Entries Tagged as 'Technology'

FileZilla – The free FTP solution

If you have a need to transfer files via FTP, SFTP, SCP, etc and you prefer to user a graphical user interface on a Windows, Mac, or Linux machine — then the Open Source FileZilla is a very good solution to consider.

Just download the client, install it, and within a few moments you’ll have a connection to a server (that you can save the information for quick reuse if you like).  The interface is clean and easy to understand, and supports drag-and-drop as well as transfers from the multi-pane manager.

And, you can’t beat the price – FREE.

http://filezilla-project.org/

Originally posted 2011-09-13 02:00:47.

Windows Live Mail

Part of the Microsoft Live Essential software suite available either from Live.com (see link below) or through the Microsoft Update is Live Mail; a simple, fairly versatile email client.

Live Mail allows access to POP3, IMAP4, and Hot Mail / MSN Mail / Live Mail web mail.

Live Mail is a replacement for Outlook Express and Windows Mail (from Vista).

It’s nicely polished, and for the most part works without any major issues (like any software, it has bugs and annoyances).

One thing you may not like is the fact that Live Mail hides the menu bar (you can enable it; but even that seems to be made purposely difficult in the latest version).

The biggest annoyance I have with Live Mail is that it will not import an IAF (that’s an export file) created with Outlook Express or Windows Mail (thank you very much Microsoft for paying such close attention to customer needs).

If you have a Hot Mail / MSN Mail / Live Mail web mail account you will probably want to choose this product as an email client on your computer; if you don’t you may want to look at Thunderbird (part of the Mozilla project, as is Firefox).

The feature I like most about Live Mail (and it’s predecessors) is the ability to drag an email out of Live Mail onto my local file system and put it back (Thunderbird doesn’t have any convenient way to put a message back).  This isn’t a feature that should be a deal breaker for most anyone (if you need to do it, you know how to do it with Thunderbird — it just won’t be quite as easy).

Overall, Live Mail is a descent program, and it’s priced right — FREE.

Windows Live Essentials

NOTE:  GMail content can be access by either POP3 or IMAP4; simply follow the instructions on GMail to enable it and add it to Live Mail or any email client that supports POP3 or IMAP4 over a SSL connection (and allows you to specify the port numbers).

Originally posted 2009-11-24 01:00:40.

SFF-8484 to 4 x SATA Cables

I just purchased a Dell PERC 5/i (basically an LSI 8404) RAID card off eBay and I needed to purchase two SFF-8484 cables to connect it to my SATA hot swap bays.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion on eBay from vendors that have these cables — many of the vendors just don’t know what they have; and it’s important to know, since there are two different cables fitting the general description — and they are not interchangeable.

The cable I needed could be identified by a Trip Lite part number S502-01M or an Adaptec part number 2167000-R (discontinued) or a StarTech part number SAS84S450.

The description should contain the key phrase that the cable is used to attach a SAS (or SATA) HBA (Host Bus Adapter) to individual SATA drives.  The description should not mention anything about hooking up a SATA controller to a SATA/SAS back plane.

What’s the difference in the cables???

Well, the SAS controller to SATA device cable is straight through; the SATA controller to SAS back plane has the RX and TX swapped… and generally speaking there’s not a lot of call for the SATA controller to SAS back plane so those will be the least expensive, and the most prevalent on eBay.

The sellers who do know what they have, and advertise it as such want a phenomenal price for the cables (they’re only $19.99 on Amazon, buy the two you’ll need and they ship free)…

Do your home work and ask your questions before you commit to buy on eBay — particularly if it’s from China or Hong Kong (it’ll take several weeks to get the item, and returning it will be half the price you paid).  While Amazon’s gone down hill a great deal recently; it’s still easy to return, and in the long run you might save both time and money.

SFF-8484
Tripp Lite S502-01M

Originally posted 2010-11-13 01:00:28.

Better late…

It’s been a quarter century after the automotive industry received a wake-up call and they seem to finally get it.

A few auto makers toyed with all electric vehicles in the early 90’s; but Honda introduced us to the hybrid vehicle, and Toyota catapulted it into a business success.

Both Honda and Toyota had hoped to introduce fuel cell technology vehicles, but with the world’s economy in shambles building out the infrastructure for that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

Now we have virtually every auto maker introducing electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid; many are also introducing high efficiency (bio) diesel vehicles.

Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Ford, GM, Volkswagen — just to name a few — have made a serious commitment to increasing the fuel efficiency of their fleet (and thus decreasing their carbon foot print).

GM announced a 100,000 mile, 8-year warranty on their new Volt — displaying to consumers that they have a great deal of confidence in their offering.  Other companies like Tesla have offered a pre-purchased battery replacement.

I haven’t done exhaustive research on all the offerings; the Prius is likely to continue to be a near term winner, it get’s a plug-in option next year; and the Insight get’s that the following year.  However the Volt goes the other route and is an electric car with a backup generator (giving it over 300 miles range, and a somewhat simpler design since it doesn’t require the complex drive system found in most hybrids).

I’m still driving my 1997 Toyota 4Runner, it’s got 350,000 miles on it and going strong.  I’d considered replacing it during the “cash-for-clunkers” program, but it just didn’t seem to make sense to me since I couldn’t find any suitable replacement vehicle that got better than 30 miles to the gallon — and the math just didn’t work out financially, nor did the impact on the environment for disposing of a perfectly functional vehicle seem right.

It might not be until 2014 or so that we really have a number of good options for vehicles that provide the features and economy we’re looking for… but finally we’re on a path that should reduce the environmental impact of the continuing car culture.

Originally posted 2010-07-27 02:00:24.

Verizon Wireless

Like most cellular communication companies, Verizon Wireless leaves it up to the consumer to find their billing errors.

Last month I called Verizon Wireless right after the AllTel/Verizon merge was complete; and I told the representative that at the end of the call I would have ONE Verizon account; and that that would be achieved either by combining my two numbers (one previously Verizon, one previously AllTel) into a single account without making any changes to the plans OR terminating the old Verizon account.

Originally Verizon had required all AllTel customer to convert to a Verizon account to make ANY changes to their account, but they softened that policy when they found it was just as easy (and cheaper) for many AllTel customers to switch to another cellular provider than switch their plans to a current Verizon offering (I for instance would have to pay more for what I have and would lose six of my eleven “My Circle” number [that’s the numbers I can call airtime free regardless of the network they’re on] and would have to pay for text messaging and data dongle use [Internet access for my laptop]).

The customer service representative was certain he could combine the accounts, because they’d been told they could; however, after several tries (and munging the information on both accounts) he was unable to combine the accounts and “terminated” the service on my old Verizon phone.

Well, I just received the bill for the service — and interestingly enough I was billed an entire month… not just a few days.  Why?  Well simple, they didn’t terminate the account, they suspended it in order to let it age out to the end of the billing period — of course I had no service from Verizon… well, unless you consider billing a service.

How horrible unethical (and illegal)…

Needless to say I just got off the phone with a Verizon representative and gave him two options — put through a bill adjustment, or I’d file a charge back with my credit card company (don’t think there would have been much of a problem with that).  I’m not sure how he arrived at the “adjustment” figure — but then again, I don’t have an advanced degree in cellular telephone billing mathematics… I seem to be getting about half my billed amount back rather than three quarters — but when they generate another bill I’ll review what they’ve done.

The thing I really hate about having to put so much time and energy into “fixing” problems that companies like this cause (and I believe it’s intentional since they know most people won’t put any effort into fixing these fraudulent charges) is that it costs time (which is money).  So the question is, why isn’t there a law that requires companies to PAY consumers for their time when a consumer invests their time to resolve an issue that a company has caused through no fault of the consumer at say two times what the consumer normally is paid (or at least two times minimum wage).  And, of course, these companies should have to pay 21% interest on any excess charges they’ve made.

Originally posted 2009-08-08 01:00:16.

iPhone on Verizon

Today Apple and Verizon announce the availability of the iPhone 4 for Verizon (CDMA upgradable to LTE)…

AT&T will attempt to point out to people that their network is faster than Verizon’s for data; though they are going to leave out that in major metropolitan areas there network is severely over-subscribed, and effectively much slower… and they will leave out that Verizon is actively deploying a 4G LTE network that is substantially faster than AT&T’s network.

Analysts are already indicating that AT&T profits are going to be down, and that Verizon is likely to make even more money.

I don’t get why anyone cares about the iPhone; but then again, I’m not sure I understand why people waste money on overpriced fashion accessories.

Originally posted 2011-01-11 02:00:44.

Disk Bench

I’ve been playing with Ubuntu here of late, and looking at the characteristics of RAID arrays.

What got me on this is when I formatted an ext4 file system on a four drive RAID5 array created using an LSI 150-4 [hardware RAID] controller I noticed that it took longer than I though it should; and while most readers probably won’t be interested in whether or not to use the LSI 150 controller they have in their spare parts bin to create a RAID array on Linux, the numbers below are interesting just in deciding what type of array to create.

These numbers are obtained from the disk benchmark in Disk Utility; this is only a read test (write performance is going to be quite a bit different, but unfortunately the write test in Disk Utility is destructive, and I’m not willing to lose my file system contents at this moment; but I am looking for other good benchmarking tools).

drives avg access time min read rate max read rate avg read rate

ICH8 Single 1 17.4 ms 14.2 23.4 20.7 MB/s
ICH8 Raid1 (Mirror) 2 16.2 ms 20.8 42.9 33.4 MB/s
ICH8 Raid5 4 18.3 ms 17.9 221.2 119.1 MB/s
SiL3132 Raid5 4 18.4 ms 17.8 223.6 118.8 MB/s
LSI150-4 Raid5 4 25.2 ms 12.5 36.6 23.3 MB/s

All the drives used are similar class drives; Seagate Momentus 120GB 5400.6 (ST9120315AS) for the single drive and RAID1 (mirror) tests, and Seagate Momentus 500GB 5400.6 (ST9500325AS) for all the RAID5 tests.  Additionally all drives show that they are performing well withing acceptable operating parameters.

Originally posted 2010-06-30 02:00:09.

File System Fragmentation

All file systems suffer from fragmentation.

Let me rephrase that more clearly in case you didn’t quite get it the first time.

ALL FILE SYSTEMS SUFFER FROM FRAGMENTATION <PERIOD>.

It doesn’t matter what file system you use one your computer, if you delete and write files it will become fragmented over time.  Some older file systems (like say FAT and FAT32) had major performance issues as the file system began to fragment, more modern file systems do not suffer as much performance lose from fragmentation, but still suffer.

If you want to argue that your writable file system doesn’t fragment, you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about, so read up on how your file system really works and how block devices work to understand why you just can’t have a file system that doesn’t fragment files or free space or both.

What can you do about fragmentation?

Well, you might not really need to do anything, modern disk drives are fast; and on a computer that’s doing many things at once the fragmentation may not have much of any impact on your performance, but after awhile you’re probably going to want to defragment your files.

The act of copying a file will generally defragment it; most modern file systems will attempt to allocate contiguous space for a file if it can (files that grow over time cannot be allocated contiguous, but they can be defragmented at their current size).

On many operating systems you can actually get programs that are designed to defragment your file system.

How often should you defragment your file system?

Well, I generally recommend you do it right after installing and updating your computer; and then any time you make major changes (large software installation, large update, etc).  But that you not do it automatically or an a routine schedule — there’s not enough benefit to that.

You can also analyze your disk (again using software) to determine how fragmented it is… and then defragment when it reaches some point that you believe represents a performance decrease.

Also, try and keep your disk clean, delete your browser cache, temporary files, duplicate files, and clutter — the less “junk” you have on your disk, the less need there will be for defragmenting.

Originally posted 2009-01-05 12:00:03.

Microsoft Updates

I’ve got a new pet-peeve (like a had a shortage of them before)…

nVidia has been coming out with display updates for their video cards for Vista about once per month (OK — a little less often than that); and Microsoft has been dutifully pushing down certified drivers to users.

First, the big problem I have with the nVidia driver for my 9800s is that I periodically have the machine freeze and get a message that the display driver stopped responding (but has recovered)… maybe nVidia should be concentrating on fixing that issue and hold off on updates until there’s really some substantial progress [but that might negatively impact them re-naming old tehcnology and trying to sell it as something new].

OK — I digressed… but like I said, it’s a new pet-peeve, and I want to revel in it.

The really annoying thing is that every time Microsoft download and installs a new video driver the system resizes all my open windows and rearranges the icons (shortcuts) on my desktop…

Now perhaps this is only because I have a multiple display system… but reguardless you’d think the children in Redmond might have considered storing the previous state of windows BEFORE activating the new video driver and restoring it afterwards — after all, they are concerned with user experience, RIGHT?

RIGHT… I think the phase would be “experience THIS!”

Microsoft has come a long way in the last few years in making computers easier to use, and easier to maintain… but they (Microsoft) still fails to actually have people who use computers design feature for them… and that’s why using Windows has always felt like it was held together by chewing gum and string — BECAUSE IT IS.

I could do with one less version of Internet Explorer and a bit more work on polishing the overall user experience… and why all these “major” upgrades???  Why not just a continuous stream of improvements to each and every part of the system???

Originally posted 2009-08-22 01:00:10.

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008

Last week Microsoft released the FREE version of the Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008; this is a scaled down Server 2008 with Hyper-V install that allows you to run a light-weight virtualization host (much like many of the competitors in the virtualization world).

While there are some limits on this version — maxium 4 processors [don’t confuse that with cores; I think Microsoft counts physical processors not cores] and 32GB of memory.

You can get details on Hyper-V Server 2008 here:
http://www.microsoft.com/servers/hyper-v-server/default.mspx.

And you can download Hyper-V Server 2008 here:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=6067CB24-06CC-483A-AF92-B919F699C3A0&displaylang=en.

Originally posted 2008-10-16 11:08:09.