Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1TB mirrored NAS for $377

I wanted to see how cheaply I could build a mirrored Network Attached Storage (NAS) server, yet keep a balance of quality with the build price. Using all Newegg components, I came up with this list:

Wish List

This gets you a decent looking, quiet system with mirrored storage. After formatting, usable space should come in a little under 1TB, as you would expect with 1TB drives. As for OS, I would recommend Solaris 10 and ZFS. All free and very easy to setup a pool of disks with no hardware RAID required (JBOD). Since there are only two drives in this configuration, I'd opt for mirroring. If you add 3 or more drives, then RAIDZ1 would be the better choice (similar to RAID5, 1 drive for parity.)

My basic specs are:

* 4GB RAM (ZFS likes lots of RAM for optimal speed)
* SATA 3.0Gb/s
* GB ethernet
* Firewire

The power supply I chose has 2x12v rails for plenty of power to the hardware. The AMD X2 CPU is very inexpensive, and more than adequate for a file server. Everything in this package has decent prices and overall good reviews from newegg customers.

The system is easily expandable, and it is trivial to setup Samba for network sharing, or NFS, or even plug in Firewire for direct data access. See here for a detailed walk through of the process.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Renaming an XCode Project from Command Line

UPDATE: As of Xcode 3.2 you can rename projects from the Projects->Rename dropdown.

Earlier I had posted how to manually rename an XCode project. I have now written a BASH shell script to handle everything automatically. You can find it here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Winning A Pinewood Derby Race

A post about this came across Facebook that made me recall my Pinewood Derby experience, so I thought I'd share it. When I was a young cub scout I participated in one Pinewood Derby race and I won first place. Not by a nose, but by over a car length. Here was my strategy (thanks dad.)

First and foremost is weight placement. You want to put as much weight as you possibly can on TOP and CENTER of the car (between the wheels.) That means, do NOT add fancy fenders and whatnot. Only carve away from the block of wood, do not add to it! Doing this, you can keep any and all extra weight directly on top center. I used a simple round fishing weight, drilled a hole through it and screwed it on. I didn't bury it in the body of the car, it sat perched right on top. It didn't look super pretty, but it worked. Keep that weight on top. It's even better to put too much weight on top, and remove wood from the bottom center to correct it! Don't add screws or any weight to the bottom! Of course, make sure your car is exactly the weight maximum, usually 5oz. Add this weight once you get your car all carved up and sanded and looking how you want.

Second tip, make sure the axles are straight, and use graphite if allowed. Make sure there are no burrs or spots on your axle that may slow you down. Some people like to sand and polish the axles. It will probably help, although I didn't do it for my car. (Put the axle in a drill and let it spin as you hold sand paper on it. Go finer and finer, then go to steel wool to polish it.) Most important, make sure they are straight and clean. Give them a spin holding the wheel and axle nailhead-side down, see if it spins freely (30+ secs) and doesn't wobble as it slows up. (A young cub scout had dropped my car before the race, and one of my wheels broke half of the plastic away right on the axle and it wobbled as it slowed up. But my car STILL won by a landslide with this broken wheel!)

Those are the two most critical tips. As for the shape of the car, mine was a pretty simple wedge shape. People talk about aerodynamics, but really these cars aren't moving fast enough to figure in downforce and other crazy engineer talk. You certainly don't want to add anything that will cause an air pocket, so just make sure the car slopes front to back.

Next, clear a spot in your trophy case. Have fun :)