Apple why you don’t like NAS??????

Argh, Apple, what have you got against NAS? Many may be aware that Apple has released its latest version of OSX, called Mavericks. As part of the update they have given iMovie and iPhoto a makeover.

While the upgrade to Mavericks went without any trouble, the iMovie update has not gone so well. The previous iMovie didn’t support NAS, though eventually with some searching across the internet I found this

defaults write -app iMovie allowNV -bool true

which when typed into Terminal (OSX command line interface - very powerful) fixed it.

The new iMovie broke the link again. The command hasn't worked on it, so now I'm stuck (like many other people) with a load of iMovie projects that I can't load into iMovie without copying back onto my iMac's HDD. Now we're talking about gigabytes of stuff and you might recall I have had a disk space issue with just my iTunes Library. There's no way I can keep all my iMovie projects on the HDD!

My frustration is increased as I did spend a little bit of money (not a big amount, but about $500-$800)  on setting up the NAS. It's still working fine as my iTunes Library by the way. Anyway I spent the money and it isn't able to be used as much as I had hoped because of strange limitations that are in other applications.

So I considered moving up to Final Cut, Apple's higher specification video editing program (aimed at professionals), but some brief research tells me it has exactly the same limitation. I wonder if iPhoto and Aperture (Apple's photo programs) do as well - though I've kept the iPhoto Library on the iMac. Come on, even lowly little me has gigabytes of video, imagine a pro! And they want it all to fit on the 1TB HDD that comes standard. Someone commented that they might want us to move to Thunderbolt instead of Ethernet, but I read that Thunderbolt solutions don't work either!

Now I'm looking into totally avoiding the problem and moving to Adobe's Creative Cloud. I'm just doing some research about costs and whether it can use a NAS when on OSX.

The advantages are that I would be able to use all of Adobe's Creative programs (Photoshop, Premiere and Dreamweaver and many others) on two computers even different OS, and get lifetime upgrades. For a cost that would save me money for a few years. It looks promising.

NAS. Hiccup

Discovered a problem with my setup. Not really the NAS fault as far as I can tell either.

When I download a rental from iTunes, it won’t play. The AppleTV says the computer isn’t authourised, iTunes says the file is quicktime and iTunes doesn’t support that. It won’t move it to an iOS device and there is no picture displayed, just the blank, I don’t have any cover art, image.

Now remember, the whole rest of the library works, and I’m not trying to play some ancient file I dug up somewhere, this is a rental I downloaded maybe two days ago.

Net research suggests its not limited to my setup, but that most who use NAS have this problem and there were varied suggestions to fix it.

The first suggestions I didn’t like as it mostly involved moving my library. Deleting files seemed problematic for a rental as then I would have to rent it again.

Let me describe the delete solution to show you, and it will show how ridiculous the error is

1. Find the file on you hard disk

2. Copy it somewhere else – like the Desktop

3. Delete the original

4. Reimport the copy (easy as dragging it from the desktop into iTunes)

5. Wait a minute or so for the copy to complete (and behind the scenes its being copied to exactly where you copied it from!)

6. Play movie and enjoy.

Wait what! You didn’t do anything to the file!

Nope. And I found out you don’t even need to do step three. So it works for rentals.

So its some stupid iTunes quirk with using a NAS. Or rather some stupid iTunes Store quirk with using a NAS.

There’s nothing wrong with my NAS – its iTunes.

NAS. Life is Good.

Success. I have moved my iTunes library onto the NAS and Time Machine is happily backing up to it as well. I’m not sure that the PC has access to anything, but to be honest, not sure that’s a problem – the PC isn’t used for much apart from keeping the rest of the family happy with facebook, streaming TV etc. I’ve never bothered doing a backup of it as there’s nothing on it that can be reinstalled or redownloaded. A hassle yes, but not going to lose family photos or anything.

Moving iTunes has cleared about 550G off the iMac, correspondingly the backup is significantly smaller. I’ve also freed up a USB port, which is always helpful.

The only drawback I’ve noticed is that the NAS isn’t as quiet as the iMac, must be the fans, and it does create a noticeable lag in my system. I suspect that is the trade off, noise reduction and sleeping drives in the NAS vs instant response in iTunes. I’ll fiddle with the settings as I use it to find the sweet spot for me.

Overall I’m happy with what’s happened. I’m not 100% sure I know why it started to work yesterday and that worries me a little. But I backups that I can restore to if required.

And later if I wanted to I could turn the server in a cloud, an ftp, a web server or whatever as well. But not at the moment.

NAS. I am.

Started work on the NAS yesterday. I started by adding the two new HDDs and ripping the other two out of the PC (I will have to go back and make sure the RAID is properly deactivated there).

Then using the downloaded CD I booted the PC (not the NAS as it doesn’t have an optical drive) into the NAS4Free. This allowed me to use the CD to install the OS onto the USB that would act as the system drive. Done.

Next step was to attach the NAS to a screen, ethernet and keyboard so I could boot. Actually, the next step was to fire up the PC and make sure it was still working properly with 2 HDD missing and having been NAS4Free temporarily!

The NAS booted without any problem and I ensured the IP was configured and static. From now on, I should only need to use the web interface (just like you can with your modem router).

Got the NAS into its permanent abode, and logged in. Created the RAID pool, and started on getting the shares set up.

This is where I’m up to. I can get the PC to find one of the shares, the iMac will find it if I explicitly tell it the share. And they can both write to the share. So it’s almost working right. I’d like to able to browse to the share on the Mac. That will make it easier when using the drive in applications (like iTunes). Neither can see the other share though.

Well the dawn of another day, and I hope to get some chances to work on it today or tomorrow.

NAS is coming

hp-micro-g7-n54l

My iMac hard drive is rapidly filling up, a combination of ripping the DVDs I have around the house and the raw footage for my YouTube videos seems to be the culprit.

So it’s time to move ahead with the plans I made when I upgraded my PC. At the time I bought a couple of extra HDD with the idea that when I eventually needed a more storage I could use them as the base.

After looking about at the options (like buying a off the shelf one, building one from scratch) a good option seemed to be this little beauty. HP Proliant N54L Microserver. The Proliant series are HP (nee Compaq) range of servers, usually large and often rack mounted. This is a little 20 x 20 x 30 cm 4 bay server, running a little AMD Turion II. Not going to win any award for processing power, but its small and quiet. Perfect to be a NAS and sit quietly in the room getting about its business.

And for me that business will be storage. Using NAS4Free running off an internal USB stick, I have 4 2TB HDD to give me about 6TB of storage (running RAID 5 on ZFS). NAS4Free is an open source BSD based OS tailored for NAS. While you can add a bunch of other services to it, I plan to simply use it as storage. And I would hope that 6TB lasts me a few years.

hp_proliant_n40l_1_contentfullwidth

Running over the Gb Ethernet, I think that it should be responsive enough.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to get it set up this weekend.

Gimme my DVD back!

Well after a bit of a heart attack everything seems fine again. I have been slowly importing my DVDs so that I can have them in iTunes and subsequently can watch them on my iPad or (more importantly) have them available to the Apple TV in the lounge. Just minutes ago I threw a DVD in and started a Handbrake encode.

Nothing happened and the DVD wasn’t showing in Finder.

Eject didn’t work and neither did the Terminal command (drutil eject)

Now most of the Apple family use slot loading DVDs. This means that the handy little pinhole that you can insert an paperclip to physically eject the media just isn’t around, so unless you open up the thing and physically get in there, a command is the only way to do eject the dvd.

So I can’t do it that way, and I’ve tried the only commands that I’ve found.

With my heart racing its back to the internet.

I tried a method suggested using CMD OPTION O F at boot. I think that’s an old firmware code (the article was about 2005). Eventually I have one last try with a method, hold the mouse button down whilst booting.

Simple? Well, no, I have two mouse connected to my Mac. Mouse one is the Bluetooth Apple Magic Mouse. Is BT going to be up and running that early in the boot process (I’m assuming this trick is very early in the boot, likely before many of the services are up and running). The other is a Razer Naga (awesome mouse btw). Its USB, so the connection is physical. But its not Apple, will there be some mysterious Apple ID problem. I didn’t even think about if they conflict during boot until now… there’s another risk.

I decided to go with the Razer and eventually the DVD does pop out the side. My heart rate slows to normal and as I’ve been typing this I’ve tested a different one with complete success. I guess the Apple mouse may have worked.

Remember, Apples, like any technology, aren’t infallible. But you guys probably knew that already.

OSX to the rescue

Well another medal awarded to Time Machine for saving the day once again. After a little bit of research I found the correct files to restore and Time Machine (normally an unnoticed little symbol next to the clock) does its magic. And behold my local backups of all of my blog is restored. Now I just have to get them into this new blog.

In the year since I changed over to the iMac, Time Machine has probably been the single most helpful feature, I think its saved my day about a dozen times from lost files, other programs getting stuck in loops to a painless complete rebuild of the iMac.

Fun With Apples

Ok, its nearly a year since my return to Apple Macs. I’ve had iPods for several years, and an iPad1 since their Australian release. Then in Jan last year I picked up this 27” iMac. I’ve recently got an iPhone and just the other day an Apple TV. It’s almost exponential in taking over my IT world! Hmm maybe something to worry about there.

I’m really enjoying the Apple TV. We don’t have a PS3 or xbox, internet TV or anything of the sort, so it’s given us that media hub connection into the iTunes store and my own iTunes library. I’ve even been able to watch videos from my iPad on our TV. Subsequently I’ve sped up my slow copying of all of our library of DVDs (about 400 discs) into my iTunes library. Not only will this let us stream our collection to the Apple TV, but will mean I can sync a selection onto the iPad whenever I travel. All good.

However I have a fair amount of Region 1 anime (AUS is Region 4) that I’ve got to figure out how to burn, as last time I tried the iMac spat the disc back at me, the inbuilt DVD Player software is region coded. So an alternative is required.

By way of experiment, I shared the Region 1 DVD drive in the Win7 box (I have two DVD drives in my PC, one for R1, one for R4, it was simpler than stuffing about with region free hacks and I had the drive sitting around not being used anyway) and am able to watch DVDs from the Windows PC, over the network, on my iMac without any region problems…. very cool.

And as a final success, now that the DVD on the iMac is empty for a moment, its worked fine with VLC & Handbrake on the iMac. Awesome, that mean’s I can get the whole lot into iTunes (and my iPad and Apple TV)

Got some ripping to do now!

Canberra, the Ban Hammer and iPhone (again)

I did ride to Canberra. Had a great ride down, mostly on the old Hume Hwy and the Highland Way. Dropped in on an old friend for dinner. Came back almost the same way. I really enjoy these rides, and I especially enjoy them solo. I think I’m about ready to give up on “social rides” I just don’t get as much out of them and I often feel pushed to go beyond my capabilities. That leads to accidents.

I got banned from a discussion forum today. It’s a Mac forum that is very snobbish about iDevices (iPhones, iPads, iPods) such that they abused people (including the moderators) until the subject was banned. I mistakenly posted shortly after that and the forum was shutdown. It was reopened and I was warned not to post on the subject again. I still think it’s ridiculous, but was being very careful.

Last night I struck this weird problem where iCal (on my Mac) wouldn’t let me make any appointments on 07 Oct 12. Any other appointments were ok, but not that day. So I posted a request for any help on the work forum. In the ideas for a solution I mentioned iPhone.

And got a warning, but seeing I was on a warning I was struck by the Ban-Hammer. So now I can’t use that forum at all. Pretty petty, but I reread the rules and it does say “any mention” so I broke the rules, no matter how snobby I think they are. My main wish is to stage a coup and take over moderationship of the forum, but that’s tricky when he doesn’t want to give it up and I’m banned!

Now for a laugh. I have described my silly iPhone saga. Well while I was away we got a parcel, but missed it and it was returned to the post office. Because we didn’t collect it (didn’t find the note for a while) it was returned to sender. I found this out at the post office today. They also told me that it was sent by Vodafone.

So the iPhone that I tried to order and subsequently cancelled was delivered about 2 weeks afterwards. Vodafone are really hopeless! Happy still to be with 3 (yes who are still vodafone) with no contracts. So when I eventually find a better deal, I can jump ship.