Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: The Anker TC930 bluetooth keyboard for my iPad Air 2

Today arrived my Anker TC930 bluetooth keyboard. I wanted to get a cheap bluetooth speaker to see if I would really use it, and the Anker keyboard has great reviews at only $36 as of this writing.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Hard Drive latency with USB3

When people think of ways to connect a hard drive to a computer, the main factor they consider is speed. But let's say the hard drive is slow enough so that it will not saturate the interface, then what else to consider? My next thought was latency, which you can consider as the acceleration, as the data rate is the speed. I found this tool called ioping on GitHub and decided to give it a try. Although I do not have a Thunderbolt drive, I will compare my USB3 5200rpm drive, my retina iMac pcie 256GB SSD internal drive, and an Intel 530 SSD connected to a NexStar CX USB3 enclosure.

Minimizing the number of cables I have to carry: Micro to Mini USB adapter

I try to be a bit of a minimalist and only carry the amount of stuff I need, and possibly a bit more for emergencies. These days, almost everything uses micro USB for connectivity and charging. With the new USB-C starting to show up on products, that may change in the future. Most of the things I have use either Lightening (my iPhone and iPad), or micro usb (portable batteries, portable bluetooth speaker, bluetooth headphones). There was one that was annoying for me, especially when I travel: USB Mini on my GoPro Hero 4. So what I recently bought from Amazon was this cheap Startech USB Micro to USB Mini adapter so that I simply need to bring two types of cables with me wherever I go.

It works great with my GoPro for both charging and data transfer, and I am sure it would work for any other USB Mini device as well. Now I just use my USB micro cable for my GoPro as well as my other devices.

From: To:

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Receiving my new hard drive: TOSHIBA 5TB 7200rpm (MD04ACA500)

This week I received a Toshiba 5TB 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive from Amazon for my server as I was slowly starting to run out of disk space and only had 200GB left.

Some information about the drive can be found below from hdparm:

ATA device, with non-removable media
Model Number:       TOSHIBA MD04ACA500
Serial Number:      84R3K77LFS9A
Firmware Revision:  FP2A
Transport:          Serial, ATA8-AST, SATA 1.0a, SATA II Extensions, SATA Rev 2.5, SATA Rev 2.6, SATA Rev 3.0
Supported: 8 7 6 5
Likely used: 8
Logical max current
cylinders 16383 16383
heads 16 16
sectors/track 63 63
CHS current addressable sectors:   16514064
LBA    user addressable sectors:  268435455
LBA48  user addressable sectors: 9767541168
Logical  Sector size:                   512 bytes
Physical Sector size:                  4096 bytes
Logical Sector-0 offset:                  0 bytes
device size with M = 1024*1024:     4769307 MBytes
device size with M = 1000*1000:     5000981 MBytes (5000 GB)
cache/buffer size  = unknown
Form Factor: 3.5 inch
Nominal Media Rotation Rate: 7200
LBA, IORDY(can be disabled)
Queue depth: 32
Standby timer values: spec'd by Standard, no device specific minimum
R/W multiple sector transfer: Max = 16 Current = 16
Advanced power management level: disabled
DMA: sdma0 sdma1 sdma2 mdma0 mdma1 mdma2 udma0 udma1 udma2 udma3 udma4 *udma5
    Cycle time: min=120ns recommended=120ns
PIO: pio0 pio1 pio2 pio3 pio4
    Cycle time: no flow control=120ns  IORDY flow control=120ns
Enabled Supported:
  * SMART feature set
    Security Mode feature set
  * Power Management feature set
  * Write cache
  * Look-ahead
  * Host Protected Area feature set
  * WRITE_BUFFER command
  * READ_BUFFER command
  * NOP cmd
    Advanced Power Management feature set
    SET_MAX security extension
  * 48-bit Address feature set
  * Device Configuration Overlay feature set
  * Mandatory FLUSH_CACHE
  * SMART error logging
  * SMART self-test
  * General Purpose Logging feature set
  * 64-bit World wide name
  * {READ,WRITE}_DMA_EXT_GPL commands
    unknown 119[7]
  * Gen1 signaling speed (1.5Gb/s)
  * Gen2 signaling speed (3.0Gb/s)
  * Gen3 signaling speed (6.0Gb/s)
  * Native Command Queueing (NCQ)
  * Host-initiated interface power management
  * Phy event counters
  * unknown 76[13]
  * unknown 76[14]
  * unknown 76[15]
  * DMA Setup Auto-Activate optimization
    Device-initiated interface power management
  * Software settings preservation
  * SMART Command Transport (SCT) feature set
  * SCT LBA Segment Access (AC2)
  * SCT Error Recovery Control (AC3)
  * SCT Features Control (AC4)
  * SCT Data Tables (AC5)
  * reserved 69[3]
Master password revision code = 65534
not enabled
not locked
not frozen
not expired: security count
supported: enhanced erase
more than 508min for SECURITY ERASE UNIT. more than 508min for ENHANCED SECURITY ERASE UNIT.
Logical Unit WWN Device Identifier: 50000395bb803dfb
NAA : 5
IEEE OUI : 000039
Unique ID : 5bb803dfb
Checksum: correct
DiskStation> hdparm -i /dev/sdd


 Model=TOSHIBA MD04ACA500, FwRev=FP2A, SerialNo=84R3K77LFS9A
 Config={ Fixed }
 RawCHS=16383/16/63, TrkSize=0, SectSize=0, ECCbytes=0
 BuffType=unknown, BuffSize=unknown, MaxMultSect=16, MultSect=16
 CurCHS=16383/16/63, CurSects=16514064, LBA=yes, LBAsects=9767541168
 IORDY=on/off, tPIO={min:120,w/IORDY:120}, tDMA={min:120,rec:120}
 PIO modes:  pio0 pio1 pio2 pio3 pio4
 DMA modes:  sdma0 sdma1 sdma2 mdma0 mdma1 mdma2
 UDMA modes: udma0 udma1 udma2 udma3 udma4 *udma5
 AdvancedPM=yes: unknown setting WriteCache=enabled
 Drive conforms to: Unspecified:  ATA/ATAPI-3,4,5,6,7

 * signifies the current active mode

Read Speed: 211 MB/sec

Write Speed: 202 MB/s

Unfortunately hdparm does not report the cache size, so I do not know what the cache size of the drive is. There has been discussion about whether these Toshiba drives come with 64mb or 128mb caches.

Does cache size matter? When you have a larger cache size, the hard drive feels like it performs faster because accessing the cache is way way faster than accessing the physical spinning disk. So the bigger the cache, the more data that can be placed on it before it needs to move over to the spinning platter. That is why if your computer suddenly shuts down, from say a power outage, you may lose information since the data could of been in the cache and not in the permanent spinning platter when it was shut off. The cache can also be used for reading as well. One typical way of accessing data faster is by location based prediction. That is to say, if you are accessing one block of memory, chances are that you will access data around it as well as they could be related. So by having the hard drive place data stored nearby where you are accessing it, when the computer requests that data, bam! it automatically has it in the cache and can send it out quickly.

But I have the hard drive successfully installed in my HP N54L Server running Xpenology, which I love! Xpenology is essentially the project/community where they make the Synology OS package called DSM run on any computer.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Get video thumbnails in OS X Finder for AVI, MKV, etc...

It bothered me a bit that thumbnails for some video files I had would not show up in Finder. Finder would only create thumbnails for video formats/containers that Quicktime supports by default (such as MPEG-4). But there is a way to get around that with the open-source application QLVideo found on GitHub. Once you install that and reboot, thumbnails will start showing up for your videos.

I have been using this with OS X Yosemite 10.10 successfully.