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Friday, July 10, 2015

The more things change...

So I think I wrote an article a while ago about using a Raspberry Pi 2 as a media streamer, and a Banana Pi as a file server.  It worked for a while, with a Chromecast handing cloud streaming and my Pi 2 handling LAN streaming.  But I returned home from an extended vacation wanting to copy all the music and comics I'd bought onto my backup drive that's connected to the Banana Pi, but it was out of commission.  I restarted it, and it froze.  I reloaded a new image, and after a few minutes it froze.  I tried a new card, a new adapter, I checked the md5 hash of the image, all was as it should have been.  It still froze every time after a few minutes.

Did a power spike damage it?  Is the power source petering out?  I should maybe have tried a different image file than Lubuntu too, (I prefer Lubuntu.  It's reasonably lightweight, and it ships with all the Windows shortcuts enabled by default---home key + e =   file manager, home + d = show desktop, etc.  When you get down to it I'm a man of simple yet specific tastes.) but after a certain point I'd put more time into it than I cared to and I wasn't going to try anything more.  I did also Google and couldn't find any complaints about that particular image (obtained directly from the manufacturer's website) being faulty.

I turned on my old laptop.  It's still working, still running Lubuntu, and I plugged in the new drive I'd bought to run off the Banana Pi.  The permissions were still good, Samba is really easy to set up new shares with, there have been no problems.  File transfer speeds are about the same as they were on the Pi, which honestly are still pretty underwhelming, averaging out at like 10 MB/s.

It uses a little more energy than the Pi (it is a pretty small laptop though), but I guess it's what I've been reduced to.  Some weekend I'll try a little more troubleshooting with the Banana Pi and see what's up.

Switching back to my laptop does add some more features though.  For one, Dropbox has builds for Linux but no for ARM processors (even though they have a fairly underwhelming app for Android ARM which doesn't do constant two-way sync).  So it's an easy thing to sync my Dropbox and do daily encrypted backups, and then upload those backups to Google Drive or something, just as another backup*.

Anyway, just felt like throwing up a quick update.

-David

* I have 1TB storage free for probably another year or so on Google Drive but I won't use in place of Dropbox because its sync protocols are abhorrent, and seem to have been designed to discourage persistent syncing across multiple devices.  I suspect they want to get people in the habit of only storing their files on Google's cloud, and forgoing local copies.  Even with 1 Gbps Fiber internet that wouldn't sound more convenient or safer to me.  But then again, I live in an imperfect world where when the power goes out, the internet goes out too and I'm left at the mercy of my laptop's battery and what files I've got stored locally.  More evidence of Drive edging people towards cloud only is that the Google Nexus devices don't have microSD slots, as far as I've noticed.

It's also worth noting that the only reason my backups would be encrypted would be to keep Google from mining it all for more data.  In principal I understand how it could benefit me as a consumer to see more ads that apply to my life (and less ads that merely waste my time), but that doesn't mean I won't prefer other options that aren't so voyeuristic, even if I have to pay for them.  Such an ad system could be similarly effective by using things I consciously and willingly disclose, as opposed to their crawlers getting their feet in the door early and just setting their minds to desensitizing people to the creepiness of it all.  But then again, if I give that demographic info away willingly, how can Google and Facebook make money selling it?

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