Archive for May, 2009

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F-16s are downright sexy.

May 30, 2009

There, I fucking said it.

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F-16s are fucking hot. Cue inevitable comments of “dude you need mental help or something”.

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Antibat2 is a spamming douchebag. And Valkyrie is a cool guy, eh Hitler and doesn’t afraid of anything.

May 28, 2009

Congratulations fucknut, you get your own blog post, which is certainly better than clogging up my OTHER blog posts with your fucking incessant questions.

So, 207.112.89.159, dsl-207-112-89-159.tor.primus.ca,what more do you have to spam? Would you like to post comments with an email address other than the fake daniel2@hushmail.com so I can actually reply directly to you instead of posting a blog post to get your attention?

Contrary to your apparent belief, you’re not the center of the universe, and not every blog post is your playground. I get notifications of new replies to EVERY post, so you know what you do? YOU POST YOUR FUCKING QUESTIONS IN THE RELATED BLOG POST. Is that such a difficult concept to understand? I really didn’t think so.

Meanwhile, and on a completely unrelated note… I shoop’d das whoop.

Shoop of Valkyrie DVD cover art

Shoop of Valkyrie DVD cover art

It had to be done. Here’s the original

edit: Also, no… apparently, HP ProtectSmart is a completely ineffective technology, as I just “tested” it with an already-partially-bad hard drive, by whapping a laptop with HP ProtectSmart (installed, running, and watching the icon), from edge-lifted to drop, and now the hard drive is clicking away. Might be able to recover it, but it’s certainly more “DEAD” than it was before since ProtectSmart did nothing to protect the drive. Real fucking great technology there, HP. If you want my opinion, I think HP was just relying on the fact that modern hard drives typically park their heads off the platter after they’ve been idle for a while… ProtectSmart doesn’t work at all.

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About HP ProtectSmart

May 27, 2009

So, a laptop I’m playing around with has “HP ProtectSmart”, a technology supposedly designed to protect hard drives from falling damage by parking them when it detects a drop.

Yeah right.

I knew right from the start that this technology would need to be high tech. It would need to interface with the OS at a realtime level and park the heads within a couple milliseconds of detecting freefall, in order to do anything. Why did I know this wouldn’t work? Well… think about it. This is HP we’re talking about. Designers of the most bloated, slow, inefficient software on the planet. ProtectSmart is a gimmick.

So I dropped a laptop to test it. Yep.

I first checked that HP ProtectSmart was running. Control panel says it’s supported, enabled, and active. I picked up the edge of this laptop, about 4″ high (pivoting on the rear which is still on the table), then let it bang to the table. Funny, it didn’t show anything about protecting the drive. I did it again, a little higher. Still no indication from the OS. A little higher – this time I picked up the whole computer about 3″, and dropped it. That time it noticed – the system tray icon showed an orange icon, then went back to normal. So, basically, in order for ProtectSmart to “Protect” your drive… it’s got to be enough to totally destroy the drive. Nevermind that those last two bumps were enough to practically kill it already…

I notice that the front hard drive light turns orange when I did that as well. So I pick up the computer and try out its accelerometer. Resting the whole computer on one hand, I give it a simulated drop. Yeah, it’s still white… it didn’t even care. I give it a sharper drop, and at the bottom of the fall (you know, where the simulated fall would have HIT the ground already), it turns orange. Again and again, I test this with the same result – a noticeable delay between when I had simulated the drop (and it should have detected a “lack of gravity” indicating a fall), and when the light turns orange to show that it parked the hard drive.

Several minutes later, I find that my encoding process on that system had hung, and the hard drive was clicking away at unreadable data. Yep, that hard drive is shot. I thought that was impossible with HP ProtectSmart? I didn’t even drop this thing like a normal “drop” would (falling off the couch, etc).

ProtectSmart is nothing more than a gimmick at this point. It won’t protect your drive if it falls; the delay is too long. There are rubber bumpers supporting the drive, but that’s about it and that sure won’t help cushion the blow much if at all. Hopefully HP can improve their software response time, but I rather doubt it knowing HP’s track record.

Can you believe that this computer (HP DV6) won’t even display to an external screen without Vista being booted? Good luck navigating the system (or recovering it) if you can’t get the screen up…

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Why do people care about Twitter?

May 22, 2009

You know, the one thing people seem to keep overlooking about the Twitter over-hype is the ridiculous character limit it imposes on messages. It’s annoying to read, and even more annoying to write, and I can’t understand how people stand to use it at all. SMS set the standard for Twitter, but it really should be the other way around; SMS is way too small a message size as it is, and instead of Twitter pushing the bar towards longer (perhaps 250-300 characters), they actually shortened the possible length BELOW an already cramped SMS message.

Now even super-professional, once highly-respected entities like the Air Force are botching up words and using txtspeek to fit what they want to say into that ridiculously tiny space. It’s promoting an epidemic of poor spelling and grammar called txting, and for some god-forsaken reason, people actually seem to be buying it.

What the hell? You know what I say? Fuck Twitter. Either they need to make a longer character limit, or they should just fall off the face of the internet. For the good of the English language.

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Yes. The Handbrake SVN is stable enough.

May 19, 2009

Meet my 6-PC encoding cluster. Doesn’t handle scratched DVDs very gracefully, but it sure does a great job at running unattended…

Handbrake SVN on 6 PCs encoding Family Guy to x264

Handbrake SVN on 6 PCs encoding Family Guy to x264

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Wolfram|Alpha – “I ate the world and shat out smart”

May 17, 2009

Holy. Fucking. Shit. Wolfram|Alpha just went live a few days ago, and the whole world collectively shat bricks.

For those that don’t know, Wolfram|Alpha is a totally new concept in information seeking. Pose a query to it, and it doesn’t search the internet… it actually computes the answer, a la Deep Thought of Hitchhiker lore. But unlike Deep Thought, Alpha actually knows when to stop and say “hey, that’s a stupid question”. And it doesn’t take upwards of 7 million years to figure out the answer either.

You can pretty much ask this thing anything at all, and it’ll give you the answer. It’s just like it consumed the entire of human knowledge, turned it into a factual calculation, and spat it back out in an easy to digest form. It’s the polar opposite of Google, which has degenerated into looking for a document in a pool of warm gooey spam laced with hypodermic needles. Alpha is just the thing that people have been needing, to simplify the database of human knowledge, and provide easier access to the huge array of information that’s available today. The best part about it? It’s not Wikipedia. It’s not user editable.

I think my research papers just got a hell of a lot easier to write. Did I mention it can do your math homework and show its work?

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Windows Home Server, redefining the idea of RAID

May 16, 2009

Windows Home Server is a sort-of offshoot of Windows Server 2003 designed for home users. Yes, home users. But don’t let that give you the impression that this is a Disneyland vacation… Home Server has effectively “created” technologies that will easily revolutionize the entire IT industry, if Microsoft allows it to.

Drive Extender is at the heart of it all. Drive Extender is a sort of “file based RAID”. Unlike RAID, where the drives are merged and mirrored at the physical level, Drive Extender’s RAID works with files at the logical level. It puts all the files in one “place” using a “landing zone” (primary) drive that has links to all the files on the other drives. It places the actual file on another hard drive (volume) in the array, then creates a hardlink in the “landing zone” drive. So when you browse to the main drive, or the network share, you see all your files there, although the files in the folder may be stored on 5 different hard drives.

Oh, man, the implications this has… and they’re all good. First, imagine you were on a LAN and 100, maybe 1,000 people were accessing files on that share. With a standard RAID array, parts of each file are stored on all the drives – so… all the drive heads move in unison and there is no random-access benefit. Accessing more than one file simultaneously slows the system to a crawl. Well, with a Drive Extender RAID, all the files are stored on different drives. So there’s an excellent probability that the two files the people are accessing are located on different volumes, and there is no bottleneck at all as each drive reads the requested file.

Screenshot of Home Server's storage console, showing drives in the pool

Screenshot of Home Server's storage console, showing drives in the pool

Another benefit is that drive failure doesn’t mean a total filesystem meltdown (if you don’t have mirroring). It just means that the (admittedly, randomly assorted) files on that particular volume are temporarily unavailable until you can bring that drive back online (recover, Ghost, etc). So if you kick a cable by accident, your whole server wouldn’t go down… it’ll just make a few files unavailable until you reconnect the drive. On the subject of drive removal, you can also add and remove volumes on the fly – yes, REMOVE. You can instruct DE to remove a drive, and it’ll move all the data off that drive onto other members of the pool, and allow you to remove that drive with zero effect on data. You can add a drive by simply plugging in a drive of ANY size, and adding it to the pool. It’ll use it for additional storage.

I really think Drive Extender will revolutionize the way RAID is used in businesses… if it can get any attention outside the HTPC and home user circles. I’m certainly not a fan of anything Microsoft has been doing lately (well, 7 is a good “step” back in the right direction), but Home Server is all the right things in the right places. Maybe we’ll see this technology come into the IT world sometime soon.