NAS = Not Altogether Sure

mr fix-it Okay, here’s the truth. I’m like my dad, in that it’s never about being done. My dad took that approach to his yard and I have the same attitude about my technology set-up. Like my dad, it all hides behind the veneer of getting work done but the truth is that I love thinking of new ways to “get things done” and my life seems like one giant “beta” test. So, it only made sense that as I was thinking of putting some DVDs on my iPod that i began to think about moving my iTunes from the slow 933MHz G4 to my much faster 2GHz MacBookPro. Only problem with this idea was that I just don’t have the disk space for my whole library (over 60GBs, not counting the growing podcast and video-podcast collection).

PC, G4 & 2 External drives So… I’d seen a relatively inexpensive 400GB external hard drive at Costco that had built-in network access (generally called a NAS, network access server). With the NAS I could move my whole iTune library and ripped DVDs to a drive that would be accessible from every computer on the network. The current setup made all four hard drives on the G4 accessible to the mbp but not the PC, and I had to have the G4 up and running iTunes so that the other two computers could share the whole library across the network. I was just thinking, given the mpb’s much greater processing speed that there’d be an advantage to moving everything there so that I could take advantage of the mbp’s power when ripping the DVDs to disk and then when encoding them to play on my iPod. So I set about to clean up my music library and copy the whole thing to the NAS. That took about a week. After going through all of that imagine my disappointment when it seemed to take over 15-minutes for me to sync my iPod every time, when it had previously taken less than two-minutes to sync it from the slower G4. This wasn’t going to work. Shit.

The beauty of the former set-up was that every piece had its function and the load seemed to be evenly distributed across the network. The PC, running a 2.8 GHz Pentium, was connected to my TV & stereo, so it was used primarily to play my DVDs and iTunes on the stereo. It was also used to run anything that wouldn’t run on the macs. The G4, running an aging 933 MHz PowerPC, was my main iTunes server, continuously running and downloading podcasts and videocasts as they were published. My printer is also connected to it, making the printer wireless accessible from the macbookpro. Moving iTunes to the NAS to be run from the mbp, would have relieved the G4 from active duty, and I was thinking of putting Ubuntu (a form of Linux) on it. But waiting over 15-minutes for the iPod to sync up every time wasn’t going to fly. Performance of iTunes wasn’t so hot either, with me waiting between mouse clicks much more than I was previously used to. I also tried to play DVDs stored on the NAS across the network on the mbp… too many dropped frames. So that experiment went to hell.

I guess part of the problem is that I’m running my mbp wirelessly across the network (802.11g), which is quick, but not as quick as a firewire or otherwise directly connected hard drive. Damn. So, it’s back to using the G4 as an iTunes and printer server, the PC to play DVDs and iTunes on the stereo and everything else on the MacBookPro. I guess I’ll continue to back up my iTunes music, iPhoto libraries, and ripped DVDs to the NAS. But, for now, it’ll be more of a backup server versus a streaming server. Damn. Oh well, it wasn’t about getting things done anyway, as much as learning from the journey. JBB