The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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the bears, the laptop, and the nas, in review
children of dune - leto 1
Part A

Horace the Gallbladder reminded me this morning that yeah, I really need to make that surgical appointment. That was fun. Like, lots.

Part B

[personal profile] syllic however, made it all better by directing me to Harrods to meet Archie, the 2010 Christmas bear and Archie's friend who is not named but I am calling Watson. Actually, I keep calling the Harrods bears the Syllic Bears and then correcting myself while my family doesn't even bother looking at me oddly because I've escalated to imported bears and they're kind of terrified.

Oh my God, people, for those who celebrate the Christmas holidays, it is two months until I can take them out and coo over them! And decorate! Oh God, I get to decorate.

Er, for those of you new to my journals, The Bear Collective 2009 with earlier pictures from 2007 here. This entire bear thing began with [profile] hwmitzy sending me bears one year for Christmas. And it--escalated. Not shown in picture is the Moose and Snowman Auxiliary, because they er, wouldn't fit on the couch. And the Christmas Bunny. And the Christmas Shark. Yes, there is a Christmas Shark and screw you, it's awesome.

Just to warn you, you will see a lot of this come late November.

Sherlock the Laptop

Sherlock the laptop is fucking amazing.

The good

After cooing over him, I did a hard drive partition and realized I have a methodology of movement--use C for programs, D for everything else, and that speeds up transfer time enormously. I also got a Netgear Stora, a NAS (Network Attached Storage), and for those who don't know what that is, it's basically a glorified external hard drive with a direct ethernet connection to the router. I've basically moved all my media onto it, and I'll get back to my review of it in a few minutes so as to gush over Sherlock.

(Yes, the Stora's name is Watson.)

Sherlock so far is gorgeous. (Specs) The speakers are on either side of the keyboard and the sound quality is excellent. It came with Soundblaster enabled, so I've blown out my eardrums playing with the settings a few times. The screen resolution is 1920x1080 and incredibly bright and crisp, though there's a glare problem in the wrong light but I so do not care that much. It runs very smooth (exceptions below) and it multitasks gorgeously. The esata connection is about a hundred times better than usb speeds to say the least, but I have a really bad esata cable so first thing I need to get is another one of those, because I'm kind of spoiled now. The keyboard is backlit and it types softer but not too soft, which I love. Above the keyboard is a flat touch panel with a set of lighted icons that control, in this order, wireless, rewind, stop, play/pause, mute, sound down, sound up,, and the eject button for the DVD player. I love it, it's aesthetically pleasing, and it's freaking inconvenient because the controls are super sensitive and I've turned off my wireless by accident a couple of times now. I just need to get used to it being there.

It comes installed with a Skype client, Dell Datasafe Online, Lojack, Facial Recognition software, Windows Live, and Roxio. Not having used them yet, eh.

There are a total of three SATA ports--hard drive, DVD, and the one for the esata, though the sata controller can host up to six. I haven't had the chance yet to open him up and see what that means exactly, though I suspect if one could add more sata ports someone much more techy than me would have already done so.

The Questionable

The DVD player is slot loaded, not tray, which is surreal and also doesn't have a manual switch, which is annoying.

They really went for form over function for this one; it's very pretty and very streamlined, but they stripped off everything from the back panel and ended up crowding it onto the sides.

Left side, back to front: lojack, VGA, ethernet, display (no idea yet), HDMI, 2 USB, microphone, and two jacks for headphones (this part I like). Right side, back to front: power, esata/usb, DVD, firewire, express card slot with the 8 in 1 reader below it. The front has some little system information lights for wi-fi, battery, et al.

I can justify the usb being where they are, though I miss having ones on the back to plug externals into in a convenient location; I'm pissy about the power being on the right and inconvenient at that.

The bottom no longer has easy-access to RAM and wireless, and there's also no easy access to the hard drive; all of these used to have their own panels. To do anything, the entire back needs to be removed, and I'm honestly not sure why they went this direction unless it was for new-user-intimidation purposes; opening a tiny access panel for most people isn't a big deal. Taking off the entire bottom is psychologically a lot more intimidating. And there was no reason not to have easy hard drive access.

I'm still working on keyboard and touchpad sensitivity; those are user specific, but I'm getting there.

I'll do a disassembly sometime soon and get a better idea of what's inside; I pulled some pics of the motherboard from the net, but I need to really look at it to see what it's capable of. Interestingly, Si Sandra Lite detected that the motherboard can hold a higher processor, so it's nice to know there are still upgrades I can do.

All and All

I love Sherlock. He is awesome. And hot.

Watson the Netgear Stora

This is the Network Attached Drive for anyone who a.) doesn't know what they are, b.) wants easy and convenient. This is a really good starter, and I say this as someone who already killed my warranty by rooting it the first day when it wouldn't let me do something. Er, don't do that, btw.

Anyway, if you are in the market for something that will take you five seconds to start up and never worry about again? This is the one you want. Mine came with a 5400 RPM 1T drive already in there and ready to go, expandable with a second bay to I think a total of four T (2 2T drives). The entire design is both idiot and user friendly--you cannot mess up without a lot of effort or when you went in with an SSH to reset the root login. It's very limited, but in those limits, it's excellent.

There are a total of three methods of access: 1.) browser, you login and go 2.) network attached folders or 3.) sFTP. We'll get back to that last one in a minute.

Under regular, not premium, services, you have access to 1 and 2, and it is accessible from anywhere in the world that you login. Yes, you can login to your NAS from VVC and not worry if you forgot your external. Think about that. You can have up to three accounts, each with the precreated public folders (FamilyLibrary, accessible to anyone with an account unless you indicate otherwise) and the private folders (MyComputers for backup, MyLibrary for your private files, accessible only to that username). iTunes detects and will play from Stora if you want to network your music, either in the public or private folders. Yes, you can give the login to your friends in Seattle and Chicago and they can stream your entire television collection or download (thanks to [personal profile] svmadelyn and [personal profile] scy for being my guinea pigs). They can also upload their own stuff that you can get.

Stora will also let you stream video directly using VLC or Windows Media. Certain cellphones can play Windows Media directly so you can stream to your phone. This is only available to Windows phones and iPhones--Android doesn't have it yet, but I'm still searching for something. Also, your P3, your X-Box, and your TV, and possibly the Wii, though I didn't see it specifically stated and I haven't tried yet. Pretty much anything that can take an ethernet connection or a wi-fi can take this.

You can transfer files with the web access (not recommended) or through Windows itself (recommended) or ftp (still not getting that one to work). Stora comes with a program, Stora Agent--add it. This thing was designed for people who have no idea what they're doing. It will lead you through the daisies easily.

Premium services lets you have ftp access and more than three accounts and some other stuff, IDK, I wasn't paying attention.

Now, it is limited. When I say it is easy to use, I mean, because they took all your options away. Within a set of very strictly defined limits you can set your preferences and you're done and it works.

The Stora comes with one (1) ethernet port and one (1) usb port. You will have to plug it in and probably keep it near your router.

Price range is 149 to 199, there are three versions. So anyone who wants to jump into the NAS wave and not be traumatized, this one is totally for you. If you want more flexibility, it'll cost you, or you can build one yourself, which is what I'm going to end up doing. I'll document when I start, but from what I can tell, I'm just building a very cheap computer with a ton of sata connections. When it's done, I'll name it Watson and rename the Stora something else, because Watson really deserves his own computer.

That is the tech report for the week. When I open up Sherlock or start building New Watson, I'll document the procedure, since that's just fun.

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Let me know when you want to test out Skype! *waggles eyebrows*

It is pretty clear that Archie's "Friend" is only named that because some relative is having issues with calling him by his actual status as Archie's husband.

Also, the NAS sounds sexy, and like the kind of thing I'll get with my next house system upgrade. I have a 2T external, plugged into the desktop, which lets it talk to the world and the Xbox.

I can't justify trading it out for a NAS for another year or two. Sigh.

The NAS sounds awesome, but more like something my brother-in-law would get and I would buy one of the partitions from him. I just can't justify having more than my 1TB WD external right now, since I'm nowhere near to filling it.

I'm jealous. My 1TB has about 50GB left.

Teach me to collect vid files...

Rename the Stora Gladstone when the time comes.

Your bear collection reminds me of when I was a kid when my cousins and I were given Dayton-Hudson Santa Bears (I had these two: 1986 and 1987.

Each Christmas, my parents decorate the top of the back bar with them (and a few other seasonal stuffed animals). I really need to talk with my folks and see if they're going to be using the aluminum Christmas tree this year because that would be AWESOME to decorate.

Must...resist...NAS...must...resist (even though I'm down to 5gb free on my laptop, 8 on my 5gb passport, less than 20 on the 250; there is a lot more free on the 750 but...well, that has been less than reliable since it was dropped quite hard on the floor when we were robbed a couple years back). Must...resist...

Moose auxiliary?

ETA: Also, having read the rest of your entry, I find myself in envy of the NAS. Setting aside the parts where my desktop has become good for not much more than media storage and a vid-viewer, I've had to burn so many vid files to DVD or delete them entirely for lack of storage space, and there have been a few unfortunate incidents where the DVDs later turned out to be corrupted when I went back to copy the files for friends or rewatch them myself.

Edited at 2010-09-21 03:36 pm (UTC)

Ok first, reading this got me hot.

I had the original Netgear SC101. Ig to it on a black Friday sale and it was good, but I found out several things... A) it wasn't Mac friendly. I sent E-Mails to support and when I talked about Mac support, the guy tried to tell me what a MAC address was. Idiot. Secondly, NO WHERE ON THE BOX did it say what the speed of the ethernet port was. Now I was running GBE at home for years, but I was hoping I'd get that. Well it is 100mbit which might have been fine, but it NEVER got close to that, why? it was 100mbit HALF DUPLEX (meaning unlike new yorkers, it could only talk or listen at the same time, not both.)

Next I set up partitions, and you could set them up via incoming IP. which uhm not good. means you needed their Netgear client on each PC that wanted to access the NAS, (which goes against calling it a NAS, but I'll get back to that later) I found that partitions couldn't be SHARED. if you partitioned it out so on a 500 gig partition you could have 1 200 GB private space, and 1 300GB space, there was no option for making it communal. Ugh. Private or nothing. I got around it by making it 1 huge partition and then mapping it on the PC to share it out to the macs on the network. That works, but it was slow as a file had to have a PC in the hop, so it was Mac--PC--NAS and NAS-PC-MAC, totally NOT efficient use of network resources and of course there was a SECOND performance hit.

Now, I said you had to install software, and what it did was install a zetaware iSCSI driver. and I was like Wha??? that means it's not actually a NAS, but a SAN (which can be cool in it's own right) but totally not what was advertised. And not fully a SAN, since it didn't have any of the real SAN abilities. Oy!

Hence ever since the great exodus out of albany, the device has just sat there collecting dust. I've tried giving it away on SEVERAL occasions, but it's PATA (and no one needs a device that can only do PATA) and it's got a slow network connection. *sigh* I constantly over the years I used it participated in Netgear's feedback, and would like to think some of their improvements on their products were due to my suggestions. I run a total netgear shop here at home, with 4 devices from WAP's and Routers and VPN boxen, and my 8 port GBE switch (wish I could afford the layer 3 model but **cries** not in the budget))

I strongly suggest people make their own boxen if they have ANY intiative to do so. If you want to stay out of the tinkering part, then the Stora is fantastic, but there are things out there like "FreeNAS" that you can take an OLD PC, put in 1 or more FAST ethernet cards in it, and cram it full of as many hard drives as you have and configure it whatever suits you best. FreeNAS is great, it's simple, feature RICH, and as the name implies, Free. Shameless Plug

If ANYONE on my F-Lists or yours has questions or thoughts, feel free to contact me. I <3 Storage. It's kinda my thang.

Naturally I had a PC in the livingroom and I

Oh one more thing. I had to expand my DHCP pool to put the SC101 on the network. Why? It ate IP's like Lex Luthor going down on Clark Kent. It had 1 for the Ethernet Port, 1 for EACH DRIVE, and then 1 for each mountable partition. It's how the iSCSI device drivers communicated with it on the back end (hehe) and manipulated things dynamically. I had trouble getting on the network and was like "wha? and the thing at 8 IP addresses out of my pool of 15. Oh and it can't do static. LOVE that. (oy ^ vey!)

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