Mar 152009

Whether you’re using FreeBSD for your workstation, a simple home server, or in a complex IT environment where reliability is critical, losing the data on your hard disk(s) is probably the worst type of failure you can have.  I’ve already gone over a backup strategy for FreeBSD, but it’s best to try to prevent data loss before it happens.

As it turns out, pretty much all modern hard disks have built-in SMART technology (SMART stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology).  It can alert you before many types of problems will occur, and hopefully provide you with enough time to get your data off the drive safely, before catastrophic failure occurs.

It’s pretty easy to take advantage of this technology on FreeBSD with a package called Smartmontools.

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Mar 012009

When Wonderful Remote first starts, you’re asked to enter your registration information (or leave it blank for the 48-hour trial), and then you’ll enter your TiVo’s IP address on your network.

You’re then presented with the main screen, which provides a reference on the available functions.

I went through and tried all of the options.  When using the trackball to navigate, it’s extremely responsive – the TiVo actually responds to my BlackBerry more quickly than it does to my Logitech Harmony remote.

All of the keys work as advertised, and you have access to all of the functions you’d have on your standard TiVo Remote.

One limitation of the TiVo’s network remote interface is that it doesn’t accept letter keys for search boxes.  Instead, Wonderful Remote will send up, down, left, and right commands to navigate to each letter, and then press “select” on it – and it does this incredibly fast.

My opinion? It’s a well-written application.  Its only limitation is that my BlackBerry Bold is not a touchscreen device.

While it won’t be replacing my Logitech Harmony remote any time soon, it makes entering text in the various search boxes so fast, it makes it well worth the $2.99.

Check it out.

[2009/10/06] The FCC now requires that anyone who blogs about a product must disclose if they received payment.  I received a free copy of this app after having posted this review.

Mar 012009

I previously discussed configuring JungleDisk on FreeBSD.  It’s not quite the easiest to install since FreeBSD isn’t officially supported.  To take that a step further, I’m now going to show what I do to back up my FreeBSD box at home.

Update, November 2009: I am no longer using JungleDisk to back up my FreeBSD box.  Jungledisk recently released version 3.0 of their software which does not include a command-line Linux version in the standard desktop edition.  I was advised to stick with the old version if I want to continue backing up.  Instead, I chose to change over to Duplicity.  I will write a post on Duplicity in the near future.

There are a couple of steps to this process.  First, we must perform the backup itself.  I’m using dump(8) for this purpose – this program is built right into FreeBSD – it’s purpose in the original UNIX was to dump a file system to a tape drive, but we’re going to use it to dump the filesystem to a file.  The second step is to have JungleDisk back the files up to S3.

Standard disclaimer:  This is not at all supported by JungleDisk and if you choose to try this, you’re doing so at your own risk.  This works fine for me, but your mileage may vary.  I am not in any way responsible for any costs this may incur to you, or any damage this may cause.

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