Category Archives: Hardware

Waken Your Synology From It’s Slumber!


Having the facility to store data using the Synology DS1513+ and the Synology DS212 NAS units, means that I can relax knowing that I have access to all my data as and when I need it.

During the day the DS212 is used as the main workhorse, with the DS1513+ used to take all the backups of data from the DS212 on predefined time through the day. along with other devices on the network that all have their own space on the DS1513+.

At night, the DS1513+ unit is not really needed, but as it’s locked up in a secure location, going in to turn it off in the evening and back on in the morning would have been a real pain, but thankfully the Synology NAS devices have the option to set them to power down and power back up at predefined times.

While this all worked fine, I then found that I needed access to the data on the DS1513+ while the unit was powered off. Initially I thought I would just have to wait until the unit powered up in the morning,  rather than having to unlock everything to get in and power it up early, but then I remembered that the LAN ports have an option for WOL (Wake On Lan), but had never gave it much thought… until now!

WOL

As my primary computer is an iMac, I decided to look around and see what would be required to wake the Synology NAS unit from being turned off. The help section on the Synology unit itself mentions applications to do this, but does not specify anything in particular, so the reliable Google search was undertaken to see what was there.

I have to say that for the Mac, I did find it difficult to find anything, but finally found a web site: http://www.readpixel.com/wakeonlan/ that had a FREE utility called WakeOnLan.

A quick download, and installation, and I was presented with a list of devices on the LAN. A simple click on the Synology device and tell it to wake up, and a few seconds later the unit was back up and running again!

LIST

To test it again, I went into the Synolgy unit, told it to shut down, waited, and then told it to start back up again using the utility, and it did so with ease!  I did try and use the utility to put the Synology DS1513+ to sleep, but no matter what i tried it would not do this, so I just use the DSM interface to do this as usual.

So, if you are a Synology user with a Mac, and like to save a bit of money by turning things off, but have these items in a hard to get location, than have a look at WOL on anything you are using and check out this application to see if it will make things easier for you.

UPDATE: With the WakeOnLan software, go to preferences and make sure that the option to SCAN AFTER WAKEONLAN LAUNCH is not ticked once it has done it’s initial scan. If you have this on, once you turn the computer off and the NAS is asleep, when you restart the computer again it will not be able to find the NAS device. If that did happen with you, the way around this is to make sure you make a note of the IP address of the NAS unit as well as the MAC address of the unit as well. Once you have that, all you have to do is manually add the device to the WakeOnLan software and it will allow you to restart the NAS whenever you wish.

If you would like to see the video’s I have created of my Synology equipment please visit:

Synology DS1513+ Unboxing

Synology DS212 Unboxing

Synology DS212 – Breaking Raid 1 Array

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SYNOLOGY DS212 NAS UNIT – 4 MONTHS UPDATE


 

The Internet is full of unboxing video’s and people telling you how wonderful some product is, when in fact they have only opened it up or used it for 5 minutes… and sometimes that instant gratification of receiving a new toy to play with vanishes rather quickly, and you move on to something else to brag about having.

I did an unboxing video of the Synology DS212 NAS unit on the 3rd February 2012, and initially the look and feel of it impressed me, and in turn, I created another video of the device having its x2 3TB hard Drive array broken live, and that too impressed me.

But, time has went on, the device has been running 24/7 and it has been getting used for a wide variety of tasks, so I think I can now come back with an honest opinion on this product and say that it’s so good, I am seriously thinking of buying the DS412+ model that offers me double the capacity that I have at the moment!

So, you may be asking yourself, why is it so good? To put it simply, the reason the Synology DS212 is so good is down to the features that are contained in DSM (the unit’s operating system) that just offer so much, and they all work for me perfectly in a way that really does put many of the older NAS products to shame that I have used in the past.

As it stands, I have a DS212 with two 3TB drives configured as a mirrored array, so have 3TB of storage available that is mirrored to a second drive, so that the chances of losing data is minimised.

I have configured the DS212 with the following features:

AUDIO STATION – Play and organise stored music and radio
ITUNES SERVER – Play multimedia content to ipad/iphone and Apple TV.
MEDIA SERVER – Stream audio/video/images to PS3 and other DLNA/UPnP devices.
DOWNLOAD STATION – Torrent/P2P download manager.
ANTIVIRUS – Checks any downloads or data that are put on the NAS box.
FILESTATION – Lets me organise and move files around.

Using the ITunes Server, I can now store all of my music on the DS212 and have that music stream out to my Apple TV, new IPad and IPhone 4S, and keep specific songs on the devices themselves for when I am out on the road. As well as that, I can also store my movies on the unit as well as do the same! Massive storage with instant access, it really is something you need to try out to understand just how great this is to use.

Using the Media server is similar to the ITunes server but I can stream all my content to my PS3 with ease, and this handles formats that the ITunes side may have issues with at times. The PS3 just finds the NAS box and you click what you want to listen to or view.

The Download Station is a fantastic P2P download application that really is very neat to use. I set up a folder that is monitored on the device, and just save or copy any torrent files into that folder and the software auto detects it and downloads it all for you, so you focus on obtaining while the software handles the receiving!

Since there may be some nasty files out there that you might copy across to the unit, the supplied Antivirus runs and protects your data for you with free updates done automatically.

And then we come to File Station. This allows you to quickly get around all of your folders and copy and delete files in an instant. Simple to use, and really does make things a breeze to keep things organised.

Of course, writing about these features is not quite the same as seeing them, but you can actually test all of the software out yourself on a real system by visiting their LIVE DEMO.

Now, you might be thinking… I have a PC/Mac and can do all of this as well… but then you are missing the point about this device. This small unit draws a lot less power than any PC, and is easier to manage and maintain. Also, all of the applications are in the device and work, perfectly right away. No need to go searching for software and worrying about how to share things out… it’s all in the box…

And… if you have a number of people in your home/office you can set up users and groups with passwords to restrict what can and cannot be accessed on the device. It also hooks into Windows domains with ease, and mine integrated into my Small Business Server 2008 system with no issues at all.

So, my original feelings still stand and are more solid than ever on this product, it really is something you should consider if you are on the market for a storage solution that actually does a lot more!

GRADO SR125i REVIEW


Once again, I have been given the chance to review another model of the GRADO series Headphones, the Grado SR125i unit by the guys over at “LOUD + CLEAR” in Glasgow who specialise in Hi-Fi, Cinema and Home Automation solutions.

Grado SR125i Features

  • Adjustable headband and cushioned earpads for comfort
  • Vented diaphragm and non-resonant air chamber for great detail and clarity
  • Drivers are matched to 0.1dB
  • Ultra-high purity, long crystal copper wire voice coil and copper connecting cord
  • Standard stereo 6.35mm (1/4″) full size jack plug

Grado SR125i Specification

  • Type: Open-Air Dynamic Supra-Aural
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 98dB
  • Connectors: 6.35mm stereo full size jack plug

The shape and design of these headphone’s are the same as the GRADO SR80i unit, with the ear pads being slightly larger, and recessed slightly more to allow a bit of space between your ear and the speakers themselves. You will still look like “Biggles” but this time around… well… read on!

What a difference it makes to have that larger pad against your ear! The pressure problem that I had with the 80i’s almost disappeared, there was some sensation of pressure but negligible this time and it was only after many solid hours of use that the pressure became noticeable,

As you can see by visiting the unboxing video I made, the packaging is the same as the 80i as well, but with these units coming in at the £160.00 mark, the difference has to be something else… and I have to say, that difference is absolutely incredible.

In testing the headphones out I used a wide and varied range of tracks that cover subtle sound, through Rock and the obscure, and as you can see below, I have tried to cover a varied range of tracks to prove my point. The hardware used was an i7 iMac, with my audio linked in via the Behringer Xenyx 802 Mixer, with the audio played via iTunes.

Velvet Revolver: She Builds Quick Machines – Standard Rock music that you would expect from Slash & Co. I have listened to this track so many times, and now with the SR125i’s I am left thinking what the hell I have been missing! The start of this track is quiet and hits you full on with guitar work, with cheaper headphones just collapsing and distorting, and then the audio kicks in with next to no clarity in the backing guitar work. This time, I’m left almost speechless as there is now a whole new range of guitar work that I have never heard before, and subtle backing audio that again I have not heard before, all just hammering out perfectly clear with zero distortion. I had to stop and restart this track 5 times to just take in what I have been missing on my Sennheiser HD595’s that I regard as being the best headphones I have used!!!

Velvet Revolver: The Last Fight – Ballad style track with plenty of guitar work in it. I’m left stunned again… Lyrics and audio that I have never heard before, it’s just pumping out of these headphones and I’m now becoming quite worried that what I considered to be quality has in fact been… well…. junk!

Santa Hates You: Domina Mors – Electronic/synth with choir style backing, and increasing heavy synth bass. With these headphones I was hearing extra layers of vocals that I have never heard before, sweeping left/right mixing that again I have never experienced before… Stunned to say the least! The bass increasing in volume was handled with impunity with the vocals remaining clear, and the bass handled as if by a true master… there was no way these headphone’s would be dominated by this track, it took it and controlled it beautifully.

Aqua: My Mamma Said – Pop Music as you would expect! Right… I just have to accept that these headphone’s are pulling out tracks hidden from me for all these years… This track has so many backing layers that I’m feeling like I am listening to a brand new mix once again!!

Rob Dougan: Furious Angels – Dramatic track that I really love but now love even more as once again I feel like I am listening to a new mix of it. The headphones handle it all with complete ease, zero distortion and all the levels coming through ultra clear….

Ok, I give up… You can guess that I like these headphones….

I am genuinely humbled by these headphone’s, more so after I reviewed the previous model and felt that while they produced good sound… they did not do anything else that my current headphone could not do. So for an extra £60 or less, the difference to me is just not worth debating. If you want to buy a Grado branded set of headphone’s then I’d say you buy these over the 80i’s as these are in a league of their own.

PRO’s: Need I even bother writing anything else?

CON’s: After a few hours the ear pieces do start to press into your ears, but that may just be me, you may have a better shaped head than I!! From what I have experienced in listening to my music through these headphone’s the slight pressure is worth experiencing.

New iPad – Is it really what I need?


Today was the day that the world could relax, well, most of it, as Apple released the new iPad to the slobbering hoards and anyone lucky enough have one would have been in a state of extreme bliss at being so lucky to have it in their hands.

Well, that’s not true, as there is one person who is not really excited, and in fact, is in a state of indecisiveness on whether to actually keep the new iPad he has! Yes, that person is me!!!

Ok, stop your spluttering and put away all the sharp object you have at hand to sort me out and let me tell you how the day has went.

I never owned the other two iPad devices as I never felt they had a use for my social and business needs. With the new iPad specifications announced, and screen shots shown, I got that tingle that told me…. Be careful, you want it, you desire it, but do you really need it or have a serious use for it! Needless to say, blind “I WANT IT” took over sanity and I then sat back and waited for it to arrive.

Now, here’s a thing. Why is it that you can order a product up from a company, but they will only deliver during the day when most of us are working? Even asking for  Saturday delivery from some companies usually becomes a nightmare with the stuff never arriving… So surely some firm needs to think of evening deliveries for products and charge and even charge an extra tenner for the inconvenience.

Sorry, I’m moving away from the iPad, so anyway, Friday the 16th was the delivery date for my new iPad, and of course, being self-employed, if I am not out and about, I’m not earning money. So I had to make the choice of lose money or go and earn, so I took the tactic of get out in the morning fast, and get back as fast as I could as well!

Cutting a long story short… 4:30pm and the device was delivered!

I got the camera out, and started to create another exciting unboxing video of the new iPad 32GB, Black device. I have to say that there was no real sense of excitement over this unboxing, and my first impressions are that the device certainly looks nice, and feel nice, but will it really be any use to me on a daily basis?

Setting the device up took around 5 minutes and I have all my apps, contacts and photos etc. all in place. And then it was down to using the device and see how it performed.

Firstly, the device does feel very nice…. The screen is really REALLY nice, and all the apps I use on my iPhone4S are there, plus a few other iPad apps so I have all the general stuff I need. But, the niggle was still there about the device, and even as I am writing this on my MBP, and after having my wife trying it out, it’s nice, but there is something that is just niggling away at me…. And after a few hours, I can now put my finger on it…..

It really is a device solely for consumption, and the creative aspect of it is limited to very basic things such as tweeting, Facebook, and general non serious productivity.

Ok, I know it’s still early days yet, as I have yet to go out on the road with the device and see if I can seriously support customers remotely, and create the content I need for my daily business needs. Yet, I still have this feeling that it maybe not be the device I need for work, and my entertainment side can still be handled by my MBP.

My wife raised a very interesting point though, and here again it proves the points I raised above… She said the iPad would be handy when in the car (me driving of course) and handy if we went on holiday or a short break. Allowing us (her of course) to catch up on FaceBook, and various web sites…. Once again re-enforcing the feelings that I have that it’s just a non-serious device.

I have the device to try out and can of course return it to Apple within 14 days for a full refund if I still feel it’s not going to be the sort of thing I need. Time will tell, and hopefully it will be still with my after day 14… we will soon see.

NOT a NASty Surprise!


The Synology DS212j NAS server seems to be the latest gadget that everyone is clambering for at the moment, and after a read of the specifications of this device, it’s not hard to see why it’s growing in popularity. But me, being me, I have to think  along the lines of what the main use of this sort of unit would be for me, and potential clients, and how easy or difficult things are for them in setting things up, and more so, for when things go wrong.

I decided to go for the Synology DS212 NAS Server as it provided me with HOT SWAP hard drive bays, no need to open a case up and screw things in, and gave me a bit more processing power to go along with it. With the HOT SWAP drive bays, if a drive fails, a client can just pull the defective drive out and replace it with a similar drive, and allow the unit to carry on as normal, with no down time at all.

The maximum drive capacity the DS212 can take is 6TB, so I decided to go that route and bought a pair of Western Digital 3TB hard drives, making sure they appeared on the compatibility list that is on the Synology web site. This is very important and you really should take the time to double check the model of drive you are going to purchase and use.

In the unboxing video I released on YouTube, you can see what you get in the box and what the overall quality of the unit is like. I have to say, the Black case really does look and feel nice, and the ease of removing and inserting drives is really good as well.

The setting up of the unit is really straight forward, and even a novice user would be able to get things up and running initially, with the software guiding you through things by wizards, so in a short time you should be up and running with the basics in place.

Now, in any review you read online, all of the features and functionality are written about, but not many people are wiling to show you what happens in a disaster scenario. I have been running the Synology DS212 unit for a couple of weeks now, running live feeds of security camera’s into it for storage, Apple Time Machine Backups, and a range of Windows based workstation backups as well… a lot of data, and something I would not like to lose!

So, with all of that in mind, I am in the scenario of a client having the same unit, so clearly I need to be the one, who having faith in a product, can believe what the manufacturers are telling me… my mirrored array is providing me with security of my data…. so if you pop over and watch the YOUTUBE video of events unfolding, you will see if it was a good experience or a bad experience!

The only complaint I would have against the unit, is trivial, but, annoying none the less if you have the unit sitting close to you, or in a quiet room. The fan in the unit is initially quiet, but after a while there is a slight click that starts to come from the unit. This keeps going until you go to the power management setting and switch the fan speed to cool mode, which puts the fan on at it’s full speed. The other modes drop the power to the fan, but the fan makes an irritating click, tick, click noise that once you are attuned to, it really does get annoying. But, even after a while at cool speed, the clicking happens again… so clearly the best place for this unit will be in another room out the way and the you can ignore this small defect.

But, other than that, I cannot recommend this unit highly enough, as it really is a great piece of kit. If you need any more feedback or advice about this unit, please feel free to get in touch and I’ll do my best to help you out.

Having a Small One Is OK!


If you read a previous post, “DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER?” you will know that I took out the inbuilt hard drive in my MacBook Pro and replaced it with a 64GB SSD drive.

I decided to do this as a test to see if size really matters, and after a bit of time (23/10/2011 is when I installed it) I have to say that I still have around 30GB of space available, and that’s after me installing my apps and using the MBP daily for all the stuff I need to do. I don’t store a lot of music, nor do I do much video work on the MBP, so that would account for there being plenty of space available, but it does show that while it’s alway since to have huge drive capacity to store things, that does lead to sloppy data storage as well as holding onto a lot of junk.

Speed wise, I have to say that YES the system felt faster loading up, but after that I’d not have a clue if I had a hard drive in it or an SSD…. Why do I say this? Well I have now inserted the hard drive back into the MBP and am now testing the SSD on my PlayStation 3 here to see what different that makes!!!

So once again, the smaller devices can be used pretty well if you are watching your budget, and just ignore anyone who moans at you for not buying a size that they have bought… trust me, enjoy what you can afford and ignore everyone else!

DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER?



IS A 64GB SSD – TOO SMALL?

To evaluate SSD technology, I bought a Crucial 64GB drive a while back (video here) and have been using it on the main Windows 7 PC here ever since.

I consume and store a lot of data, so you would think that this device would have been too small for any serious use? Not really, if you decide to manage exactly what the drive is being used for, and for me that was for speeding up the operating system, with my data stored on 2TB drives attached to the main system. It has worked fine, been very quick, and has in fact pushed me into being more thoughtful on what I do and where I store data, rather than just dumping it onto the desktop in a folder!

I have been tempted to get another SSD drive for use in my MacBook Pro, but once again, I don’t want to spend a lot of money… so I thought I would do a test to see if I could manage with the Crucial 64GB SSD inside the MBP, and see how long it would take before I encountered storage issues!

So, I removed the internal 320GB hard drive and replaced it with the Crucial 64GB SSD (video here) and proceeded to install Lion onto it via a DVD I had made earlier.

After, what seemed like an eternity, Lion finally installed and I than had to download all the new updates that recently came out for iCloud iTunes, iPhoto etc…

Yes, this actually felt like I was back to a Windows XP machine and having to wait ages for it to install and update fully!

Windows 7 systems are up and running in 20 minutes…. Well the one’s I have done and that’s a lot, so let’s say well done to Microsoft on this side of things!!!

So… after the installation of Lion, and all my applications have been installed, my email configured what am I left with to play with??? 36GB of space!

On my MBP I don’t store music, I don’t store much video or Photographs, that’s all handled by my I7 27″ iMac, so (in theory) I really should be ok with the amount of space I have left… but as I mentioned at the start of this post, this is a long-term evaluation, and I’ll update this post as time goes on, and that way you get a serious and useful evaluation on whether size really does matter at all, depending on your own storage needs.

So, when other people comment on your size (of data storage) don’t worry, as it’s all about how you use it, and that’s all that matters!

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