Monday, July 30, 2007

Terrible Usage of YouTube Footage

Hey Readers!  Sorry to be away from the blog for so long, but I got kind of bored of the tech that was going on (E3 didn't help, I'm not much of a gamer) and then I went away on a trip.  Anyway, I'm back and will be giving you guys some more stuff in the next week or so....

First of all, I just wanted to comment on the big Democratic YouTube Debate held by CNN.  I couldn't get a good picture of it, but I was particularly infuriated about the way that the questions were aired to the public.  To the candidates, the questions were played on little screens on their podiums and they had earpieces.  That was all fine and dandy, but when they shared the video with the American went something like this:
They took the squarish flash videos, placed them on the center of a big billboard-sized movie screen, and then aimed the television cameras at that.  Now, I would have expected them to simply display the videos directly on the screens of the viewers, but for some reason a "video taken of a video" method won out in their cinematography meetings before the debate.  For this reason, the already grainy pictures from the videos were even more featureless because they were viewed with only about 30 percent of the home viewer's screen.

Granted, the first video recorders were actually cameras that took a picture of the live feed coming off of a show, but I would have thought that a big corporation like CNN wouldn't swipe their cameras from a display at the Smithsonian...

That's my first angry-rant of the blog and it certainly won't be my last!  Woo!

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Little Info on Drobo

I have just discovered this awesome little robot. His name is Drobo and he doesn't move...he doesn't fact he is basically just a big black box....

drobo pic
(Image from Engadget's review of Drobo)

So what's so cool about this robot? What even makes it a robot. Well, Drobo, made by Data Robotics, Inc, is the first "storage robot," using the term robot in the Artificial Intelligence sense (AI is sometimes known as "robotics"). It connects to your computer via USB and is viewed by the OS as a single drive. As you can see from the picture, it has multiple drives hooked up (and nifty green lights to boot!), but Drobo's AI sets them up as a large, redundant drive.

Those of you with more tech savvy are probably saying...Wait...isn't that just a RAID system? The short answer is, yes, it functions much like a RAID, which is when multiple drives are set up to work as a single unit. The benefit of this system is that if a drive fails, the other drives assume the role that the failed drive was doing. It's a great way to back-up a system.

So, why re-invent the wheel. Well, mostly because the "wheel" (RAID) comes in lots of pieces, requires some know-how to assemble, and can be tricky when installing new hardware. Drobo, the "new wheel," is very "plug and play" and does all re-allocation automatically. In fact, the impressive demo video shows the user playing a high definition video (already stored on Drobo) while failing and installing multiple drives and the video doesn't even skip. That certainly impressed me. I like to do other things while engaging in long automated processes, so being able to watch a movie or TV show while installing a new drive is really attractive.

Now, Drobo is pretty pricey. It is $499 initially, plus you have to buy drives to fill its bays. It accepts almost any SATA-type drive, though, so compatability isn't an issue. Also, like any redundant back-up, putting in x gigabytes of drive space will give you less than x gigabytes of storage space. This is because much of the space is used by the unit to make extra copies of each file. I ran a simulation in the "Drobolator" found on their site, and putting four 100GB drives in the system will only give you 277.1GB of storage space. The rest of it is "used for protection."

Why am I excited about this beyond my normal geekness for cool gadgets? Well, I see products like Drobo and Apple's Time Machine as a step toward redundant back-up for the layman. Drobo is expensive right now but the price of the unit, drives, and technology will come down eventually and soon anyone will be able to securely back-up their data to a system that can be updated with new hardware as often as necessary. Disk drive failures can cost companies thousands and individuals can lose their entire digital life in an instant. Consider this kind of tech the next generation's fire safe.

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The content of this page is completely the creation and opinion of James Rogers. He is affiliated with Connect Mason and formerly Broadside Online but the relationship only governs republication, not content.

Further, in the interest of full disclosure, this author holds minor financial investments in Apple, Inc. and Advanced Micro Devices.