The Perfect Hackintosh Mac Pro

When Apple announced the new Retina MacBook Pro I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Thin, light and powerful plus there’s that amazing “Retina” screen. What more could someone ask for at $2,799?

Well in my case, I ask for twice the RAM (16GB) for an additional $200. Then there’s the processor which is fabulous at 2.6GHz but I’d always wonder how much faster my video would render with that extra 100MHz so another $250. The stock hard drive is a hefty 512GB SSD, which was enough for me since once my video/photo is edited, it all goes back onto my Drobo. Since it is 100% non-user repairable, I have to add AppleCare, $350.

The total, after tax, is now $3,911.83. Luckily I have a situation where I can get it for about $700-1,000 less, especially if I drop the CPU to 2.6GHz. That’s still a lot of cash and in the end, is the Retina MacBook Pro the best option? Continue reading

Drobo, Here You Come

I bit the bullet today.  Not buy choice but by necessity.

For the last several months I’ve wanted a Drobo.  When the Drobo 2 came out with FireWire 800, my want became a crave.  When my 1tb iTunes drive started clicking, my crave became a “oh shit I need to get this fixed” and when my laptop got to 2gb free and my desktop 50gb free and my TimeMachine ran out of space my “oh shit” became, “BUY NOW!”

So, with my tax refund, I bought a Drobo. Not the most exciting thing I could have purchased, and probably sealed the deal of me NOT going to San Francisco Pride, but I had to get it.  Otherwise, I’m basically screwed.  Either my hard drives are going to fully fail and I’ll lose everything (even my MacBook Pro drive is starting to click) or I’d just have to reformat and love everything anyways.

So what all did I get?

First, the Drobo.

Drobo 2

Then, four Western Digital 1.5tb hard drives

Western Digital 1.5tb, 32mb Cache, 7200 Green Drive

All that adds up to 6tb of space. Wow, glorious space!  It’s super exciting to not have to worry about running out of hard drive space, at least for a while.  Plus, when I do?  I’ll just have to fork over whatever it costs for a 2, 3 or 4tb drive as those come out.  The Drobo can store up to 4, 4tb drives so I have room for 10tb more.

Now I’ve just gotta cross my fingers that it comes in before my drives totally crash. While I was typing this post, my 1tb WesterDigital Studio Edition drive crashed on me… Scary stuff.

So, Friday, my Drobo comes in and so do the three of the four 1.5tb drives.  I’ve gotta wait for the fourth drive to come in from NewEgg.com as Amazon.com limits you to 3 of these particular drives per month.

UPDATE:

@RadZack asked how the data redundancy worked and how much space would be left over after the redundancy.  I honestly don’t understand how it works except that it doesn’t backup entire disks but 1/3 of each drive is saved on another drive so one drive can fail while the other two drives rebuild from their copies of particular portions of it.

Drobolator Capacity Calculator

Drobolator Capacity Calculator

So you end up with much more space than a normal RAID which simply mirrors your data, it, my 6tb drive would have 2.75tb of useable space while the Drobo has 4.1tb of usable space, an increase of 1.35tb.  That’s pretty awesome.

UPDATE 2:

Clive suggested that despite this being an interesting solution to storage problems, it was expensive.  While yes, it isn’t cheap, here’s how it breaks down.  You’ll find that it’s really the best possible option around, especially at its price point.

@Clive Not really expensive. I haven’t found an option that’s even close to the price for 6tb of storage, expandable to 16tb with or without having to use all exactly the same drives like you can with a Drobo.

  • LaCie‘s 6tb is $1,400
  • Netgear 6tb is $3,600
  • Linksys 4tb is $700 ( with <2tb usable vs 4.1)
  • Fanthom 6tb is $1,600
  • EZquest 6tb is $1,500
  • G-Technology 6tb is $2,100
  • Homemade 6tb is $795

And remember, none of these have the same amount of storage space available as the Drobo or allow hot swapping of drives that are of different makes, sizes and speeds. My total was $450 + $139×4 = $1,006. That’s less than any other 6tb RAID array I’ve seen. If you build your own, yes you do save money, in fact you can save up to ~$200. But, you don’t get the feature set of a Drobo or the ability and flexibility in growth.  Much less Drobo’s warranty and support, drive specific applications etc etc.

Front Row to Play Second Fiddle

Apple’s answer to Microsoft’s Media Center came with the release of OSX Tiger in 2004.  Using your Apple Remote, users could control anything in their iTunes Music Library.  The core animations built into OSX created a beautiful, smooth and friendly interface.  Unlike Media Center, Front Row would only show media it could play.  The caveat being it could only play a small number of media formats and no web media.

Front Row 2.0 added some GUI improvements and YouTube integration but little else, though it was already a polished product no one really knew something was missing.

Now we have example of what Front Row show be and they come in the form of Center State and Boxee.  These programs run on Apple computers running Leopard and Boxee also runs on Linux, sorry Microsoft.  You have plenty of other viable options however.

Both of these programs take over for front row and both have incredible features that neither Front Row nor Media Center can claim.

Center Stage is available for download on their site.  It sports a slick interface with stunning transitions as you move through the levels of your media.


CenterStage UI Demo from Gizmodo on Vimeo.

You really must go to their main page and watch the demo videos to experience how beautiful the system is.

I’m a Boxee alpha user and got a chance to try out their software today. Installation was a breeze, took just a few minutes and 75mb of space.

Installed boxee

I logged in with my Boxee username and was in with no delay.  Typing was a little confusing, you had to select the box you wanted and then press enter, then type your username and then press enter again.  Seems like selecting the box would be enough.

BOXEE

Boxee didn’t pick up any videos it could read off my Macbook Pro.  Not surprised as it cannot read DRM’d media from iTunes.  Unfortunately for me, nearly all of my media, at least 90% of my video, comes from the iTunes Music Store so, unless it’s a DRM free video from ITMS, it doesn’t show up.  Damn the DRM.  Once Apple finally releases their ITMS of music/video DRM, I wonder if these old files will be unlocked as well.  Doubt it.

Anyways, my music did show up, and I got to playing around.  Logged into my Last.fm account and started scrobbling.  Great, seamless integration.  Unfortunately your password is not character protected.  As you type it in, the letters pop up on the screen.  So instead of ******** you see password.  This does not happen when you log into your Boxee account on the login screen.

BOXEE Running

There are lots of settings to play around with though most don’t make too much of a difference; it comes out quite nicely straight from the box.  Navigation with a keyboard is difficult and confusing.  It is often hard to tell where you are and how to get out.  I was playing a Will Young CD, recommended it to two people on Boxee and then tried to get back to the main menu.

It took probably ten tries on the keyboard.  Then, duh, pulled out the Apple Remote, worked like a charm.

As it stands right now, both of these programs whip Front Row’s ass.  They offer a unique set of features such as auto IMDB lookup, a social network where you can recommend media to friends and a wide array of supported media formats.

I love the social networking aspect of Boxee and the fun experience it has plus the slick interface but navigation and some security holes need to be checked out before it’s a solid product.  Of course, this is alpha, not even beta so I say, good job Boxee.

Center Stage wins with the interface, beautiful albeit, a little slow compared to Boxee and not as inviting; the Now Playing in Center Stage fabulous.  No social networking hurts it’s adoption.

Bottom line, check out both of these projects.  I look forward to seeing them come to fruition.  Competition builds improvement!

Zemanta Pixie

New Rig, New Dig, No Job!

I’m Back!  (Once again)

New Computer Setup

My family has finally left the building.  For the past two weeks I have had either my mom or my grandmother with me, taking care of me, etc.  It was great to have them over, they were of infinite help to me, but a little space sure is nice haha.

My family has been very concerned about my health as of late.  With the seizures and extreme changes in blood pressure and pulse, I guess they have some reason to their paranoia.  Still, I wish they wouldn’t worry about me.  Despite being put through the ER three times in a week and then being put on a “toxic” dose of medicine on accident… I have been doing ok.  I missed about two or more weeks of school, much of the time I don’t remember care of Keppra, Depakote and Ativan.  Yay for perscriptions.

I haven’t seen much of Ryan during this time which has been the worst part of it all.  You really don’t what you’ve got till family comes in town and it’s gone…  Something like that.

Alley Lights

Either way, a wonderfully good thing came of the visit.  I came out to my mom, for the fourth (?) time.  This will be the last, we talked openly and things just really seemed to work out.  She understands now that it isn’t a choice, that I didn’t hide it from her/the family because I wanted to have a secret and… well, it just is no longer that big ol’ white elephant in the room.

Speaking of rooms…  I have been doing some remodeling at the apartment.  I have much more to do yet, new chair, new couch, new TV, new coffee table, new dining table and chairs.  Once I change out all that to smaller, thinner, sleeker items, the large livingroom will appear full sized again haha.

As you can see in the top picture, I have done a little re-arranging of my workstation.  I added an Epson Perfection V500 Scanner, a Wacom Bamboo Fun tablet, two shelves for my photography toys and a new light.  The light made the biggest difference, I swear.  No longer do I get down sitting at the computer, it really, and literally, brightens up my day.

You might also notice the new laptop sitting next to the iMac.  Yep, I got a new Macbook Pro!  It’s so wonderful, I’m using it right now to write this post!  Got a stellar deal on it at the bookstore.  Chase and Ryan got one each as well!

Carnival

Now that I’m back to feeling better, hopefully I will be able to post more often and do more photography.  First, and unfortunately, I have to catch up on my class work and make my nearly thirteen doctor appointment.  Even more unfortunate is the sad story that I had to leave my job at the hospital in order to make these doctor appointments and catch up with my school work.

That means that I will be having a social life again, eventually, but also means I will be poor and won’t be able to buy all the things I’ve been wanting… Sad story!

But having friends and keeping them is more important that having fun toys, any day.

Time for bed.  Going to finish the load of laundry for Ryan.  He takes flight later today for Miami and then a cruise.  Lucky!