TLDR: Dealing with a Dead Drobo

TLDR: Dealing with a Dead Drobo

I’m spoiled. I buy some piece of tech, I expect it to work, no muss, no fuss. I’ve been doing this long enough to remember how hard it used to be to get anything done to the point where I’m now often unprepared for what to do when tech things don’t work.

I posted in my social media feed that my Drobo died and was met with mostly “meh” and some confusion. Like I wrote, I’ve been doing this long enough that I wasn’t too surprise that these were things only a technology geek would even care about. I mean I’m talking about an expensive multi-hard disk external digital storage system when most of my friends do all of their “technology” on their smart phones and more than a few have no computer at all in their lives. Whereas I’ve been storing my life on digital media for decades and the reliability and longevity of my storage system is pretty damn important. Thus, I’ve been rocking some version of the Drobo since I bought a version one in 2007. Having a local backup system where I can store my image and video libraries in one place had previously been a real challenge as I filled up CDRs, then writeable-DVDs and then external hard disks.

Purchasing this fourth Drobo (Drobo 5C) was the first time I purchased a Drobo because it’s predecessor had died. All previous purchases were in pursuit of upgrades in the tech and, until this Drobo died, the next step was going to be to upgrade my network-connected Drobo FS (circa 2010) to better serve my aspiration to have all of my movies and TV series available on the network. Damn. As much as I wanted the network version, I learned that I couldn’t just pop my old disks from the old drive to the new (networked) one that I wanted. So I picked the “5C” model that, at least, could be directly connected to my new(ish) MacBook Pro. Alas, at first the migration didn’t seem to work. The new 5C didn’t seem to boot-up and the blue capacity LEDs just flashed off and on and didn’t seem to access the old disks. Damn. I sent a message to tech support and began to prepare myself to bid whatever unique data/media might be on the old disks adios.

The next day tech support sent a procedure to follow to determine what the problem might be. The procedure did more than track down the problem, it seemed to fix it. One bump in the road was that I was using a USB-C dock that had problems maintaining its connections and status whenever the MacBook went to sleep, resulting in a “didn’t properly disconnect disk” warning, and the Drobo 5C didn’t seem to work when connected using the dock (using the USB3-to-USB-C cable that came with the Drobo). It did seem to work fine when directly connected using a USB-C-to-USB-C Apple cable. Yay. But then when I attempted to reconnect the sleeping Drobo this evening it didn’t seem to wake up without rebooting the computer and Drobo several times and making sure to connect using the white-Apple USB-C cables and not the shorter cables that came with the USB-C dock. Weird. It should not require reboots, etc., for the Drobo to wake from sleep. I guess we’re not out of the woods yet. I’ll give it another 24-hours to see if there are any other anomalies before deciding on whether to keep or return the Drobo 5C. I can see why most of my friends and family don’t even with any of this external drive stuff and usually don’t have any backup plan. Yikes. It’s a pain in the ass but I can’t imagine losing all my data/images because of a dead drive.

For example, this past summer I spent 39-days driving from Las Vegas to San Antonio TX to Orlando FL to Washington DC to NYC to Chicago IL to Minneapolis to Oklahoma City and back to Las Vegas. I’ve yet to edit all (or any) of the images and videos from that trip, but I let Apple Photos.app create the following slideshow/video… this was just from one 39-day stretch of time and I’ve been seriously documenting things for decades… I’d hate to lose it all because of some hard disk failure…

Remembering Why I Quit Windows Eight Years Ago

MS Windows Upgrade

MS Windows Upgrade

DailyRandomShit for 2016-07-30 Remembering Why I Quit Windows Eight Years Ago

I tried to upgrade my copy of Windows ahead of the end of the free offer and failed horribly. I had a copy of Windows running using VMware Fusion on my 2012 MacBook Pro. I had an OEM copy of Windows 7 previously installed, but it failed to run and wouldn’t install, leaving me with only XP running on the MacBook. It took forever to figure out that I had to install 7 to get to 10 and I flat out ran out of time. In the end I decided that my time was worth more, having already spent two evenings on the upgrade, than killing myself for a fucking free copy of an OS I haven’t used over the past 8 years (and haven’t missed!). Also, the hassle of the failed upgrades reminded me of how much more easy things are on the Apple side… basically how much is your time worth when you can lose so much time to get “simple things” done. FAIL.

It’s Not Supposed To Be This Difficult – Blogging in 2015

media-credit: Fitz & Pirillo - 060915_a_sign_from_god

media-credit: Fitz & Pirillo – 060915_a_sign_from_god

Part 1 – 2015-11-03

I think I got bored over the summer and decided that I wanted to go from the relatively inexpensive WordPress.com to the extremely customizable “self-hosted” version of WordPress (the version used by WP gurus and whole businesses built on supporting/creating these sites…). Since then I’ve “duplicated” the main blog, though there were about 1,000 posts that didn’t seem to make the transfer successfully (requiring some ongoing hand-coding/manual transferring of the missing posts…). I created a blog specifically for my podcast, jbb’s final thoughts (instead of it being just a category on the main blog). I’ve attempted to move the photos/media blog over to the self-hosted service. This transfer was even worse than the other one, moving just one post and a smattering of associated images. I created a blog that was going to be about my academic work, based on papers, articles, projects that were surfaced during the scanning/digitizing process I’ve been doing over the past 10-months, but I haven’t moved further than having my blog host create the WordPress database/structure. Sadly, since beginning this process I haven’t posted a single podcast since May and haven’t posted a single blog post since August. I think getting this set up is really getting in the way of doing the thing the blogs were supposed to be just a part of, writing and creating content. Shit.

I love having all of the options in the world, but it’s not much value if the process of choosing which podcasting-plugin to go with, for example, is so involved that it can take days to do the research and then set-up not knowing if it’ll do anything better than the previous set-up. It probably doesn’t help much that I’ve been moving from one multi-subject blog to breaking out many into their own blogs, each requiring administration, upgrades/plugin management, graphics content, etc., etc., etc. After restricting myself to the narrower world of WordPress.com, I’m now not only overwhelmed by choices (not all of them Free), but also with the larger management requirements spread across multiple WordPress blog installations. Ack.

2015-11-04 squarespace themes

2015-11-04 squarespace themes

Blogging Conundrum Continued

2015-11-04 So, after the previous rant I spent more time exploring SquareSpace, WordPress.com and my own blogging setup. In the just-ended-Wordpress.com-days I paid $13 to have my own domain name and no dot-Wordpress in the URL and then $99 for a premium account which included 10GB more space, ability to host and play MP3s and video files. I thought that previously they had several different options if you wanted just storage, or more storage, etc. But it looks like they’d discontinued that and only offer Free, $99 Premium and $299 Commercial. Not having to deal with plugins and upgrades was nice but that also meant even with a Premium account you had far fewer options than you’d have with a self-hosted (.ORG) account. Yeah, been there, done that.

So, SquareSpace is highly regarded and they changed they’re pricing structure since I explored moving to that platform several years ago. Also, because I’d previously had a paid account I don’t know if I can do a free-two-week test. The lowest plan, at $8, is just under what my Dreamhost bill will be after the first-year discount runs out (at $9.95 per month). This account is limited to 20 pages/galleries/blogs, but with unlimited bandwidth and storage. The next step up is $18 per month for unlimited pages, galleries, and storage, which will be twice as much as my current account will be. SquareSpace is renown for being fast, stable and very user friendly. One thing, from my brief exploration is that I’m really not too turned on by the theme selection. They seem to lean heavily on a very visual style but only if you’re going to display less than a dozen images. Remember, I’ve been using “magazine” type themes for the past few years, with sliders and story “cubes” all over the main page. I’ve seen mostly giant single image styles, or textless-portfolio styles. Part of the problem is no doubt connected to not having background access to the platform and only being able to judge things based on how other users have implemented their websites. They are very not “bloggy” looking. I might have to try to do another two-week trial to really know if I can find a theme or themes that work for me. Damn, this is still taking up too much time.

Blogging Musings Continue

Four-Article Subject Themes Example

Four-Article Subject Themes Example

2015-11-06 I keep bouncing back and forth between whether to double-down on my current self-hosted WordPress blog or abandon ship for SquareSpace. WordPress.com dropped from contention primarily because it was just too narrow for my needs (as in $99 for 10GB media storage, no real choice in pluggins, etc.). I loved that they were responsible for updates, etc., but I’ve always tended to be an “unlimited space” kind’a guy. So, SquareSpace boasts the WordPress.com kind of easy use and stability, but it also suffers from limited choices in themes and pluggins and I’m just a bit nuts about wanting to do everything… That may be way more aspirational than practical but it does influence me when I’m thinking of where I want to host my work. The options are wide-open on the self-hosted side, but is all this “freedom” the amount of focused energy needed to keep all the balls in the air?

Up until just now writing this post I had been thinking that I needed to give SquareSpace one more try, just to verify that I can get the “Magazine” look that I favor and portfolio approach that I want with my media pages… But one thing that came up in my research is a feature in WordPress (both self-hosted and .com) to make posts in completely separate WP blogs and have those posts dynamically appear in another WP blog/webpage. I had been thinking that I wanted my various topics to have their own “feel” or theme. I wanted “The Intentional Educator” to feel a bit different than “JBB’s Final Thoughts” or different from my Media/Tech Reviews. But I obviously would want those posts to also appear in the main “JoeBustillos.com” website. Previously I’d have to manually post the same entry in both places to make it work, which was one of the reasons I went to a Magazine-type theme in the first place, to allow for my varied interests to not be part of one non-distinguishable stream of posts.

But even with the dynamic posting, each additional blog would require that much more maintenance and up-keep. Ugh. Sounds too much like heading back into “tool-maintenance over tool-usage” territory. Also, having all of these blogs might also dilute any kind of “social networking” following that I might be generating. It made me think that my main JoeBustillos.com page would turn into a static “About Me” page, and who the hell is going to bother with that. Thus, given all the energy needed to get things going, this was making me even more hesitant to jump in.

But a post on the WordPress.com blog got me thinking that one solution might be to “unify” the various blogs by going back to a “topic to explore across different areas” method that I briefly tried in 2012. For example, in late May/early June 2012 I wrote four articles using the idea “Mistakes Were Made.” The first one “Mistakes Were Made: Journalism Still Faltering Making ‘Digital’ Work” (tech/media), the next “Mistakes Were Made: End the Black Box Fallacy & Give Teaching Back to Teachers” (education), the third “Mistakes Were Made: Being Yourself Doesn’t Mean Be An Asshole” (lifestyle), and the fourth “Mistakes Were Made: On Camera” (journalism/bloopers). At the time I decided to do the four-article thing because my WordPress theme intentional only showed the four most recent articles on the home page. It was a bit exhausting because I expected or aspired to write four articles a week. And then I got sick and it all went to hell.

If I were to do this “topic” based approach again, I think I wouldn’t trickle out the articles but would publish them all at once, either monthly or twice-a-month, and I might use the podcast JBB’s Final Thoughts to promote the lead article and link to all the other articles. That would really push the main “magazine” themed page to look like a publication to go to to find this month’s articles.

Now whether each area needs it’s own actual separate blog will depend on whether this plugin I just found, Multiple Themes, that allows one to use multiple themes to work on one blog (based on pages/categories/URLs/?) actually works. Besides how well behaved my themes might be, I’m also concerned that my media-heavy posts might not work too well and bring my economy hosting plan to a “loading screen” standstill,

Okay, enough thinking about it. Time to just do it (without the Shia LeBeouf silliness).

Et Tu, iPhoto?

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For as long as I can remember I was the guy with the camera. As a result I have a lot of boxes of photos (yes, physical prints), photo albums and gigabytes of image spread out over several personal and shared media servers. I’ve been wrestling with my collection for some time and had previously been a strong believer in the iLife/iPhoto process mostly because it was so seamless getting my images off of my devices and into a library where I could decide what to do next with the images. But for a long time my collection has been just too big to be in one iPhoto library. So I tired to break my collection down to yearly chunks, but I often need or want to use images from previous years and it’s a pain to even know which library the image might be in. Actually the combination of the different storage limitations of my devices and my main macbook pro is where things break down. I have the storage capability on my network server but iPhoto doesn’t like network drives and I can only imagine how slow things would run as the library got even bigger. I don’t need to add any more spinning-pin-wheels-of-death to my life. So, I started dismantling my iPhoto libraries, making sure that I have all of the images stored, still organized based on date, but accessible from the Finder or any other file-level application, like say Adobe’s Lightroom.

What really is pushing me away from iPhoto, besides the storage problems, is as easy and automatic as it is to take a picture on my iPhone and have it automatically show up on all of my other devices, editing an image on iPad with iPhoto for iPad didn’t automatically make the return trip. What is worse is that label and notes that one might add to an image in iPhoto on the Mac didn’t show up when viewing the image on the iPad. This might seem trivial, but because I use images for all kinds of sources and need to keep track of where I got the image and its licensing, I started using the notes feature in iPhoto for mac, but saw that the info wasn’t available to edit or even view when looking at the same image in iPhoto for iPad. I’m still in the huge process of making sure all of my images are available outside of the iPhoto libraries and would like to use Lightroom or something similar but I’m intrigued at the announcement at the recent WWDC of a iCloud-based version of the Photos.app that makes editing seamless between devices and also opens up to having ones whole collection available online. Interesting. We’ll see. I know that scrolling through my Flickr account can be really slow and when I was looking for my own panoramas to add to a collection, the scrolling flat out failed and hung up. So we’ll see if iCloud can do any better. Back to managing my photo collection(s). Ugh.

Tweaking Tech & The How Much Is Your Time Worth

I have a co-worker whom I tease endlessly because when he switched from iPhone to a Samsung phone, he always seemed to be spending his time tweaking the device to do the things his iPhone used to do. He is happier having a much larger screen for less money. And I’m all about having choices and competition between tech vendors, but the question cannot really be settled based only on the price he paid to bring his new device home. How much time is he spending, as in days, getting the thing to work, and not just setting it up, but also all the endless tweaking? And how much is his time that he’s spending on all of this worth?

Believe me, I know all about tweaking devices because before I went full-time Mac I spent most of my tech-time tweaking my PC’s settings, just to get stuff to work. I may have gotten into tech because I was looking for a better way to do my writing, but I spent most of my time making my desktop theme look really cool and not writing. I may have had many more choices in apps and add-on peripheral devices back in the PC days, but I spent so much more time getting these devices to work, to the point that I became something of a troubleshooting expert, but that’s not why I got the thing in the first place. In terms of hours and days spent looking for answers and tweaking settings, how much did it cost me to get my cheaper PCs to run versus the more expensive Mac equivalents to work?

The irony of all this is that I have an old Mac Mini that I’ve been resisting replacing even though it can’t run the current OS, it can’t handle anymore RAM or hard drive space and is in need of an OS re-fresh because more and more things are beginning to not work. Refreshing the OS wouldn’t be a big deal except for the fact that when I bought it all those years ago I went cheap and only got the CD drive model and now the OS requires a DVD drive to work. So, I just spent the past week trying to figure out how to make this refresh work. Couldn’t find a way to make a bootable USB drive, that didn’t require the missing DVD drive, etc., etc. Yeah, given all of the hours I’ve spent researching and trying different OS imaging methods without success, if my time was only worth $80 an hour (typical tech support fee), I could have bought a new Mac Mini and be done with all this crap. Damn. I hate it sometimes when I’m right about the cost on my own time. To be continued…

Lightening the Load

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Me and my backpack and walker. Image by Joe Bustillos.

Me and my backpack and walker. Image by Joe Bustillos.

This past week when I went into the office I left the ranks of the computer-backpack downtrodden. Over a year ago, back when I was ill, I had to carry everything in a bag because I needed both hands to support myself with my walker. It was bad enough to have to use a bag just to carry a water bottle or anything, but going to the office was all the worse because I had to lug around all this heavy gear like some broken down pack mule. I experimented with a few things like using my Mac Mini at work and iPad for everything else, but they were just too slow and I had problems with things running different versions of the software I used, so I gave up. Then I got stronger and didn’t mind carrying the computer backpack as much.

As fate would have it I recently installed some software on the work laptop that made a bunch of stuff incompatible, so I needed to have the thing re-imaged and that made it run much better than it had in the past. That made me think that maybe I could forgo my former pack-mule existence and just carry about my iPad mini like I’d previously imagined. I spent some time making sure that I had all the software and documents I needed on the work laptop and the means to keep everything in sync. When I thought that I’d tested everything and made sure it all worked I went to work without any backpack of any kind. It was glorious. And thanks to my 5.11 Tactical Pant (cargo pants modeled after their military and law-enforcement brothers), everything I needed fit in my pockets. No giant backpack carrying all of my worldly possessions, cables, connectors, adapters and the like. Just my iPad mini, a small external-hard-drive (because I had some image collections I’d forgotten to load on the work laptop), a ziplock baggy with a few iOS connectors, a micro-fiber cloth & Olloclip iPhone camera adapter and my Pencil (an iPad stylus from Paper 53) all fit comfortably in my pants’ pockets.

I know that this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, “So you have a computer at home and a computer at work and you’ve got weird cargo pants to fit your tablet in”… but having carried a laptop to work and back everyday going back to when I first started teaching in the mid-90s… hell, I was carrying my personal laptop going back to my phone company days… so, I’m happy to think that I can give my poor back and shoulders a break and be able to get away with carrying my technology in my iPhone and my iPad-mini. First-world problem, I know, but it’s taken over a year to get here and I’m going to enjoy the freedom to have my hands-free and my back unencumbered.

Not Me. Toulouse, France by theritters, Some rights reserved (Attribution).

Not Me. Toulouse, France by theritters, Some rights reserved (Attribution).

Resources:

5.11 #74251 Men’s Cotton Tactical Pant

Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens Solution for iPhone 5/5s – RED/Black

Walnut + Magnetic Snap Pencil. Made for Paper.

Graphite Pencil by FiftyThree

image: Toulouse, France by theritters, Some rights reserved (Attribution), http://www.flickr.com/photos/theritters/2681776959/

Adios RockMelt Browser

2013-07-12_adios_Rockmelt-2

I’ve been shopping at Costco going back to the days when it was called Price Club, which is all to say that I’ve been trained to enjoy fun discoveries, but then be okay with their short lifespan and impermanence. Which brings me to my discovery this morning that one of the browsers that I’ve been using for a few years, the RockMelt browser is being “retired.” What the hell? RockMelt followed in the paces of the “social” web browsers like the now gone Flock browser, trying to tie ones Internet experience with various hooks to ones social networks. Alas, there’s apparently little need for such a thing and so the RockMelt browser is going away. I don’t know if it’s a failure of the browser to catch on with Chrome, Firefox, IE and little Safari or the dominance of FaceBook to swallow up everything “social.” Anyway, I guess they’re using the “retire” euphemism because the RockMelt engine has been pushed into an iOS app (Android app in June 2013…) and on the surface looks like another Pinterest clone. Ack. Oh well. Next?!

What’s the Life-Expectancy of Bluetooth Headsets?

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I bought this Motorola S10HD Bluetooth headset in 2011, but didn’t get into really using it until the past five or so months (primarily because I wasn’t impressed with how clumsy the pairing was). So now I only use them with my iPhone, mostly to listen to podcasts. I love not having to be tethered to my device and started using it every day. Well, until this morning when clicking the power switch did nothing. It’s a little recessed rubber switch that isn’t easy to engage. And now apparently it cannot be engaged rendering the device useless. Damn. I guess the life expectancy is much longer as long as you don’t actually use the device. Once you fall for the daily use trap, then the life expectancy is about the same as the common house fly. [fail trombone]