deja vu photography

Posted in photography on February 27th, 2009 by fabienne

i just came across some photos i made of my sister eating at a thai restaurant, once in 2002 in nyc, and secondly in 2008 in lausanne, switzerland. my mother (a professional analog photographer) used to take a series of photographs many years apart at the same location with the same sorts of clothing. if i can find it, i will try to scan the treehouse series (photos probably in a box of mine in storage in california), with my sister and i sitting in the same place in our treehouse many years apart.

at any rate, my sister and i remembered that i had shot a few photos in nyc at my favorite thai place in the east village, tara thai. this came to us when we were forced to improvise dinner plans in lausanne last year because a vegetarian restaurant no longer existed. we managed to convince our waitress to make thai iced tea as well, which the thai restaurant in lausanne insisted was only a summer drink. we didn’t look at the original photos when we reshot, only what we remembered. it’s mind boggling what the human memory can retain six years later from a favorite photograph. either that, or my sister has some sort of inherent thai food consuming pose coded into her dna. either way, i find it fascinating.

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drobo + airport extreme + time machine + multiple macs

Posted in gadgets, how-to on February 26th, 2009 by fabienne

i struggled a bit getting backups going for our (mostly mac) office at, but now things are finally up and running. i combined a first gen drobo, an airport extreme (wired over gigabit), time machine, and multiple macs with os 10.5.6 (leopard).

i mostly followed the “use sparse image” section from this post. here is what i did step by step:

  1. setup drobo with drobo dashboard directly plugged into one computer, format for max size (i chose 8TB because it would be faster boot time than 16TB, and frankly right now only 2TB drives are at a good price point, which makes 5.5 available TB if you have 4 x 2TB drives. i currently have 4 x 1TB drives in the drobo which makes 2.7TB available space. you can estimate available space with the drobolator), even if you don’t have that much space, this means you can slot in some bigger drives in the future without touching your setup, so make this max size BIG.
  2. next format the drive with os x’s disk utility with “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)”. if you don’t, you won’t be able to use it for time machine over the airport extreme. disk utility should see it as an 8TB drive (even though it really is much smaller). this step is currently incorrect on this page. you must chose “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” (aka hfs+). this setup will absolutely not work if you choose just “Mac OS Extended”.
  3. the next step is the step outlined here under the heading “Best Method: Use a Sparse Image”. i repeated this step for all our macs at the office, making a sparse image for each with the correct hostname of each machine, the correct MAC address for each machine, and a different name for each -volname. for the sizes, i took the total disk space of each machine and added a bit of headroom for extra weekly backups with time machine. once time machine uses up the space alloted by the sparse image for that particular machine, it will start deleting older weekly backups. currently we don’t have any machines that are even using their full disk capacity, so i have a feeling my headroom will be plenty. make sure that when you add up all the sizes of your sparse images, that your total is less than 95 percent of the drobo available space you estimated with the drobolator. so i, for example, have 4 x 1 TB drives in the drobo, which gives me 2.7TB of available space, so i should keep the sum of all my sparse image files under 2.565 TB. the nice thing about definining these sparse image files is that you can make them bigger later, if, for example, you add a new drive into a machine (or if you upgrade the total usable disk space of your drobo by putting more/bigger drives into your drobo). to increase the sparse image size , “disconnect all users” in the airport utility and plug your drobo directly back into a tower or laptop.  in the command line:
    $ hdiutil resize -size 1500g nameofsparseimage
    you can also add more sparse images by doing the same thing, disconnect all users, plug the drobo back into a machine, add a new sparse image for a new machine you want to backup.
  4. once you have all the sparse images on the drive, eject it from your computer, and plug it into the airport extreme (via usb). now setup your airport extreme with the airport utility. choose “Manual Setup” and the “Disks” tab up top. the airport extreme will not report the right size of the drive, don’t worry about that. under the “File Sharing” tab, check “Enable File Sharing”. for me, the way it seemed to be happiest was to choose “Secure Shared Disks: With a disk password” and “Airport Disks Guest Access: Not allowed” and leave “Advertise disks globally using Bonjour” unchecked. Click the “Update” button at the bottom of the airport utility and let the airport extreme reboot completely. i had some problems when playing with configs that the airport extreme wouldn’t reboot properly. a friend noted that this was because the airport extreme sometimes pulls power from the connected disks and doesn’t totally reboot itself. my solution was to unplug the usb from the drive and unplug the power cable from the airport extreme. then repower the airport extreme, then plug in the drive once it has booted back up again.
  5. now you can configure time machine. on one of the machines for which you have made a custom sparse bundle, open a finder window and select your airport extreme from the “shared” tab on the left. click the “Connect” button and enter the disk password you defined in the airport utility. the drobo should now be mounted as a shared drive in your finder window, and you should be able to see the sparse bundles you previously made there. now open time machine preferences on this machine and choose disk/change disk. if you have followed everything above, you should see the drobo in the list of available drives. you won’t see any different partitions or the sparse bundles, just choose the drobo drive. time machine may ask you for the disk password again, this can be your username and the disk password you set in the airport utility. (backups should work for all users on the same machine, even if you don’t expressly go into each user and setup time machine, this should be a system wide backup.) now start your backup. when your backup is going, the sparse bundle should mount as a drive on your machine (maybe even on your desktop if you have the Finder pref “Show these items on the Desktop:” “External Disks” selected.) your backups should be only written to this sparse bundle and not write anything extra to the drobo. verify this by navigating in your finder to the airport extreme and make sure that only your sparse bundles that you first made there are listed. if there is anything extra apart from your original sparse bundles, you made a mistake in step 3 with the name of the machine or the mac address. each machine should only write to its own sparse bundle for which you have defined a set size. now time machine won’t try to eat up your entire drobo’s space (in my case 8TB) and stay within the size parameters you set in step 3.

this setup has been up and running for a few days at this point, and i can use time machine (though it is a bit slow) on each machine to step back in time. i will report later if there are any issues with the airport extreme requiring reboot or issues with the drobo. for now it’s all crunching along quite nicely, and i’ve even swapped some disks in and out of the drobo to upgrade my total raid space. i don’t have an offsite backup solution yet, but i’m considering doing backups every two weeks using super duper! with external terabyte drives for each machine. all in all, the drobo is an awesome raid solution that works so painlessly with different sized drives, but getting it to work with a multi-mac setup was a tad more than i bargained for. feel free to leave comments if i left something out, or if something in this outline doesn’t work for you.

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events including hardhack 2009

Posted in conferences, hardware hacking, projects on February 25th, 2009 by fabienne

fbz hacking

lots of hardware related events are coming up. first of all i will be speaking informally at the baustel-montag this coming monday about hardhack. next up i will be speaking during re:publica about open hardware (namely licensing and historical implications of open circuit information). i will most likely attend sigint, (the ccc event not in december and not in berlin). after that comes my event, hardhack, which will be only hands-on hardware stuff, no blah blah at all. then ph-neutral which this year will include some hardhack components. and the newest addition to my roster, i will be organizing HARdware, a pre-HAR2009 event to build some really awesome interactive hardware things for attendees of HAR to play with during camp. my project will be a group of networked, interactive, and hackable couches in the slacker dome. other projects may include a huge outdoor capacitive dance interface, cotton candy representations of network traffic, and walls of networked color changing pixels. contact me (fabienne @ this website) if you want to get involved!

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talk on open source hardware at fsf europe

Posted in conferences, hardware hacking, open source on February 10th, 2009 by fabienne

i’ll be giving a talk at the Free Software Foundation Europe fellowship meeting in Berlin this week Thursday, February 12th 2009 at 19:30 at the New Thinking Store, Tucholskystrasse 48. more info here. i’ll be speaking on open source hardware and the presentation will be in english.

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living in a gorgeous mathy future

Posted in books, math on February 8th, 2009 by fabienne

i was reluctant to start reading the book Anathem by Neal Stephenson because i was afraid that i would be depressed about living in the present. i voiced my apprehension to the author at a book reading here in Berlin. he thought it was a silly fear, and thus i started absorbing the pithy mathtastic volume. i usually jot down page numbers of my favorite passages at the front of the book, but since this one had been autographed and dedicated to me, i figured i shouldn’t sully it with my usual pencil scratches. [sidenote: why aren’t there ebook readers where i can annotate (underline and scrawl notes in the margin) and do full text search yet? get on it ebook creators.] so i twittered my three month journey through this mathic universe. notable quotes include:

p. 171: “When I recited the 127th through 283rd digits of pi, the fight went out of them.”

p. 210: “his plan had another advantage as well: it was flagrantly silly.” recreating battles with weeds vs. garden. awesome.

p. 351: “…desperate men living on the top of a mountain, eating lichens.”

p. 642: “We are speaking of an infinitesimal snatch of time just after the Big Bang…”

p.721: “anything else, as long as i have a channel open?” “is it a private channel?” “don’t be ridiculous,” he pointed out.

…and on page 799 reference to euclid’s proof that the square root of two is an irrational number. this was an incredible read, one which i hadn’t anticipated i would enjoy, but in the end it wasn’t the future world or its mathy inhabitants that drove the story. as always, it was the incredible characters that propel a narrative that only stephenson can weave into a cohesive story. i loved the whole journey.

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no longer a nokia fangirl

Posted in gadgets on February 1st, 2009 by fabienne

so after all those nokia posts over the years, for the first time ever, i don’t use a nokia as my mobile device [updated feb 6th, 2009, see bottom of post] (mobile phone? cellphone? does anyone make calls anymore with these devices?). yes, i broke down after seeing eliot‘s dev version g1 android google phone and bought a new phone. i was waiting way too long for a replacement for my aging nokia e70, and i couldn’t wait any longer after the release of the curse of silence at the end of congress (my pics of 25c3 here). so why would i break down and use a google phone after all my anti-google rants? i can’t stand the iphone’s touchscreen soft keyboard: the iphone is just a pull device for me, not a push device. the openmoko is great in theory, but once again i need a keyboard. the google phone is pretty much the only option for me right now, short of getting another nokia that i’m not happy with.

it’s a bit shocking to realize the uptake in the open source mobile development community around the android. i guess i never thought about the iphone app store having a competitor in the google android market, but it’s got crazy uptake. some thoughts on my g1 in the last 21 days i’ve had it (largely compared to e70, rockstar of an old phone that it was):

  • 24 days ago: omg omg omg my g1 dev version arrived just now! my g1 android phone’s back battery cover smells like rubber in new shoes. i’m like a kid in new clothes on the first day of school. yay data plan working in g1 android dev phone. (i must find a shorter way to say that.) i feel so dirty as an ex-nokia-fangirl.
  • 23 days ago: acquired 8gb micro sd for g1, 1tb ext hdd for photo backup/processing. space: i has it. yay k9 mail on android g1 phone works with self signed imap certs! i can haz email on my new phone! i want a real jabber client for the g1 phone (general xmpp, maybe off smack?, sexier than this. ) who wants to help?
  • 20 days ago: @timbray The truth bout multi-touch and the Android G1.
  • 17 days ago: the g1 dev version standard headphones suck so so bad. guess i will have to mod them with minijack. oh wait wasn’t i doing this in 2005?
  • 14 days ago: g1 shows up fine over usb with g5 tower at work, not on ubuntu media server or g4 tower at home, with card reader or tethered. frak. 1gb micro sd from g1 mounting just fine on ubuntu media tower, syncing just fine with amarok. 8gb frak up is a mystery. arg found a how-to for repartitioning large micro sd cards for g1 android right when i needed to leave the house. less travel, more nerding.
  • 13 days ago: so amarok did sync all the songs, id3 tags, file folders, + even album art to g1. BUT: no playlist file. meh, “repeat all” for my shower. cannibalizing hacked nokia popport to mod g1 headphones. deja-freaking-vu.
  • 8 days ago: weird bug on the g1, camera takes one pic, then says i need to insert sd card. playing music at the same time off sd card.
  • 4 days ago: my g1 has lost connection to my cell carrier 3 times in 2 days and requires hard reboot. wtf?

so the basic thing is, this is a sexy phone, with a backlit full keyboard, but it’s definitely beta to the max. the battery life sucks (haven’t tried different battery mod patches yet), and it has some issues with keeping a cellphone connection in places of crappy signal that cuts in and out. however, that being said, the android market with its over-the-air downloads and installs is a huge HUGE huge contender to the iphone app store. i must say that’s the big point of this phone, it’s in an interesting position of open source and useability. when i bought it at the beginning of the month, i did not expect to be inspired to write or patch apps for it. and now, well, i very well may code some stuff up. final verdict for my g1: i don’t hate it i’m going to switch back to nokia for the time being.

update feb 6, 2009: i tried tethering and couldn’t even get this broswer proxy server to work. not being able to share my 3g connection with my laptop was the last straw for me. i am going to switch back to my nokia until the g1 has:

  1. a jabber client that deals well with disconnects and saves your login credentials.
  2. better battery life.
  3. a way to share a calendar without going through gcal.
  4. a way to tether 3g properly to a laptop, either cabled or wireless.
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