Maestro Trial Screencast

I’ve been experimenting with creating Maestro screencasts using Ubuntu GNU Linux on my ThinkPad T23. Here’s a short demo showing the Project Management component. It should play without issue using FireFox, but you will need to install the Ogg Theora codec if you use Internet Explorer (FireFox comes with it built-in).  Oh, and there’s no audio….. (I said it was an experiment <wink>)


backup, Backup, BACKUP!

You may recall my post from May 2009, where I described how my FreeNAS box was “temporary unavailable”. The story now has a happy ending. Everything is back, including family digital photo’s and scanned image going back to the turn of the century. However, the moral of the story is still backup, Backup, BACKUP. (at least 2 independent copies!).

  • Fall 2009 – the mother board and system drive fail in my FreeNAS box. The array configuration is lost, and I feel lost. I start researching FreeBSD, the unix-like operating system used by FreeNAS.
  • April 2010 – I attended COSSFEST 2010 and met Paul from Protospace, demonstrating a blinky-LED project in the meeting lounge.
  • May 2010 – I cleaned out the basement and donated a lot of old electronics hardware to Protospace while it might still have value to someone else. While there, I met Andrew Preece, a storage specialist and all-round uber-geek, who said he could help with my data recovery problem.
  • May 2010 – I spent the day with Andrew at Protospace. In a couple hours Paul had reversed engineered and rebuilt the array configuration, and we had a file listing. and had a file listing  and reconstructed the array. You can’t imagine my exhilaration when Andrew pulled a file listing from the previously uncooperative drive array, and everything was intact. Another 7 hours and I had a complete backup – and a nice Mother’s Day surprise for my wife.


P.S. Thanks also to “Andrew 2”, who provided moral support while hacking together a security system for an upcoming paintball game (and made a Starbucks coffee run to keep us going!).

FreeNAS and FreeBSD Convert

A while back I put together a NAS (Network Addressible Storage) unit for personal use using an old computer and FreeNAS – NAS system software system based on FreeBSD. Everything worked great until the power supply failed, taking out the motherboard and corrupting the boot drive. The three drives in the software RAID array were still intact, but I didn’t have enough experience with FreeBSD to recover the array and the data.

The following 6 months were a period of Unix re-education. I was familiar with UNIX from my undergrad days at the University of Victoria. I had also used Aegis on Apollo ASIC engineering workstations at NovAtel Communications, which was very Unix-like. Saying I had forgotten a lot would be an understatement. However, I’m happy to report that the data has been recovered from the array, and in the process I’ve become a FreeBSD convert.

FreeBSD is called the “unknown Giant”. It is an advanced Unix-like OS derived from BSD, the version of UNIX┬« developed at the University of California, Berkeley. FreeBSD has two major advantages over GNU Linux distributions. First, FreeBSD is inclusive. The core and userland are maintained and released together, making for a consistent and well documented experience. Second, the FreeBSD “BSD” license is an industry-friendly permissive license.

FreeBSD is most often seen server-side, which is where I’m using it for preferred Achievo development (see elsewhere on this site for more on Achievo).

Tech Podcasts

Bicycle commuting weather has returned to Calgary. I commuted to work twice last week on my classic Miyata 1000, and plan to beat that record this week. This morning was a little chilly, but at least I didn’t have to scrape the frozen rain off the jeep windshield.

Back in the saddle also means having 2hrs a day again for podcasts. I’m using my daughter’s old iPod nano (also a classic), and its 1G memory just balances my consumption with new content being published.

So, fanfare please, here’s my current list:

  • FLOSS Weekly (, an offering of interviews with free and open source project leaders.
  • The Changelog (, presents interviews with free and open source project leaders, but tends to be geekier than FLOSS Weekly (but not always).
  • BSD Talk (, provides periodic interviews with those active in the BSD (UNIX-like operating system) community (e.g., FreeBSD).
  • Lullabot Drupal Podcast and Drupal Voices ( A great way to get into Drupal CMS development. The Drupal Podcast is a theme-based group effort from the Lullabot development team; Drupal Voices is short inteviews with non-Lullabot Drupal developers.
  • CBC Spark ( a weekly tech program for the lay person, each episode consisting of a half-dozen topics or interviews (full interviews also available for more depth).
  • The World: Technology ( An interesting collection of tech-related stores from around the world (albeit with a western bias).
  • CBC The World This Week. Nice wrap-up of the previous week’s global news to catch up on while bicycling to work Monday morning.
  • CBC Radio 3 Podcast (, a theme-based weekly program of Canadian independent music. I keep a couple annual roadtrip mixtape episodes on the iPod, as well the Sweatin’ to the Indies episode, for when I just want to pedal.
  • CBC Radio 3 Top 30 (, a weekly review of Canadian independent music. This is the first year I watched the Canadian Juno awards (Canada’s equivalent of the US Grammy’s) and recognised most of the songs and artists.