is basically washing their hands of this.  You can see hundreds of the same types of fraud all over Ebay by just looking at descriptions of iPhones that are listed:  People relisting because of ‘time wasters’, auctions explaining that people trying to fraud others shouldn’t bother as “they have seen it all before”, etc.

I find it very disconcerting that Ebay is allowing this to fester because there are very few rules to stop this fraudulent behavior and they don’t give users an easy and straightforward way of reporting it.  Because of this, I’m not going to use Ebay for anything until they clean things up.

O2 Data Frequently Drops

I know that much has been made of data and connectivity problems on AT&T in the States, but I’ve found O2 to be just as bad, if not worse.  About once per day, even though I have full bars and am connected to 3G, my iPhone is unable to receive any data.  Loading webpages doesn’t work, refreshing mail doesn’t work, connecting to the App Store doesn’t work, etc.  This occurs for about 5 to 10 minutes at a time and can sometimes occur multiple times per day.

During the latest outage (today at around 1 PM GMT), I asked 2 co-workers, 1 with a 3G Blackberry and 1 with an iPhone, to try to access a webpage.  They were also unable to do so, even though both had 3G access and full bars.  I understand that this could be a problem with the cell tower, but this happens almost every single day, and not always at work.

Why are cell providers so incredibly awful?

Browsing the web is for saps.

Do you have a specific set of webpages that you browse to every day?

I do.  I used to have all of these sites bookmarked and placed into specific news folders in Firefox or Safari.  Right-clicking on a folder would present the option to ‘Open All in Tabs’ and all of my favorites would be right there for me to filter through.  This was easy to setup and I had all of my regular pages a couple of clicks away.  This system, while it works, has a couple of flaws, the most annoying of which is you have to actually browse to the page in order to determine if it has been updated or not.

Enter RSS

Recently I discovered the power of RSS along with RSS readers.  This changes the ‘pull’ system I was used into a much more manageable and easily aggregated ‘push’ system.  Now, when I want to check the news, I go to Google Reader and all of these favorites are organized by tags.  Each tag shows how many unread stories I have right at the top and clicking on a tag gives the aggregated feed with my unread stories on top, making it easy to see what’s new.

Why Google Reader?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that Google’s RSS reader is not the easiest to use.  However, once you get a feel for how it works, it’s much better then most (all?) of the other RSS readers out there on the Mac.  The 2 that come closest are NetNewsWire and NewsFire, both of which have issues.

NetNewsWire offers syncing with Google Reader, which is nice.  However, the interface is pretty bad and I’ve heard some horror stories about syncing with Google Reader.

NewsFire, on the other hand, has an excellent interface, which makes it easy to use.  However, it doesn’t offer any syncing capabilities.  This is a deal-breaker for me as I browse the Interwebs both at work as well as on 2 machines at home.

Sticking with Google Reader

If you are someone who generally browses on 1 machine, I would highly suggest NewsFire.  Until NewsFire adds some kind of syncing support (hopefully with Google Reader), I’m sticking with Google Reader, which isn’t a bad thing.

WordPress Security Threat

It’s been posted all over the internet as of late, but I’d like to remind everyone of the security threat to WordPress blogs:

WordPress 2.8.4: Security Release

How to Keep WordPress Secure

From the above links, the way to keep yourself safe from this attack is by upgrading.  Make sure you back your DB beforehand.  The easiest way to backup your DB is via this plugin:

wp-db-backup

The sooner you upgrade, the sooner you are safe from this exploit.

UPDATE Sep 7, 2009 – I found a good article from John Gruber of the Daring Fireball on Security and WordPress:

Regarding WordPress and Security

Apple Hardware Problems

Apple products have not been kind to me over the past couple of months…

For starters, about 2 months ago, the plastic on my iPhone’s back cracked right at the mute switch.  This is a common problem that has been documented all over the internet (link1, link2).  Here’s a picture of mine:

iphonecasecracked

Soon after this happened, I purchased a second battery from the Apple store.  Good thing I did, because the very next day, my original battery wouldn’t charge.  I tried swapping it back and forth with the new one, reseating it, resetting the PRAM (to Apple’s instructions), all to no avail.  Later that day, I looked at the bad battery and noticed that it had swelled considerably.  I went to the internet and found that this was not uncommon either (link1, link2).  Here’s a picture of my battery:

mbpbatteryswollen

The last problem happened in the last couple of weeks, this time with my MagSafe power adapter for my Macbook Pro.  First, the end, right near the connector, started to fray.  Then, it turned brown and started not working consistently.  Last night, when I was sitting on the couch and browsing the web, it actually started to smoke.  I immediately unplugged it and have stopped using it.  Again, this is a common complaint on the internet (link1, link2), this one to the point of a lawsuit.  Here’s the connector on mine:

magsafeburnt

Now that I’ve let problems pile up, I finally setup an appointment at the Apple store genius bar.  We’ll see how it goes…

UPDATE  Sep 10, 2009 – I went to the Apple Store with all of these problems and they were happy to replace all of these components, even though the battery and power adapter were no longer under warranty.  The only questions that were asked were around the iPhone cracking.  This was in the form of a survey and only intended to gather information to improve this in the future.

New Picture Page Layout

With the new blog format for my homepage, I’ve changed the picture page.  The new picture page can be found via both the category and tag ‘Pictures’ in the navigation bar.  Here’s the direct link:

New Picture Page

The old link still exists, but I’m going to be transitioning everything to the new picture page.  Until that time, I’ve added it to the links in the navigation bar.  Here’s the direct link:

Old Picture Page