Monthly Archives: April 2009

Lacie NetworkSpace Backup is a Waste of Space

Around September 2008 I purchased a Lacie NetworkSpace 1TB hard disk, a nice little number with built in Ethernet so it could be tucked away where the sun don`t shine and keep all my files nice and safe whilst I flung the laptop into my bag for the day-to-day.  Since then, I`ve been filling the drive up will all manner of crap.  Having become more interested in photography, there`s now several GB of photos, RAW files, etc. and lots of my CDs on there.

A "successful" backup...

A "successful" backup...

The drive itself was “designed by Neil Poulton”, and if it`s anything to go by, Neil Poulton is something of a manic depressive, unimaginative lazybones.  The casing is shiny black, rectangular, and features a very bright, blue LED – flavour of the month.  So, it`s essentially a black, shiny brick.  The little ventilation holes look OK – little squares – and the device can run pretty hot.  Round the back we have the power, a switch (handy – and the drive waits until it shuts down before fully powering off), and the ethernet port.  At the front is the LED, and a USB connector.  And here lies the problem…

Being a middle-aged worrying sort, I didn`t want to risk losing all that stuff – absolute shite to most people, but a lot of stuff I`ve made, taken photos of, etc. and bought a 1TB USB external drive to use as a backup for the Lacie.  Through the Lacie`s web interface, I saw it was possible to set up one drive as the source (Lacie) and one as the destination (new Toshiba drive) and thought “easy peasy – link them over USB, click the buttons, and off it goes”.  And off nothing went.

After around 2 hours, the only backups I have apparently made have been 8 empty directories on the Toshiba, from a total of several thousand files.  Not a great ratio.  I thought I must have cocked something up in the plethora of 4 or 5 options, so tried again, with the same result.  Then I took a look at the logs from the Lacie.

The Lacie uses some form of embedded Linux – a few blogs mention it may be Yellow Dog – and does its biz using BusyBox, so I figured there would be some useful, sensible, really nice logging.  Here`s what I saw:

Apr 26 00:37:40  httpd:                     pam_unix(httpd:session): session closed for user admin
Apr 26 00:37:59  httpd:                     pam_unix(httpd:session): session opened for user admin by (uid=0)
Apr 26 00:37:59  httpd:                     pam_unix(httpd:session): session closed for user admin
Apr 26 00:38:13  httpd:                     pam_unix(httpd:session): session opened for user admin by (uid=0)

Now, pardon my French, but what the fuck use is that to anyone? No mention of backup starting, backup finishing, backup failing, backup progress. Not a sausage. There`s only one thing worse than no logging, it`s useless logging. And here we see a combination of both, almost bugger all logging, and what`s there is completely useless. I know I was logged into the web interface – I just want to check my supposed backup!
So it`s likely to be a case of the Toshiba drive becoming a work drive, and having to run rsync to backup to the Lacie as it`s just a little too slow to use as a primary drive over Ethernet. Very disappointed. The drive has been great for a number of months – not spectacularly fast over the home network (wireless G / 100Mb Ethernet – it has Gb Ethernet I believe), so I can`t do the device itself down. But come on guys – what`s the point in using a completely shite backup function as a selling point?  There also doesn`t seem too be a way of upgrading the firmware or operating system short of unofficial hacks, ruling out fixing this awful functionality.  It may work – somehow – under Windows, but if it`s a case of linking two drives and pressing a few buttons, using the advertised method, it`s surprising this simple operation can`t be carried out.  If there had been anything in the logs to suggest too-long filenames, extra-long paths – whatever – I could have done something to rectify.  But zilch.

So it`s off to rsync I go… farting in the general direction of Lacie.  Several times.  Poo poo to you.

7 More Things I Don’t Like About The iPhone

Having had the iPhone for a few months now, I thought I`d add a few more peeves to the list.

  1. Reliability – I have to say the phone, or more likely the applications, make the phone pretty flakey. It`s necessary to hard reset every 3-4 days due to some application or other hanging. The most annoying thing about this is that the phone takes minutes to start up again, with no progress indicator to show how long it`s likely to take.
  2. Lack of tweakiness – in true Apple style, there are some things you`d like to tweak but just can`t. A specific example would be the Safari caching, which is hit and miss to say the least. Switch pages and back, and there`s a good chance the browser has been hit by severe amnesia and needs to reload the page. Even with all the scare stories over the number of times you can write to flash memory, surely allowing the user to up the cache a little would be a good idea?
  3. Volume control – why are there two volume settings, one for ringer and one for iPod? Adjust the volume down, pop to iPod, with headphones on, and suddenly you`re at risk of blowing your ears off to the freshest beats of the day.
  4. The phone features, or their quick-to-use-ness-ness – any telephone should be easy to use, yet Apple seems to have done everything possible to make it a pain in the arse. I certainly wouldn`t recommend the iPhone as an easy to use phone. Compare and contrast with any Nokia. That said, the voicemail is quite clever, although not instantly “ah yes- that’s how you do it”. Surely, as a phone, the dialler is likely to be the first thing you`re likely to use; why does it not appear first? Maybe I don`t make or receive enough calls.
  5. Ipod controls- having owned an iPod for a few years, the iPhone`s controls are a bit pants. Ok, there`s no wheel as it`s all touch screen, but skipping forward and backward in videos is very hit and miss, especially if forwarding to the end of a video podcast. This seems to be the only way for the iPod to recognize that you`ve watched something. 2 seconds remaining and it`s listed with the half-watched icon. Try skipping to the very end, and you`re forced to watch the last 10 seconds or so. It may not be the end of the world, but it`s annoying. Also, the accelerometer integration goes a little bit mental when tilting and the phone needs the occasional twist-retwist in order to recognise its orientation. On the plus side, it`s possible to shuffle all songs by an artist, something my old video iPod wasn`t able to do.
  6. Spell checker – this can be very hit and miss, and I find myself wondering if the old T9 method would have been more effective for some users. Also, when typing fairly quickly, it seems like soundex word matching kicks in, leaving your messages in a state that would have been likely employed by Lloyd and Croft when they scripted lines for Officer Crabtree in Allo Allo. Good moaning indeed.  And please, I know the difference between “its” and “it`s”, so don`t put “it`s” every sodding time – and “and” for that matter – don`t spell correct it to ANC.  Who types  “ANC” these days (although I`m not dissing South African politics, of which I know little)?
  7. There`s no way back – receive an e-mail, open it, open a hyperlink; up flies Safari. When you`re done, what next? Gotta press the menu button, which brings you back to the menu. So you`ve to open your e-mail all over again. Why is the phone not clever enough to bring you back to where you were?

    The Move to WordPress

    Trying to get the site going again

    Having neglected the site for quite some time, I`ve decided to try to rip out a lot of the stuff I hacked together, in the name of using some standard tools and keeping the site updated with minimal fuss. The first part of this involves removing my little blog and replacing with WordPress. One thing writing the original code taught me was that it`s fine if you have time to hack code, but when you have a job, a commute, and a life – it`s just not worth the hassle to re-invent the wheel. Also, having played with WordPress a little, it seems pretty good – if I was sad enough, I could update from my phone.

    So I`ve just spent around 3 hours tonight doing a tearjerking copy and paste of the old blog into WordPress format. Hopefully that`s all the grunt work done and dusted, apart from putting the database live. It`s also given me the chance to play with Fedora (I`m not a huge fan yet, to be honest), and brush up on Apache and Subversion set up. I`d toyed with the idea of just ditching the old blog, or maybe having a link to “archive”, but it didn`t “feel” right – one for all you Myers-Briggs fetishists.

    So that`s the blog done – will be tweaking the template no doubt as it doesn`t really fit into the Smarty way of doing things on the site, and I don`t want to move the lot to a 100% WordPress site. I also want to get the newer Morrissey albums onto the Illustrated Smiths page, tidy up the gallery, and then think about making some new shite… it`s been way too long. Probably JIm`s fault for having a stroke in real life – poor chap. Funny how as you get older you start .. “thinking” I guess is the best word .. about the bigger picture.

    I also need to sort out a garden, repaint the place, get the car fixed, do a job, keep the girlfriend happy… It never ends!  How did my parents cope with a million kids running around and all this stuff to do?

    Man that was deep.

    Anyway – the site has changed colour, and some stuff has moved a bit.  This won`t be the final layout – I`ve got a webby with an eye (two in fact) coming up with some ideas on how to make the site a little more spangly – expect that to spring on you like a spring chicken.  Anyway – feel free to call the layout “shitter than before” – it`ll all be nice soon-ish.. probably 2011.

    Welcome To London – The Place To Be

    Disgusted – simply disgusted

    A quick post to thank god that The Guardian has the balls to show the disgusting behaviour of London`s Metropolitan Police in London during the 2009 G20 summit.

    If you`ve been living in a cave for the last few weeks, you`ll have missed the events in and around London, which included residents being blocked from accessing their own homes, dubious responses to protests, and the (currently) questionable death of Ian Tomlinson.

    The Grauniad has an interesting video here which includes a dire Billy Bragg performance, the police surrounding a bunch of sat down, singing protesters with one of their infamous “rings of steel”, a shouty ponce, and knobheads smashing into Royal Bank of Scotland. These knobheads should have quite rightly been locked up. However, what we continue to see is the police, those in power, charged with protecting the people of London, losing it and beating the shit out of anything that moves. What kind of a country is this?

    Now, having seen the media hype – there must have been 500 cameramen/journos for every protester – I found it hard to figure out just whose propaganda to fall for in this case. Until re-watching some of those videos, and remembering what the police are actually supposed to do. And I`m disgusted.

    In much the same way there was less than a smack on the wrist for the execution of Jean Charles de Menezes, we can expect nothing to come of the appalling treatment of Ian Tomlinson. Which is a pity, as I`d like to see the violent “I only joined the police because I was bullied at school” bastard locked away, along with every other officer with him, who were nothing short of disgusting accomplices.

    Taken directly from the Met Police website (they can sue me):

    Our mission

    * Working together for a safer London

    Our values

    Working together with all our citizens, all our partners, all our colleagues:

    * We will have pride in delivering quality policing.
    There is no greater priority
    * We will build trust by listening and responding
    * We will respect and support each other and work as a team
    * We will learn from experience and find ways to be even better

    Perhaps a few amendments are necessary:

    Our mission

    * Working together for a safer London. Our London. Our vision of “safe”, not dictionary definition.

    Our values

    Working together with all our citizens, all our partners, all our colleagues:

    * We will have pride in delivering quality* policing.
    There is no greater priority, and that includes being accountable to the people we are here to protect and serve
    * We will build trust by listening and responding to each other to ensure none of us misses any of the action, and that we get our stories straight before any inquiry
    * We will respect and support each other and work as a team; like a gang
    * We will learn from experience and find ways to be even better at covering up any corruption, lies, and overreacting, trigger-happy colleagues

    *like “Tesco Value” or “Sainsbury`s Basics”

    So again, a nod in the direction of The Grauniad, and a closing thought – perhaps this is why the police are so keen to ban photography that may include members of the police force. The “terrorism” banner once again wheeled out to force through civilian-crushing laws, and now prevent what appears to be legitimate reporting of police brutality.

    Update: take a look here and ask yourself what on earth is going on with today`s news reporting – nicely compiled by Chicken Yoghurt, and via bloggerheads. Between the police beating the shit out of anyone they don`t like the look of, and dubious reporting.. good grief.