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Bed Bath and Beyond – Followup

Just a quick post to follow up on my service issue with Bed Bath and Beyond.

First, the replacement parts for my order arrived in about a week (which means they processed the outbound replacement order within 48-hours).  The parts were packaged extremely well and there was no damage.  I, of course, haven’t installed the replacement parts yet — but it’s on the list.

Second, the return I made to the store was handled equally well.

No doubt about it, Bed Bath and Beyond knows how to treat customer’s right — and they’ve certainly earned my repeat business.

 

Original Post

Originally posted 2009-08-23 01:00:07.

Ubuntu – Creating A Disk Mirror

A disk mirror, or RAID1 is a fault tolerant disk configuration where every block of one drive is mirrored on a second drive; this provides the ability to lose one drive (or have damaged sectors on one drive) and still retain data integrity.

RAID1 will have lower write performance than a single drive; but will likely have slightly better read performance than a single drive.  Other types of RAID configurations will have different characteristics; but RAID1 is simple to configure and maintain (and conceptually it’s easy for most anyone to understand the mechanics) and the topic of this article.

Remember, all these commands will need to be executed with elevated privileges (as super-user), so they’ll have to be prefixed with ‘sudo’.

First step, select two disks — preferably identical (but as close to the same size as possible) that don’t have any data on them (or at least doesn’t have any important data on them).  You can use Disk Utility (GUI) or gparted (GUI) or cfdisk (CLI) or fdisk (CLI) to confirm that the disk has no data and change (or create) the partition type to “Linux raid autotected” (type “fd”) — also note the devices that correspond to the drive, they will be needed when building the array.

Check to make sure that mdadm is installed; if not you can use the GUI package manager to download and install it; or simply type:

  • apt-get install mdadm

For this example, we’re going to say the drives were /dev/sde and /dev/sdf.

Create the mirror by executing:

  • mdadm ––create /dev/md0 ––level=1 ––raid-devices=2 /dev/sde1 missing
  • mdadm ––manage ––add /dev/md0 /dev/sdf1

Now you have a mirrored drive, /dev/md0.

At this point you could setup a LVM volume, but we’re going to keep it simple (and for most users, there’s no real advantage to using LVM).

Now you can use Disk Utility to create a partition (I’d recommend a GPT style partition) and format a file system (I’d recommend ext4).

You will want to decide on the mount point

You will probably have to add an entry to /etc/fstab and /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf if you want the volume mounted automatically at boot (I’d recommend using the UUID rather than the device names).

Here’s an example mdadm.conf entry

  • ARRAY /dev/md0 level=raid1 num-devices=2 UUID=d84d477f:c3bcc681:679ecf21:59e6241a

And here’s an example fstab entry

  • UUID=00586af4-c0e8-479a-9398-3c2fdd2628c4 /mirror ext4 defaults 0 2

You can use mdadm to get the UUID of the mirror (RAID) container

  • mdadm ––examine ––scan

And you can use blkid to get the UUID of the file system

  • blkid

You should probably make sure that you have SMART monitoring installed on your system so that you can monitor the status (and predictive failure) of drives.  To get information on the mirror you can use the Disk Utility (GUI) or just type

  • cat /proc/mdstat

There are many resources on setting mirrors on Linux; for starters you can simply look at the man pages on the mdadm command.

NOTE: This procedure was developed and tested using Ubuntu 10.04 LTS x64 Desktop.

Originally posted 2010-06-28 02:00:37.

OBiTalk

For many POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) is a distant memory… and given the pricing I’d say the local TelCo providers have priced it out of existence.

In a society where almost everyone has a cell phone (and unlimited cell service is fairly reasonably priced), the likelihood that any “home” telephone service will make a comeback is fairly low.

That said, Google Voice (a totally free service from Google) is something I’ve used for years to provide me with an auxiliary communications channel.  Why would I want to give me cellular number to all the annoying people who get a phone number; I pay for my phone service, so I should be able to decide who can reach me when — and Google provides many of the features you simply must have for telecommunications in Google Voice.

You can easily access Google Voice directly from your Android handset, but sometimes you might want to be able to just pick a phone on the end table to answer or make a call; or you might have that occasional FAX you need to send (while I find it hard to believe that companies don’t allow you to upload scanned documents via a web page portal, or send them via email — many are still in the stone-age of technology and simply think FAX machines will be here until the end of time, or that some law makes a FAX somehow necessary, or that they’re more secure).

To that end, OBiTalk has a number of telecommunications devices (technically VoIP Telephone Adapters [TAs]) available for a fairly reasonably price, and they support Google Voice.

The OBi200, the lowest model currently sold, is a great and economical device to provide you with a “home” phone.  The OBi200, a Google Voice number, and a home cordless (multi-station) phone is everything you need to have a service that fulfills you needs for free (if you require E911 service, you would have to subscribe to that service separately, but perhaps your cell phone is a better E911 device).

The Obi200 supports a single handset, but will support up to four phone lines (and any combination of them can be Google Voice — or other VoIP services… but again, Google Voice is free).

I’ve been using one of these devices for quite sometime, and I recently just added a second one (you can do station to station dialing with it as well), so it’s fairly easy to see that I’m quite happy with the device.

One word of advice, if you’re interested in a OBiTalk device, watch sales at online (also remember some brick-and-mortar stores will match online prices at some sites).

Just remember, with Google Voice, you do need to use each line (I recommend using them monthly at a minimum), but you will get an email notification from Google if you’re at risk of losing your Google Voice number from inactivity.

 

OBiTalk OBi200

Google Voice