Archives For Media

Folks who pre-ordered the DISH Network DTVPal DRV or Verismo VuNo may be receiving some pretty exclusive holiday cheer this week.

The DTVPal DVR ($250) is dual-tuning high definition DVR designed to record digital signals solely via antenna (OTA, ATSC), without requiring an ongoing TiVo-esque service fee. While interest in this product has been extremely high, early reports are a bit mixed. High quality visuals, though two reports of “pulsating” anomalies and timers (recordings, too?) seem to be scheduled via time slot, rather than content title. Guide data quality is dependent on the thoroughness and technology utilized by local broadcasters. However, this is a live platform and at least two initial customers have reported receiving firmware updates when connecting their unit over Ethernet.

The compact VuNow media streamer comes in two flavors, a standard definition “PoD” ($99) and an HD variant ($149). In addition to the requisite YouTube access, VuNow also aggregates a variety of other web video sites into a searchable interface. Through the addition of your own USB or network storage, local video, music, and graphics can also be enjoyed. Unlike that other diminutive $99 box, WiFi is not built-in – although wireless capabilities can be added via a fifteen dollar USB dongle.

I’m in touch with both DISH Netowrk and Verismo… and looking forward to getting my hands on a pair of review units. Speaking of devices I’m anxious to test drive, the Western Digital Media Player (~$120) seems to handle just about any sort of video thrown at it – with the caveats of no network connectivity and you must BYOD (Bring Your Own Drive). It’s on my wish list, too.

Data files on each of my web server, laptops, primary computer and iMac are regularly and automatically backed up to my networked Drobo. I also use the Drobo as a primary repository for 100’s of Gigabytes of centralized data – accessible from any device on my home office network, including my Apple TV, TiVo, PS3 and Xbox 360.

As of three days ago, I had two 500 Gigabyte drives and 1 Terabyte drive installed in the Drobo. Two days ago a flashing red light appeared beside one of the 500 Gig drives. This meant that the drive had failed. I purchased a 1 Terabyte Western Digital replacement drive for $114 at infonec.

True to data robotics claims, I was able to hot swap out the defective 500 Gigabyte drive and slide in the new Terabyte drive without incident. It took about 15 seconds to do. Subsequently, it took about six hours for Drobo to reconstitute data redundancy – ie: to format the new drive and redistribute my data across the newly constituted drive array such that data would once again not be lost if any drive failed.

Read the rest of this entry at The Daleisphere »

Are You Backing Up?

Dave Zatz —  December 23, 2008 — 18 Comments

The holidays, and related precious photo opportunities, are upon us… so it’s time for a backup public service announcement. And, unfortunately, I have a feeling most non-geeks leave their data vulnerable to loss.

The point was driven home recently, when I recovered the mother-in-law’s PC – containing thousands of irreplaceable photos, including a trip to China and her son’s wedding. After numerous attempts, the XP machine wouldn’t boot into Windows. Which is when I was called in. I figured either the install had been corrupted or the hard drive was failing. Since the drive was still functional, the first order of business was ensuring the safety of her priceless data. I popped the SATA drive into an external dock (above, ran me about $35 at Micro Center) and offloaded her content onto my Macbook. Then I went about restoring XP (on the same drive), followed by her files. And left her with a backup DVD. However, it’s just a stop-gap… and folks need a more comprehensive archive strategy.

Ideally, data is backed up both locally (convenience) and remotely (redundancy). Apple attempts to bring simple, seamless local archiving and restoration to the masses with Time Machine. While a Time Capsule is probably the easiest implementation for novices avoiding clutter, I periodically hang a 750GB Maxtor One Touch 4 off my MacBook via USB. In the days when Windows was my primary OS, I relied on Acronis True Image for disk images and incremental backups. My main Vista install is a Boot Camp partition, and I’ve used the free Winclone to take a baseline image that I can rebuild from should the need arrive. For remote storage, I was a Mozy customer for some time… But have since moved on to SugarSync. While it’s not quite the Mozy+Mac Gallery+Dropbox über solution I was hoping for, they’re off to a good start – I’m willing to give them some time to refine and and enhance their service. (Neither of these cloud storage services would be appropriate if your ISP restricts you to a low data transfer cap.)

So, are you backing up… If so, how? If not, why? And standby for a post by Dale on his Drobo RAID-like storage usage.

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our friends at Last100:

Hands-on: G1’s Android web browser rocks
where Android really rocks is the bundled web browser. It’s fast, renders the full web flawlessly (aside from the lack of Flash support), and does a fantastic job of re-flowing text when you zoom in on a specific part of a web page, therefore eliminating the need for horizontal scrolling despite browsing on such a small screen.

Netgear extender to deliver YouTube HD
The EVA 9000 Digital Entertainer Elite is aimed at “the tech-savvy, early adopter, not your average Roku user”, and, along with YouTube support, can download BitTorrent files, access additional Internet-based content, as well as stream video from any PC connected to the same local network.

Every NFL game streamed online, on-demand and ad-free
No longer content with leaving money on the table, the National Football League launched a new on-demand Internet TV service called Game Rewind that enables fans to “watch every NFL game in HD quality, with no commercials”

BBC iPlayer on more mobile handsets
It’s getting hard to keep up, with the BBC rolling out new versions of its UK-only seven day Internet TV catch-up service on what feels like an almost monthly basis. This time iPlayer support has been added to Nokia N85, Samsung Omnia, Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 and C905.

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our friends at Last100:

Livestation demos live Internet TV on iPhone and iPod touch
Livestation is currently in talks with Apple to bring a version of its international news video application to the iPhone and iPod Touch, likely to be supported over WiFi only.

Nokia announces Internet radio and music streamer
Dubbed the Nokia Home Music, the device connects to the net via WiFi or Ethernet to stream music from Internet radio stations and access podcasts, and can also stream music from a PC, mobile phone or alternatively any UPnP device on your home network.

BBC iPlayer lands on PlayStation 3
Now that the PlayStation 3’s web browser supports full screen Flash video, I knew it wouldn’t be long before we’d see the BBC finally roll out a PS3 version of iPlayer. Available in Beta, as of today PS3 owners can now access the Beeb’s seven day TV catchup service (UK-only).

Sony’s eBook reader – the numbers are in
Claiming to have exceeded the company’s own forecasts, Sony says it sold 300,000 units of its Sony Reader device since its October 2006 launch.

Amazon MP3 arrives in the UK
With little or no fanfare, Amazon’s MP3 store has arrived in the UK. And in keeping with the credit crunch spirit of late, there are some real bargains on offer.