A Data Management Fantasy [en]

[fr] Mon rêve: un système qui cacherait sur un espace donné de mon SSD (disons 50GB) les fichiers les plus récemment ouverts se trouvant sur mon disque dur externe. Ainsi, j'aurais à portée de main et sur disque dur rapide tous mes fichiers courants. Vous connaissez une solution qui fait ça?

I’m now running a happy MacBook with a 120Gb SSD (too big or to small depending on how you look at it, but I was in a hurry and dependant on what was in stock in the shop). I have an external 500Gb HDD to store all my junk on.

And here’s my dream. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could devote a certain amount of space on the SSD to my files, say 50Gb, and have that space occupied by cached copies of the files from the external drive that I most recently used? When I modify the files, the cached copies and those on the HDD would sync. And if I haven’t touched a file for long enough, it would be removed from the cache to free up space.

Like that my “current” files would be on the super-fast SDD and close at hand when I’m on the road.

I’m sure a solution to do this already exists — heard of anything?

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Going SSD and Amahi Home Server [en]

[fr] En train de mettre un SSD dans mon vieux Macbook (performance!), ce qui signifie stockage distant de mes données: disque dur externe, serveur maison Amahi, et Crashplan pour les backups.

I’ve been drooling on the MacBook Air over the past weeks, to the point I’ve pretty much decided it’ll be my next machine. Sure, a MacBook Pro is way more powerful, but do I need all that extra power? The eternal question when changing computers.

I understood that one of the things that make the Air zippy is the SSD. But why wait for another machine to have an SSD? I’m going to put one in my MacBook directly (I’ve already changed the hard drive twice, no biggie thanks to ifixit). Actually, I would be doing this now, if I hadn’t by mistake ordered a 3.5″ SSD instead of 2.5″ (I have two on my hands by the way, if anybody is interested in buying them off me, still in their unopened box).

The reason it took me so long to warm up to SSD strategy is the price. Horribly expensive per Gb, compared to a “normal” hard drive! But what I’ve understood is that if you go the SSD way, you also stop storing all your data on those expensive Gb. You keep the expensive SSD Gb for your OS and applications, and all the data that is just “storage” goes on something slower.

For example, an external hard drive (I’m going to have a 2.5″ 500 Gb one once I swap it out) or… an Amahi Home Server, like the one I’m currently building. The server is a good solution for me to keep my data on a flexible redundant system (Greyhole).

Add to that Crashplan, which plays nice with Amahi, and the server will also allow me to host distant backups for my friends (with the idea that they might also allow me to use some of their storage space for mine). VPN acces, etc.

Right, I’m going back to my hardware!

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Solved Another MacBook Fan Problem! [en]

[fr] En recherchant la cause d'une trop grande activité du processeur (et donc du ventilateur) de son MacBook, ne pas oublier d'afficher "tous les processus" dans Activity Monitor. Sinon, on risque de rater MozyBackup, par exemple, qui a piqué une crise et décidé d'utiliser 99.6% du processeur...

Remember how happy I was after solving my print-queue-related MacBook fan problem? Well, for the last few days, my fan has been noisy again. I had a vague suspicion the noise coincided with when I reactivated my Mozy account and endeavoured the get my computer backed up again remotely. However, the fan remained noisy even when Mozy wasn’t uploading or being active.

A friend of mine dropped by on IM to help me troubleshoot. I went through Activity Monitor, sorted the processes by CPU, and closed off those that were using the most ressources — to no avail. The highest process on the list was using 4.5% of CPU ressources, and iStat Nano (a dashboard widget I heartily recommend) was still telling me my fan was running at around 6200rpm and my CPU temperature was approaching 70°C. I could also see that the graph depicting CPU activity was showing it pretty active overall.

I bit at loss over what to do next. Clicking around in iStat Nano, I noticed that at the top of the process list there was MozyBackup, using up 99.6% of my CPU! The reason this process didn’t appear in Activity Monitor was that I was filtering “My Processes” instead of viewing all processes, and MozyBackup was running as root.

Activity Monitor

I killed (force quit) MozyBackup, and it popped up again. I killed it again. And again. By that time, my friend had unearthed this article about Mozy Backup going crazy, where I learned that MozyBackup coming back from the dead was normal (it’s a feature).

Thankfully, once I’d killed MozyBackup a few times, it started behaving normally again, and as you can see on the screenshop posted above, it’s now happily backing up my data without squeezing all the ressources out of my poor old MacBook, which is now quiet again.

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Solved the Dreaded MacBook Fan Problem [en]

[fr] Résolu un problème qui commençait à me pourrir l'existence: le ventilateur de mon MacBook fonctionnait à fond tout le temps, même si je ne faisais rien avec mon ordinateur. Solution (voir l'article anglais pour les liens): vider les queues d'impression -- pour une raison qui me dépasse, avoir des fichiers en attente dans la queue d'impression surcharge le processeur. J'en avais qui étaient là depuis des mois!

For some time now, I’ve had a very noisy MacBook fan. As if it was on full speed all the time. I was starting to despair, and @swinhoe pointed me to the solution: delete any old print jobs which may be sitting in a printer queue.

I sent to my printer list in System Preferences. Out of the four printers installed on my machine (I never print, honest) two of them were “in use”. “In use”? I haven’t connected to a printer in months. I checked the queues, and lo and behold, there were files sitting there. I simply deleted them, and a few minutes later, my fan stopped being audible.

What a relief! This had been going on literally for months, if not longer.

So, if you find your fan is working overtime, your processor is getting hot, your battery life has melted… check your printer queues.

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Busy Week [en]

[fr] Semaine très chargée. Toujours pas le temps de remettre mon blog en état, même si c'est la chose la plus présente à mon esprit chaque jour. En plus mon Mac m'a lâchée ce week-end (heureusement pas durant Lift!) -- réparé déjà, toutefois, grâce à la célérité de Mémoire Vive à Lausanne.

To top it all, just after the Lift conference (you can read the notes I took there by looking at the previous posts), my MacBook fan decided it was time to die. Did you see me holding my ear up to my laptop during the conference? That was because it had started making nasty noises. Thank goodness it waited until the conference was over to die.

Hectic week-end, therefore, but very speedy repairs (thanks Apple Care and Mémoire Vive) — I gave my computer in on Monday, and had it back on Wednesday morning (only because I couldn’t make it on time Tuesday night).

Not having my blog online is turning out to be a rather big source of stress, specially as I have a huge pile of critical things to do for clients or eclau right now. I keep wanting to fix the blog “right now” but I can’t, because other things come first. And while it’s offline, it feels like a kind of part of me is missing — like I don’t have access to all my memories or tools. And that’s what it is, actually. I keep pointing people to stuff on my blog, because that’s where I write stuff I want to be able to point others to. And I can’t.

In addition to that, I understood a few important things about what I actually do for a living (my main focus/skill is strategic stuff), and understanding that is going to change the way I present myself quite a bit. Blog posts and site updates in perspective.

But for now, some sleep, before a horribly busy end-of-week: I need to cram about 3 days work in 3 hours, which is all the office time I’ve got left until the week-end (on the road quite a bit, as you can guess).

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Miglia Dialog+ Cordless Skype Phone [en]

[fr] Test et critique du téléphone Skype sans fil (pas wifi!) Dialog+ de Miglia. Franchement sympa et abordable, en plus!

***If you want the [review without the whole chatty story](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/01/14/miglia-dialog-cordless-skype-phone/#dialogplus), scroll down.***

As is now public knowledge, my visit to San Francisco coincided with [MacWorld](http://macworldexpo.com/live/20/). (“Oh, you’re going to SF for MacWorld?” — “Mac-what? MacWorld? What’s that? Oooh…”) This was nice, because it gave me the occasion to join the geekfest, discover [lynda.com](http://lynda.com), watch the [Leopard](http://www.apple.com/macosx/leopard/index.html) and [iPhone](http://www.apple.com/iphone/) demos, buy a pink “Mac Chick” cap, and last and lot least, hang around my IRC friend Victor’s booth, which quite unexpectedly led to me walking off with a [Dialog+ cordless Skype/iChat handset](http://miglia.com/products/communication/dialogplus/index.html).

That booth was very obviously the most busy one in the row, and for a reason: [Miglia](http://miglia.com/) (drop the “g” when saying it, Italian-style) is a hardware company which make [a bunch of pretty cool toys](http://miglia.com/products/index.html) for Mac (and Windows!) users.

They have [digital TV stuff](http://miglia.com/products/video/digitaltv.html), which I’m unfortunately a bit deaf to these days, as wireless digital TV doesn’t really work in Lausanne, and the way Swiss TV does “bicanal” (the thing that allows you to choose between dreadful dubbed versions and original versions) seems to be somewhat non-standard. At least it didn’t work with [EyeTV](http://www.elgato.com/index.php?file=products_eyetvhybridna), which I tried and brought back to the store a few months back.

**Much more exciting for me: [cordless VOIP handsets](http://www.macworld.com/news/2007/01/12/migliavoip/index.php), and in particular the [Dialog+](http://miglia.com/products/communication/dialogplus/index.html). It’s a Skype/iChat cordless handset.** I’m [using Skype more and more](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/11/18/skype-mon-ordinateur-comme-centrale-telephonique/), and next best to a WiFi Skype phone (the geeky toy [I said I wanted for Christmas here](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/12/13/ce-soir-scenes-de-menage/)) is a cordless one. Unfortunately, most (if not all) of the cordless handsets I’ve looked at (see the [Skype Shop](http://us.accessories.skype.com/direct/skypeusa/accessoriesList.jsp?acctype=8) for example) have big nasty clunky non-laptop-friendly base stations. Not this one. Have a look at how laptop-friendly this is:

Miglia DialogPlus and dongle

And the price was nice too: $80 MacWorld price, $100 normal price.

Well, I was tempted. Very tempted. So tempted that I decided to buy it, after dragging Victor upstairs in the lobby where we could find wifi to try it out (I’m a bit picky about audio quality). On the way, we bumped into one of their PR (?) people, and a few seconds later I was eagerly saying “I’ll blog it, I’ll blog it!” at the prospect of being *given* the handset. Here for the disclaimer, then — but I would have bought it anyway 🙂

For the trouble, here’s a nicely [hReview-formatted](http://microformats.org/wiki/hreview) review of the phone, after 24 hours or so of ownership and a couple of outgoing Skype calls. People who didn’t care for the backdrop story should start here.

Miglia Dialog+ (DialogPlus) Skype/iChat Handset


Laptop-friendly Skype/iChat phone, light, nice sound quality and affordable price. Small USB dongle and recharges through USB too.

The first thing that stood out when I was shown this 100$ phone (80$ at MacWorld) is that instead of having an untransportable base-station, it has a USB key-like dongle which is easy to carry around with the handset. The handset itself is light, has good autonomy, and is recharged (3AAA batteries) with a pretty much standard USB cable, as shown in the picture. It’s something I can imagine carrying around all the time in my computer bag. Charging the DialogPlus

You can scroll through your Skype and iChat contacts on the phone easily, and even scroll through the Skype contact list which is displayed on your computer from the phone (it’s a bit eerie, as if the phone were a remote mouse or something). At first I wondered what the purpose of this feature was, but actually, even though the LCD display on the phone is very nice, it’s still even nicer to go through your contacts on your computer screen.

Besides the up/down, green-red, and normal number keys you’d expect on a phone, the Dialog+ has only three “special” keys: one to display call history (you can use it to toggle between received, outgoing, and missed calls), one to display your contact list (use it to toggle between all contacts and online contacts), and a third button (clear/backspace) which allows you to take control of the Skype contact list on your computer. It’s pretty easy to figure out what each button does and memorize it.

I personally don’t use iChat much, particularly for voice (I use Adium for instant messaging, and unfortunately it doesn’t do voice over IM), but I placed a couple of Skype calls to check the sound quality. My hearing is slightly impaired and I sometimes find that volume settings on phones don’t allow me to listen at a comfortable level. Not the case here, I could hear the person I was speaking with very clearly. However, people on the other end do hear an echo if the volume is set too high, and have complained a bit about the audio quality they receive. This can be due to the quality of the Skype connection, but I’ll try lending my phone to somebody and have them call me to hear for myself.

Setting up the phone was rather simple: close Skype, install the driver from the CD, pair the phone with the dongle by pressing the little square button on top of it. At first my phone said there was “No contact list”, so I tried reinstalling the driver and re-opening/closing Skype, and it worked. Not quite sure what went wrong, but it fixed itself quite nicely. The instructions booklet is just the right thickness and contains clear explanations. I would, however, call this a “cordless” phone rather than “wire-free” — when I read that on the back of the phone, I went “wi-fi phone?!”, which of course, is incorrect.

So, to sum it up: very happy about the toy and its design. I’ll certainly be using it. I just unwittingly gave it its first crash test by kicking it off the sofa as I was writing this post, and it survived. According to the booklet, it has good autonomy. I still need to dig into the audio quality a little, and see how it works when I start walking about my flat with it (upto 25 meters range).

I was disappointed at first that I couldn’t send text messages from it, but actually, that’s not too bad: if I have the Dialog+, I have my computer nearby — and anyway, Skype text messages aren’t always very reliable (for example, depending on the carrier, they don’t give your own phone number as the “reply” number, and messages get lost).

Great job, Miglia — oh, and I nearly forgot: Miglia’s interest being hardware sales, the phone comes with free software upgrades. For life. Neat!

My rating: 4.0 stars

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Rafraîchissez les idées à votre Macbook [fr]

[en] Is your Macbook warming your lap a bit too much? whirring its fans noisily when you want to enjoy the calm? Help it cool down with Coolbook.

It will make your Macbook even cooler.

Votre Macbook vous chauffe les genoux de manière excessive? Il ventile bruyamment alors que vous désirez jouir du calme de votre salon? Rafraîchissez-lui les idées avec [Coolbook](http://www.coolbook.se/CoolBook.html).

De quoi vraiment rendre votre Macbook encore plus cool.

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VaudTax et mon MacBook [fr]

[en] Seems the official tax program around here doesn't work on Intel processors. *Firing up winbox...*

Dites, j’ai la très sale impression que [VaudTax 2005](http://www.vd.ch/fr/themes/etat-droit/impots/impots-individus-personnes-physiques/vaudtax/telecharger/) ne tourne pas sur processeur Intel. En tous cas, je l’ai installé sur mon MacBook et il plante en silence lorsque je le lance. J’ai installé la mise à jour, et VaudTax 2004, lui, semble accepter de démarrer.

(Oui, je suis au courant que c’est pas très tôt pour faire ses impôts, merci de ne pas trop remuer le couteau…)

Donc, a priori, j’abandonne et j’installe tout ça sur ma machine Windows (quitte à rentrer à nouveau toutes les informations qui auraient été normalement reportées des années précédentes). A moins que quelqu’un ait des informations contraires, en quel cas j’essaie encore un peu secouer la bête?

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Slow SSH Login from MacBook [en]

[fr] La connection SSH vers mon serveur depuis mon MacBook est très lente (je dois attendre plusieurs minutes pour qu'il me demande mon mot de passe). Il me semble me souvenir que depuis ma machine Windows à la maison également, il n'y avait rien de cela. L'autre semaine, j'ai essayé de me connecter depuis un tout autre endroit et la réponse a été instantanée. Idées?

Well, it seems that writing about my technical problems here is more efficient than bugging people repeatedly on IRC about them, so let’s continue. Welcome to Bunny’s Troublshooting Centre.

I have trouble SSH’ing into my server from my MacBook. Trouble, here, means I have to wait a couple of minutes (no exaggeration) for the password prompt. If I’m quick enough and type my password in before it times out, I’m in.

I logged in from somewhere else the other week and it responded almost immediately. I don’t recall that logging in from home (same wifi/DSL connection) from my winbox was sluggish.

Any ideas? I’ve run SSH with the verbose option on, and it does throw up a few warnings an errors. I don’t really want to paste it all here, but if you tell me what bits are useful I can put them in a pastebin. Thanks for any ideas/help/assistance.

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Banalités: shopping en ville [fr]

[en] A few hours shopping in town. Won't make for fascinating reading, I warn you.

Retour d’une balade en ville, dont le but premier était d’acheter mon billet de train pour rentrer à temps de Vienne ([BlogTalk](http://blogtalk.net “Conférence sur les blogs, 2-3 octobre.”)) pour la journée des responsables informatiques vaudois du 4 octobre. Du coup, allez, un petit détour par la FNAC pour ramasser le [pilote de Battlestar Galactica](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0314979/) que j’avais commandé il y quelque temps. La FNAC, c’est fatal — impossible d’en ressortir en moins d’une heure. Je traine dans le coin des séries TV, [Les Experts (CSI)](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0247082/) c’est trop cher, 90.- la saison — pire que [Stargate](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118480/) ou [X-Files](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0106179/) que j’ai renoncé à acquérir à cause de leur prix. [Farscape](http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0187636/) coûte toujours 269.- la saison et je ne comprends pas pourquoi.

J’ai pris le bus pour aller en ville. Du coup, les manchettes de [20minutes](http://20minutes.ch) avec leur [“serial pédophile”](http://www.20min.ch/ro/suisse/story/16368962) m’ont suivies durant toute ma promenade. J’espère que l’expression “serial pédophile” vous fait autant rire que moi (un peu jaune, bien sûr, et en faisant totalement abstraction de ce à quoi il fait référence).

Un petit saut chez Krieg (j’arrive toujours pas à dire “[Kramer-Krieg](http://www.kramerkrieg.ch/)”) pour chercher le coupe-papier que j’avais commandé et dont on m’a annoncé l’arrivée dans le courrier de ce matin. Je ne sais pas si coupe-papier c’est le bon mot, c’est une guillotine sans guillotine, si vous voyez ce que je veux dire. Et si non, euh, c’est pas comme si c’était vraiment très important.

L’autre motivation officielle de mon expédition urbaine de ce matin était l’acquisition d’un sac à main plus grand que celui qui m’accompagne depuis quelques années. En effet, si l’on ajoute l'[iPod](http://www.apple.com/chfr/ipod/ipod.html “Mon dernier jouet.”) et le [Hipster PDA](http://www.43folders.com/2004/09/03/introducing-the-hipster-pda/) sont venus rejoindre l’appareil de photo, mon cahier de notes et tout mon chenit de fille… Voilà. Conclusion définitive sur la question tirée hier soir lorsque j’ai dû vider la moitié dudit sac à main pour payer une rissole à la viande (dingue, maintenant vous savez même ce que j’ai mangé). Du coup, j’ai décidé d’en acheter un qui serait juste assez grand pour contenir [le MacBook](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/212512075/), parce que j’en ai franchement marre de me promener avec deux sacs la moitié du temps.

Surprise: à peu près le premier sac que je vois à la Migros fait parfaitement l’affaire. Juste la bonne taille, noir, il a l’air solide, quelques poches intérieures, pas cher. Et j’hésite, parce que prendre une décision, pour moi, ça veut dire peur d’avoir fait une erreur, mais bon, je me donne un coup de pied mental aux fesses et je passe à la caisse. C’était le premier arrêt de mes courses, ça commençait bien.

Quoi d’autre? Eh bien oui, depuis le temps que mon téléphone mobile rend l’âme, passons à l'[Orange Shop](http://www.orange.ch/vrtmobilephones)! J’y étais déjà passée une fois il y un bout de temps, et j’étais repartie toujours aussi indécise: je veux un téléphone mobile qui prenne de bonnes photos, avec lequel je puisse aussi faire de la vidéo, et qui corresponde encore à tout un tas de critères impossibles à vérifier sans utiliser le téléphone durant une semaine. Bref, tout ce qu’il faut pour rendre le choix impossible.

Cette fois-ci, pas de bol, je tombe sur le pauvre gars qui est juste là une semaine pour remplacer. Après l’avoir méchamment embêté avec des histoires de qualité photo (“Non, la qualité ce n’est pas les mégepixels, ça c’est la taille”) et d’offres (“Comment ça, je dois payer minimum 20.- pour chaque offre à laquelle j’ai droit? Je peux pas avoir de téléphone ‘gratuit’?”), j’ai pris un magazine (histoire de découvrir les tarifs MMS et UMTS par moi-même) et remarqué qu’il y avait un coin info où l’on pouvait surfer tout seul sur le site [orange.ch](http://orange.ch) afin de voir les téléphones à disposition. Malheur de misère, impossible de me connecter à [Mon Compte](https://www.orange.ch/vrtmyaccount) pour voir de moi-même à quelles offres j’ai droit, je me retrouve sur la page d’accueil en allemand lorsque j’essaie de taper mon mot de passe.

Découragée et un peu assoiffée, je remets le cap sur la maison pour étudier tout ça depuis chez moi. En chemin, [MobileZone](http://www.mobilezone.ch/). Allez, je suis plus à ça près. On va leur demander aussi. Quel contraste! La vendeuse savait exactement de quoi elle parlait (je déteste quand les vendeurs répondent à mes questions en lisant les descriptifs des articles pour trouver les réponses — ce n’était pas du tout le cas ici), m’a confirmé dans mon pré-choix de téléphone, et a vérifié que j’avais en effet droit à une offre pour celui-ci qui ne correspondait pas à ce qu’on m’avait dit dans l’Orange Shop. Elle m’a même laissé tester la compatibilité du téléphone avec mon MacBook (que j’avais avec moi, pour choisir un sac de bonne taille, vous vous souvenez?) Je suis donc repartie avec un [Nokia 6280](http://www.nokia.ch/french/phones/phone_models/6280/index.html) tout neuf et un grand sourire!

Je sais à quoi je vais passer mon après-midi…

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