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Comment Re:They might work for you (Score 1) 227

I have two NASes, one at home and one off-site. I've recently learned that when a drive fails, in order to keep using your NAS, you have to have spare drives on hand. Even if you report the failed drive to the manufacturer immediately, it takes time for the new drive to arrive. In that time, your data is unprotected by the redundancy of RAID unless you have a spare drive to take the place of the failed one. Otherwise, it's best if you take the NAS offline or use it read-only.

Of course replacement drives take time to arrive. If uptime is essential, you should configure your RAID to have a hot spare. Then any two drives can die sequentially. I have no problem using an array in degraded mode so long as the data is backed up elsewhere...and obviously any data of importance should be backed up elsewhere.

Once you start getting into massive disk arrays, it starts to pay to have spares sitting around. For a home or small office environment with a handful of drives, you're better off using any spare drives as a USB backup or getting a large enough unit to support the drive online. Big datacenters have people around all the time to manage disk failures, but you might be off on vacation.

Comment They might work for you (Score 2) 227

I'm more familiar with Synology NASes (albeit on the consumer side) and Dell servers (instead of that NAS). Coming from a Linux sysadmin background, I was impressed with how the Synology combined pretty easy GUI management while not preventing you from doing stuff on the back end Linux side. You can play around with Synology's web interface yourself online. It's pretty cool what they can do with a bunch of javascript.

These things are built for file serving, and it's about as easy as it gets to set up. They also package all sorts of stuff as add-on services, though I don't personally use DNS. My complaint with the home-designed versions in the past is that they skimped on RAM, making them less useful for any kind of real server application. The higher end models like the 1512+ do better, and for just DNS and file serving it should be more than sufficient. Don't expect it to compete with a $1500 server in terms of computational performance, obviously, but it should be able to pretty much max out the drives' performance.

I had a drive die on my personal NAS, and the process went exactly as it should: it emailed me saying there might be problems; I did an extended SMART test via the GUI to double check it; I obtained an RMA for the drive and installed it; it restored to the new drive without incident.

Comment Re:About time (Score 3, Interesting) 240

iOS seems to have HTML5 local storage available, Facebook just chooses not to use it.

This is definitely true. The Financial Times native app got replaced with a nearly-equivalent HTML5 "app". Safari asks for permission to store extra data locally, and then it generally feels pretty responsive (relative to other news apps, which in all honesty feel a bit bloated). I'm not sure how compatible it is with other platforms, though - it might have a bunch of really ugly ipad-specific hacks behind it, who knows.

Comment Makes more sense to have separate drives (Score 3, Interesting) 256

SSDs and hard drives fail in different ways, so it doesn't make much sense to me to combine them into one physical unit. Having both in one system does make a lot of sense, however, and making intelligent use of them isn't all that hard.

Put your OS and basically all applications on the SSD. RAM is cheap, so unless you're doing something unusual you should not be hitting the SSD for swap. Documents and other small but important data can go on the SSD as well. Larger media, like movies, music, and large photo collections, go on the hard drive. The hard drive can act as the first backup for the SSD as well (but not the only backup, of course). I get that companies like Seagate want to have software figure out an optimal mix of where to store data based on usage, but I'm not sure that's such a huge advantage. SSD lifespan can be extended by reducing writes, and storing mostly applications there can really cut down on those, versus using it as a large cache.

On a desktop, having these as separate physical devices is straightforward and very useful. If one starts to die (likely the hard drive), it can be replaced without affecting the other. An added bonus is that either the SSD or the HD could be upgraded separately as you need or as components become cheaper.

On a laptop, things are trickier. Most modern laptops only have one hard drive slot, but it wouldn't be hard to keep a traditional hard drive slot and include, say, 64 GB of SSD on a small chip. Apple does this with most of their Macbook line now; an unfortunate side effect is that proprietary sizing or connectors make third party replacement more difficult, but there's no reason that your standard non-Apple companies have to go that way. There are already several SSDs in the 1.8" form factor, which should be reasonable to fit alongside the standard 2.5" hard drive form factor. A setup like this would be much better than a hybrid disk with a measly 4GB of flash; you're better off making greater use of suspend on your laptop and spending a little more to bump up your RAM.

Comment Re:Pixel doubling support is key (Score 1) 565

I think this is because most apps use stock widgets and at least some stock icons, and those are drawn at native resolution. More importantly, all text is also drawn in native resolution. So a bunch of low-res upscaled images scattered around really stands out.

My point is that some apps seem to look worse on an ipad 3 than on an ipad 2, as if the pixel doubling wasn't quite right for some reason. Honestly I haven't put the same app side by side on two devices to see, so it's possible that as you suggest it's all in my head.

Comment Pixel doubling support is key (Score 2, Informative) 565

The bottom line is that at the distances people view their desktop monitors, they don't want the buttons, graphics, and text to be any smaller than they appear with about 80-100 ppi screens. Give all but the most recent applications and operating systems a 130 PPI screen, and there will be UI items that don't scale. Some UI items, like text, will, leaving the interface feeling out of proportion. Higher PPI screens are available on laptops because 1.) Some people demand the implied screen real estate and 2.) Laptop screens are generally closer to your face. I won't discount the whole 1080p standard putting a natural cap on many screens these days (though my 24" BenQ is one of a dwindling set of 1920x1200 panels).

This is why when Apple put high PPI screens in the iphone and ipad, it doubled the PPI. Existing apps would look the same*. Apps can trivially use perhaps the single greatest feature of high PPI: more crisp text with less dependence on antialiasing to mimic round corners.

And it's why, I suspect, if Apple does release Macbooks this year with "retina" displays, they will be double the PPI. While Mac OS X in theory supports a reasonably scalable UI, applications may not. And web browsers will want to operate as if they're rendering in the lower PPI, though rendering text and non-bitmapped elements at the higher resolution. Eventually (maybe next year), we'll see expensive Apple Cinema displays doing the same thing. And there will be the normal competitors (especially Dell).

But until recently, a 150 or 200 DPI LCD was crazy expensive to produce. Judging from the ipad 3, it also takes significantly more backlight capacity (provided by very bright LEDs in that case). We're just now entering a stage in which there are rumors about the 11" and 13" Macbook line getting them, maybe the 15". It will be a while before the 27" and 30" panels can be produced at a price people are willing to pay. That said, I'm holding off buying any more monitors or replacing my T series Thinkpad until they're available. I'm hoping I don't have to wait past 2013.

* Or at least ought to. Some apps on a third gen ipad will actually look fuzzier than it should.

Comment Re:Fruit is the problem (Score 1) 655

yeah cause somebody who works exhausting menial labor for 8-12 hours a day is comming home to extrude noodles in their combo bathroom/kitchen sink, using fresh eggs from a grocery store they had to hop 3 busses to get to.

I'm not going to deny the existence of "food deserts" consisting of areas with few choices of fresh fruits and vegetables. However, eggs are ubiquitous. Places like CVS and 7-11 tend to carry them, and they're all over. You pay a small premium over a large grocery store price ($3-4 instead of $2-3 per dozen), but they're still a good value for their protein content. Making one's own egg noodles has to fall pretty far down on the list of cost-saving measures, though they are tastier than dry noodles and cheaper than refridgerated store-bought noodles.

I think the biggest barrier to healthy eating (even at low income levels) is knowledge and some practice. Master a handful of simple recipes, especially those which make leftovers for a few days, and you won't need to spend much time or money (either in food or equipment) to be healthier than most Americans. It's an up-front cost of time, sure, but it's doable in several evenings. Given that Americans watch 30+ hours of TV each week, I think most of us have that time to spare.

Comment A nice trend (Score 1) 46

Over the last several years the World Bank has been moving in this direction. It used to be that most of the World Development Indicators required a subscription. This is an extremely detailed country-level database of everything from GDP and prices to infant mortality and refugee populations. Now, the database in its entirety is free and it has been loaded into statistical applications like Stata and made available by these folks (along with other World Bank datasets).

It's been my experience that the academic-oriented economists at the World Bank try to disseminate their work as widely as possible. Still, centralized repositories for datasets and code under a reasonable CC license should only make this easier. In economics, potential journal articles tend to spend months or years as working papers while they undergo the referee process; this means that keeping up with the latest research involves relatively less access to expensive journals (compared to other disciplines) than it does with being able to easily find the latest version of a working paper. It's still a long way from being able to cut out the for-profit journals, though some open-access journals do exist.

Comment Re:Is it just me... (Score 5, Insightful) 206

does anyone else find it frustrating that /.ers are in favor of unlimited property rights except when they go digital

First of all, slashdot is not a monolith. Different people will pipe up in different conversations to say their bit.

Second, there is a fundamental difference between physical property rights and intellectual property rights. The former is inherently scarce (e.g. if you force Apple to do X with its money, it can't do Y with the same money, in general). The latter is not (e.g. my copy of an ebook did not prohibit anyone else from having a copy of an ebook).

This is why some people (I'm not necessarily among them) object to using the word "stealing" to refer to copyright infringement. A copyright holder doesn't "lose" money when someone downloads content illegally, but they do, potentially, lose a sale. For some industries this distinction is important (various professional-level software packages don't bother pursuing pirates, because they know that it will increase its market share to sell to their real customers, the businesses which will pay hundreds for a software package).

Keep in mind that the purpose of intellectual property laws (patents and copyrights) is to encourage innovation. A temporary monopoly gives people a (greater) incentive to create original works, knowing that they can try to extract value from their creations. This inherently limits the rights of others, who would otherwise be able to use and build upon works in the public domain.

The trouble is that this model has been breaking down on a few levels from its original intent. The first is that copyright extensions have kept works from entering the public domain for quite some time. The second is that patents on some inventions, especially software, are/were often granted with too little deference (one can argue) to prior art and "obviousness". Instead of encouraging innovation by small players, big companies amass patents in a kind of cold war against other big companies, and keep small businesses from being able to enter (because in many industries it's basically impossible not to be sued for patent infringement for something). You see entire company purchases made just for the building up of patent portfolios (arguably a large part of Google acquiring Motorola, for example). This isn't innovation, it's a new cost to doing business in these industries.

Do I subscribe to all of the above? No. But it's not inconsistent to strongly believe in physical property rights but think that intellectual property rights have gone too far.

Finally, it's fine to argue that wealth inequality is not an ideal outcome. To describe it as "pre Renaissance" is to imply heading into the dark ages. Within the western world, even fairly poor people live much better than the richest of that era, by most reasonable measures. To say that "all anybody cares about is the Beatles" when the news is plastered with the Occupy Wall Street protests rings pretty hollow to my ears.

Comment It's not always about search time (Score 2) 434

I let my inbox fill up for 3-12 months and massively archive it in one swoop to a small number of folders (about 15). I actually use search quite a bit to help do that sorting faster. What this cleanout process does is force me to delete messages that I'm 99.999% sure I'll never want to see again. They can just clutter up search results and casual browsing.

As messages come in, I use flags to ensure that messages I need to eventually respond to don't get lost in the shuffle. Some frequent, automated stuff gets automatically archived (e.g. amazon purchases), just to help keep the recent inbox low on clutter.

Archiving has advantages and disadvantages. On my personal email account, archived messages are offline; this makes search (or re-indexing) faster but leaves me without those messages when away from my laptop. But more than anything I archive because a single inbox with X years and tens of thousands of messages is pretty cluttered, and I know that eventually I'll want to sort through them to eliminate messages that will never be useful. Fortunately, that's rarely true spam in my case. There's also the odd email I've forgotten about that I have to follow up on, if I forgot to flag it appropriately. What's the cost? Maybe 4 hours a year.

Comment Re:When Apple screws you, it's always your fault (Score 3, Informative) 443

I bought a $30 MiniDisplayPort-to-VGA adapter (from Apple, of course)... but it turned out that this wouldn't work with most VGA devices, because it wasn't actually converting the digital signal to analog. So I had to buy an actual powered converter box to get my video output into a format I could use with any monitor, TV, or projector that I had access to.

Wow, this is just false. On any modern Mac with a mini-DP (a format I dislike, but not for your reasons), the miniDP->VGA adapter works. I don't know exactly what your issue was, but it is not common to every Macbook Pro I've seen.

If what you said is true, and there was a digital signal on the VGA port, it wouldn't work with any VGA device, because VGA is an analog-only standard. The port is capable of outputting an analog signal over the same connector, though, so it could have been a software issue with the video card. It's also possible that it was outputting an analog signal with a refresh rate your devices were incapable of handling (also a software fix).

VGA will be with us for years because it is still the projector standard in conference rooms, classrooms, and such everywhere. Apple and everyone else knows this. What sucks about mini displayport is 1.) It's not like actual displayport was a big connector, introducing another is just a ploy to make more money on adapters until 3rd parties catch up 2.) The adapters have an unbelievable markup.

Comment Re:Connect it to a tablet and use it for sheet mus (Score 2) 123

- All the tablet screen sizes are too small - 10.1" max. Letter is equivalent to 13.9", A4 equivalent to 14.3", and the Henle Urtext pages are equivalent to 15.3". Yes the edges of the pages are blank, but they're still substantially larger than any tablet.

I use an ipad for piano sheet music (Stanza has a beautiful interface to free music scores). Cropping out the margins with Goodreader helps tremendously.

- They're too low resolution. The iPad looks like it would work, but 1024x768 is simply inadequate for any complex scores. It turns many of the details of an intricate Chopin or Listz score into a blurry mess. e-ink should have the advantage here, if it didn't take so long to turn pages.

Granted, I'm not playing unbelievably complex music, but classical pieces are often available from Mutopia and can be re-typeset to a smaller page size.

Your point about eink is hogwash: they are not high resolution screens. In tricky lighting situations an ipad is much nicer. This is coming from a Kindle owner. Eink can be deceiving about its resolution for two reasons: there are no tiny spaces between "pixels", and the fonts are highly optimized for the exact screen configuration. This eliminates antialiasing and the fuzziness you perceive. It does not help at all for music scores.

- AFAIK almost nobody is truly digitizing music. They're just scanning old sheet music into PDFs. The music score publishers are deathly afraid of going digital because they figure everyone will just copy all the scores instead of buying it from them. They've been milking the "change a few fonts and publish a new version with a new copyright" workaround to copyright expiration for centuries. So all that's left are independent musicians to take the time and effort to convert an out-of-copyright score into something like a .mus (Finale) file or MuseScore or LilyPond.

See Mutopia. This is better for piano players than others, but it is the Project Gutenberg of the music world. As for more modern music, you're stuck with scanned PDF. Of course, if you know you're going to do that, you can try to find music in a relatively small page form factor suitable for viewing on a 10" portrait screen with cropped margins.

Comment Connect it to a tablet and use it for sheet music (Score 1) 123

One of the first ideas I had for a tablet for musicians was to display sheet music. The only trick is flipping the page. Granted, this is easier with a tap than a real page turn, but it could be even easier with a foot pedal.

A bluetooth "keyboard" could do this nicely and connect to hardware like the ipad without any special driver support. USB not so much, but presumably one of the other tablets out there could be made to work. If you have lots of people, though, bluetooth might suffer from interference.

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