Faulbaer's Schlafmulde :: english :: rants
6 articles
http://jm.tosses.info

why I cannot reccomend to buy the drobo anymore

I've been having several problems with my drobo on several occasions. it's not that it's a bad idea or a bad design in general - it's just that in most cases for me it doesn't do the job as advertised and it doesn't help me with the problem that made me buy a drobo in the first place.

let's get into the details, shall we?

let's start at the beginning, while we're at it ^_^

in the beginning there were files and they got copied and changed and copied and change and their numbers and sizes grew and then space just ended and there was no more room for all those directories full of files ever growing in numbers and sizes - and the solution was to get more space, another hard-drive ... and as you might have expected the new one became too small soon again and the next and the one after that and then the first drive failed and I lost a gigabyte or two and I started backing up and keeping versioned redundant repositories on encrypted disks and/or disk-images and suddenly I needed twice the space and in some cases even more ... and I didn't know how to organize all those drives and the repositories and I actually considered deleting everything and starting all over again - not for long because that was around the time drobo launched a neat marketing campaign targeted and perfectly customized to my very needs - it promised to be the solution to all my problems and it did it with a cute girl explaining everything in a well made video on the internet where I live.

I'm not new to the business and I didn't believe everything I saw in the video right away. I did some research and read all the information data robotics provided me with. I reckoned they were cheating a little bit here and there and I expected that the important information was going to be the information they had left out in the video which by then had gone viral - not completely without my help and the help of so many others desperately searching for a solution to their storage problems.

I have a reasonable amount of experience with storage in almost every shape there is. I setup and maintained small, medium sized and large raids - even small and medium sized sans although by the time I decided to buy the drobo it had just been large raids and nas-storages.

all the information I got and all the pondering couldn't spoil my expectations of the drobo which were very high to say the least. it looked as if it was going to be the real deal and although I wasn't going for the 1.0 usb version I totally went for the firewire 800 drobo which proved to become a major disappointment after all.

broken promises

the video had shown a movie continually playing while expanding a drive or recovering a volume to a replaced drive - that is actually not a lie but they could have mentioned that a volume of the size of 4 tb was going to be recovered over days, not hours. if you wanted it to finish recovery within a week you better not touch the drobo while recovering.

the video also hadn't shown that there was actually a size limitation to a drobo - you had to decide on it's volumes' virtual size in the setup process. to date there is no way to grow the drobo beyond that. the maximum size is 16 tb in my firmware.

also there is no way of uploading a new firmware to a broken hard-drive in the drobo which is really a shame. if you are as unlucky as I was you end up with removing and upgrading your hard-drives one-by-one, always recovering and rebuilding the drobo volume.

the build-quality of the drobo is hmkay - it's loud and plasticky. I lost the cover-flap of one drive-bay by removing said drive for the mentioned firmware-upgrade. it looks rather ugly after some weeks of collecting dust. remember: the drobo wasn't meant to be used in a virtually dust-free data-center but at home or in an office where there is dust - tons of it!

I also don't like the way the sockets have been placed or that it has a separate power-supply instead of a proper 115/230 volt connector.

what drives me nuts all the time is that I can't tell the drobo to NOT shut down the drives, to not send them to sleep while not being used. the caching on the drobo seems to be shitty, too and whenever my mac wants to access data on the drobo I hear the spin-up of the drives inside taking ages and after a rather long while I can use the mac again. granted, half of that issue is apple's fault but hey - if those drives didn't sleep the other half wouldn't be such an hassle.

the overall performance of my fw-800 drobo is just poor. I haven't had any equally slow firewire drive after firewire was born. I don't actually get why that's the case. in theory there should always be at least two places to read data from, making the drobo at least double in read-speed of the slowest drive installed - but the reality is that it more like seems to be half the write-speed of the fastest drive installed for reading and a third of the write-speed of the slowest drive installed for writing data.

also accessing data in parallel proves to be problematic if not dangerous. I'm used to move data around quite a lot. I copy this and that to the drobo while reading some and more from it. the drobo sometimes responds so badly to that kind of usage that I tend to reduce all of them to just one job of either reading or writing - that is a big disappointment since I have four drives in that drobo and working with four terabytes of data involves parallel reading and writing a lot.

besides broken promises the drobo itself fails from time to time. that's when you send a mail to their very nice and very well trained support-team. and sure enough they could help me most of the time and I didn't actually lose any data but the drobo failing isn't really an option and taking recovery-times and bad performance into consideration it is kind of a deal-breaker for me, too.

I'm looking into alternatives to the drobo and deep inside me there is a feeling building up to just get rid of the drobo while there is time left - with the next major crash I'm going to switch to a proper networked storage or maybe even back to a file-server. the drobo let me down too often at too many occasions, didn't keep it's promises and can't help with the main issue: logical data-corruption.

the drobo can only fix broken drives and that it does slowly and clumsily. for it's prize-tag this is not enough and I'm not going to buy more drobos for further versioning and redundancy. the device is just not good enough for that and I lost most of the trust I put in it almost a year ago.

so - no, I can't recommend to buy a drobo for my use-cases. it's not that it isn't ready for prime-time - it's just a really bad performer and the only thing it does well, it doesn't as soon as you outgrow it's limitations.

Faulbaer (any recommendations what to buy next?)

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[ 2010.02.05, 23:56 :: thema: /english/rants :: link zum artikel :: 0 Comments ]

my wishlist for aperture 3 ... if it's ever going to be released

I have a list of what I'd really like to see in aperture 3:

- ability to load and unload several aperture databases/libraries

- ilife and iwork integration being aware of (if not tracking) several aperture libraries/databases

- better performance in aperture itself as well as the aperture vault backup process

- ability to recover single folders, projects, albums, photos and even versions from the aperture vault backup

- non-destructive aperture library consistence check routines

- improved handling of decentral stored offline- and online-data

- ability to store files on a networked dedicated aperture server for several aperture clients to work with - I mean, it's 2010 dudes, gigabit networks are so yesterdayish, aren't they?

- ability to keep track of and maintain redundantly stored data - I want my photos to be everywhere and I want aperture to care for all the copies to stay current - that's not rocket science, just implement it!

- better web-publishing implementation tapping into services like flickr, ilife, photo-bucket, istockphoto and the like - also there should be easily accessible interfaces to publish to the common blogengines, microblogs and the like

- interfaces to easily work with the plugin-architecture in a non-destructive way. If I change colors, the size or anything in a plugin I just don't want aperture to export and reimport a tiff or psd file - I want plugins to be far deeper integrated into aperture - I'd actually like to see those plugins to dock right into the adjustment boxes, using the same mechanisms apertures adjustment panels do, being placed at a sane position in the workflow - generally before the sharpening and the vignetting steps ... am I the only one to be annoyed with the current way this is done in aperture? plugins should be just another layer to go through in the workflow!

- ability to work with huge files - I'm regularly getting 'unsupported image type' errors when I'm working with photoshop files larger than 300 mb which happens quite a lot. there is no need for aperture to act like that on a machine with over ten gigs of ram almost entirely dedicated to be used by aperture and photoshop

- make batch-processing available to keyboard users. I don't want to dive into menus and sub-menus just to add a tag to several images or to stamp adjustments to more than one photo

- get exif- and geo-data working properly - make adding and changing this data more accessible

Faulbaer (I'm going to add more in the future I guess ... )

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[ 2010.02.05, 21:38 :: thema: /english/rants/apple :: link zum artikel :: 0 Comments ]

beloved annoying palm pre

I'm still with the pre and I'm going to stick with it for another while because when it comes to the way it handles my internet life I find it to be amazing.

the touchstone wireless charging device is incredible, too. apple will have one of those as soon as they successfully pushed the whole syncing process to wifi I bet.

so why would I be renting about a pre that I love so much? well - I loved it even more I I could use it more often. it's broken again - for the second time now and that's starting to hurt our relationship. this time the touchscreen doesn't work as soon as I pull the usb-cable from it's socket. without the touchscreen I can't hang up calls, can't choose a phone number from the list, can't start apps - well ... the pre really suxx without the touchscreen. that the iphone and the pre do have in common.

wait - there is more! everything has gotten better with the latest firmware upgrade to something beyond 1.3 but still important features are missing and I can't tell why but palm decided to close down the american app-store to european customers - so the current app-store is looking very very empty and useless. that's not how you compete against the iphone or even android. that's how you dig your own grave. but there is even more! if the pre was be my first PDA smartphone ever it could seem great and it's shortcoming wouldn't matter too much but I happen to know the first two generations of the iphone as well as the first generations of palm PDA devices starting from palm III up to the palm tungsten t3 (an amazing wide-screen color PDA) and I still own the palmone treo, the phone that brought the word shortcomings into the smartphone business for the iphone to solve those.

compared to the iphone I often get the impression that certain features of the palm pre are missing from the iphone for a reason. that's not the case for the great notification system but multitasking doesn't strike me as super clever anymore as long as the 'phone' is just another app, performing rather badly. compared to the treo my pre's batteries seem to be leaking. ok - it's not been too much better with the iphone but where my treo goes through weeks of lazy standby, my pre start's crying for juice before the day is over. that's unbelievably bad performance.

there are some other annoyances that have to do with bad engineering I can't spare you. the usb-port protector is extremely fiddly and I always fear to tear it off after breaking a nail - or a finger. the slide-open keyboard tray doesn't feel too sturdy either. I'm also afraid of breaking the case while opening it for replacing the SIM or the battery.

the system software on the iphone is much better. for one, the phone app doesn't crash as often as the pre's does. tethering is an option, system preferences are one big app and you always know what you can do and what apple doesn't want you to do - with the pre not so much - I keep finding new settings I've never seen before just because I hadn't tried a certain settings app before - that's ridiculous! the settings should be in one place and in one place only. there are important settings missing, too: I want to be able to switch off the auto-correction, want the device to speak english but still use german dates and times as well as the metric system. I want to be able to switch off the screen no matter what - it's always on on the touchstone. I need to be able to hang up with a key instead of the touchscreen that is rather unresponsive during calls. I think the software problems and the empty store will be fixed in the future but the hardware needs to be improved. for a device with that high a price-tag the pre shouldn't be made from such cheap looking, that flimsy feeling components.

there should be a fileserver for syncing so that you can sync stuff to the pre when it's on the touchstone charger. also the syncing should be possible without switching off the phone - I mean hello? it's a phone, it should be able to take calls while syncing - the phone part has to be the priority in this kind of device. If I needed a media playing toy I had gotten an ipod touch in the first place - get real, palm! there should be jabber capability in the chat client. actually it's already there - google talk is just jabber anyway. so why not open that to the rest of the jabber world? there should be a sync app for the mac - I'm over dragging and dropping files onto usb-drives. apple made me see the light with itunes and I'd really like working with the pre the same way. people who like sorting their media within the boundaries of their filesystem are dinosaurs from the past who miraculously survived the burst of their bubble - they are going to be extinct pretty soon - so forget about them, please. build a syncing plugin for isync and get it connected to itunes so that at least my photos and my playlists can be synced automatically. have it work via wifi for your touchstone to make sense.

Faulbaer (please make the pre a device I don't need to apologize for)

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[ 2009.12.15, 07:51 :: thema: /english/rants :: link zum artikel :: 0 Comments ]

philips' and canon's bad customer service

I'm through with them - both of them. it's not going to hurt them anyway because I already bought many of their products but never no more - I've had it.

what this rant is about you may ask - and I'll tell you - so silence!

late 2008 I bought several philips products from amazon. a toaster, a tooth-brush, a coffee maker, a blender, an electric razor and some more things. I killed the toaster by accident and went to customer care to have it repaired or replaced for a fair amount of money. as it turns out philips finds more than the price of the unit on amazon plus shipping fees fair for a toaster that has one broken hot-wire - I'm not amused. I openly stated that it was my fault and that's how I'm being treated - I'm angry I bought the same toaster again after the first broke. that's been the last time I'd suggest a philips product to anyone - I'm for sure not going to buy any of their products again.

with canon it's a slightly different story. I bought four canon selphy photo printers at a local photo store (city photo center) for a reduced price that turned out to be very close to the original product price - well - that's a risk I took and that's ok. not ok was that two power supply units were missing and for some reason the store wasn't able to get me any for months - I finally took something different for the ebay price instead. then I gave canon a call and told them the story. canon thinks it's fair to take double the internet price for those power-supplies plus a ten euro shipping fee. had been the same when my mom accidently had dropped her camera or when my father's camera's battery died - canon's customer care just doesn't cut it for me. I'm not going to suggest any of their products to anyone again - I'm not going to buy any of their products ever again for sure.

there is enough competition out there that I can test. I remember good customer service with HP, Nikon palm, Nintendo, Graef and sometimes even Apple.

why should I put up with companies that obviously don't want to keep me as a customer? this year I spent about seven k on consumer and other electronics - last year that must have been even more than ten k. I'm a big spender for what I earn and I don't see any good reason to spend money on products of companies that don't seem to appreciate me as customer.

I don't want to get anything for free and I think good products and good service have to be reflected by a reasonable price. usually I will decide for the more expensive product in the expectation of receiving a better value for my money. sometimes I think it's ok to go with the cheap no-service-at-all offer. I have to admit that I'm fairly pissed when the cheapos turn out to offer the better service than those companies I paid more. all I'm asking for is a reasonably priced service and customer care that's not only worth it's name but also worth what I paid for. canon and philips don't offer those so I'd suggest not to buy from them.

Faulbaer (I suggest: don't buy canon products and don't buy philips products)

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[ 2009.10.23, 11:37 :: thema: /english/rants :: link zum artikel :: 0 Comments ]

snow leopard installer let me jump through hoops

took me some time to finally decide for an upgrade to mac os x snow leopard. after comparing the software I will need for work with the snow leopard compatibility list on wikidot and carefully considering what I could live without for some time yesterday I started the upgrade process by inserting the dvd and double-clicking the setup icon soon after that.

the installer fired up and after some more clicks it presented me with the choice to install snow leopard onto my drobo - wait a second, where were my drives gone?

the installer doesn't offer apple's software raids as destination drives. despite what several knowledge-base articles around that topic state I could figure it out myself. there was no need for breaking the raid up or moving data to another drive and reformating the raid or anything like that.

I just had to boot from the install dvd instead of starting the installer on my booted (snow) leopard. an interesting sidenote: it's not just the drivers - the install process after booting the dvd must be different from the installer application - even I started the installer application from snow leopard it wouldn't show me my raid volumes to install the system onto. that's strange behaviour.

my mac book air crashed after starting the installer from a remote drive - or so I thought - later I tried that again and it just behaved as if it had crashed while examining the system drive for some minutes. the screen wouldn't refresh. when I came back a little later it told me to boot from the install media and had to 'repair' my drive.

installing a new operating system via wifi still gives me the chills. but including the disk repair it went through in less than two hours. the only thing I'm not so happy with is that something very wrong must have happened to the keychain. I'm getting lots of password requests for everything. also many file types don't seem to be connected to the right applications anymore - why ever.

does anyone have a clue why apple wouldn't make rosetta (two megabytes!) a default install option? can't be in the interest of their customers to make this an optional install :/

Faulbaer (what I miss most are letterbox and gpgmail for mail.app)

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[ 2009.09.18, 10:11 :: thema: /english/rants/apple :: link zum artikel :: 0 Comments ]

why does adobe give everything to make me a pirate?

over the past week I've been trying everything to get an adobe photoshop extrended student edition license by applying to scott kelby's kelbytraining.com. To keep it short, it's impossible.

Not only can't Adobe seem to help me in my quest, even kelbytraining.com keeps dodging my requests - obviously they are trying to get me to sign into a contract with their online training site, very well knowing that I won't be able to get a legit student license from adobe by doing so but without telling me.

so - what can I do from here? I don't want to take offline lessons - usually the classes are too full, many trainers can't answer my questions, they don't teach in the right pace - whatever - I'm a complicated guy like many other creative people - schools didn't work for me so far and I'm not going to invest into that kind of system ever again.

what's the right way then? I can't afford a full license of photoshop - I won't be making money of it and I can't use the product yet - a student version in combination with some online training would be just the right thing.

so why oh why does adobe try to make me pirate the product? I'm used to buying what I use - but this needs to happen in the right context at a reasonable prize. I guess I'll just stick to the gimp for now - no adobe photoshop for me then.

Faulbaer (I won't sign up with a service I can't trust)

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[ 2009.08.17, 17:05 :: thema: /english/rants/adobe :: link zum artikel :: 0 Comments ]
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6 articles