Blog. And sometimes just whinging.

Disk Test Results Round 2

// July 16th, 2008 // Comments Off on Disk Test Results Round 2 // Rants, Represent, tech

I’ve finished the tests I’d planned and the results are posted in the PDF linked here.
(I’ve updated this since yesterday into one document with added notes, so grab the latest copy.)

In the end, Seagate trounces the competition on performance. However, the second place Samsung disk is still a strong contender, especially where price is an issue. Quite frankly, these are the only two 1TB disks I’ll be recommending to anyone for any sort of capture or editing. Well… actually, I’ll be recommending 4 disks: the two winning models here and their cheaper non-enterprise versions. You’ll have to decide for yourself which best fits your needs and pocketbook.

For us, the 4 Seagates will go into a rack unit and be put into daily use offloading backups.
The 4 Samsungs will go in a new Mac Pro for edit/capture.

Disk Test Results (final)

I’m glad I could share this info and I hope someone finds it useful.

Disk Test Results Round 1

// July 11th, 2008 // Comments Off on Disk Test Results Round 1 // Raves, Represent, tech

And the winner is… well, that depends on what you’re looking for in a 1TB drive. The clear, overall winner was the Seagate ST31000340NS. It won in overall speed and in sheer ‘clockwork-like’ consistency. But hot on its heels was the Samsung Spinpoint F1 RAID. Not only is this drive cheaper and still ‘enterprise grade’, it also has a consumer-level sibling with nearly identical specs for around $170! That spells bargain, to me.

Have a look at the numbers yourself here: DiskTestResults.pdf
(For more info on what and why, see this post)

I should give special props to the Western Digital ‘Green Power’ drive. It’s not going to win any speed contests, but this drive does draw significantly less power _and_ it runs cooler than the average drive. I tested one in a NAS full of Seagates and the WD drive consistently ran 10 degrees cooler! Take that, Al Gore!

And stay tuned for more shootout between the Seagate and Samsung next week. I’ll be testing a 4 drive conifguration in both internal bays of the Mac Pro as well as using e-SATA via a RocketRaid 2314 controller. And… maybe more if I’m not knackered!

For now… enjoy the weekend, peeps!

UPDATE: For those interested in pricing on the drives as mentioned, here are links from my “go to” drive suppliers for both the enterprise and consumer models of the top two:

Seagate ST31000340NS (~ $270)
Seagate ST31000340AS (~ $215)
Samsung HE103UJ (~ $238)
Samsung HD103UJ (~ $168)

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!

Tim Russert, the Internet loved you

// June 13th, 2008 // Comments Off on Tim Russert, the Internet loved you // Represent

Tim Russert has died. But all around the Internet I’m seeing loving, sad and poignant tributes to him. So to his family and friends who are mourning him today, please know that the Internet mourns with you. We’ve lost a great champion of fair reporting and commentary.

The Internet and America will miss you, Tim Russert. We truly will. Thank you for everything.

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.

In Honor of Pants

// May 19th, 2008 // Comments Off on In Honor of Pants // Represent

In honor of the special pants of that inimitable raconteur and beloved pundit, my friend/acquaintance/culinary cruise director/whatever-you-prefer Andy Ihnatko,
I present a re-telling of Jonathan Coulton’s ‘Mr. Fancy Pants’. *ahem*

Chances are your pants are not as tactical as those
Ordered from the Internet by Andy Ihnatko
They’re functional but generously fitted in the groin
You can roll them up or down
Got zippers by the pound
He’s wearing Internet pants

You look in every catalog you shop at every store
but never find the perfect pair of pants you’re looking for
So you ask the Internet to recommend the best
The best in terms of fit
Can hold a ton of shit
You’re looking for Internet Pants

Sing a little praise for Andy’s Internet Pants
They’re tactical
And practical
With pockets deep
And wide

He makes the big announcement that he’s found the perfect pair
From all the multitudes of pants that he could choose to wear
If you’re the lucky sod who recommended them to him
You deserve a big award or
A place on IhnatCorp’s board
‘Cause Andy loves his Internet Pants

Sing a little praise for Andy’s Internet Pants
They transport DVDs.
‘Round ten with ease
With pockets so deep
And wide…

Mac Camp Boston = unconference

// May 1st, 2008 // Comments Off on Mac Camp Boston = unconference // Represent

Mac Camp Boston (for which no camping is involved) is being held May 10th.
It will be organized, or is that un-organized, as an unconference in, I believe, the BarCamp style.

Go. Sign up already!

They’ll be having a meet and greet the night before at BetaHouse.

Hair you bring to Vegas, stays in Vegas

// April 29th, 2008 // 1 Comment » // Rambling

Cabbed over to Brookline and had dinner with Ihnatko’s dinner club, or as we were known tonight The Jane Austen Book Club, and then caught the train home _just_ in time for the Red Sox game to let out. Fun as ever, even if there was a little black cloud floating just off stage (*hug*).

Got a better pic of the elusive Internet Pants and, as a bonus, their ability to carry a wad of DVDs. There are a couple of other shots of the night there as well.

Rich, Here’s my ReadyNAS backup setup as we discussed: Continue Reading