unRAID Upgrade

 

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I’m in the middle of a large upgrade to my primary media NAS running unRAID. I upgrade the OS to version 6. It is much more polished. I also upgraded the Parity drive to a 6TB hard drive. It is a Seagate ST6000VN0001 hard drive. I really like the Western Digital in the 4TB range but in 6TB Seagate benchmarks much better, and they only run 1-2 degrees warmer than the WDC Reds. So the parity calculation took seemingly forever. I must have refresh the status page 500 times and compared my remaining time calculations with the software many times. The unRAID estimate would fluctuate wildly between a few minutes and weeks. The actual time was close to my calculations which were averaged over several days. It didn’t help that I was doing a data load simultaneously as well. Nothing like stress testing your hardware. In the end it finally finished after 3 days, 17 hours and 46 minutes.

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The main function is to serve video and audio content via Plex to all the TVs and iPads in the house. Plex makes life pretty nice.

Chrome is really starting to suck these days

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When I switched from Firefox to Chrome about six years ago it was like a breath of fresh air. It was clean, super lightweight, and most importantly it was fast, really fast. I had never seen Javascript render so fast. Those days are long since gone. Google has fallen victim to its own success. Google keeps adding more and more features and the browser keeps getting heavier and slower.

Plugins generally are heavy weight and slow. A few still retain much goodness. After the terrific plugin YouTube Options shot themselves in the head by charging a ridiculous monthly fee a new one emerged called Magic Actions for YouTube. It is a super useful plugin and I like it except for one thing. They decided upon the super-idiotic route that flash control panel took; you change options from a live web site. They do this for several reasons. It allows them to advertise more easily and they can more obnoxiously beg for money. Fortunately I only have to go there a once or twice a month to change things. The other annoyance is they add a toolbar beneath the youtube window which I never ever have had a reason to use and they refuse to let you disable it. Like I can’t remember I am using your plugin? Oh that’s right you put it there for more subscriptions to your YouTube channel. Shameless.

These are my must have plugins:

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Youtube switched from Flash video as default to HTML5 as default. This is one more welcome nail in the Flash coffin. However, we lost video larger than 2k (1080p) and WebM container format via the VP9 codec does not look as good. It looks good but the difference is noticeable. Sorensen Spark is superior. This is coming from a tried and true Flash hater. I can rant about browser plugins forever.

But I digress … Chrome consumes gobs of memory. This is a screen shot of the memory usage after running Chrome for five minutes.

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As you can see Chrome is using a ton of memory. This is absurd. I also see millions of there error messages in my logs:

kernel[0]: Google Chrome He (map: 0xffffff80bb8b21e0) triggered DYLD shared region unnest for map: 0xffffff80bb8b21e0, region 0x7fff94e00000->0x7fff95000000. While not abnormal for debuggers, this increases system memory footprint until the target exits.

I had to finally resort to disable the error reporting as my logs became useless:

$ sudo sysctl -w vm.shared_region_unnest_logging=0

Google, please fix this crap. Your features deployment have overtaken your stability. I really don’t want to have to switch back to Firefox. I really don’t.

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Disney domains

 

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In less than a week after creating a Disney account these are the domains I have received email from:

@disneyonline.com

@wdw.disneyonline.com

@experience.disneydestinations.com

@disneydestinations.com

@vacations.disneydestinations.com

@disney.com

@mkt5993.com

@disneyprivacycenter.com

I’m looking forward to even more email.

 

 

 

Disney servers suck

This has been happening for days.

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I’m so sick of it. I’ve stumbled across tons of 404s on their site as well. Page render times are terrible as well. Sometimes 20 to 30 seconds to render a page. Trying to plan your trip using their tools is pretty painful. Their pages are in no way optimized. Look at this one stat:

3578 rules (87%) of CSS not used by the current page

There are other horrific examples.

I had to call tech support for My Disney Experience to get our accounts to be able to access a single itinerary. The CSR told me that most people just share a login.

What is with go.com for all their sites. Seriously how does it help SEO, no one remembers you use go.com for anything, give it up already. It is a horrible idea that should be long retired at this point.

In terms of password security, they don’t allow non alpha-numeric characters to be used. They allow four character passwords of all lower case numbers or letters. They allow 1234 as a password. Yikes. The password recovery tool sends email and it comes from a twdc.com domain which is not immediately recognizable although they do a domain forward to thewaltdisneycompany.com if you investigate a little. They really should have an immediately recognizable domain for email. The best part is in the footer they say the following:

Copy and paste mydisney@disney.com into your address book to ensure optimal receipt of these communications.

Talk about a mess for people who like to have some semblance of email security. The worst security is probably over the phone. The only thing they verify a caller against is the name and address on the account. They then tell you the current email address and ask if you if that email address is correct.

They also still have SSLv3 enabled which makes them vulnerable to POODLE attacks. The certificate uses a weak signature, SHA1. Perhaps upgrade to at least SHA2. This server accepts the RC4 cipher, which is also weak. The server does not support Forward Secrecy with the any browsers i tried. Disney … get it together.

Google Fiber Installed

 

I finally have Google Fiber installed and it is fast … very fast. The service technician was very clueless about the networking side of the technology but was well versed in the TV and physical plant used by Google.

Here is one of the speed test results:

The above results are fairly typical. I have run the tests several times. In fact it is so fast that it breaks the normal Ookla speedtest. It actually generates a weird error. You have to use a special site provided by Google. http://provo.speedtest.googlefiber.net/ It runs the Ookla software so I don’t suspect any shenanigans. Here is an index of the various tests. http://www.speedtest.net/isp/google-fiber I suspect that most of the tests were done via a wireless device. The WiFi APs in the house are only capable of 600 Mbps. When I had great signal strength I could only manage about 250 Mbps through wireless. I suspect with TCP overhead and driver overhead the MacBook Pro I with a Thunderbolt to ethernet was using couldn’t drive the connection any faster. Given typical TCP overhead of around 3% that would be 30 Mbps on a 1000 Mbps connection. It’s funny that that the wasted bandwidth of TCP overhead exceeds most peoples internet connections.

The best part about Google Fiber is that it replaced Comcast. The Comcast service was terrible. Truly undeniably awful.  The customer service was downright bad. Every CSR I ever interacted with was clueless and knew nothing beyond “reboot” your modem. You got completely difference answers depending upon whom you spoke with. You can add my vote to the “worst company in America.” Earlier this year Comcast fearing significant customer loss to Google Fiber came through the neighborhood and upgraded all the STBs in the house to the latest and also upgraded the Internet connection speed from 20/5 to 250/100, all with no cost increase. The true speeds were nowhere near what you were paying for at all. In fact they lowered the price by $75 per month. It was such a joy to send back all that crappy Comcast equipment. When I called to cancel service with Comcast they tried to keep me as a customer. I explained there was no offer that could match the Google offering. The local Comcast office transferred me to a retention CSR. She tried anyway; all in vain. She said she could offer me $99 per month service for TV, phone, and Internet for six months. I told her I needed gigabit speeds and it would have to be free for six months. She thought I was joking, I wasn’t in the slightest. It was obvious she was getting quite a few of these kinds of calls. I have no sympathy for Comcast.

It is really quite amazing what happens when a monopoly faces some competition. Even if Google Fiber is not available where you live you have to appreciate that Google has really stirred up a fairly stagnant market. Almost all ISPs had very little incentive to increase the connection speeds. Centurylink is a major ISP in the Utah area and they now are advertising that Gigabit speeds are now available. Of course it is all marketing and I can’t find a single address or person that is eligible for the service. But at least someone has kicked these companies butts into gear. Google may track and record everything you do like a mini-NSA but at least they provide a good service. Good riddance Comcast.

There are a few annoyances with the service. First the TV STB’s can act as WIFi Access Points which is great. However you cannot have separate SSIDs for the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz frequencies. It is pretty annoying. You can have separate SSIDs on the network box. Having the STBs act as WAPs is a great feature but is hampered by some lack of functionality. There are basically no advanced options for the TV STBs. They are disabled as APs by default.

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The Storage Box provides 2 TB of storage space, which allows you to store up to 500 hours of HD programming, and connects to the TV Boxes using MoCA or Ethernet. If MoCA fails it will fall back to ethernet.

A complete list of devices is here: https://support.google.com/fiber/topic/6005232?hl=en&ref_topic=6063014

The TV UI is pretty polished and highly responsive. In fact it is so responsive that if you rapidly click buttons on the remote control you can outpace the UI and it will queue up all those commands and execute them all which can lead you somewhere you didn’t intend to go. The Comcast IR remote was so unresponsive and slow to respond to input that you would furiously mash buttons in the hope the UI would react only to be disappointed and frustrated. It would ignore all other commands as well. The Google TV remote connects to the STB via Bluetooth. It also does IR for your TV. The Nexus 7 tablet is also a pretty nice little device. You can fling content like YouTube to your TV from it. The TV control interface on the Nexus is really pretty bad and hard to figure out what to click on. The flat UI does not lend itself to intuitiveness. I found myself often looking around for where to push an Okay button as it would be in random places on a particular page. The lack of contrast in the interface causes lots of issues. The Google Fiber TV app needs a lot of work.

The program guide on the TV UI is pretty nice except on thing. The program description is crammed vertically between the channel numbers and the times. It is awkward to read. This really needs to be displayed horizontally instead. Also there is a vertical bar that covers all the program descriptions to indicate a more precise time indication. It should be shortened to display in the row of time blocks instead of covering the whole UI.

The remote is connected to the STB via Bluetooth. It performs very well. All companies should stop selling IR  remotes immediately. Not having to aim the remote is not only enhancing my already significant laziness it makes me feel even more in control. However, if you have a receiver providing audio out to speakers there is no way to program the remote to change the volume on the receiver. This is a a major oversight. It would be nice to just use the Google TV remote for all functions. In the help section for Google Fiber there is no help about how to program it with a receiver except this annoying line:

“If you are familiar with electronics, you can certainly come up with your own creative way to connect!”

The page also says, “… supports only controlling the volume on your TV …”

They even say it won’t work, “…the Google Fiber remote control is not programmable to control external audio equipment.”

Google please fix this.

The Google Fiber website integrates nicely with your existing Google account. Unlike every other TV service provider out there, there are no annoying ads for movies and Pay Per views. It is typical Google clean and well designed. Companies like Comcast and DirecTV could learn a thing or two. Instead of hiding useful features behind upgrade links they should make the web site useful.