15 February 2014

Online Backups Can Kill Internet Speeds

Several months ago, I decided to get an online backup service so I had an offsite backup of all my pictures, files, etc. After a lot of research, I went with Backblaze. They offer unlimited storage and will grab any external drive attached to the computer that isn't a "backup" drive (like a Time Machine partition). At $5 a month, it is also reasonably priced.

Fantastic! I went off without a care. However, without realizing it, I made a small fatal error when setting up the service: use unlimited bandwidth for backups. Little did I know this would cause lots of fun and games as for the last few week I've been trying to diagnose why my internet was suddenly so slow!

Today, I finally figured it out, my Backblaze uploads suddenly got faster. It now saturates my upload bandwidth. For those that understand how networking works no explanation is needed, but suffice it to say, this can easily cause all network activities to grind to a halt. <- that link explains it fairly well. Below is a picture of my degraded situation =)

After determining the issue, I have now throttled my backups to about 25% of my standard bandwidth. Everything is back to normal! However, I still wanted to understand what changed. A little bit of perusing the Backblaze blog revealed something that may be related: recently (past 6 months) they brought online a new data center.  Congratulations! I wonder if their bandwidth has suddenly increased to fill up those disk drives?

12 February 2014

File Access between Windows XP and 7

Windows 7 machines are horrible at accessing Windows XP machines. Removing all permissions, restrictions, security settings, etc doesn't consistently solve the problem.

This has been a problem plaguing me ever since my company was forced to have XP and 7 machines on the same network. Well, a friend of mine found this website that seems to have the solution.

I am copying the major portion of the fix here so that I don't lose it. Hope this helps someone!

After running rsync for a short amount of time, I discovered that I was getting memory allocation errors related to the Windows share.  After unmounting, I attempted to remount the share and received the error:
mount error(12): Cannot allocate memory
Refer to the mount.cifs(8) manual page (e.g.man mount.cifs)
After checking the Event Viewer System log, I found the following error:
Source: srv
Event ID: 2017
Level: Error 
The server was unable to allocate from the system nonpaged pool because the server reached the configured limit for nonpaged pool allocations. 
Some research led me to find this Google Groups discussion about the problem and this Microsoft Technet article discussing the solution (look at the bottom of the page). 
Apparently you need to tell Windows that you want to use the machine as a file server and that it should allocate resources accordingly.  Set the following registry key to ’1′: 
HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\LargeSystemCache 
and set the following registry key to ’3′: 

19 January 2014

Canon 580EX II Diffuser Replacement

I was getting out of my car the other day with too many things in my hands. One of those was my flash which, of course, I dropped. Annoyingly, the flash diffuser broke in the process. When this happens, a few things pass my mind: Is the part broken, or do I have to replace something? Can I do it? I hope it is cheap!

My broken diffuser. The hinges no longer lock into the diffuser base.

The answers: Yup, the diffuser hinge joint broke. Fortunately, I found the replacement part and it was relatively cheap (<$15). Sadly, I couldn't find any good tutorials online... So, for the first time ever, I figured I would post one.

The first step: ordering the part. I searched and found that uscamera.com is the place to go. The specific part I needed was cy2-4259. Conveniently, it arrived promptly! Thanks.

Next, figuring out what to do.

To take the flash apart, you have to pull off the rubber strips along the left and right sides. I took a small flat head screw driver and (from the flash end) wedged it under the rubber strip and gently pulled it up far enough so it could be grabbed. Placing the screw driver on the adhesive side and my fingers on the rubber side, I gently pealed the rubber away from flash housing. Repeat this for the other side and set the rubber strips aside so the adhesive doesn't get stuck to anything or anything stuck to it.

Next, unscrew three small phillips head screws around the hinge on each side of the flash (6 screws total).

Also unscrew the two phillips screws new the serial number label.

Looking at the hinge on the side with the push button there are two small snaps that need a gentle push to allow the flash shell to be taken off.

With the flash assembly exposed, gently lift out the light noting there is a very thin orange cable connecting to the PCB from underneath the flash.

This can be pulled out of the receptacle. Set the flash to the side of the housing.
The problematic orange ribbon cable.

Below the flash, there are 4 phillips screws holding the cover for the diffuser assembly. Remove these and the back cover will fall off.

Flip the flash assembly over and a new diffuser can be placed in the guide tracks.

This is my broken diffuser base locked into the housing.

The white reflector sits on the diffuser.

Reverse these steps to put it all back together! I used my flat head screw driver to push the small orange lead back into the connector. The rubber strips just need to be pressed firmly back into place.
Just above my thumb is the connector where the small orange ribbon cable is inserted.

Please remember that there is a button on one side of the hinge and put the correct rubber strip on that side!

13 January 2014

RIP Sam Berns

Sam Berns, at only 17, died of old age. He died from progeria syndrome, a genetic disorder.
“All in all, I don’t waste energy feeling bad for myself. I surround myself with people that I want to be with. And I keep moving forward.” - Sam Berns 
“You’re a different person after you meet Sam for the first time,” John Seng, a Progeria Research Foundation board member told the Boston Herald. “We go through every day worrying about traffic jams and why the Internet is so slow, yet, here is Sam Berns, carrying on with his life. He didn't want people to feel sorry for him, he said he was happy and he meant it.”