Strongback Giveaway

In the name of space saving and other committments in the near future, I’ve decided that I should get rid of my strongback. If you’re interested, leave a comment below!

This strongback worked very well for me. Once the beam was put onto the legs, the legs were easy to adjust for contours in the floor. These legs were a big improvement over the first ones that I made – more ramblings on this can be found here.

Hard Drive Death

Sometimes I wonder if I get a bit paranoid about backups and using my NAS. This usually happens on the occasion that I have to do some maintainance on it. Most of the people I know do not have a NAS, which of course begs the question of whether we need to have one or not. As more and more Cloud storage and services are available, perhaps a NAS becomes less relevant. In any event, it’s not often that a friend will tell me about a hard drive crash and them losing data.

nas4free-logo-300x78

Well, yesterday I almost had another one of those events. The hard drive on my NAS, the one that holds the OS, died. I’ve been using NAS4Free for almost a year now, after the FreeNAS project switched over. It’s been a pretty seamless solution for me, but with the OS pooched I was worried. You see, I use a software RAID with the NAS and it’s the OS that makes me able to read my storage drives. I can’t take the storage drives out of my NAS and get data from them using another computer. So it’s pretty important that my NAS keeps on working. Luckily I have a saved copy of my NAS4Free configuration, which is the key to all of this.

I didn’t have an extra drive, so I decided to run the OS from a USB flash drive. It’s a painless process to set it all up, but it did take a bit of time. I re-downloaded the OS, downloaded a USB image writer, created a Live USB OS and then booted into NAS4Free. I then had to grab another blank 4gb Flash USB, and use the “Live” version to install a “Full” version on the 4gb drive. Simple, but a little time consuming. Once the full version was running, I uploaded my configuration file, rebooted, and then all of my old NAS4Free information was there, including access to my storage drives.

Maybe I get an apparent higher rate of dead hard drives simply because I have more hard drives that can screw up. There are 5 in my NAS (1 dead drive which used to be the OS, and then 4 drives for storage), and 1 each in my laptop and desktop. Oh, I also have two external hard drives for backups. I really only use one of these now, it holds 3 TB. As data storage goes up, the old backup drives get too small. My hold external backup was only 500GB…

Moving forward, I can still see a place for the NAS at home. We can download torrents and keep them on the NAS, and have them show on our computers or TV in the front room. The NAS is also good for storing and streaming music, tv shows and movies. However, the increased popularity of services like Netflix has decreased much of our tv and movie streaming.

Night Skiing

Yesterday Grady and I went out for our first time night skiing.  I decided to check out Grouse, as Grady hasn’t really skied there before, other than one bunny hill lesson.  We were on the mountain by 5pm and skied straight through to 9pm.  It was a ton of fun and I’m super proud of how well Grady did.  He showed great perseverence and willingness to challenge himself, which isn’t something he’s always been wanting to do.

Our night was topped off with some delicious hot chocolate.  The one downer was standing around waiting to take the tram down, and the crammed ride that followed.  All in all though it was good times – I’ll be giving some serious thought to getting a Grouse Y2Play pass in the spring.

Night Skiing

Yesterday Grady and I went out for our first time night skiing.  I decided to check out Grouse, as Grady hasn’t really skied there before, other than one bunny hill lesson.  We were on the mountain by 5pm and skied straight through to 9pm.  It was a ton of fun and I’m super proud of how well Grady did.  He showed great perseverence and willingness to challenge himself, which isn’t something he’s always been wanting to do.

Our night was topped off with some delicious hot chocolate.  The one downer was standing around waiting to take the tram down, and the crammed ride that followed.  All in all though it was good times – I’ll be giving some serious thought to getting a Grouse Y2Play pass in the spring.

Web Tracking

There is something twisted about the public being used for marketing purposes in their every day lives. We do this all the time when we wear branded clothing. Granted, there are lots of people who want to show the world that they are wearing designer clothing. On the other hand, many of us don’t like the idea of shelling out $45 for a Nike running shirt and having to advertise for their company while wearing it.

The internet and web are no different when it comes to public marketing. When people sign up for a service such as Facebook, they are agreeing to have their (once) private data used for the commercial benefit of companies. In particular, I found Facebook’s privacy statements to be far too onerous and even outrageous, and decided to delete my account last year. In particular, I think it is outrageous that public photos posted on Facebook immediately hands the rights of the photos over to Facebook. I also learned that Facebook places a tracking cookie on computers that tracks web traffic even if you are logged off of Facebook. I first heard about this on CBC and confirmed it myself.

A friends of mine pointed out that it was hypocritical of me to treat Facebook as my only privacy concern, when other services such as Google do similar things.  They were right, although my argument at the time was that at least Google doesn’t hide their marketing and advertising machinations. That, and I found Google’s services to be really useful.

Having just read an article by Janet Vertesi, a prof at Princeton who recently broke up with Google, I’m now tyring to scale back my use of google as well.  The obvious first step was to replace Google’s search engine with something that doesn’t track my useage.  Duck Duck Go seems to fit the bill (ha ha) quite nicely.  Next steps would be to move my online videos from youtube to Vimeo, and stop using Google Drive (which I dislike and don’t use much).  However, google plays an important part in my mobile computing right now because I use their cloud services for syncing my contacts and calendar across devices.  I’ve thought about replacing some of these cloud services with Microsoft’s but I’m not sure that’s an improvement.  If MS collected data for only their internal sales, that would be a step in the right direction though. But if they’re selling data to companies then it would be no better.

The other thing that I learned about in this process is that we can turn off data tracking in our web browsers, by way of the “do not track” initiative.  To learn how to enable Do Not Track on your web browser, see this link.

Barefoot #2

All of the advice that a person will read on the web with regards to running barefoot is to take things slow when first starting out. I figured that I had spent the better part of the last few months in flip flops and I had already converted to a forefoot strike, so I wouldn’t need to ease into things so much. It turns out that two days after my run, at around 3pm, the left underside of my left foot started throbbing with pain. The pain was pretty strong for two days and caused me to limp a bit. I thought it was pretty funny though, and I’m taking it in stride ha ha.

Next entries »