Synology DS409 RAID is Crap

Do you see that thing over there?  The Synology Disk Station DS409?  It’s crap.

It’s not the usual hardware RAID problems that make it so crappy. 

Yes, it’s slow.  Painfully slow. 

Yes, it has a weird Linux kernel that, somehow, manages to do put all NFS clients into

df: `/mirror’: Permission denied

if you change any export permissions.  Any.  Not even on the volume in question. Or

df: `/mirror’: Stale file handle

if you reboot it.  How have they even managed to do that?

No, it’s not that.

It’s that if one of the disks break (as they are wont to do, which is why we have the “R” and “I” in “RAID”), which usually happens at 2am, the thing starts beeping.


Beep.  Beep.  Beep.

And there’s no way to turn the beeping off.  Other than switching the entire thing off.  So you have a redundant disk system, but if one of the disks break, it starts beeping so loud that it’ll wake all the neighbours, so you just have to switch it off until you can find a new disk to replace the old one.

So it’s redundant, but you can’t use it.  Ingenious.

The only thing I can recommend about the Synology DS409 is that it’s less unstable than any of the other commodity hardware RAID devices I’ve used.  Which means that as soon as 4TB disks become available, I’m going to just make a two disk soft RAID device and escape the horrible clutches of hardware RAID makers.

(I should make this blog into an electronic consumer review site, shouldn’t I?)

Tellstick Redux

I was whinging a lot about the terrible Tellstick range in my last post on the issue.  Deservedly so.  It’s terrible!  However, the Telldus people have released a new version of the device:

The revolutionary new invention is the antenna!  Who would ever have thought that an antenna would give greater range?  Kids these days.

Anyway, it really does work.  I had four separate antenna-less Tellsticks that gave me 90% coverage of my apartment earlier.  With the new Tellstick, a single one gives me 100% coverage.

That’s progress.

Emacs Home Automation

Nexa unit

We all grow so very weary of having to switch lights on and off. Every day. On again and then off again. Will the madness never end?

Technology comes to the rescue! There are companies that sell receivers (like the one pictured to the left, plugged into a wall outlet that I now see I should have dusted before snapping the picture. Too late now!) that you can control wirelessly.

So the question then is: How do you control them without (yuck!) using remote controls and stuff? You use Emacs.

Telldus sells small blue USB devices that are called Tellsticks. These expose a USB serial interface, and uses a pretty … primitive encoding method for sending commands to the units.

The Emacs Lisp code needed to send commands via Tellstick is on github, since that where all the cool kids hang out these days.

Tellstick and one of the lamps it controls

I’ve had this thing running for about half a year, and it’s really nice to be able to switch off all the lights in the entire apartment with just on the hallway computer. The main problem is that the range of the Tellstick senders is about five meters. If there moon is in the right phase and it isn’t too windy. And you feel lucky.

Fortunately I have at least one computer in each room, so I’ve just bought a truckload of Tellsticks and have each computer control each room, and then I have the remote remote control work by using emacs-server/emacsclient. But you can probably work that stuff out yourself.

Enjoy the gift of light! No longer sitting in the dark, typing away, just because you’re too lazy to get up and switch the lamps on!