Archive for Rambling

Talking up to your customers

// August 19th, 2010 // Comments Off on Talking up to your customers // Rambling, tech

Frankly, I think RED could have handled their current RED-DRIVE/RED-RAM supply (or lack thereof) problem a bit better than it has. Case in point, the latest which amounts to ‘stop whining’.
The latest response -or- Read from the start
(Sorry to single you out, Brent, but the sword is in your hands and you’ve fallen on it willingly.)

I made an off-the-cuff remark that they’d been taking customer service lessons from AT&T; a demeanor often described as “we’re not happy ’til you’re not happy”. But, that’s actually a bit harsh in that, frankly, I don’t think they’re even thinking about their ‘front-facing’ appearance at all. I don’t follow RED like I used to (mostly because the product I am/was interested in hasn’t shipped yet) but I still watch with interest when they make announcements. They are unique in their customer interfacing practices. And this time… I don’t think it’s gone very well. So, RED, here’s a favour from me to you:

My idea of a better reply to RED customers about the removal of large storage options from the RED store before any replacement option is available. Let me see if I can help you lads with some ’empathy for your customers 101′.


I’d like to try to answer some of your criticisms and concerns as best I can. While it’s clear that, by the very fact that you as customers have raised this issue, there’s a real concern over the recent removal of RED-DRIVE and RED-RAM from our store, we want to explain as best we can why this was necessary. As you know RED has traditionally been on the bleeding edge of camera technology and we do this with a small staff compared to other companies. As such, sometimes we have to make decisions that shift our focus and this sometimes means moving engineering and product work to focus on new, better technologies for the future.

As most of you no doubt know, we’re right on the cusp of releasing some new hardware that will change how many of our existing accessories relate to the overall line. And may change many things about shooting with our cameras, not the least of which are storage requirements. Part of our change of focus, along with the normal supply issues we face with accessories that require outside vendors (drives, flash, etc.) has caused us to, some feel prematurely, stop taking new orders for RED-DRIVE and RED-RAM (we are still fulfilling existing order and providing servicing). We want to assure you that relief is on the way in the form of larger 64GB CF cards as well as some new storage technologies we can’t discuss just yet. We hope you’ll understand the latter and trust us on that.

We’ve often asked you – our working customers who, we understand, have immediate needs in your day-to-day work – to wait, to be patient and trust us and that we would make it all worthwhile in the end. As with the RED-ONE, which was a long but ultimately fulfilling wait for many of you, we hope you’ll bear with us through this growth bump as we re-tool for an even more awesome future. Please watch the site and forums and we’ll keep you posted when new storage solutions are ready to shop.


The RAID post that was

// March 1st, 2010 // Comments Off on The RAID post that was // Rambling, tech

My RAID post had a glaring and awful error in it (thank you to the commenters who pointed it out) as well as an implication in the graph I didn’t intend and so I’ve removed it. I don’t feel that leaving inaccurate information up is helpful to anyone. Thanks again to the commenters who pointed out my mistakes. I hope to re-visit the post at some point and I’ll be sure to give credit where it’s due. – Maggie

The HD/DV Rebel’s Guide* to Not Losing Your Sh… Stuff

// May 15th, 2009 // Comments Off on The HD/DV Rebel’s Guide* to Not Losing Your Sh… Stuff // Rambling, tech

* – With apologies to Stu Maschwitz

Oh, we’re all clever Dicks and Janes when we talk about backing up data as it comes off the camera. We like that stuff. It’s immediate. It’s grubby. It’s ‘field work’. Makes us feel like video farmers. “Gimme that G-Drive, mistah. Gon’ hook me up some Fahwahr and offload this hya video.” I suck at New England accents in person too. Sorry. But when that data gets home… we turn into suburban farmers instead. You know… the ones who plant that garden in spring and then… say “screw it” by the fall and it becomes an ugly shameful scar in the back yard that mommy doesn’t like to talk about so stop asking me.

Assumption #1 – Backup means that the files you love and can’t live without are stored in more than one place and that a failure of one storage medium is not a catastrophic failure. Sorry, but I have to be frank here… if you think that “everything on a new external hard drive” is equivalent to “safe”, you’re living dangerously.

I’ve handled a lot of drives in my sordid career, and I’ve had brand new drives fail mere seconds after they were powered up. True story: Guy on the Internet, who we’ll cleverly refer to as GuyX, pitched a fit in a support forum for a well-known drive manufacturer when the nearly new external drive he had stored ’10 years of his life on’ went belly up and he was adamant that he was not the one at fault. Drives fail. Grow up. Every drive is a whirling dervish full of failure waiting to happen. Copying your life’s work to a single drive is not a ‘backup’, it’s a screwup. Two copies equals one backup. One copy equals ticking time bomb. And in the immortal words of networking guru and chicken owner Selena Deckelmann, “What part of ‘ticking time bomb’ do you not understand?!?” (Blatant old friend plug. What up, S!)

So, you’re not that guy. Or girl. Who’s not that guy. You care. But… in case he drops in, I feel we need to cover this base first so we’re all on the same page, as the boys in Polos and khaki with their holstered Blackberrys like to say. (Yes, the plural of Blackberry the mobile device, not the actual berry, is Blackberrys.)

Assumption #2 – Your house or place of business may burn down in a fiery spectacle that will leave your neighbors talking about ‘the big one’ for months to come. Just imagine it! No, really. Do it. Imagine all the data you stand to lose. “Gaw-lee! That girl’s house burnt like the fires o’ Hell for near’bout two whole days!” You will be well and truly screwed if your prized data and your backup are both housed in that horrific-yet-now-enthralling display of nature’s wrath that burns so hot you end up with one side of your face a bright red.

OK. Stop thinking about it. That’s freaking scary, no? So store your backup — heck make it two now that you’re freaked out by the vision you just had — elsewhere if at all possible. If it’s not possible… then… Wait, what? Where do you live? The arctic shelf? Prison? The Moon? Even on the moon you could find an off-site crater to tuck a drive into. Talk to a friend and suggest, like (blatant plug #2 ahead!) Dan Benjamin did, that the two of you can create a new symbiotic relationship vis-a-vis your respective backups. Swap drives/tapes/whatever on a regular basis and protect each other’s most valuable possession: your video files and pictures of that girl who broke your heart after graduation and I’M NOT BITTER, SHARON, I’M NOT! Sorry…

No, don’t ask the pyromaniac in the apartment upstairs, but do ask your co-worker or your mom or your Call of Duty partner (HOORAH!). Or, simply, just take a drive to work and stick it in your desk drawer. When doing either, I highly recommend that you encrypt your drive/data, if it’s personal or sensitive, and definitely label it clearly as to who owns it and what it is. You don’t want your friend peeping your shameful video letter to the Stargate SG-1 fan club or a co-worker taking the drive from your desk because his Dell dropped a kidney on Sunday and he needed a ‘spare’ hard drive post haste to finish stalking someone on Craigslist. (Hang on, you over there going “What about ‘The Cloud’???” I’ll get to you.)

Where was I? Ah. Two copies and, hopefully, two locations. And, finally before we move on to the ‘how’ part, having a RAID storage device is not a backup. If you’ve got a nice new workstation with a built-in RAID or a deskside enclosure, good on you. It’s a wonderful life. But… BACK THAT THING UP! And store that backup off-site. Word.

OK. Now… how the heck are you gonna accomplish this? Well, what can you afford? Don’t beat yourself up thinking you must pay some service to vault your video or that it will cost an arm and a leg to to do this. You’re a rebel! Let’s start cheap and work up to ‘you got too much damned money, you’re no rebel!’

Bare Drives
Oh, yes. Oh, baby. Drives are cheap these days. Damned cheap. You can buy a 1TB drive for well under $100 if you shop around. And 1.5TB to 2TB drives aren’t that much more. If you add a drive dock like this or this to your rig… BAM! Instant backup system.

Copy your preciouseses to this drive and then haul it off-site for storage before the pyro upstairs drops that fateful match. Or, better yet, automate it. I use the awesome (some claim ‘super’) SuperDuper to do this. Find what works for you. And remember, you’re a rebel. Spend what you need to, not what some captain of industry says you need to.

Yep. Magnetic media. Look, it’s not dead. Ask any studio. And tape doesn’t ‘head crash’ and can be forensically recovered at less expense and with greater success than hard drives. And… well, OK, it costs more. So… you have that to think about. But, search around on eBay or Cragslist and maybe, in between the Star Wars collectibles and ‘misc romance’, you can find a used LTO drive or even a DAT drive for cheap. Sure, tape backups take a long time, but they work.

Just make sure to verify your backups (nothing ruins your world like a blank tape, pal) and clean your heads regularly. And by that I don’t mean “pop ’round the pub for a beer”. Well, yeah I do, but not in relation to cleaning your tape drive heads. Do that sober.

The Cloud
Don’t overlook the possibility of relying on the kindness of strangers. The Internet is full of both porn and companies trying to solve the online storage conundrum. Dropbox. Amazon S3. Mozy. Rackspace. Elephant Drive. MobileMe. Idrive/Ibackup. There’s a metric buttload of these things out there. And they all want to offer you the use of their storage (usually in exchange for some of your moneys if you want much storage). Just pick carefully and try not to lean too heavily on them. They are, after all, on Teh Internets. A wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Keep in mind that the upload speed for Teh Cloudz will be even slower than tape. So plan well and give it some time. But, if you go this route, you can check off ‘2 copies’ and ‘2 places’ with one stroke of your imaginary pen. Or pencil. If you’re one of those people. And if you’re even more of a rebel… build your own cloud! If you do your rebellious work somewhere that’s not home, set up a shared drive at home that you can access and backup your stuff. Or get one of these and slap a drive on it. Be creative. Be a rebel. Go on. Be one. Off with you.

Sure, what I’ve just covered amounts to, in hindsight, common sense. But every day I talk to people who, whether they admit it or not, I am certain have not archived their very important assets. Some will admit it, some will just shuffle their feet and look at the ground as they give a sideways answer. If Newton had been a technologist, he probably would have posited that “a backupless user tends to stay backupless unless acted upon by an outside shaming force”.

I am that force. Boo! Go back up your data now! Do it! No more excuses. Today is the first day of the rest of your good backup habits days. And the 16th as it just passed midnight here. So, it’s now tomorrow. You’re late already! Go, you rebel you! Go and be safe.

Having A Panicless Kernel Panic

// May 9th, 2009 // Comments Off on Having A Panicless Kernel Panic // Rambling

Kenn Bell, of the fabulous Dog Files (you don’t need a dog to be a fan), was having a problem with his MacBook Pro at startup. Turns out, it was kernel panic’ing. I couldn’t tweet everything I wanted to say in 140 chatracters, so I thought to myself “well, you’re a professional sysadmin by day, write out what you’d tell someone who dropped by the office with this problem.” So I did. Now, a kernel panic isn’t something you’ll see every day, but, if it happens to you, you’ll likely want to panic as well. It seems pretty dreadful when you get that ‘you must restart’ screen, but all may not be lost.

First, some background. The kernel is the heart and soul of your computer’s operating system. It’s quite resilient on its own, but we pile heaps and heaps (hehe… sorry… nerd joke…) of stuff on it in order to make our computers useful. But, if some near-catastrophic situation occurs where the kernel finds itself unable to continue/perform, it will ‘panic’. A panic is basically a software work stop. It’s saying to you “something is seriously wrong and I can’t (or won’t, for your protection) continue.” The problem could be hardware or it could be software. Let’s try to figure out which, shall we?

  1. Remove and then re-seat the RAM. The memory modules in your Mac are pretty easy to remove. Refer to Apple’s support pages or the booklet that came with the machine. If you have canned air, it wouldn’t hurt to blow out the socket too, but that’s low on the scale of ‘probable cause’. But RAM modules can work loose and just one less-than-adequate connection, especially if it’s intermittent, can cause no end of havoc for your computer. This is especially true of laptops.
  2. Do you have AppleCare? If so, boot from the CD that came in the box (hold down the “c” key at startup) and run the test utility included. If your kernel panics are constant and you don’t get one when booting from the CD (or a OSX disc), then your hard drive (or the OS install on it) have moved up the suspect list. Hopefully the utility will identify the culprit.
  3. If you can’t boot the machine without a panic, try booting in safe mode.
    If this works, then you’ll likely need to reinstall OSX at this point… You have a backup, right?
  4. If you can boot the machine (from hard drive or AppleCare CD or OSX CD/DVD), check your hard drive’s SMART status with Disk Utility. Click on the drive and look at the bottom of the Disk Utility window. If it says anything other than ‘Verified’, start cloning your data off this drive now, if you haven’t already. A little mild panic is allowed in this case. Got SuperDuper?
  5. If you can boot the machine (from hard drive – you don’t have SuperDuper on your CDs…) and have done all the above, clone your drive now. Hopefully you’ve already done this, but it bears pointing out. At the very least, have a backup of your data somewhere (via clone or Time Machine or whatever). Boot from the cloned drive (hold down the option key at starrtup and select your clone drive) — try it several times if the kernel panic is intermittent. If the kernel panic ceases, we can start suspecting your hard drive and not OSX. Otherwise, or if you don’t have a bootable clone, just a backup, let’s move on.
  6. If you can boot the machine from hard drive (your kernel panics are intermittent) and nothing above has worked, have you recently repaired permissions? Before we get into things that might make some people nervous (single user mode, etc.), let’s eliminate a simple permissions issue (or, maybe Disk Utility will error out and show that it’s the hard drive at fault). If you haven’t repaired permissions in a while, open up Disk Utility and do so now. With any luck, you won’t have a panic during this. But we have a clone/backup to fall back on, right?
  7. OK, I lied about single user mode. We’re not going there. If you’re familiar and comfortable with single user mode and fsck and and the like, you probably stopped reading this about 3 bullets ago. You may now panic. But only if you don’t have a backup. If you have a backup, it’s time to try the last-ditch-effort: reinstall OSX and restore your user data. Annoyed? Yes. Panicked? No.
  8. If reinstalling OSX does not help, it’s time to hit the Genius Bar or call AppleCare. There are other things you could attempt, but this is what you paid for. It’s time to let someone who gets paid to do it take your burden away. Deep breath… and repeat after me, “I’m so glad I got AppleCare.” You did get AppleCare, right? Oh, yes. Right. Let’s try that one too, “I’m so glad I’m still under warranty.”

There are other things you could try, but they’re outside of the scope of this post (i.e. – I’m too lazy at this point to type it all out). Good luck!

Something I feel very deeply about

// March 5th, 2009 // Comments Off on Something I feel very deeply about // Rambling

I wrote three similar notes to both MA senators and my state representative today. I wrote them regarding GAPA, the Great Ape Protection Act. Below is what I wrote to Rep. Capuano. The other two notes were very similar. You can write yours too, if you’d like, by going here: Find your reps and write or call them

Dear Rep. Capuano,

I’m writing you to ask you to please support the Great Ape Protection Act which has been re-introduced.

We have the ability to convince ourselves of many things. One of those little lies we tell ourselves is that great apes are ‘just dumb animals’. And we tell ourselves that, like other animals which we use for our food and our daily toil, we have should complete dominion over them. But the great apes are not dumb animals. The kinship we share with these intelligent creatures is evident to anyone who looks into their eyes, communicates with them or hears them laugh with one another. Knowing how we treat them in labs all across America, it’s all the more heart -breaking to watch these bright creatures tickling one another, causing fits of laughter, an act we assume is specific to us humans. And then to look into those same eyes, no longer laughing – but now frightened and alone- and see a soul pleading with you, you who it recognizes as being another self-aware being, to please… please just release it from the cage where it’s trapped and feels nothing but isolation and pain… That will truly break your heart in a most excruciating way.

Please Mr. Capuano. Support this act. It will force us to face up to our responsibility to these intelligent creatures and to stop treating them like something they’re not: dumb animals.

Thanks for hearing me out.
Maggie McFee
Cambridge, MA

Winter Weathercam

// December 21st, 2008 // Comments Off on Winter Weathercam // Rambling

Have some snow. Webcam from our house and my office.

PS – A quick update for those who watch this space for disk info. I’ve had 1 complete failure of a WD10EACS and one with severe SMART errors. Not good. Also, after keeping an eye on them, I find that the Samsung HD103UJ run 3-5 degrees cooler than the WD10EACS. Another strike against the Western Digital disks.

Drive Testing Has Begun

// July 10th, 2008 // Comments Off on Drive Testing Has Begun // Rambling, Raves, tech

I’ve started the drive tests I wrote about earlier ( read here ).

I’ll be posting the results here in two batches as they’re completed:
1st batch will have results for all 4 models in the single disk and 3@RAID0 tests.
2nd batch will have results for the top two performers in additional configurations (4 disks and E-SATA).

The drives being tested are:
Western Digital WD10EACS Caviar GP
Seagate ST31000340NS Barracuda ES.2
Hitachi 0A35772 Ultrastar A7K1000
Samsung HE103UJ Spinpoint F1 RAID
(all are ‘enterprise’ class 1TB SATAII drives)

Stay tuned!

Bees are on the what now?

// June 10th, 2008 // Comments Off on Bees are on the what now? // Rambling

I just finished participating in This Week in Media #95 hosted by Daisy Whitney. The panel was Daisy, Liana Lahua, iJustine, Dr. Kiki (a favourite around our science-y household) and me.

Let me tell you… I felt like the proverbial bull in a china shop. (I was going to say cow in a china shop, as bulls are males and this was the “All Grrl Show”, but it just doesn’t sound right. But I digress.) If you know me personally, you know I’m a big dykey girl. I have to say, I was — right or wrong, and yes I know this is my self-image issues talking — totally feeling out of place; they’re all just lovely, petite and vivacious women. But they were all incredibly welcoming and I had a ‘get over yourself’ moment with myself and got on with the business at hand. Thanks, ladies. :)

In other news, the reason I’m here is WWDC. More on that, and some video and pics, soon.

Welcome to the Mediacracy*

// May 31st, 2008 // 3 Comments » // Rambling

6/10/08 – I’d like to point out that I didn’t write the following in hopes of being on TWiM. I’m not the person who fits what I describe. My being on TWiM was based on several factors, not the least of which were 1) my being in town this week, 2) John Flowers mentioning it (he’d already asked me to be on Life Zero) and 3) just having a long talk Alex about many other things (this blog post entered into it barely at all). Thanks. I just wanted to get that all on the table and be clear. – Maggie

Preface: This post was originally about two things. However, they converged and, more importantly, I opened my mouth too soon on Twitter and now I need to explain what I meant. The post that will eventually follow this one, ‘Welcome to the Meritocracy’ (*hence the title of this one) may be a bit skimpier as a result. OK, excuses sorted. ;) (Any updates or additions are in blue.)

Hey, Everybody

Here’s the thing… the world of entertainment is a big playing field. But unlike the past, where the local soccer or football team took field with their own referees and cheerleaders and we all watched from the sidelines behind a rail, the field has become/is becoming one big playground. And we often have a hard time figuring out both where we are on the field and who we came out to play with. Sometimes we may not really even know. Or think we do until we find ourselves behaving differently from the group we’re hanging out with.

There. That’s the end of my frilly prose. I’ll make no more attempts at flowery punditry. The rest is just meat and potatoes. And if it’s any good or, at minimum, engaging, someone will read it and say, “Well, that was interesting.” Which would, were I being all punditry-y, lead me to ‘meritocracy’, but I need to get something else off my proverbial chest and onto the table.

I listen to (and rather enjoy) a show called This Week in Media which originates out of the Pixel Corps in San Francisco. I am, in fact, a very loyal and long-time listener. The show is about media in the broad sense; film, TV, music, online video, anything where ‘media’ content is being produced and presented to an audience. It’s created, for the most part, by people who are either creating or producing media for the Internet.

A topic that’s often tossed around on TWiM, which is what everyone calls the show, is “is physical media dead?” In other words, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray and any other physical delivery system for media content. And the panel has definite opinions about this based on their individual consumption models and ‘acceptable annoyance level’. The acceptable annoyance level is basically ‘how much inconvenience are you willing to put up with to get at content’. This varies wildly in our society, from those who are happy to watch programmed television schedules and drive to the video store or Wal-Mart for a DVD (let’s call them Type1), to those who will not accept anything that’s not available at any given moment, for free, online (let’s call them Type10 and you can extrapolate the 1 to 10 scale this produces).

Throwing People You Love Under the Bus

TWiM, while having a diverse ‘core’ panel, has no representation for Type1-4; those who consume media the same (or almost the same) way they always have or how their parents did. Someone who is still right for the panel, but who interacts with the Type1-4s of the world and understands what they’re consuming and how. The majority of the panel is skewed down towards the Type10 end. The main exception being Daisy Whitney, a writer for TV Week who covers both traditional TV and online media, who has recently joined the show. She’s a definite win in that respect as she falls probably more along the spectrum as, oh, let’s say a Type5 (though she sometimes leans into a Type6 stance). [Edit: I had originally put Daisy at 4, but this may have confused the issue.]

At the far end we have John Foster who makes no bones about his consumption habits. He doesn’t pay for much if he can beg, borrow or… umm… ‘borrow online’ whatever it is he wants to watch. He’s a proponent of ad-blocking for all but the least intrusive of ads on sites like, for instance, Hulu. But John will go to a theatre to watch a film that he has enough interest in. That puts John Foster somewhere around a Type9, but very nearly a Type10.

Next is John Flowers. He’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of a Type8. If he can’t get it digitally, he’s not going to consume it. He’s willing to pay for content that has as acceptable annoyance level, but this may be hampered by his ‘digital only’ policy for content that’s not available for sale or delivery digitally. And, being a filmmaker himself, I have to presume he’ll still go to a theatre for films he cares about.

The tastes in consumption for the show’s host, Alex Lindsay, run the gamut (he often remarks that he’s “A.D.D.”) from Type5 to Type9. He visits the theatre often, rents DVDs from NetFlix and still sometimes purchases (and collects) physical media (CDs, in particular, but DVDs as well on occasion), but it’s all a matter of inverse convenience. On other words, he has a clear idea of what he wants to consume and, if he can get it quicker that way, he’ll buy it on physical media to avoid wasting time. The man is in a hurry. :) But, he’s also the first one who said “plastic is dead to me”. Clearly it’s not, but his desire to see it dead is pretty obvious.

Having just categorized and catalogued these four people leaves me feeling very odd. I’m feeling very much like I’d like to crawl back in my hole and shut up. I really do enjoy the show and I value the panelist’s opinions. But, that being said, I think the show itself suffers somewhat precisely because those opinions are so varied and narrowly representative. This is not the panelists doing, but is, in my opinion, a fundamental problem with the show.

Oh, God, Why Do I Keep Throwing Them Under That Bus?

Questions like “is physical media dead?” can be answered purely ‘journalistically’ in that you can put together some numbers from credible source, make some inferences and report on your findings. Sales figures, production numbers, pay rates, profits, investor payouts, etc. Those sort of cold figures can tell you a lot in a factual manner. But answering from your gut, from your personal opinion based on your observations and experiences, is another thing altogether.

TWiM is, in many cases, very good at spotting and discussing trends on the Internet using their gut opinion. Ask a scientists who has followed their gut to a discovery and you’re likely to hear how the ‘informed gut’ is simply your experience and knowledge set to auto-pilot. They’re especially good at that precisely because they’re so in touch with the ‘Net and the people who live there, so to speak. All of them participate in quite a bit of discourse on the Internet both in other podcasts or endeavours as well as their day jobs. As far as the ‘Net goes, they are all firmly plugged in. But… I’m afraid the bubble (which they’ve tacitly admitted that they recognize) is far too insulating and distorting when it comes to life inside America’s homes and discussion of this just hits the surface of the bubble and curves ’round back to them. (Hey, that wasn’t frilly prose. Don’t even…)

Daisy is, again, the most aware of them all of how Joe Average and Angie America consume and sometimes she seems caught on the fence as to which side she really came to play with; The millions who still watch network TV as they always have and the cool kids who are sticking it to the man in the revolution. Vive la ethernet!

America Throws John Foster Under The Bus, Instead

But Joe Average and Angie America are the ones who actually push the media outlets. Quite frankly, Wal-Mart, Target and, yes, even Apple, don’t give two shits about the John Fosters of the world. Those people are, to put it bluntly, dead to media – physical or otherwise. And the John Fosters of the world, in turn, couldn’t care less. They’re biding their time for the day the true revolution comes and whether the man cares becomes irrelevant. This is the core of the disconnect between ‘new media’ and ‘old media’. When the day comes, and it’s inevitable, the line between you and me and ‘the man’ will be so blurry that trying to focus on such a distinction would be pointless. But don’t rejoice just yet. The day is not here and there’s sure to be a shitstorm of problems we haven’t even anticipated yet to deal with before Media Nirvana descends and we all have to start complaining about the proliferation of utter crap on the ‘Net. ;)

And where do Joe and Angie Public (I just married them to save myself some typing) fit into the equation? They don’t, except as nebulous numbers and facelss ‘consumers’ whose opinions don’t quite enter in to the conversation in any concrete way. Once more, Daisy is close and has job-based connections to John and Ange (we’re friends now, they throw quote a reception), but her job keeps her straddling that fence instead of hopping off on the revolution side, where she longs to be, and watching a torrent’d screener that John Foster is trying to entice her with.

But… she’s still not indicative of the people for whom the question has the most relevance. Closer than all the others, yes, but still not quite there. And herein lies the rub. The panel’s gut doesn’t have the right diet of experiences in it to answer the question as posited. They can keep bashing up against it until they’re bruised or until the day comes and physical is, finally, dead and the confirmation bias will pay off and everyone can say “see, we called it!”

But until that day, without someone more indicative of the consuming public on their panel [Update: And I am NOT advocating a Type1 or Type2 here. Just someone whose habits are more inline with the habits of the larger public.], I think they really need to back off from this sort of question and use their notes instead of their gut. Why does it matter? Why am I risking pissing off a bunch of people whose audience is as likely to agree with me as they are to take me down and stake me to Mr. & Mrs. Public’s lawn. Why? Because their opinion matters to people like me and and to the people pushing for the revolution. And when scrutinized by others who are quoting them or taking them to task or agreeing with them, this sort of bubble-ified view has the ability to dilute the potency of their other more solid and focused opinions. And that would be a shame because TWiM is at the forefront of coverage of the coming revolution.

Before The Next Bus Comes By

So, what about it? Is physical media dead? No. I can say that so casually because one need only look at sales and talk to your brother or next-door neighbour to find out they’re still buying DVDs and CDs in fairly large quantities. Fewer each day, yes, but The question TWiM is actually asking is a forward-looking one which really asks “is physical media _about_ to be dead some time soon?” That one’s trickier. As is “is Big Media dead” or “is Blu-Ray a waste of time”. These can certainly be discussed in the bubble using stats and figures and outside reporting, but the bubble needs to be breached to let in some outside air the show is to tackle these issues with ‘gut’ opinion and conjecture (and, don’t get me wrong, I _want_ conjecture and opinion. It just needs to be more even for me to buy it).

These questions can’t be continually discussed using the panels’ collective guts without some input that’s higher up on this made-up ‘Type’ scale. Daisy fills that middle gap very well to balance out the bottom-heaviness that the guys bring. But without some representation, indeed sometimes to be a ‘voice of reason’, of the average public, the weight’s just sinking the discussion. I’m willing to bet there’s someone right there at the Pixel Corps office or in their collective friends and acquaintances who could fit the bill.

What say you, TWiM? Is this the right step in the evolution of your show or… am I about to be hit by a bus full of TWiM fans…?

Speedy McWrite-a-lot

// May 24th, 2008 // Comments Off on Speedy McWrite-a-lot // Rambling

UPDATE: Yes. I am a well-compensated technology geek by day and get up to this sort of thing frequently. This is related to work and also useful for play, since my work and play are similar. This isn’t something I’m just up to in my kitchen, I assure you.

I am planning on doing some disk testing in July testing sustained transfer (read and write) specifically geared towards prosumer video capture/editing and file serving. My intentions are to take a standardized platform (a Mac Pro – for file serving use it will be easy to extrapolate from here) and keep it WWJAD (What Would Joe Average Do). This means keeping cost in mind as well as ease-of-use/installation.

The current de facto is something like this: take a Mac Pro, put three drives in the empty bays and make them into a software RAID0 set. Here below are my (current) intentions. I am happy to consider any additions or changes if others are interested in the results. Feel free to comment, e-mail or tweet me about this.

Three of each model drive will be placed in a Mac Pro (4 or 8 core w/ at least 4GB RAM) as a software RAID0 set (keeping the boot drive as is).

The two top performers will then also be tested in a four drive configuration with:

  • Software RAID0 – Internal Mac Pro bays full (boot drive will be external Firewire).
  • Hardware RAID0 using a HighPoint RocketRAID 2310 PCI-Express SATAII RAID Controller (HPTRRAID2310)

The drives currently in the running:

  • Samsung Spinpoint F1 7200RPM 32MB (HD103UJ)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 7200RPM 32MB (SEAST31000340AS)
    (Chosen over enterprise model as it is cheaper but specs are same)
  • Hitachi 7K1000 7200RPM 32MB (HIT0A35155)
    (Chosen over enterprise model as it is cheaper but specs are same)
  • Western Digital RE2-GP 5400/4700RPM 16MB (WDGWD10FYPS)
    (Chosen over cheaper model as is slightly faster and only slightly more
    expensive and, frankly, since many will chooose to buy it based on price.)

Also considered/considering:
HighPoint RocketRAID 3522 3G SATA External RAID controller with
Raidon 4-port eSATA enclosure, four drives at RAID0.

Western Digital RE2 Enterprise Class 16MB Cache 7200rpm
(Pro: Is faster than its 1TB brother.)
(Con: but it’s one WD model or the other. Need compelling argument for testing both.)

Western Digital 150GB 10,000RPM Raptor (SATA/150)
(Pro: People want to know if 10,000RPM makes difference.)
(Con: It’s SATA/150. Already know it’s not as fast as others, even at 10,000RPM)

The control set for comparison will be three very popular (read: cheap as hell) WD WDGWD5000AAKS 500GB drives.

Also, if someone wants to show up with a camera that does 1080p 4:4:4 or a Red, I will slap in a BlackMagic card and we’ll stress test the top two or three configurations.