Tech updates


The NAS has just received an upgrade. It now has 8GB of RAM, the maximum supported by the published info for the box, however, the web agrees that it can support 16GB. But as a headless backup server and NAS, it doesn’t need a lot. But FreeNas is happier now, with 8GB the published minimum (it was running 2GB).

There is a small rumour going around the house here that it might also see the additional role of Minecraft Server.

But if I can’t keep the Time Machine share stable, I’m not going to spend any time on that yet. And this has failed once already.

The PC.

Some time ago, I can’t remember when, and I can’t find a discussion in here, the SSD died. This led to the desperate rebuild with whatever was to hand… in this case an ancient 2.5in HDD that ran super slowwww.

Well the replacement was ordered with the NAS RAM and that got installed tonight. With a downloaded fresh copy of Win10 (I can still use the Win7 key that I upgraded back when Win10 was released, amazing) the PC was up and running in about 30 mins. Crazy how easy this kind of task is now. I remember it being hours, updates, drivers etc… then the software install.

Throw in the Office 365 supplied through the various uni subscriptions that me, the eldest and Mrs Mab (who is about to commence study as well) and we’re all set up in amazing short time.

Add Roblox. Chrome, Antivirus. That’s a few minutes each. Oh, I suppose Minecraft will have to be reinstalled too.

I really should look at replacing this thing. Seriously, it’s an 1st gen i7 860 with a 9800GT in it. These are at least 10 years old! (And it’s outlived at least 1 SSD now!).

Other Tech…

Err, nothing to add. Really.

Rebuilt the NAS

Some time ago, maybe more than a year, I realised that my NAS4Free NAS was out of date, and to be honest, I wasn’t using it much. Instead of just updating it, I decided to rebuild it as a Linux machine.

Which I did. Then, when I had it up and running, I couldn’t actually think what I wanted to do with it, so I switched it off. And there it sat for many months, gathering dust in the cupboard.

This year, I’ve been running a GoPro on my bike helmet, pretty much every ride. And that’s been really nice, except, as most would know, HD footage takes a lot of space. More space than my 1TB iMac could deal with as the footage slowly built up.

So it was time to rebuild the NAS.

This time I went for FreeNAS. Partly as it looked a little nicer, partly as it seemed a little easier to expand as well. And partly as I hadn’t tried this one.

So with a bit of time over the weekend, I found myself creating boot USB for the FreeNAS iso and setting up the server again.

So the old N54L Proliant I use only has 2GB of RAM. FreeNAS recommends 8GB, however it did install and it seems to be running well. It’s only a NAS so it isn’t put to task very hard. I’ll pick up some RAM soon and expand it.

One of the things I really wanted to get humming along is backups. This was problematic on NAS4Free (because I didn’t update it mostly). I’ve got one share set up as a Time Machine target and at the moment its working well. I have the iMac backing up to both the current USB HDD and the NAS. Eventually I’ll remove the USB drive, once I’m happy its stable.

Later I’ll investigate backing up the PC as well, though this is less critical.

But the main use for the NAS is meant to be as a file storage for the raw GoPro footage. I can’t seem to get this running properly yet. It’s a permission thing, either the iMac is connecting as the wrong user, or I don’t have the permissions on the second share set up properly. Or, as I suspect, a little of both. I’ll spend some time over the week messing with it to see. At this stage, if it ends up with me deleting storage pools and the like, I’m not worried as it’s not the primary backup yet.

But it will be nice to free up a USB slot in the iMac, have a more reliable (and larger) backup storage as well as having all that extra room to store stuff.

*EDIT – Found the permission problem. I wasn’t checking the box against APPLY USER, after choosing the new user in the permissions interface for the storage pool.

NAS is restored…

After ordering the wrong HDD last week (I ordered 1TB instead of 2TB) I have received and installed the replacement HDD into the NAS. Overnight it has rebuilt itself and so is back ONLINE 🙂

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 5.30.25 am.png

Now that this is up and running I can restore the iTunes library that normally resides here. Not sure of the best way to do this. I only need to reimport the movie/TV shows as I’ve switched over to Apple Music (just to experiment).

Either I could reach back into the Time Machine backup and restore the old library files. This is what I have usually done. Alternatively I could reimport the files. I worry that this will lose all the info I have manually typed into the library. They will also ALL import as Home Movies, which will mean ages and ages of updating each one (imagine the TV Series)..

Think I just answered my own question.

Might sort the Time Machine Backup of this new iMac out first… what do you say? The fun never ends.

And its a great way to procrastinate TWO assessments…. errr????


Actually I think I have a better idea??? Perhaps this is an opportunity to update the NAS itself. I could suck all the data off it (it’s less than 2TB) and then upgrade the OS, wipe the pool etc. Clean it right up, while nothing is really using it.

Not sure…


Deed is done.

The decision was made, the transaction complete.

The iMac has been replaced with….






another 27″ iMac.

Well I bet that was a surprise.

Can you tell which is which???  (ok the default wallpaper and the smaller keyboard give it away)

Went out yesterday and bought it from the Apple Store. Using education prices I got a discount and also a set of wireless Beats headphones. JB Hifi could beat the Apple Store prices, but not by much (about $50) but couldn’t throw in the headphones. I didn’t particularly want the headphones but since they are free and worth $400 (retail), why miss out on it. I figure I could use them with the iMac when trying to ignore the Mrs watching her shows on the PC next to me……

I picked up the base 27″ which means a 1TB Hybrid HDD and a basic i5, with a Radeon 570 card. A massive step up in performance when compared to my late 2009 iMac. Not going to win any races, but fine for me. Heck, now I have the first 4K (well 5K) display in the house (our TVs are full HD, not 4K). As long as I can study and I can run videos at full screen, I will be happy (actually I haven’t tested that yet).

First impression was – it’s lighter – I discovered as I picked it up to walk out of the store. Eventually, when getting it home my first impression was the screen is really nice. Initially the brightness was right up, but it was actually the fineness of text and lines of dialog and windows that made the biggest impression on me. When I eventually connected the Dell 27″ 1440 monitor I had with the older iMac, yes, the screen is much nicer in the new iMac.

Here it is, all set up as dual screen. The Beats are on the desk to the left of the iMac. This shot really hides the difference between the Dell and the iMac.

The next impression is speed. It’s certainly quicker than the older model. I have decided that once its all up and running and I can confirm that everything I want is either moved or backed up, I am intending to wipe and restore the older one. I’m sure it used to be quicker than it is these days.

I decided not to do a restore from the Time Machine. I thought, its time for a bit of a spring clean. So I’ve moved email and photo archives and my current study over and very little else. The rest is available either from backup, NAS or the cloud.

Several hours later I realised that I forgot to copy the iTunes folder and set that up on the to connect to the store on the NAS. Of course, this is after I packed away the old iMac. So now I have all my music downloaded from Apple Music and stored on this iMac, and a big folder on the NAS with nothing pointing to it. Might have to work through that in the next few days. However, I did learn about browsing my Team Machine backup so the old iMac can sit away getting dust as everything I would need is here on the backup disk…. Time Machine scores YET again (really, its one of THE BEST THINGS about OSX).

Of course, in the middle of all of this, one of the NAS drives has died, so I don’t want to do too much copying and working on the NAS until I replace the drive. Got a couple inbound at the moment. Half think I bought an extra last time, but can’t think where I stored it if I did.

Overall, its like the old one has just been refreshed. I don’t think Mrs has even realised, and probably won’t, until she spots the box from the new one under the stairs.


Progress is a funny thing

So when I was about 10, if I wanted to listen to music, I put a tape in my Walkman, put the headphones on and pressed play. If I wanted to listen in the lounge, I moved the tape in the Hi-fi in the lounge and pressed play.

Today to listen in the lounge I used my phone app to switch on the amp, and then remote control my iMac to select the playlist and play over the network.

The iMac dutifully fetched the songs from the NAS, then AirPlay across to the Amp, which played it out the speakers, while displaying the track info on the TV.

So, including the switch and the router (for the Wifi), that’s SEVEN devices, just to play a song.

It sounds silly like that, but then when you think that I can

  • play the same music upstairs or in the computer room (I can actually play different music in both if I get the Apple TVs involved) at the same time;
  • play music outside;
  • play a movie inside and music outside;
  • play a movie on the computer, a different one upstairs, another different one downstairs, while listening to music outside.;
  • and only have 1 copy of the music or movie on the NAS.
  • and listen to music on the phone on headphones.

maybe it isn’t so silly???


Canberra – Heading Forwards – and WoW

VFR at Old Parliament House
VFR at Old Parliament House

Work had me in Canberra last week, doing what I’ll be doing next year. I’m headed down this morning again too (Monday) to keep at it for a couple of days, bolstering the guys who have been doing it this year.

It’s given me a chance to sort out somewhere to live, just got to get those rental applications in now and cross my fingers. Then its the removalists packing the small amount of stuff I am planning to take with me (remember my family is staying here, so most of my stuff is too).

Its getting time for me to order the PC parts so I can put it together. Once I get it up and running I can reorganise the NAS in order to support it. I have already weaned the iMac off the NAS so now iTunes is back onto a USB hard drive. I still have the NAS copy as backup so I’m not too unhappy (and still have an off site backup at the moment – though once the NAS and the PC move to Canberra they’ll be the offsite backup).

World of Warcraft

I’m thinking about playing WoW again. My old guild is recruiting and their current raid nights (Mon Wed Thu) are perfect for me next year. Home alone all week but with my family all weekend, the Fri, Sat, Sun roster won’t work for me. They’re also friends and it would be great to play with them and for the first time, play in the raiding team. They need a healer and I could also main Dasal instead of Mabaho.

I just have to level them….

… and server transfer…

…. and gear up, lol.

The other thing I was considering was that in the new expansion the raid sizes aren’t fixed, so I could join in as well.

So its back to the old challenge – be level cap BEFORE the expac comes out. And this is with a year penalty start!


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.