My Photos are Back!

You may recall my post from May 2009, where I described how my home NAS 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).

The path to recover was a long one:

  • Spring 2009 – I saw an ad for COSSFEST 2009 (Calgary Open Source Systems Festival, It was too late to attend, but I put a note in my calendar for COSSFEST 2010.
  • Fall 2009 – the mother board and system drive fail in my FreeNAS box, and I start researching FreeBSD, the Unix-like operating system used by FreeNAS.
  • April 2010 – I attend COSSFEST 2010 and meet Paul from Protospace (, who was demonstrating a blinky-LED project in the meeting lounge (Protospace is a Calgary Hackerspace, see Hackerspace in Wikipedia)
  • May 2010 – I cleaned out the basement and donated an assortment of embedded system prototyping platforms to Protospace. While there, I met Andrew Preece, a storage specialist and all-round uber-geek, who offered to help with my data recovery problem.
  • May 2010 – I spent the day with Andrew at the Calgary Protospace. We had a full day, 10:30 am to 11:00 pm, with only a couple hours out for dinner. You can’t imagine my exhilaration at 3pm when Andrew was able to get a file listing from the previously uncooperative drive array. Another 7 hours and I had the photos copied to my laptop – and a nice Mother’s Day surprise for my wife.

Thanks also to “Andrew 2″, who provided moral support while hacking together a security system for an upcoming paintball game (and more importantly, made a Starbucks coffee run).


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).

‘wused out (almost)

Riding today I almost hate to admit I was stopped by a creek – well, maybe more like a rivulet (well, maybe more like a small rivulet…). So I built a bridge using nearby logs.

img00033-20100502-1322So just after I finished building my “bridge”, a rider blew past me on the right, through the water and up the hill. I was so ashamed, so I abandoned the bridge and followed him through the water on bike. Yes, I got wet and muddy, but it felt good (and I might have fallen off the bridge anyway).

Mostly keeping the rubber side down lately,