Stuff offered this week

by Volker Weber

It looks like some agencies start to target bloggers with their customers' products. I generally like this idea, since I write about stuff. And if people send me products, then I have more stuff to write about. However, I found these item quite odd:

Both agencies hope that the products are being blogged about. HP even has instructions on how to blog about the product. Nuance has a campaign "Give Voice To Bloggers":

Die Idee ist, dass Sie ihre Ehrfahrung mit der Software anhand mehrerer Einträgen schriftlich festhalten (zum Beispiel: einmal wöchendlich). Wir würden Sie auch darum bitten, ein Logo mit dem Text "Powered by Dragon" mit einem integriertem Link (Nuance Website) auf Ihre Seite zu stellen.

This all looks a bit clumsy. Anyway, both products won't work with a MacBook. The software only runs on Windows, the mouse needs a PC card slot, which only old PowerBooks have. The mouse is actually a nice idea. It stores (and charges) in a PC card slot:

pc card mouse

After thinking about it for a while, I see one problem however. The PC card slot is powered down when you don't run the computer. And if you do run it, you may want to use the mouse. When do you want to charge it then?

Here is something I could actually put to good use: an Infrant ReadyNAS. Does anybody want to offer that? ;-)


Funny that you mention the Infrant ReadyNAS. I have been thinking about some sort of backup device for the workstations in my house and this looks like it would fit the bill (but at $1,600, I may get outvoted). The plus side is that it does both PCs and Macs, which is very attractive. Is that how you were planning on using the device, as backup storage?

Gregg Eldred, 2006-12-08

Just as regular storage.

Volker Weber, 2006-12-08

Umm, yeah, and a ReadyNAS for anyone who comments on his review, too - then we could make informed comments :-)

Kevan Emmott, 2006-12-08

Indeed. Let's keep 'em coming, Infrant folks - photo collections require quite some space ;-)

Haiko Hebig, 2006-12-08

This is a serious issue for computer based households, isn't it? I've always limped along with a couple of old Dell servers, one mirroring the other and the PCs (+ one Mac) backing up to a Samba fileshare. Then, when my wife started working from home and we hosted a webserver and ftp site for client access, things started to look mission critical and long periods of non-availability didn't look too good. Coupled with the fact that the security of our data is paramount, I started to feel very uncomfortable!

I've tried 'cheap' virtual server hosting, but the performance was dire. The need to restrict access to ftp on a client by cleint basis made the use of our ISP space untenable, so after I got the least asymmetrical ADSL you can get here in the UK, (fat upload pipe), I settled on hosting here at home.

Then the power issues started. Not sure why, but I started to get many instances of 'nuisance' tripping on my earth leakage breakers. Result? 3 disk failures across the two Dell servers. So, while I set a copy of Spinrite to work on recovering them (that took 3 days - but what a great app *that* is!) I started to look at an appropriate alternative...

I love the look of that Infrant NAS..very nice, but too pricey. I have a friend who has one of the Buffalo terastations, but he's not too impressed. I decided upon a product called the DiskStation from Synology. This is a very nice product. It's a single board linux machine with space for one internal SATA drive, an eSATA connection and 3 USB ports for expansion. It has gigabit ethernet too, but best of all the configuration software is easy to use with some really useful features,

- scheduled backup to the external USB or eSATA drive
- UPS support (super critical for me right now!)

but it's the extras that take it beyond a NAS which I love;

- apache webserver (with a telnet hack, you can host more than one site)
- ftp server
- uPnP DMA multimedia service (which has put life back into my neglected Netgear 101 network audio playback device)
- photo browser
- one button copy from USB port to the hard disk - for dumping photos.

OK, so it's not a professional level product, but it is *very* well done in my humble opinion and I have two now, one for public web and ftp and one for internal NAS usage. Each has an internal 500Gb disk and an external USB disk with scheduled backup. Each combo comes in at ~¢400 - with the device itself available for ¢130.

I'm a great fan of 'appliance' computing - while I appreciate the PC running linux that does everything - I prefer a simple box with an optimised implementation. It has an efficient feel to it. I've replaced (for my needs, at least) a hunky server, which I had spec'd at the Dell website, complete with huge UPS, RAID array etc etc, with a couple of simple boxes which burn a fraction of the watts and quite frankly, do their job very well.

Top marks to Synology, not only for a great product, but also for harvesting the fruits of the open source community to make their product even more configurable than they intended :)

John Ash, 2006-12-09

What happened to the Linksys NSLU2? Run out of space?
I got 2 disks on it and run a dailyh disk-2disk backup. The workstations run Syncback on schedule and the workLaptop uses Tivoli contious data protection for files (which is great since it keeps multiple copies and auto-backups once the Laoptop is in range of the NAS).

Stephan H. Wissel, 2006-12-10

My advice is to wait until you can get your hands on a ReadyNAS+. It has a fanless PSU and should be less noisy.

I have been watching this product for a few months already and I ordered one just last week, but when the German distributor told me they don't have the latest model yet, I had to cancel the order. Noise is even more important to me than performance or price (->WAF!)

Does anybody know another distributor for the ReadyNAS+ who ships to Germany? Even with customs & shipping it should be cheaper than that official shop...

Whatever you buy in the end: Get all the HDDs in your RAID/NAS from different vendors. If the drives are from the same batch, chances are they will also break at the same time.

Frank Dröge, 2006-12-12


check out Data Components in Berlin . They offer ReadyNAS NV+ for a reasonable price.


Christian Molls, 2006-12-12

Thx Chris, I'll check'em out.

Frank Dröge, 2006-12-13

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