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    NAS: recommendations?


    2012 - 12.10

    It is time for us to invest in some Network Attached Storage (NAS), and since we aren’t currently invested in any particular ecosystem, it seemed like a good time to see what everyone else is using and liking.  There seems to be a large assortment of options out there, but in general everything looks good when you read the spec’s.  Features which seem important to us:

    • Support for at least one of RAID 5, 6 or 10 (or equivalent)
    • Support for at least 4 drives
    • Might be nice if it supported mixed drive sizes, or dynamic adding of discs later (or swapping in discs)
    • Should support at least 2TB drives (if not larger)
    • Should support Gigabit connection
    • Management software should be usable

    I’d also like to hear opinions on drives for use in a NAS.  So feel free to offer your opinion, educated or otherwise ;-)

    Kal Tire: True Service


    2012 - 10.26

    This story is several weeks old now, but it’s worth telling regardless.

    Karin and I were headed up to Whistler to walk around the village and to go to the BCDSS AGM.  We left in the late morning, stopped in Squamish for lunch and gas, and then 3 kms later we heard a noise, turned out it was a flat tire.  We pulled off the highway and called BCAA.  The local towing company arrived and helped us change the tire.  We decided to carry on and visit Whistler.

    It wasn’t until several days later that I had a chance to go and see someone about the tire.  Sadly it’s not the first time I’ve had a flat tire.  The last time I had a flat, I was told that I needed to replace all 4 tires (which is sometimes the danger when you have an all wheel drive vehicle).  So I had 3 identical spare tires, so I was hoping that one of those would be a suitable replacement.

    Based on a recommendation from my dad I went to Kal Tire, just dropped in, no appointment.  Waited a couple of minutes and one of the employees (Dwayne if I’m not mistaken) came out to take a look at my flat, which was not salvageable.  He then opened up one of the extra tires I had, and determined that it was suitable.  He told me that if I left the flat (on the rim) and the replacement tire there for a couple of hours (1.5 actually) that he’d get it mounted for me, and they could just put it on when I came back later in the afternoon.

    So I left the stuff behind and did some shopping, then went back.  It only took about 15 minutes or so after I was back for them to put the new tire on.  They also cleaned all my existing tires (made them look like new).

    So after all that, they charged me the outrageous fee of NOTHING!  That’s right, they did it for free.

    Now what makes that exceptional, is that I was totally prepared and expecting to pay for the service.  Additionally, the tires on my car were not purchased at Kal Tire, nor were the extra three that I had.  In fact they don’t even sell the tire or brand that I have.  So it was very much appreciated, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that you consider Kal Tire for your next tire needs or service appointment.

    The Body Finder – Kimberly Derting


    2012 - 10.24

    I’ve been using good reads for a while now to find new books to read.  It’s the disadvantage of out reading most of your friends and running out of word of mouth recommendations.  This book (which is the first in a series, currently 3 are published, with a 4th coming) “The Body Finder” was recommended because I liked the John Wayne Cleaver series (trilogy) by Dan Wells.  The target age group is similar, as is the book length.  It’s a good recommendation, as I did like both books.

    One of the interesting things about the book (and perhaps the series, although I don’t know that yet) is that there is a supernatural element to the story, but just one.  It is introduced early and as long as you can accept that particular premise it is otherwise a fairly normal mystery story.  Definitely worth checking out, if you’re looking for something new and don’t mind reading young adult fiction.  Oh, and for those of you who don’t like vampires and werewolves and such, the supernatural premise in the books is not a typical supernatural premise and there are as far as I can tell no vampires or werewolves or what have you.

    Chef Michael’s Kitchen: Gluten Free Flour


    2012 - 09.12

    Finally an actual cooking show, probably the best one since Good Eats!  There’s several great things about the show, first off is Michael Smith who’s just awesome.  The second is that the show is about teaching techniques or frameworks in which you can channel your creativity and be successful.  In essence taking most of the risk out of experimentation and a lot of the fear too.

    In the second episode Cooking with allergies: Lasagna, Muffins & Cookies (which you can watch online) he does some gluten free stuff, but probably the most interesting thing is that he makes his own gluten free flour mix.

    Anyway, it’s only two episodes in, but we’re already hooked on Chef Michael’s Kitchen.

    Everything $1.00 and more


    2012 - 07.14

    Checked out the new dollar store at Brentwood today, and they have a reasonable selection and they actually do seem to keep everything at about $1-2.  It’s pretty big, and there’s a reasonable selection, and it includes some actual name brand stuff too.

    We talked about it while at the store, that despite the fact some of the stuff is probably made in the exact same factory as the brands we’re familiar with it still comes across as being somewhat suspect.  It’s amazing how much we’re influenced by branding and advertising.  I think that’s especially true of dollar stores.  You do see people buy non-name brand stuff, but I think that people are more comfortable doing that at stores which they consider a brand (e.g. major grocery stores, or places like London Drugs).  Because even if you don’t know the product brand, you trust the store “brand” enough that you’re comfortable without the name recognition.  Not really true in the dollar store experience, especially in this particular store which clearly says all sales final, no refunds, no exchanges.  Doesn’t bread confidence, but at the same time given the price of the items…

    That said, if you need some plastic bins, journals or envelopes it’s worth a look.

    Most amusing price comparison in store: 1 litre bottles of Coke $1.00 (on the shelf), 591ml bottles of Coke $1.00 (from the fridge).

    Most coveted item: 4 pack of Oh Henry! eggs $1.50 (they have individual ones for $0.39), this compares to Aero eggs which were 2 for $1.25 or $1.50 (if memory serves).

    Shaw EXO vs. Telus Optik


    2012 - 07.09

    Considering making the change either to Shaw EXO or Telus Optik, just wondering if anyone has any arguments for or against one or the other of them.  I haven’t gone and done any of the research on our options yet (beyond knowing that both are available to us).

    So I guess the questions are:

    1. are you happy with what you’ve got? if not, why?
    2. if you had the choice to make over again would you make a different one? if so, why?
    3. did you get a great deal when you upgraded/switched?
    4. anything else you think is relevant?

     

    Deep Fried Mars Bar


    2012 - 07.08

    Last night went a little different than I expected, after a stop at Greek Fest for baclava (sorry it’s over now, if you didn’t go) I managed to end up at The Rumpus Room*.

    As part of that adventure a deep fried Mars bar was ordered… it however was forgotten until we were ready to leave at which point it appeared.  Just to be clear, I didn’t order it, but I did try it.  I’m going to say that I didn’t like this particular one, but I could imagine possibly enjoying a different implementation.

    For me the problem was the batter, it was overpowering, but it wasn’t overpowering because it was a regular fish and chips beer batter or something.  Instead it appeared to be a specially crafted dessert batter, which in other circumstances might have been delicious.  In this case however, I felt that the cinnamon in the batter overpowered the taste of the Mars bar, which in my mind at least defeats the purpose of the dish.

    Regardless it was an interesting night.  So have you tried the deep fried Mars bar before?  Did you like it?  Where’s the best place in Vancouver to have one?

     

    * Only way to keep the long story short is to pretend that there was a chapter break, and that no further explanation of the shananigans was required.

    Awake


    2012 - 05.29

    This is one of those shows which has been cancelled, we watched the last two episodes last week.  Although the final episode left some stuff open, it worked well as a concluding episode.

    What I actually liked best about the show is although it was weird and had some sort of paranormal aspect to it, it was not essential that you understand that paranormal aspect.  Once the premise was introduced it was used effectively, but wasn’t really explored through the normal course of an episode (e.g. most characters in the show were completely unaware of any supernatural elements in the series).

    Another interesting aspect is that the show creator answered some questions about where the show would have gone in a Season 2 and potentially beyond.  It’s also one of the few shows where I would be really curious to actually hear directors commentary…

     

    More Cancellations: A&E


    2012 - 05.23

    I remember back when A&E used to be cool, or at least I used to think it was, with a selection of good old shows, biographies and comedy.  In recent years they’ve lost their way in my opinion, and only rarely have shows which are of any interest to me.

    One of those shows that we watched was Breakout Kings, which has been cancelled after 2 years.  Which is too bad, as it was definitely one of the better shows they had.

    Also cancelled: Dog the bounty hunter… not something I care about, but Karin would watch it occasionally.

    On the bright side the third season of The Glades will be starting in a couple of weeks…

    New Printer


    2012 - 05.15

    A few weeks back we bought a new printer a Brother MFC-J6910DW so far we’re very happy with it.  Setup was very straightforward and we had it working on our network from both computers in under an hour (which is essentially how long it took for us to unpack it and install the relevant software on the computers).  Some of the things which we like about it:

    • wireless connectivity to all computers
    • wireless scanning directly to a computer or flash drive
    • 35 page auto document feeder
    • 2 paper trays
    • 11×17 (Ledger) printing and scanning
    • duplex printing
    • duplex scanning (doesn’t do Ledger duplex, only goes up to legal)

    Because of the convenience of the connectivity of the new printer we’ve managed to digitize a bunch of stuff which was too large or inconvenient to scan previously, and we’ve managed to get rid of some paper.

    So if anyone needs to make use of our giant scanner/printer let us know.

     

    Oh, another interesting feature (required a firmware update to the printer) is that Karin can print directly from her iPhone wirelessly.