Aug 31, 2016

How I Recovered My LaCie 5Big Network RAID 5 Array

I had a pretty crappy week. I'm sure you can imagine with a title about how I had to recover important files from a failed LaCie 5Big NAS unit. It's a device that I inherited years ago and was made in 2008 so it's well out of support. Well, I noticed last week some time that one of the drives failed on it. Not thinking too much about it, I ordered a new hard drive from Amazon. By the time I got the new drive, the unit stopped responding altogether and said that two other drives had failed!

Luckily it turned out that only the original drive actually failed. The other four drives were fine, and it was the actual enclosure/RAID controller that failed. Still though, I couldn't access my files! So here is what I did, and if you need to do the same you will need a few things:
The first thing I did was going from left to right on the back of my LaCie NAS was pulled each drive out one at a time, hooked it to my SATA to USB adapter and using WinImage created virtual clones of each drive. This process takes about 5+ hours per drive depending on the size of your drive and the speed of your USB port. Drive number two was corrupt, so I created a blank 500GB drive in it's place.

This is where the big hard drive comes in. You need enough room to store the virtual disks as well as the files you want to recover!

Once you have your virtual drives, create an Ubuntu Linux virtual machine in VirtualBox. Power it up and install a couple of tools:
  • GParted (sudo apt-get install gparted)
  • mdadm (sudo apt-get install mdadm)
The first one is a nice to have to visually see the drive partitions. The second one is required because it is what will control your virtual RAID array.

Now, with those installed power down your Ubuntu VM and add the virtual disks in order.

Now power on your VM again, and when you login mdadm should automatically see your RAID 5 array! At least it did for me...

From here I was able to mount a folder to my VirtualBox on my physical computer and copy all of the files off the new virtual RAID 5 array to my computer. Thank the sweet baby Jesus too because I had about 11 years of family photos that I didn't want to lose!

After giving it some thought I don't really need a NAS unit at my house, so I think I'm going to replace this old LaCie with a USB/eSATA RAID controller instead. It's less expensive than a NAS, and should suit my needs. Besides, most of the NAS units I see come with drives, and after this fiasco I already have some!

One thing to note, if this doesn't work at first, you may have a bad disk image file. The first try at this I received errors when creating images in WinImage on disks 1, 2 and 3. I recreated 1 and 3 fine, but 2 gave me an error no matter what. If you can't automatically mount your RAID array, try recreating the virtual disk files.

Another thing, if you have more than one bad drives you won't be able to recover your RAID array, and you will need to use a forensic tool to try and recover files, but that is another article...

Aug 23, 2016

Two Apps That Will Help You Lose Weight

I could have sworn I wrote about this already, but I can't seem to find a post for it in my archives. Oh well, if you've already heard this from me you can skip this post. If not, and you are looking for the miracle in weight loss then keep reading!

A few years ago I discovered these two powerful apps that are available both for Android and iPhone called My Fitness Pal and Map My Fitness. They work hand in hand to help you keep track of what you are eating (Calories in) and your exercise (Calories out) and they are both 100% free!

My Fitness Pal is where you want to start. It lets you set your weight loss goal, and by using your current weight it figures out how many calories you can eat in a day and still lose weight. Every time you weigh yourself, you need to log it so it can make calorie adjustments as needed.

My Fitness Pal is very convenient and makes calorie counting as easy as it can possibly be because not only can you scan food items, but you can also look up calorie counts at your favorite restaurants using their extensive database. I love this method because I can pretty much still eat what I want as long as I have enough calories for it and still lose weight. Cheese burgers? Do I have enough calories left? Yes? GET IN MY BELLY!

Map My Fitness is very cool also, because it can keep track of your calories burned by doing just about any exercise imaginable. It also has GPS capabilities to keep track of things like your mileage and pace if you go for a jog or a bike ride. Even if you are doing something like mowing your lawn, you can keep track of the time it takes to do it with Map My Fitness and it will log your calories burned doing it!

Map My Fitness automatically syncs with My Fitness Pal as well to better keep track of calories burned and consumed so you know if you can eat more or not. The more you work out, the more you can eat! How is that for motivation?

I started actively trying to lose weight again this past January and already I've lost 40 lbs! I've lost 50 lbs since I moved back to Colorado in 2014! Check out these pictures:

If you want to keep up with my weight loss and fitness journey, and help keep me motivated (I need all the help I can get) I started a Facebook page called Fat Slob 2 Dad Bod where I post about my workouts, my progress and other stuff to try to keep me motivated. I have a Twitter account as well @FatSlob2DadBod if you want to follow me there!

Are you trying to lose weight? What are you doing that works? Let me know in the comments!

Aug 22, 2016

Vonage Business Is Down Hard. It's Not Just You. cc @VonageBusiness

Are you a Vonage Business customer? Can't make or receive phone calls can you? Well, join the club! Oh, have you tried to call their support number but can't? Yep, join the club! Did you try to go to your control panel, but that is down too so you can't even contact Vonage support using their ticketing system? Yep, join the club!

Vonage Business is down for millions of customers across the country right now. You're only option is to sit and check their status page which for the last hour or so has looked like this:

You can also check their Twitter posts too, and see some seriously pissed off clients in the process, but all you will see is them telling you to check their stupid status page:

Just a tip Vonage, you can't tell people to check your status page and NEVER update it!

Well, my company is joining the HUGE list of clients that will be leaving. Their support has always been attrocious, and their service has always been very spotty. This really is just the straw that broke the camels back.

Do you use Vonage? Are you leaving too? Tell us about it in the comments!

3-D Printing's Role in the Manufacturing Industry

One of the most interesting forms of prototyping and manufacturing is 3-D printing in large part because it is so new to the consumer space. Many are wondering if this new, cheap form of manufacturing is going to push traditional methods such as injection molding out of the space and make it obsolete. Here's a deeper look at 3-D printing and its role in the manufacturing industry.

Injection Molding vs. 3-D Printing

The short answer is no. Both injection and 3-D printing have their strengths and weaknesses.
Injection molding has the advantage of being able to make many objects at a single time very quickly. These objects also can be made out of a lot of different materials that have a variety of features in terms of their strength and durability. Where this method falls short, though, is the high initial cost of the machine, which can be prohibitive to smaller businesses.

On the other side, 3-D printing is considerably cheaper to start using. In fact, depending on the size and resolution needed, several can be bought for the price of an injection molding machine. Also, depending on the size of the parts being made, multiple objects could be printed in each machine, which helps offset the relatively slower per piece time that 3-D printing requires. Another advantage is that the designs can quickly be changed if a problem is discovered. One disadvantage of 3-D printing is that the items have an inherent weakness because they are made out of individual layers that are laid down on top of one another. This means that if a perpendicular force is applied to the layers, it has an increased chance of being damaged.

Hybrid Methods

A good solution to each method's challenges is to combine the best parts of them. For example, 3-D printers can be used to make the molds needed for injection molding. The combination works especially well for small businesses because they can cut some of the costs and time needed for traditional manufacturing.

Printed molds are not as sturdy as aluminium ones, but they can be more cost efficient when only a few hundred or so parts are needed. Only minor design changes need to be made between an aluminium and 3-D printed mold because of the differences in thermal properties for cooling the objects. Both types of materials can withstand the heat needed for injection molding, so businesses can still use the same range of materials, such as Viton or flueorocarbons, that traditional injection molding requires.

Neither 3-D printing nor injection molding are going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, businesses need to think more about choosing the right method for the materials they need and how long it will take to create a final product. Especially for small and medium-sized businesses that are too big for 3-D printer farms, a hybrid method may be a great solution.

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