The OS Quest Trail Log #70: April Showers Edition

April showers held off for most of the month, so much so that there were almost daily Red Flag Warnings for brush fires. But at the end of the month a nor’easter rolled in. While it dumped snow elsewhere, it stuck to water around here. April was another light month on the OS Quest. It seemed to fly by. Most of my work revolved around problems.

Picture of a rainy day

Picture of a rainy dayApril showers held off for most of the month, so much so that there were almost daily Red Flag Warnings for brush fires. But at the end of the month a nor’easter rolled in. While it dumped snow elsewhere, it stuck to water around here.  April was also a light month on the OS Quest. It seemed to fly by. Most of my work revolved around problems.  I did upgrade the drives in my Synology 1511+. While there was a moment where I thought a drive didn’t rebuild it ended up being fine,

But Synology wasn’t about to be problem free.  I’ve configured Synology’s DDNS service on both my Synology NAS’s. Sunday morning I had a bunch of alerts from both saying they couldn’t register it’s address to the DDNS service. Long story short – the error message indicated the logon failed but I had numerous messages in the log that is was registering with their service successfully along with the failures. It was trying about every 15 – 30 minutes. Most were successful. My WAN IP address wasn’t changing and my other DDNS software wasn’t seeing changes so I figured it was Synology.  The was another recent forum post with a similar issue. I turned of DDNS temporarily. If my address doesn’t change (and it rarely changes) it will continue to work. I’ll just need to turn it back on within 30 days since Synology will delete my name after 30 days of no contact. By Monday Synology acknowledged it was a “glitch” at there end and I re-enabled DDNS. The DDNS registrations on my Synology boxes seemed to have returned to their once a day rhythm.

My Windows 7 PC has joined in the frustration fest. A while back I had a problem with Picasa needing to be re-installed.  I figured it was a Picasa issue, but the problem spread. I found it was a Windows 7 issue, the file permissions are getting changed/corrupted. If I fix them all is well and the app runs. I’ve also had other scattered disk issues. It looks like it’s time to re-install everything. The only question is will I get to it before the problem goes beyond mildly annoying.

Being an equal opportunity OS user I’ll go ahead an mention that my Mac Mini is also getting frustrating. Disk reads are getting pretty slow. To the point that if I’m watching a video I better not copy files. Other programs slow down when there’s other disk activity too. I haven’t really dug into the problem but it may be time to flatten it and re-install. At least I hope that’s all it is and not a hard drive going bad. Opening up the Mini is a real pain. On the other hand, being forced to replace the HDD would be a good excuse to put an SSD in there.

I already wrote about my Windows Home Server 2011 problems. Things have been fine since.

Operating Systems

I’ve yet to install the Windows 8 preview although I have downloaded both desktop and server. I can’t get too excited about it. I like Windows 7 and until I get hardware to take advantage of Windows 8 I don’t see much benefit. While it still remains to be seen what the hardware vendors will do with Windows 8, I am looking forward to the Windows 8 tablets.

I’m more curious about Windows 8 Server (and storage spaces) than I am about the desktop. I’m happy with Windows Home Server 2011 but I’m always interested in alternatives. Still, probably not something I’d look at before the release candidate due in June.

“Cloud” Storage

Then there was the Windows SkyDrive update and Google’s long awaited G-Drive. I already used Skydrive to a small degree so I was able to go in and claim the 25 GB. I haven’t spent much time with Google Drive (and only on my Mac), but so far I’m not impressed. It’s more like sync than cloud storage, I did see options to limit syncing at the folder level which may help. It copied all my Google Docs locally although they would only open when I was online.

Other than getting my 25 GB I haven’t done anything with SkyDrive. I use Mesh but what I like most is its ability to sync files among my computers withough having to go to the internet. I use this for videos and I don’t want to install SkyDrive and find all this video going to the internet and then back down to my other computers. So I’ll have to check it out before installing it.

Wrapping Up

I’ve been using the ipSec VPN feature in pfSense and it’s been working pretty well. I’ve been having some issues around name resolution between my local network and the internet. It seems like problems keep creeping in and I have to tweak the settings (or use IP addresses for my local network). It seems most of my remaining issues are related to specific apps, especially iPad apps.  Most of the remaining problems seem to be limited to specific iPad apps. Hopefully I can get them sorted out over the next month.

Also on tap for May is re-installing my Windows 7 desktop and my Mac Mini.  Once that’s out of the way I’ll start exploring the Synology apps to see if they’re good for more than disk storage. We’ll see hope much of that I actually get to over the next month.