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.

Loudly.

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?)

Running an RSS to NNTP Gateway

If I knew that doing an RSS to NNTP gateway was so easy, I would have done it years ago. I was just waiting for somebody else to pick up this obviously useful idea, but apparently nobody else wanted to.

In comparison to doing the Gwene gateway, the (almost) ten-year-old Gmane mail-to-news project is pretty mammoth, what with all the administration, spam work and web interfaces.  Gwene, on the other hand, is a minuscule collection of Perl scripts (find the source code on GitHub).

The main issue with parsing real-world RSS/Atom files is that, like HTML, they can’t reliably be parsed strictly.  None of the Perl RSS-parsing libraries seem to take this into account, and fail pretty badly on real-world feeds.  So the Gwene scripts have to pre-process the feeds before handing them over to the libraries, and then they have to root around pretty invasively into the Perl libraries’ internal structures to pick out the useful bits.

Somebody should extract the useful bits from the Gwene scripts and whip up a simpler DWIM RSS parsing library.  But I’ll leave that to somebody that actually knows Perl.

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.

Make RSS feeds from last.fm Shoutbox Pages

I was somewhat interested in seeing what people were saying about the new Boris albums on last.fm, but reloading that page is so 1993.  I wanted to read it through Gwene, but there’s no RSS feeds on last.fm.  So I whipped one up (in Perl!  *sob*) and put the service on Quimby.

Feel free to use it or rewrite the Perl script to be less doubleplusungood.

Square McSweeney’s

The fun people at McSweeney’s have done a lot of amusingly formatted issues of their Quarterly Concern (a shaving kit, an advertising folder, etc), but this one is certainly the bulkiest one:

It’s a 15x15x15cm box, and when you crack open his forehead, you find lots of neat litte pamphlets inside instead of brains:

And how are the pamphlets?  Er… you expect me to read them? Now? Look at the box!  Just look at it!

Gmane On Github

I’ve started putting the various Gmane things on github. If I get around to it, I’ll probably put most of the programs and scripts up there eventually, but first out are weft and weaverd.

Oh, and I also added the source code for the defunct we:search search engine. It’s no longer used, since Gmane switched to Xapian for searching, but it might have historical interest… for somebody who’s interested in… history…

It’s all C! Oh, the humanity.