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Macbook Crashes, Kernel Panics and coping with an Apple “Genius”

Posted in Analysis, Apple, Gadgets, Geek, Hacks, Hardware on May 14th, 2011 by leodirac – 8 Comments

So your Mac is crashing a lot, and after a trip to the “Genius Bar”, you’re starting to think maybe that “genius” you talked to is anything but.  Is this where you are?  If so, join the club, because that’s exactly what I’ve been going through recently.  My MacBook Pro would regularly go black without […]

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Fighting buffer-bloat on DD-WRT

Posted in Geek, Hacks, Hardware on January 31st, 2011 by leodirac – Comments Off on Fighting buffer-bloat on DD-WRT

Recently, 20th century software pioneer Jim Gettys has been doing a bang-up job raising awareness about performance problems with the internet known as “buffer-bloat.”   The details are technical and complex but the gist of it is that networking equipment is often buffering way too much data, resulting in unnecessarily long latencies.  High latencies (literally […]

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RAID repair successful

Posted in Geek, Hacks, Hardware on December 21st, 2008 by leodirac – Comments Off on RAID repair successful

For everybody who has been waiting with baited breath to hear whether or not the repair of the RAID array worked or not, it did. It took several days, but since we were away on vacation seeing my dad receive the Fleming Medal from the American Geophysical Union, the waiting was pretty easy. To convince myself that the repair was successful, I unplugged one of the previously functional drives, and saw that all my files were still there when the array was running just on the new drive and the other previous drive. I recommend this to anybody who thinks…

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Repairing a degraded EVMS RAID 5 array

Posted in Geek, Hacks, Hardware on December 14th, 2008 by leodirac – Comments Off on Repairing a degraded EVMS RAID 5 array

A while back, lightning scrambled one of the disks in my home RAID 5 array. I figured out how to recover it. And I got the critical data off. Here I describe the steps I took to add a new drive and get it working with the old RAID array. I share this with the net in hopes it will make it easier for somebody else who has to go through this process themselves, and selfishly as notes for me to refer to. It’s a testament to the power of EVMS and a warning to anybody who thinks it might…

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Apple moves downmarket: iPhone as a services platform

Posted in Analysis, Apple, Business, Cloud Computing, Google, Hardware, Marketing, Tech Industry on August 3rd, 2008 by leodirac – 2 Comments

Coincident with the launch of the iPhone 3G hardware, Apple has started a couple of new online services: MobileMe and the iPhone App Store. In some ways these are natural extensions of existing product lines. But I believe their launch actually represents a fairly substantial strategic shift as Apple attempts to diversify from a hardware-only company to one that runs on a mix of hardware and services. In order to make this strategy work, Apple will need to sacrifice its much coveted high hardware margins. Diversifying from hardware Since Jobs pulled the company out of the doldrums, Apple has been…

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Is Apple using scarcity to hide iPhone quality problems?

Posted in Analysis, Apple, Business, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, Hardware, Marketing, Psychology on July 28th, 2008 by leodirac – 9 Comments

Here I propose an alternative explanation for iPhone scarcity: the difficulty in obtaining a new iPhone keeps people from complaining about problems with it. I will explore this sophisticated marketing technique that Apple may or may not be employing to cover up quality problems with the new iPhone 3G. Even if Apple is not doing this deliberately, I assert that it is a valid and potentially very useful technique if your product is lucky enough to have the prerequisites. New iPhones are hard to get The blogosphere is full of speculation about whether or not Apple deliberately made the iPhone…

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Recovering a RAID Array after Lightning

Posted in Geek, Hacks, Hardware on July 9th, 2008 by leodirac – Comments Off on Recovering a RAID Array after Lightning

The EVMS RAID 5 array in my linux fileserver crashed recently due to a lightning storm, and I thought I’d lost everything. But with some luck and intuition I was able to recover all my files. I’ll tell you how I did it, so hopefully others who run into similar problems can recover their data too. But first, a little background. Last week Seattle had some crazy electrical storms. In recent years’ storms, my block has done better than most with respect to power failures making me think we’re either lucky or in a particularly robust section of the grid….

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Greening up the Home Office

Posted in Cloud Computing, Electronic Security, Hardware, Sustainability, Tech Industry on April 22nd, 2008 by leodirac – Comments Off on Greening up the Home Office

It was pretty late at night at my friend Miller’s birthday party last week. She had asked everybody to do something good for the world in lieu of birthday presents. The awake were discussing options as I was dozing off. I overheard somebody say “If you’ve got an old linux box that you’re using as a firewall drawing 400 watts continuously, consider spending $30 on a dedicated router.” I thought about the headless Pentium 3 box in my office closet which is running the IP Cop Linux firewall distro. I thought about the four matching ethernet cards I’d put in…

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Heavy laptops: there’s no excuse

Posted in Gadgets, Geek, Hardware on October 30th, 2007 by leodirac – 1 Comment

The way I see it, there’s no compelling reason to buy a heavy laptop. Light laptops are great because they’re portable. Their processors might be a little slower, but local processing power rarely limits what you can do with a computer these days. And unless you get a really tiny laptop they’re hardly slower. If you do get a tiny one then you’re trading reduced HCI-bandwidth for increased access to that bandwidth, which is often worthwhile. Today I’d probably argue that iPhone or iPod Touch is a pareto-optimal choice (sweet-spot) in this trade-off, beating out things like OQO and FlipStart….

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A Small Tip when Setting up a Raid array

Posted in Hardware on January 7th, 2007 by leodirac – Comments Off on A Small Tip when Setting up a Raid array

If you’re building a RAID array for your home, or somewhere else that isn’t super-industrial-strength enterprise, here’s a tip. Get each hard drive as a different brand. That way it’s way easier to tell them apart. If your drives are identical save for a serial number, and one of them crashes, the raid controller will tell you the serial number of the crashed drive, and then you need to figure out which of your drives to pull and replace based on that, and you probably try it by just unplugging each of them and seeing when the system thinks it’s…

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