DNS323 NAS harddisk upgrade.


I have been using a Home NAS product by Dlink (DNS323) for close to 3 years. It is rock solid and serves me well.

But, I keep running out of hard disk space. Initially i had 1TB (500+500). Then I upgraded one of the Disks to 1.5TB to have total 2TB.

And I have run out of space on that too!

So, just upgraded it to have total 3.5TB, by putting in a low power 2TB drive (consumes 50% less power).

The biggest challenge of all was transferring the existing data. DNS323 has no interface to transfer/backup contents between its two drives, though it supports an external USB drive. Had to pull out the drives and connect Hard disks (with EXT2 file systems) to a Linux system to get the job done fast.

Working well so far…

Sony & its deathwish.


In 80s and 90s, Sony was the brand I looked up to. They used to have the coolest techology, best designs and high reliability in all that they chose to produce. They used to be priced at a premium, but used to be worth the buy.

How things have changed!

Today, Sony products continue to be priced at a premium, but they certainly do not command that premium.

The user interfaces in most of their products is non-intutive. The quality is no where close to what it used to be (I have half a dozen head phones, camera and such at home to prove my case).

The last sony product I bought was their Reader PRS505. While it does its job and hasn’t died on me yet, it isn’t the best of the products out there!

When it is out of Battery, it just displays the last displayed page, and doesn’t respond at all. I’d have thought the product had died, if I hadn’t done extensive search on the web, and left it for recharge for a day, after a reset! How difficult would it have been for them to have an external light to show battery status?

Their software support for the library is atrocious. I use calibre instead of the one provided by sony. The positioning of the buttons on the reader are not very ideal either. A Year back, this seemed like a better deal than Kindle for the PDF support is better. Today, i’d blindly go with the iPad, when they support some multitasking.

I have many other products of Sony at home, one thing that stands out is the lousy user experience. If this company needs to survive (leave alone achieving the heights of 90s), then they need to reinvent their user interface skills.

Unthinkable?


Last weekend I saw this movie called Unthinkable. It apparently didn’t receive any theatrical release, perhaps because of the controversial subject it deals with – Torture of suspects.

The storyline provides both sides of the argument – for and against. It seems to support the torture all thru, but the message is subtle – In the end it shows that the torture doesn’t pay.

Movie was gripping and makes one think where one stands on the subject. Human rights and civil liberties are important ideas. But, where does one draw the line? Do we need to compromise? Can people who don’t have respect for any law, be treated humanely? Can a persons close relatives be used as part of interrogation tactics?

We live in a country where justice rolls very slowly – and most of the time doesn’t work effectively. How can an efficient law enforcement be done, if the police and prosecutions can’t keep crooks behind bars?

On the other hand, we also live in a country where police brutality and corruption knows no bounds – how do we limit the police power to avoid unscrupulous policemen from trampling over citizens?

I suspect this is one subject on which I can’t arrive at a definitive conclusion.

Apple Monopoly?


Have been using more and more of Apple’s product in the past year or so, After owning various iPods for a long long time.

I like most of what apple has to offer, especially their breathtaking designs for their products. I had earlier used Mac for a brief while in late 90s and didn’t find them as much fun, now MacOS certainly is the best out there (Windows7 being close). The best thing I like about MacOS is the built in Time Machine, which makes sure I never loose data, or productive time.

However, I dislike the tightly held nature of some of Apples products. iPod is tightly coupled with iTunes (Never understood why!). No SD support in iPod or iPhone, why are they so scared of people adding their own memory?

iPad extends this further by not supporting certain third party products.

Ok.. They have good products, but why is it that Apple looks more and more the monopolist, and non-Apple products more open??!!

Menace of counterfeit Notes


Went to the nearby Nilgiris Super Store. Bought a bunch of stuff and paid with the money, I had just drawn from an AXIS bank ATM.

The guy at the counter goes through each 500 rupee note and compares with a list he has, out of 4 notes I gave, he gives me back one note and says he can’t take it because it is of a series (6AC) that is on a list that’s been given to him by the store management to reject!!

I go through the security features of the note, and its all there. I asked him to tell me why is he rejecting the note, other than some arbitrary list, and he didn’t have a convincing explanation.

This is becoming more and more of a Menace. If people loose faith in the currency they carry will buy them goods, it turns into just a piece of paper.

How can Govt. Of India be blind to this? Why doesn’t govt. simply change all currency in circulation with new notes? Does it have the interest of the Black money hoarding politicians in mind?

How can a citizen guard against this, when he has no control over what currency is spewed out of an ATM? What does he do if he indeed has a dud note? Banks refuse to take it back, and Rs.500 or Rs.1000 can be substantial money for a lot of folks in this country.

Some estimates put the fake currency at over 100,000 crore rupee. And what is worse – There is no plan yet announced that will stop more inflow of fake currency and repose the faith of people in these notes.

In 1969, US Govt. halted the use of larger currencies than $100, for the fears of Counterfeit and the use of large cash in organized crime. Since then US has largely moved to Electronic Money, which is impossible to counterfeit.

US per capita GDP is $40,000 and its highest denomination is 100. US$100 still buys quite a bit, so higher denominations are not missed.

Indian per capita is about 150,000, which makes it very difficult to get rid of Rs.500 notes (if not Rs.1000).

So, govt. should immediately shift to a new Rs.500 (and Rs.1000) currency note, that too to a plastic-Paper-Cotton mix note, as mooted by RBI in 2007. This is far more difficult to counterfeit.

This is the only way we can have peace of mind about cash we get from our ATMs.

"Terror in Mumbai"


Dan Reed’s Documentary on last year’s Mumbai Terror attack was broadcast yesterday. It is a very gripping documentary, well researched and contains footage and audio that was never publicly aired before.

Troubling question: How is it that Dan got hold of these footage, and none of Indian TV channels did? Or were they told not to broadcast it in view of the case that is running against sole surviving terrorist??

Either way, something worthwhile watching. If only to remind ourselves, how helpless we all felt last year around this time.

Blackrain & Blacksnow.


iPhone is tightly controlled by Apple and as with every digital device that restricts usage, iPhone gets hacked too. Each time Apple plugs a loophole Hackers find new ones.

3 Days ago, iPhone superhacker GeoHat (George Hotz) released a new hack to unlock the new baseband of iPhone (05.11.07) by name Blacksnow. He also created Blackrain earlier, the easiest jailbreak available for iPhone, which enables the use of non-apple approved software on iPhone. It hardly takes 30seconds to get rid of the locks (The older methods needed firmware changes, which were time consuming affairs). The one by GeoHat is so simple and brilliant.

Just goes to prove, locking mechanisms are just a nuisance that never really work. While companies may have business reasons to lock phones and restrict usage, it has rarely worked if the product is used by large enough number of people.

A good hacker can reverse engineer and figure a way to overcome such artificial locks. And typically this creates an subsidiary industry which thrives on breaking such locks.

Wonder if there isn’t a better way for business to be conducted than resorting to locks and other such restrictive measures.

Podfather…


Watched this lovely Documentary, ‘The Podfather’,  by BBC Four – about one of the Intel’s founder – Robert Noyce.

Noyce’s story reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s book – Outliers. Here is one more example of what Gladwell calls as a Outlier. Extraordinarily gifted individual  helped by freak co-incidences of life to position him perfectly to achieve extraordinary things. In noyce’s case, build something that created silicon valley and something that has made this whole new way of worlwide communication possible.

A must watch Documentary for Computer/Electronic enthusiasts.

Snow Leopard and Dlink NAS DNS323


An MacOS upgrade to Snow Leopard killed all the mapping to the home NAS server I had setup on Dlink DNS-323 NAS box.

Snow Leopard won’t let me connect to the NAS Box at all. The shares were fine, and I could access them from other systems.

I had fairly recent version of firmware for the NAS too. Some people had posted messages saying updating the firmware to 1.08 (which is a beta) solved this problem for them.

I wasn’t about to install a beta software on my NAS box.

I could map the volume if I took off the passwords to the shares, but that too wasn’t an acceptable solution.

After a few trial and error, I found a strange thing. If i set the passwords only as Numeric then SnowLeopard mounts it!

Haven’t figured why this should be so. It can’t be a protocol problem if it works fine with a numeric password.

Anyway, it works fine again, though I have to remount the network volume on three other home systems. 🙂

Entry tax? For what?


I had pointed out the sad state of affairs within Indian Union in this earlier post: State of Mind

here is more: I had transferred a vehicle i owned in Hyderabad to bangalore this January. It cost me almost 13% of the vehicle cost as I had to pay the Life Time Tax etc. all over again in Bangalore. I was told at the time that I can apply for a new number after 9 months.

And when I did, here is what I am told. I need to pay Entry tax seperately. They also have some other registration related costs like address change etc. It is likely to cost me another 2-3% of vehicle cost!

Of course I need to also pay ‘speed money’ to facilitate this tax payment and re-registration! Ironic – in this country an honest tax payer has to pay bribe to pay tax!

All this for a vehicle for which I have already paid all taxes in Hyderabad and have Andhra registration, but Karnataka wanting its pound of flesh as well! Why can’t they just work out a mechanism to transfer the rest of the LTT from AP to Karnataka?

Afterall I bought a good that is mobile, and India is one country? Why not tax me once, instead of taxing me every step of the way?

I refuse to pay the entry tax. I’ll retain the AP registration. That’s not exactly illegal, though RTO demands so. Their regulations state  that within a month of entry we need to pay Life Time Tax, and within a year of Entry  of vehicle it needs to get a Karnataka registration number as well. Atleast couple of High courts have already ruled against such a rule, Mumbai High court being the first one.

It is quite possible for a person to live in two places. Bangalore is border town to two states (Tamilnadu and Andhra). Go some 80km from Bangalore and you are In AP and just about 50km is Tamilnadu!!

So, it is impractical for a citizen to keep changing the Numbers as he moves between these areas for living or work! Law simply can’t insist that one must do so, even if it asks for a tax to be paid for the utilization of roads on a regular basis within the states (Which I have already paid).
So, I’ll stick to my guns and the AP registration!