Late last week I found out that I had lost a drive in my striped RAID array. I had four 80GB drives setup as a striped set for speed. The array stored things like ripped DVDs, music, downloads and most importantly any video that I was editing on my Mac. I knew the risks of going RAID0 so I had backups of my most important stuff but it’s still a loss in time all the same.

I was originally using the four drives in a RAID5 set but performance was too slow for editing when combined with gigabit speeds. I also needed the space at the time. To replace the drive, I actually decided to replace all of the hardware as well. I’ll be moving from a P4 3.0Ghz to a Core 2 Duo 2.2Ghz with 800Mhz front side bus. There are quicker options out there but this will certainly be an upgrade from what I have, while using less power most likely.

For drives I’ve ordered a pair of Samsung 500GB drives which I’ll mirror. I didn’t really feel shorted on space before so 500GB will still feel like an upgrade and I’ll be able to take advantage of mirroring to help protect the data to some extent.

I have an online photo album that, when a file is uploaded, will create a thumbnail size and an intermediate sized photo along with the full size version. I needed to copy the full size version of the file out while skipping the thumb and sized versions. I was able to accomplish this task using a single command:

[[email protected] Wedding]# for I in `ls | grep -v sized | grep -v thumb`; do cp $I /var/www/html/pics/; done

This would have taken a lot longer using any other method. Using a GUI, say, Windows Explorer, I’d still be selecting which files to copy by the time the above command completed the work.

I’m a little slow on adopting the latest Internet trends. I have no idea why but I seem to get stuck on last years hot item and then I never seem to hear about the latest and greatest until it has created a lot of buzz. I also have a tough time seeing the value in some of the new items until some very smart and crafty people put it to use in such a way that it really reveals the power of, well, whatever is the hot button item.

RSS is one of those things for me that just didn’t really catch my eye outside of using RSS feeds to keep my bookmarks in sync between my computers at work and at home. In reality, I’m not even using correctly. At any rate, the value of RSS has hit me like a ton of bricks.

I browse a number of newsish sites related to Nintendo, Apple/Mac, and a number of blogs. I visit these sites just to see what is new. For a long while I’ve used Firefox’s Live Bookmarks feature to keep up on sites that had RSS feeds but now it has just gotten out of hand. I have too many sites and blogs I like to check.

Enter Vienna for the Mac. This thing is spectacular. It looks great, it’s very fast and it allows me to group RSS feeds into any arbitrary group I wish. Apple/Mac feeds in one group and Nintendo feeds in another. Reading feeds is simplistic though I opted for the ‘condensed’ layout rather than the default ‘report’ layout. In the condensed layout it’s very much like using a Microsoft Outlook with mailboxes on the left, messages in the middle and the full message on the right. Now if I could just find a comparable program for Windows I’d have my new RSS fetish fully satisfied.

I replaced the Samsung 226BW with a Gateway FPD2275W. The display includes more inputs including svideo, component, composite and DVI along with they typical VGA. Although the display is still based on a TN panel and suffers many of the same attributes of the Samsung, they are not as pronounced and much more livable. The contrast ratio of this display however is a bit less than on the Samsung. Always a trade off somewhere I suppose.

I picked up the above mentioned monitor a couple of days ago. It’s a 22″ flat panel, 1680×1050 native resolution, 2ms response 3000:1 contrast ratio (using dynamic contrast). Sounds great on paper but is actually surprisingly bad in practice. What I’ve learned is that virtually all 22″ monitors use the same type of LCD panel, a TN (twisted nematic). These panels are cheaper than the other types available and have the poorest viewing angles of all available types. For some reason this panel is raved about on the Internet and gets top picks in reviews. Maybe I’m overly picky compared to most people but it really bothers me to see different colors on the screen depending on where I site, and even worse to see contrast so different between the top and the bottom of the display. My laptop’s display suffers from the same issue, but on such a small screen it’s hardly an issue. With a screen this large, it’s not acceptable.

I ran into two strange issues with Leopard on my mini. For whatever reason, importing video via firewire would drop frames. I’ve never seen dropped frames while importing video with firewire, I didn’t know it was possible. It’s possible there really is something wrong with the tape or the camcorder but it seems to play back perfectly on the camcorder. The other issue is a drop in frame rate while minimizing windows. This sounds pretty trivial but it was actually pretty annoying. It was nearly as bad as running OS X 10.3 on a 400Mhz G3 iMac.

Anyway, I removed Leopard and reinstalled (erase and install no less) Tiger. It still wants to drop some frames, but not as many.

I managed to acquire Leopard for my Mac mini and have been putting it to use for almost a week now. Initially I was a bit underwhelmed, probably because of all the hype, but after spending some more time with it I’m really liking some of the changes put into it though I haven’t had a chance to really get to know all of the new features Leopard has to offer.

Right away I was put off by the color scheme. I was really liking the colors used in Tiger for selected menu items and the title bar on windows. The menu bar also being translucent doesn’t excite me and I’ll probably install this utility to disable the transparency, but I’ll give it some more time. The glass shelf dock looks fine to my eyes except for the odd shadow behind the icons. They are shadowed as if light is shining up through the glass shelf, it ends up creating an effect that just looks like a poorly drop shadowed image. It just looks wrong and would be much more pleasing if there was no shadow at all, or a very subtle shadow similar to how all windows in OS X are shadowed.
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I’ve had the Mac mini for a few weeks now so I thought I’d write a bit my thoughts on the mini and OS X in general. There is a lot to like about the mini and OS X but there are also a few items I’ve come to dislike which I’ll discuss below.

The Mac mini is a tiny computer that looks great. I am personally not aware of any sort of PC that is this small, includes the same features AND looks good doing it. That said, aesthetics are in the eye of the beholder and are a matter of opinion. With that in mind I’ll try to steer clear of personal opinion and concentrate more on practicality and usability.

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Accessing the Linux command line is quite simple. I’ll describe the process as it is on a Ubuntu system but only because Ubuntu has the most market share of the Linux distros today. The concepts here carry over all most if not all other Linux distributions. One other thing I should point out is that the command line is sometimes referred to as the “console” or “terminal” and I may use those terms from time to time.

There are times that you’ll need to use the command line in order to get something done because there won’t be an appropriate GUI tool available or a GUI tool that is available doesn’t have a needed option. In these cases you can access the command line to get the job done.
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