Pragmatic 100: Oh My NAS

12 December, 2020

CURRENT

Casey returns to join John in an episode where we explore all things NAS - specifically the Synology. How we use it, what we use it for and how we neither of us can ever live without one anymore!

Transcript available
Welcome to Pragmatic. But before we get into all of that, a little bit extra because it's episode 100. I'm not a big, "It's episode blah, blah, blah," kind of person, but, you know, a hundred episodes. I felt like I had to do something. So, here it is. A little bit about Pragmatic, just, you know, for those that are the long-term fans of the show. The first episode of Pragmatic actually went up on the 25th of November, and that was in 2013. That's almost exactly seven years ago at the time of recording. The original pitch for the show was every episode was going to be a deep dive into a specific topic that I was interested in about technology, or mostly about technology anyway, but that was the original pitch. Now, I didn't want to talk off the cuff about any topic. So, every episode without exception had show notes, like detailed notes going into it. Some of them only a few pages long, but the longest was 14 pages and took about 40 hours of my personal time to compile. I've never believed in filler or follow-up being embedded in episodes. So, from the very beginning, I split that out into standalone episodes instead. Hence, why this might be episode 100, but in terms of like normal episodes, there's 100 normal episodes, but in reality, there's 121 discrete episodes if you include each follow-up episode as an episode as well. So, it depends on how you want to think about it. Total listening time of Pragmatic is almost six days of continuous listening. That's if you don't need sleep or if listening also puts you to sleep. That's, I guess another option. Never mind. In terms of total downloads, the show has had about 1.7 million unique downloads in total in its entire history. And it has a wonderful group of listeners who have supported me and encouraged me to keep making the show over the years. The show itself, I suppose you could say, has had three distinct stages. So, the first stage was the Fiat Lux Constellation Network, and that was episodes 1 to 20. Then, of course, there was the first indie run where I split out from Constellation and went on on my own. That was episodes 21 to 63, after which I ended the show. Well, I intended to end the show, and then I brought it back six months later after a lot of, shall we say, encouragement and complaining, bit of both, from big fans of the show. That leaves us with the third phase, which is the current run that we're on, episode 64 to 100. Now, over that time, that seven years, my life responsibilities outside of podcasting as a hobby, a sort of hobby, but serious, pushed me a lot to reconsider my work-life balance, and I've settled into, I guess, what you'd call a best efforts monthly cadence for episode releases. Sometimes I hit, sometimes I miss, but the truth is that the same problem as always with Pragmatic is lining up guests. It's extremely difficult, but when it lines up, it's awesome, and I love it, and I love making it and getting to talk to people that otherwise I would have no other reason to speak to. These are people that I've come to know and respect from all around the world that I've met generally through other podcasts, on Twitter, and different social networks. I suppose, speaking of those guests, that frankly have helped make this show what it is. It's not just down to me. There are 28 people I'd like to thank in the following 20 and a half seconds. Casey Wiss. Marco Ormond. Clay Daly. Thank you so much for giving up your time to come on the show and to talk about, well, anything and everything pretty much over those seven years. Thank you. Without your contributions of time and energy, there's no question that Pragmatic would not have been as successful as it has been. And the truth is that in the episode that follows, my guest and I got so caught up in the topic, we completely forgot to even mention it was episode 100 when we were recording. Oh, we never talked about it's episode 100. I'm sorry. I meant to bring that up and I completely forgot. Ah, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, it's fine. It's fine. Don't be so hard on yourself. And I was just enjoying talking about NASA so much that I'd slip my mind. Oh, God. Fair enough. Let's get from there. Exactly. But that's okay. I mean, like I said before, it's just a number. It really doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. So as for the future, after episode 100, to be honest, I still have a long list of topics to cover. And I just, I kind of, I just enjoy talking to different guests too much to stop. Well, you know. So I've considered though adjusting the format, reducing the show notes overhead for the show, making it a little bit more generic, maybe even incorporating follow-up because it's like post 100 episodes, maybe it's time for me to kind of relax that requirement. I don't know. In the end, though, if you have any strong feelings either way, just let me know on the Fediverse at chidgy@engineer.space or Twitter at JohnChidgy or one word. Just let me know what you think. If you don't mind, I mean, maybe we should make this a little bit more interactive, you know? So, let's leave it there. Enough said? Yeah, I think that's enough. It's been about 518,000 seconds worth of me jammering on over the last 7 years. So what's a few more seconds? And if you've got smart speed on, you probably can't tell that I had a dramatic pause there. And we're done. Oh, hang on. No, actually, no, we're not done. I mean, it's actually time for the actual episode 100. There you go. Alright, lovely, a good times had by all. Fantastic, lovely, no seriously I'm done now, there we go, time for the episode, and go. Welcome to Pragmatic, again. is a show about technology and contemplating the finer details and their practical application. By exploring the real-world trade-offs, we drive into how great ideas can be transformed into products and services that impact our lives. This episode is sponsored by Solver by Aqualia. Solver is an amazing calculation app that works the way your mind does when you're working out a maths problem on paper. More powerful than a calculator, simpler and quicker than a spreadsheet, Solver can help you solve your maths problem. Visit solver.app and check it out today. This episode is also brought to you by ManyTricks, makers of helpful apps for the Mac. Visit manytricks.com/pragmatic for more information about their amazingly useful apps. We'll talk more about both of our sponsors during the show. Pragmatic is supported by you, our listeners. If you'd like to support the show, you can do so via Patreon. For early release, high quality ad-free episodes, visit engineer.network/pragmatic to learn how you can help. Thank you. I'm your host, John Chidjie, and today I'm joined by Casey Liss. How's it going, Casey? Hello, I'm well. How are you doing, John? I am doing very well, because we are here to talk about something that I have fallen in love with in the last six months, and that's my shiny new Synology NAS. Yeah, indeed. You have seen the light, you have been welcomed into paradise, and now there's no going back. You're damn right. I don't think I can live without it now. I'm actually, I seriously I seriously think I couldn't. But you've had a Synology for much longer than me. So how about we just kick off by talking a little bit about your journey, like when was your first one? Which one did you get and how far back was that? - Yeah, so in case you're not aware, Synology is a network attached storage. So basically it's one or more probably large, probably spinning hard drives all in a box that's basically its own computer that's connected to your in-home network in Office Network, and so you can put a whole bunch of stuff on there. And for me, this was something that I didn't really think I needed or wanted. You know, I had gotten my first one. It was comped by Synology because I don't remember, we must have been talking about it on ATP on the Accidental Tech Podcast, which is my other show with my friends John Syracuse and Mark O'Armand. And I guess we were talking about it. I don't remember how it came about. This was very early in ATP's run. This is mid-2013, if memory serves. It so happens that a gentleman who used to do PR for Synology was listening and sent all three of us fully filled DS1813+s. So to translate that into somewhat reasonable talk, that is an 8-bay Synology that was basically like their small business Synology at the time, if I recall correctly. And he actually included eight 3TB hard drives in it. So this was like a $2,000 gift that was given to the three of us. And it was amazing and I'm so thankful for it, but I've now been ruined for life because now I cannot imagine not having one of these in my life. And so at the time, I didn't, I don't even know what I was doing with it early on, but it was not long before I realized, well, wait a second, when you have what feels like an infinite amount of hard drive space, you can like put stuff there and like do stuff with And so my then subsequent obsession with the media management software Plex P L E X Yeah, I don't remember if I was using it before but I was certainly starting to use it once I got my Synology and now Plex is my entertainment life like pretty much any Video that I watch unless it's something from like a streaming service like Disney Plus or something like that It's all coming out of Plex. It's either coming out of Plex because a friend has it And one of the features of Plex is that you can stream from other people. So you're almost creating your own de facto Netflix with friends. I should say that clearly. It's not like random strangers. But with friends, if you become Plex friends, you can stream from each other to each other. And so I have actually a former co-worker that has something like 3,000 movies in his Plex library. And so he alone is like my personal Netflix at this point. He's your new best friend. Exactly, exactly. But yeah, so I use this as an illustration of, if you have-- because what I say was 8 times 3 is 24 terabytes of space, which is kind of where it started in 2013. And 2013, it doesn't sound like it was that long ago, but 24 terabytes in 2013 was a significant amount of storage space. It really felt infinite. And so I could collect whatever stupid videos, movies, YouTube videos, concert films I wanted, and stick them on the Synology and point my Plex server at it. And I can stream it anywhere. And it was amazing. And so that was the start. We can talk more about specifics about these devices if you care, John. But suffice to say, an 1813 Plus. And then this year, some friends at the "Starport 75" podcast, which is a podcast themed about Disney theme parks, one of them had a DS415 Plus that, for whatever reason, he didn't use anymore. And said, hey, you could probably do something with this. I said, yes. Yes. Yes, I can. I'll take it, please. And this was actually in the midst of me having some serious reliability concerns with my Synology, which perhaps we can explore later. And so the DS415 Plus got some drives that were kind of laying around, which I think you have some thoughts about, John, in a moment. But got some drives that were laying around. And then that got put at my parents' house, which are about an hour west of us. And that became my primary off-site backup for my Synology here. So it is a complete duplication-- well, in a manner of speaking-- of the Synology in the house. So God forbid, if my house goes up in flames, all of the data on my Synology, which includes my primary and canonical photo repository, it includes all this Plex media, a lot of which could be replaced, but some of which could not, all of that is getting backed up nightly to my parents now west of us, and very conveniently, about a month or two ago, they switched from Comcast, which is a local cable television provider and internet service provider, which nobody likes, and they got switched over to a local fiber optic provider. And so now both we and they have symmetric gigabit internet service, which means on paper-- now, I know this isn't actually true. And of all the people to try to pull one over on, you are not the person. But on paper, anyway, it's as though that synology sitting an hour west of me, it's really no slower to get data off of that than it is the Synology that I'm looking at that's almost an arm's reach away. In reality, of course, it's not actually true. But in theory, I can grab stuff off of that Synology or put stuff on that Synology at about 50 megabytes a second, which is not full bore gigabit local, but it is screaming fast. So that's kind of my world. And again, there's plenty more to dig into here, but I've been talking for a while. So John, what's your world? What is your new toy? tell me about it. - Well, before I tell you about my sonology, I just want to say that is truly impressive. I wish that my mother actually had internet at all, at which point then I could do something similar, but alas, I cannot, unless I carry drives by carrier pigeon or some other method, nevermind. But yes, so, okay. I've been eyeing off a sonology for a long time, and I first became aware of them from, yes, ATP, that's right. So yes, whether or not the nice gentleman from Synology had that in mind or not, it turned out to be beneficial. Although there was a seven year lag on that, but I got there in the end. So I was looking at the 918 because I liked the idea that it had four bays and I could, if I was so insane, add a five bay enclosure to extend it to a total of nine bays. But when you look at the price of those extension enclosures, they're about the same price as another 918. So I don't know if you would make sense to even do that, but hey, expandability. So I was thinking about that. And I waited and I waited and I saved my pennies. And then the DS920 came out because at this point, the 918 was about two or three years old. And I thought, you know, I'll just wait and see the 920 surely going to be much, much better. And I'd rather buy that. So when it came out and the benchmarks on it were barely any better than the 918, and simply wasn't worth it. And then I saw, hey, we're having a clearance sale on the 918s. So I'm like, great, fine, done, sold, bought one. So it comes with four gig of RAM. It's an Intel Celeron processor. I didn't get any of the SSD cache. I looked into that and there was several hardcore, much more hardcore geeks than I am, went and figured that the SSD cache didn't really give you much value for money. So, I left that out of it. So, stock standard RAM. And then it came time to buy my hard drives. And I'm like, you know, I don't need to buy hard drives. I've got hard drives lying around. That should be fine. And I started the whole salvage operation. So, I don't want to go into all of the details. I actually wrote a long article about this called, Oh My NAS, 'cause it was kind of like a riff on, Oh My God. Like, I was like, the funny thing is it has a happy ending. Okay. If you haven't figured out by now, has a very happy ending, but my God, that journey was insanely horrific. And I started out with an eight terabyte external drive and it started having random disconnects, which is the early signs of, oh, there's a problem. And I learned a while ago that when you've got a hard drive connected to over USB, there's a massive limitation on what sort of actual hardware layer diagnostics you can actually do, like the smart scan and all of the other internal checking, it's not very good at finding bad sectors or any problems, it'll just fall over and die at some point and you'll be like, whoops, that's probably not good. So I had that all backed up to Backblaze 'cause connected to the computer and to my MacBook Pro and going to Backblaze and doing the whole thing. But I thought, well, I've got a NAS now. So I had a whole bunch of old drives lying around and I can extract these from external enclosures and plug them in and away I go. So the very first four terabyte drive I plugged in And it had a whole bunch of bad sectors on it. And I'm like, okay, so the Synology says you're bad. It won't even let me create a volume. So, I'm like, okay, I'll buy one because surely the other drives I have lying around will be perfectly fine, right? Surely. Of course they would. Why not? Why wouldn't they be? So, I bought a Seagate Barracuda and I got a Barracuda. It's a desktop class drive because at that point I was also suffering under another delusion. The desktop drives were probably going to be fine and I shouldn't have to worry about NAS drives, So I don't want to spend that extra $20, $30 or whatever else because this is John cheapskate mode going on here and not knowing any better. So anyway, then I re-borrowed a Donald four terabyte drive from my son and I made a critical mistake at this point by not running a smart scan before I extended the volume. Now the Synology let me do it. It let me expand my storage volume and it shouldn't have upon reflection, but it should have tried to protect stupid John. Alas, it did not. And then when I extended the storage pool and the volume, it was all in the background running a data scrub and so on and so forth. I'd started copying data across and I thought everything was fine until it started throwing up a whole bunch of errors. So long story short, I basically ended up caving in and buying three brand new Seagate IronWolf drives, which are specifically for the NAS, yeah. and brought them home. And I thought, okay, my troubles are over. Except only one of those three drives was actually functioning. The other two had bad sectors on them. And these were- Brand new. Brand new. Brand new drives. I swear to God, I did not hit them with a sledgehammer, drop them or I don't know what, but they- Out of box quality was not sufficient. So, I had to make several trips back to the computer store. And this is all in the midst of lockdowns and so on. And there was one point where it was like I was one day either side of not supposed to be going further than this distance from the house. And I'm like, this is probably not smart, but I really want to get this drive replaced anyway. So anyway, I finally get there in the end and I realized that as good as BTRFS is, it couldn't undo the corruption that I'd created by adding a bad drive in the beginning. And so I wiped it and started again. And then finally, it was all up and running and it's been running perfectly ever since. And I used one of my, well, one of my four terabyte external hard drives. It's just a USB powered drive. And I use hyper backup on it for my critical data. So I've got about nine terabytes of storage in use. And that's so it's 10.9 total. So I've got a bit under two left spare, but it it still feels limitless, but well, maybe not quite as limitless as 24 terabytes, but certainly, certainly it's pretty, pretty good. So, the whole exercise start to finish took me six weeks from when I started and it cost me about a thousand dollars US roughly. And there were six trips to the two different computer stores and each trip is a two hour round trip. And I'm like, but those painful memories have faded and I'm over it now. Totally worth it. So, I'm fine now. And that's all the winching I'm going to do. The funny thing about this is, if you had told me before I received the DS1813, the big guy, if you had told me that, A, I would ever even approach filling it, which I've reconfigured it considerably since I received it, and now it's about half full. I've got about 10 terabytes used, and I've got about 20 total available, the way it's been reloaded with different hard drives over the years. But if you had told me that I could fill up 10 terabytes and not even really try-- it's not like I'm actively trying to fill the thing. It's just the stuff I've accumulated. If you had told me I could do that, and if you had told me that I would think a one to $2,000 hard drive is basically what this is, is worth one to $2,000, I would have laughed in your face. There's no frigging way that I'm going to spend a thousand to $2,000 on what is just a giant hard drive. It's not worth the money. But now, being on the other side of it, it is still an exorbitant amount of money. Like, it is expensive. But if you have the money to spend, It is possibly the best computing device I have in the house. If I had to choose one, I'd probably choose my phone or maybe my Mac or something. But in terms of ultimate reliability, I say as I knock on wood, in terms of reliability, in terms of the utility that it has provided me, it is an incredibly cool, incredibly useful device. And like you were saying, John, you don't have to go directly into the deep end. you don't have to start with an eight bay by any means. I do think you should definitely buy bigger than you think you need because it will future-proof it a little bit. But there's no reason you couldn't start with a two bay NAS. My Synology actually had sent me a, oh shoot, a DS214+ I wanna say. It's one of their, or DS Play 214+, I think. I might have that wrong. But this was, they briefly, I don't know if they're still doing it, but they briefly tried to make NASs that were better suited for things like serving Plex. And we can discuss that a little bit in a minute if you want, but suffice it to say, there was better support for transcoding on the fly. So if you're trying to view a 4K video on your iPhone in the middle of a field somewhere, you're not going to want to try to send 4K video to a phone screen that's six inches big. So one of the things that Plex intelligently does is it will transcode, or basically re-encode, that video such set, maybe it's 720p or something like that. So you're saving bandwidth, and it's making it easier for everyone. But to do that live, on the fly, is very computationally intensive. And so the 214-- I think it's a 214 Play. I forget exactly the hardware within it, but suffice to say it was designed to be able to do these sorts of things much better than my Synology can. Because my Synology is perfectly fast for the things I ask it to do, but I don't have my Plex server software running on that. It's actually on a Mac Mini that's sitting beneath it. And so if I were to try to run Plex on the Synology, which I did do, it was a disaster, because my Synology was just not fast enough. And the Play is supposed to be better at all this. Well, the Play is only 2 bay, which seems like nothing when you're talking about 4 and 8 bay and maybe expansions into like 12, 15 bay, whatever. It seems like nothing. But if I recall correctly, it's reasonably affordable, or at least it was at the time. And two 10 terabyte hard drives, depending on how you choose to allocate that space in terms of redundancy and whatnot, that's still a lot of space. It's not an unreasonable way to dip your toe in the water. And I would imagine the resale market on these has got to be pretty decent. Because even my eight-year-old one-- almost eight-years-old one-- still performs just fine. And the key that somebody told me-- I don't know if this is true or not-- but I'd been told that with Synology model names, the last two numbers are the year in which it was released. So my 1813 is a 2013 edition, your 415, or my 415 is a 2015 edition, your 918 is a 2018 edition. - Yes. - So, I mean, mine is a seven-year-old device, almost eight-year-old device. And for the things that I ask it to do, it's still just fine. - Yeah, absolutely right on the naming and my particular experience with the Plays, 'cause I did the same research and I thought, okay, well, I wanna use this for Plex. I knew even though I hadn't really used Plex a heck of a lot, I'd heard enough about it in no small part to from yourself as well on various shows. So there was that, but anyhow, I did look into them and I think they're about one third of the price, you know, for a two bay versus the nine one eight which is what I ended up getting. So it's a fair bit cheaper. And if you put that money into bigger hard drives then it may well work out well for you. But for me, the equation was different because I wanted to have, 'cause the plays if I remember correctly not the plus model and in Synology, the pluses are the ones that have got the Intel based CPUs which I wanted the x86s and yeah. - Huh, I didn't know that. - Yeah, so that's my understanding. And it's like the hardware, they do hardware acceleration encoding on them, which is how they get the performance rather than the CPU. And admittedly, even my 918 struggles with a 4K transcode, but I'm still trying to nail down if it's the network or if it's the Synology. I'm not entirely sure which it is because, anyway, that's another story. But anyhow, so the other thing that was in the equation for me was because I wanted to do, I wanted to have access to as many Docker images as possible. I wanted to run up virtual machines on this thing 'cause I'm crazy. And I thought, you know, I need an Intel CPU for that. And that was the main reason. So I went up with a plus model and the math was simple enough. I just, I didn't think two bay was enough. So I went with four plus I could expand it later. But the other thing I also considered was a lot of people love their QNAPs. - Is this the open source thing that I've heard many, many times, is that right? - Yeah, it's a different brand, it's run off, it's got a different operating system. Obviously it's not made by Synology, but a lot of people swear by them. But for me, Synology is, I think, on balance. It's more like QNAP's are more for like the extra geeky, geeky people, which, you know, I put my hand up and say, yeah, I came from a bit of a geek, but, you know, at the same time, I also use Apple stuff. So if I was a real dyed in the wool geek, I'd be building my own computers, running Linux, And I probably run a QNAP. But anyway, I'm probably being unfair to QNAP, but the fact is that Synology, where there's more of them, there's more support available for them, a lot more guides available for them. So, 'cause I don't have a thousand hours in a week to spend debugging a Linux kernel. I mean, okay, that's ridiculous, but you know what I mean. It's like, yeah. So I ended up going with a Synology. They were similar in price though for performance, but in the end, yeah. So that's why I picked the one that I did. - I think it makes perfect sense. QNAP is not an open source thing, I'm sorry, you're right, it's a product. There's some, maybe it's FreeNAS or something, there's some open source project that people, that bigger nerds than me will constantly be like, why are you spending all the money on Synology? You can just get a stupid Intel NUC and put a bunch of USB hard drives on it and use FreeNAS and it'll be fine. And I don't know, I just have no patience for that. This is why I buy Apple products like you were saying, and not Android things. This is why I don't have a PC anymore, because I'd much rather just have a product that comes put together and generally speaking, will just work. I mean, Synology's definitely have their drawbacks. Like I really like their operating system, but one of the things that really is difficult to me anyway, maybe I'm just not smart, but one of the things that's very difficult to me is I feel like Synology loves to reinvent products, like software products, and use the same name over and over again to mean wildly different things. So like Synology Drive has meant, I think three or four different things over the years. And I actually freaking love the way it is right now, which is basically like your own private Dropbox. And then interestingly, somebody, a ATP listener gave me the pro tip of, well, wait a second, you can use, I think it's Cloud Sync if I remember right, to sync your Dropbox to your Synology. And if you're clever, like this person was, you stick that Dropbox folder inside of your Synology Drive folder, again, Synology Drive being like your own private Dropbox. And then you can have access to your Dropbox, which will get synced up to Dropbox without actually having to run Dropbox's god awful client software on your computer. So that's what I've been doing for the last six months to a year, and I still use Dropbox. I send files to my ATP and Analog co-hosts every week using Dropbox. But the way I do that is, I just put it in a file, I put it on my local computer's file system, that'll get synced up to the Synology, and then the Synology will sync that up to Dropbox, I don't have to worry about it. And it's delightful. - Well, I have to admit that I didn't actually, I must've missed that tip from the listener on ATP or it didn't occur to me at the time 'cause I actually figured out the same thing just through a bit of trial and error. - Ah, see, look at you. - Yeah, but the funny thing is that it's just so good because Dropbox on a Mac is kind of like an infection. It just, it's just, I don't know what it is. It's just, it consumes your CPU and your memory and it's always churn away in the background. And I just, I came to hate it. And then I realized just how many background sync things I had going. So I had Google Drive and I had Dropbox and I had OneDrive. In fact, I had OneDrive personal, OneDrive for business, for my work stuff. And all this crap is running on in the background and consuming resources and slowing down my computer. And okay, fine. I mean, I've got a 13 inch MacBook Pro, you know, quad core i7, you know, very nice box. but the fact is that I still don't wanna waste performance on a bunch of drive syncing in the background. That's ridiculous. So being able to do that on the Synology is just magic because it completely separates the two, separation of church and state or Dropbox and real work. Anyway, so yeah, look, I love Drive as well. It's fantastic. And there's lots of stuff in the Synology, like you say, that beyond it just being a bunch of hard drives. So let's talk a little bit about some of the VMs. So, um, did you run any VMs, virtual machines, like genuine virtual machines? No, I, I never had the occasion to, to run a full on VM. I have gotten my, my toes in the water with regard to Docker, but I know you want to, you want to talk about that separately, but I've never had the occasion to run a VM on my Synology. And again, mine is old enough that I'm sure it can be done, especially for something like Linux, but, but for something bigger and heftier, like I w I wouldn't be about to run like a windows VM on my Synology. That's not to say that one couldn't, or that you particularly couldn't on your much newer Synology. But for me, I don't think I have any need for it. But the thing with the Synology is, as with Drive, as with Plex, once you have a computer that is always on, that's in your house, that can just do these sorts of tasks that you don't want your computer to be bothered with, or you don't want to be bothered with, you start to find ways to use that computer to do things like run VMs, run Docker images, et cetera. So tell me what VMs are you running? - So I think just to follow on from your comment, yeah. A lot of these ones I ran just because I could, not because I really need exactly, but it's kind of, you know, it's anyway. So yeah, full-blown Linux distros, like the fully featured ones with a nice beautiful GUI are pretty much out of the question they're just too intensive for the poor thing. So I went for the lightweight distros. So I've got Fosspuppy on there, which is a cool name, and then Lubuntu and Ubuntu Mate. And that's pretty much it for Linux. But on the Windows side, I've been trying, I haven't quite nailed Windows 95. And again, that's just- - Oh wow, why would you do that to yourself? - It's just, you know, it's just (beep) 'cause you know, why not? Well, anyway, and then there's Windows XP, which equally questionable, but that works fine. Windows 7, which is approaching almost, I can kind of see why you would want Windows 7 on there, but now I'm just criticizing myself, nevermind. Windows Server 2012 R2, I put on there as well. It just works. And I say just as not as in like Apple's moniker, but rather it just works. Anyway, and as for Windows 10, well, that doesn't work. And I just will not boot after you install. The installer runs and then it tries to boot and it tries and it just, it's a little engine that couldn't. So, oh well. I probably need more RAM. I probably need SSDs in there, not spinning rust. It's probably a bit of both. And I just like, you know what? Yeah, well, it was fun, but oh well. So I only fire them up because I'm trying to, I have this thing where I'm trying to eliminate what I don't need. And I'm looking at the Apple Silicon Macs and like I think most geeks are at the moment in the Apple space and drooling considerably over the keyboard. And I'm thinking, do I really need an Intel-based Mac? Mac, do I really need it? Anyway, and so I've been using Parallels for years and I've been using Windows 10 on it for years. And my office is part of my work, sorry, my company that I work for, they've been going through this whole thing like we all have with COVID and working remotely. And a lot of the stuff they used to have was an on-prem stuff or it was, it was, you know, the crapware that like Oracle wrote years ago, that's Windows only and it uses ActiveX and use, oh my God, it's like, it's a dumpster fire, right? It's as you would say. And it absolutely is. And it can die in a fire. And thankfully they did put it in a fire, at least most of it. So they've migrated a lot to cloud apps. So I used to use my Windows 10 VM to connect to all of that. And they said, you know what? We've now migrated something like, I don't know, 90%, 95% of our applications to HTML5 compliant, cloud-based applications, cross-platform applications. And I'm like, yes, music to my ears. I can finally use my Mac without having to have parallels on it. And they've got these AWS workspaces, which is really just a fancy way of saying it's VMware and the cloud, um, you know, Hey shrug, but you know what? They're letting me use that as well, which is great. So there are a handful of windows apps that I still use. So I've actually finally deleted parallels, uh, from my MacBook pro. I don't have it anymore. No more bootcamp either. So all that extra space, no more virtual machines clogging up my solid state drive. and I can run them up on Plex if I absolutely feel the need to look at Windows for some reason. So there you go. - Yeah, when I stopped doing .NET development for a living and then realized, well, pretty much the rest of my life, I've migrated off of Windows and wait, I don't need, I happen to choose VMware Fusion. I mean, I, whatever. - Yeah, it's easy, is it? - It's one half of the other. - Yeah, it's good. - And so when I realized I could finally give up on running a VM on my Mac, it was a delightful moment that I don't need to, I mean, I can make an argument that especially modern, you know, uh, virtual machine solutions that, that they're really not the cancer on your system that they were years ago, but nevertheless, it's just one less thing to have, you know, to worry about and to suck up cycles and so on and so forth. Same, you know, same pitch you were making for Dropbox. Like if you don't need it on there, don't put it on there, man. So yeah, having, having, having that on the Synology is super nice. I can imagine because then it's the thing that's sitting there churning if need be. And with so many of these, you know, modern operating systems, you can either SSH into it, or you can, you know, run VNC or a remote desktop on the Windows side. And basically it's like you're sitting at that machine, except the processor is way over there, which is super nice. - Absolutely. Before we talk any further, I'd like to talk about our first sponsor for this episode, and that's Solver. And Solver is a calculation app by Aqualia for the Mac. Now, I'm careful to call Solver a calculation app because it's more than just a calculator. and it's much quicker and easier to use in the spreadsheet. Just start typing away and in real time, the answers just show up in the right-hand column. I mean, let's say you wanna figure out 10% of 200, just type that exactly and there's your answer. Converting currencies, 10 euro plus 10 USD in AUD, done. I use it all the time for that. Crazy things, like you wanna know how many minutes you've been alive? Try 44 years, 16 weeks and four days as minutes and it turns out I've been alive 23,609,000 minutes. Yay, I'm so old. Anyway, it's my go-to app when I'm converting between Celsius and Fahrenheit. 120F in C, done. And a recently added neat feature, at the end of any line, you wanna show the decimal as the nearest whole fraction, just add the text as fraction and boom, Solver converts it for you. It's amazing. New in Solver 3 for the Mac, there's time and date calculations, like 30th August 2020 to today in weeks, in days, in hours, whatever you like. And Solver also supports time zone aware date and time calculations and conversions too. You can link different result lines together easily to create more complicated calculations with subtotals included. It now comes with full dark mode support and it looks amazing. If you have a touch bar on your Mac, it supports that as well. There's full integration with Spotlight Search with Automator. Solver now has a command line tool and integrates beautifully with Alfred. It has an integrated sheet management system and you can easily share your working and your results. The list of great features just goes on and on. And now with language support, also including English, German, Russian, and Chinese. If you're not convinced, then go to the URL in the show notes and check out the Mac version, which has a 30 day free trial. I've been using Solver for many, many years, and I use it every single day. Solver for Mac is available from the website, solver.app, as well as from the Mac App Store. If you use the URL in the show notes, it helps out the show. So please use the URL in the show notes to learn more about this amazing app. Visit solver.app and check it out today. Thank you to Aqualia and their amazing Solver for once again sponsoring the Engineered Network. So I might, let's skip past backups. I'm gonna circle back to backups. might save that for the end. And let's just talk about some of the native apps. So we already mentioned how much we're in love with like, you know, Synology Drive, so no argument there. Tell me a little bit about how you use, what other ones you use. - Yeah, so for the most part, I don't think I really use that much. I have a fair bit installed that I've like dabbled with or whatever, but I don't use that much. We were talking before we started recording that you've been goofing off with whatever their equivalent is of Google Docs and Sheets and so on. And so I'm curious to hear your experience with that. because it's the first time I've used it. But yeah, I'm looking around. I don't really have much else that I say I actively use. I did use a VPN server for a while, actually. I take that back. The VPN server worked really well, and I liked having it on the Synology. But at some point-- I forget the options for the VPN server. Oh, it's PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP with IPSec. And shoot, I forget exactly what it was. I think it was that PPTP stopped being supported as an out-of-the-box protocol on Apple devices, because I guess it's not terribly secure, which makes sense. And so then that really put a kink in the works, because I really didn't want a third-party solution. And so then I think I did LTTP for a while, and I was running into some odd problem. I don't-- it very well could have been configuration error on my part. But if I tried to get, say, my iPad and my MacBook Pro on the VPN simultaneously, only one would ever work at a time. And I think that was L2TP. Maybe it was OpenVPN, because I've tried all three of them. One way or another, I was having some sort of issue with that. And so I don't use a VPN server on the Synology anymore. I now have a Raspberry Pi, a Pi 4, that is running Pi-hole, which actually I also used to run on the Synology in a Docker image. But it's running PiHole, and it's running WireGuard, which I had not heard of previously. But it is not out of the box on iOS devices or MacOS devices. So you need to install a client app. But the client app is very ugly and very fiddly. But that being said, it mostly stays out of your way. And one of the nice features of WireGuard is that you can tell it to automatically connect to a VPN when you're not on any one of these given Wi-Fi networks. So in the before times when I used to leave the house and go somewhere, then when I went to, say, the library to do some work, the moment I hop on the library Wi-Fi, WireGuard is automatically signing into the VPN at home, encrypting all my traffic so the evil librarians can't get to it. But I've gone on quite a tangent, and I apologize. So yeah, there's not really much else that I run, other than Hyper Backup. Hyper Backup is another one of those things that has had 17 different incarnations over the years and means different things depending on when you're talking. But Hyper Backup, the way I use it, is kind of like Time Machine on Mac OS in between the two Synologies. So there's Hyper Backup Server-- and check my work on this, because I might be lying to you by accident-- but Hyper Backup Server is running on the remote Synology, and it is acting as basically like a Time Machine server, if you will. And then Hyper Backup Client is running on my local Synology, and I have configured it so that once a day at like 3 in the morning, it will back up pretty much the entirety of the local Synology to the remote Synology. And as we were discussing, since it's gigabit between the two, it usually takes about an hour each day for it-- not to say that it's transferring that whole time, but to churn through all the changes and see what's different and so on and so forth. It takes about an hour each morning, and I'm sleeping when it's happening. And so far, knock on wood again, so far it's been working really well. And on the client side, on the local Synology side, it is very much like Time Machine, where you get to look at different time stamps and then dig into the file system at that time and see what you want to restore. I think it would be deeply inconvenient to do this as a whole hog, my house just went up in flames, restore. But at least I know I could do it. And we have other backup discussions we can have in a moment, like you said. That is the first line of defense for me. Like, oh, I just deleted something I shouldn't have. Or, oh, I just need a couple of files from a week ago that I accidentally deleted. And it should be fairly straightforward for me to restore them. I've restored a couple times, just individual files. And it was pretty easy and pretty quick. Again, I'm not sure this is going to be a great solution if I have a catastrophic failure. But for what I'm using it for, it seems to be working pretty well. And Synology Drive, like we said, can't say enough good things. The client app is Java, I think, so it's like a little, it doesn't feel super first party or, you know, it doesn't feel completely right on the platform, but it works really well and stays out of your way. - Yeah, I mean, that's true. It's not a native app, but it's, like you say, it's functional and it does the job pretty reliably, I found, so I don't have any real cause for complaint. I'm not too concerned about that, but so on a hyper backup, I mean, I use that as well, but I just use that for my local storage 'cause like I said, yeah, my mom does not have internet. Oops, oh well, nevermind. So there's that, but yes, and Synology Office. So right now I shared the show notes for this episode and we're currently live editing, looking at those in the documents thing of Synology Office. So I'd only just installed this very recently and I thought it might just be fun, of fun, I have a strange idea of fun. Anyhow, if we're doing an episode about Synology, we should be editing the show notes surely on the Synology office application running on my Synology 'cause that would just be a fitting. Anyway, nevermind. So I haven't played too much with anything else other than the documents. It does have a spreadsheets application as well. And there's also, I think it's a presentations application as well. And you can do exports to different formats in there. So once you've finished your editing, it's basically just runs in a web browser and you can download as a Word document, an open document. So as in like OpenOffice or as a PDF, of course, and you can do the usual things like print it and share it and so on and so forth and secure sharing links and open sharing links and all this other stuff. So it's got all the features you'd expect. Anyway, so it works pretty good. It's, you're not gonna get the same sort of feature levels that you're gonna get out of something like Microsoft Word as a native client app, obviously, but for something like this, it's fine. Although it is mangling some of those dot points, which is a bit strange, but nevermind. Let's not get too picky. Okay, so I'm using Moments for all of my photos, which again, Moments is just the name of the app and that's just what they call it. But yes, and I like that more than the other application, which was PhotoStation 6, I think was the version. - Yeah, PhotoStation, I did not care for. I tried it briefly and it was not for me. I don't remember what specifically I didn't like about it, but it just seemed like. It's very, it's a bit kludgy for me. I didn't, I didn't enjoy using it. And I found the sharing to be a little bit unusual and how to set it up. Whereas Moments was far more intuitive. And because I was starting out from that point, I could choose either. I tried both. I actually started trying Photo Station and yeah, just like you, it just didn't really work for me. So I switched to Moments. But were you saying that you actually use Google for your Google photos for your photos? John, how much time do you have? I don't know. How much do you need? Yeah, right. The short version is I have been on various online photo sharing services, you know, Everpix, Picture Life and then Google Photos for years. And I do quite like Google Photos. However, the Google Photos uploader that runs on your Mac, I have found to be-- there was a version that went away a year or two back. And the version that existed in the previous times was actually very good. And I used it, and it worked great. And then I think it became Google Drive uploader, if I'm not mistaken. Again, I might be lying too accidentally. But they did something to change the way you upload stuff into Google Photos. And it just was a piece of garbage. It never worked. I have reason to believe it was spewing empty folders all throughout my photo library on the file system. It was just a piece of garbage. So I do still use Google Photos, but only for stuff that my phone auto uploads. So I do still have a traditional big camera. And that stuff isn't getting backed up to Google. It's getting backed up literally for other places. But it's not going to Google. And I'm actually slowly in the process of finally embracing iCloud Photo Library, which has its own caveats and drawbacks and issues and gotchas. But over time, I will be doing that for more photo access in Apple's cloud. But that being said, Google Photos does, for the most part, achieve what I want it to achieve, even right now, which is I need to figure out either when I was at a place, or I need to find a photo from a particular event, like say WWDC or something. And Google Photos usually accomplishes that pretty well. And even if it doesn't have the picture from the big camera that I want, it'll at least narrow it down for as to when when it was taken. And the way I have my photo repository set up is that all the file names are the date and time of the photo was taken. And so if I can figure out one way or another, that this photo was taken on April 15 of 2006, it takes me 15 seconds to find that batch of photos on my sonology. Nice. Cool. Well, I haven't actually had much to do with with Google Photos, to be perfectly honest, I have much to do. I mean, anything to do. I've never tried it. I have had my own dramas with Apple photos, which I will not go into. It's a long story. And let's not go there. But I wish you all the very best with that. Well, thank you. Good luck. So with Cloud Sync, I think we kind of talked about Cloud Sync before. So like, I also use that app. And I've got Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, got multiple Google Drives and one OneDrive on there. And as we talked about earlier, that all syncs in through DriveSync, which is awesome. So, there's that. And I guess the other thing is Plex. And I know Plex is not a first-party app, but Plex is available for downloading as a package. This is where it gets a little bit blurry, like the Synology packaged app or whatever. It's like a .spk file. Yeah. So, I actually have that installed and run on my Synology. So how do you currently run Plex? You said, did you say before you ran, you run Plex on a Mac mini that's connected to the, to the Synology as the storage? Right. Yeah. Yes. Right. Yeah. That's exactly it. So it's a, it's a relatively old Mac mini that does have an SSD in it, but it's fast enough to do what I need it to do. And basically I just have the Synology's big archive, as I call it, you know, the, basically the, the meat of the Synology, um, mounted as a network drive on the Mac Mini. And the Plex libraries are-- the way Plex works is you have different libraries-- movies, music, TV shows, et cetera. And I've just pointed all of those libraries at that network share, which ultimately resolves to be the Synology. And I haven't-- again, knocking on wood for now the third time, I think, this episode-- I haven't had any problems with that at all, really. It's worked really, really well. And early on, I did run Plex on my Synology on the same DS1813 plus, and it was sufficient for the kind of media I had at the time, which was generally speaking like 720p, maybe a little bit of 1080. But now I'm starting to sprinkle some 4K stuff into my Plex library. And I don't have a lot of it, but I have some. And that's where the Plex running on the Synology just really fell over. And that may not be your experience. You may go very much better on a newer device. But something that I've spent far too many hours looking into is-- and I'll see if I can dig it up for your show notes, but somebody keeps like this master Google Sheets spreadsheet of all of the different, well, not just Synology, but all these different NASs and like, how well do they actually work with PLEX? And people will add, like the community will add line items to the spreadsheet. So the DS1813+ is a piece of garbage when it comes to PLEX, but the DS918+ is actually great or whatever. And the 918 can transcode 4K on the fly, but the DS1813 can do 720p on the fly. You know, I'm making all this up. Yeah, I understand. There used to be this master spreadsheet that was a gazillion lines long, or a gazillion rows long, where you could kind of look up how well Plex will run on these Synologies. And it seemed to me that even the ones, like the Play that I mentioned earlier, that were specifically designed to do this sort of thing, it didn't seem like-- if your one and only goal is to be a Plex server, it seemed like running Plex on a Synology is not the best choice, that there were other network-attached storage devices that would perhaps do better. Your mileage may vary. This research is years out of date now. So please, you know, dig, dig through this yourselves if you're interested. But, um, you know, for me, I found it better to run Plex on the Mac mini and just use the Synology for what it's best at, which is being a huge network test storage. But your experience with Plex seems like it's pretty good so far. It only really chokes on the 4k. And like I said, I'm not sure because the problem is that, well, I mean, I've got four kids and they are now reaching the age where they're streaming YouTube or they're playing on an Xbox or insert extremely bandwidth hungry, you know, task here. And you're like, I just want to stream my 4k. And they're like, yeah, but we just want to do our stuff. And then you just, you know, you look over to your, you know, to your sweetheart and you're like, I'm sorry, darling, we can't watch it. It's in 4k. Anyway, so I am gradually, ever so slowly, running hardwire Ethernet around my house. I've done two rooms, so I have a long way to go. But hopefully, soon, I'll know for sure if it's actually the Synology that's choking or it's just my Wi-Fi that's been choking. Let me briefly interrupt you there. Do you happen to have coax running throughout the house? No, no, I don't. Never mind then. No. If you are like me and you want to have Ethernet throughout the house, but like me you own the house that was built way before Ethernet was really popular, or perhaps you're renting or something like that. I have a couple of MOCA bridges, M-O-C-A bridges, and what these basically do is you put one near your router and plug a coaxial cable television line into it, and you plug Ethernet into it. Bridges hey that bridge is the the coaxial and ethernet networks so now your coax is carrying the internet So on the other side so first for me You know the the routers in the office so down in our like family room where we have our TV and entertainment center and stuff I have a second mocha bridge that goes the other direction so I plug ether Excuse me I plug coax into it and then ethernet comes out that gets plugged into a switch that gets plugged into the Apple TV And you know whatever else the the switch if you need to have ethernet on it you know, and so on and so forth. And the nice thing is, you would never expect this, 'cause this struck me as very like power line, or ethernet over power, or whatever it was. Not power over ethernet, mind you, but like, you know, power line networking. - Power line, yep, yep. - And it struck me as like, okay, there's no way this is gonna work worth a darn. And, as it turns out, there are, you know, several different versions of Mocha that have different bandwidth capabilities. But I have, I'll put a link in the show notes, I have some that I think are version 2.0 or 2.5, I forget off the top of my head, But they'll do almost gigabit Ethernet speeds over coax. So I have a six month old MacBook Pro that I hooked into Ethernet into the switch, the switch into the Mocha Bridge, the Mocha Bridge over coax to the other Mocha Bridge, and then into the router. And I was getting, I think from fast.com, I was getting something like 700 megabits a second down. So it's not full gigabit, but for the love, like it's close, it's near, it makes no difference, right? For the sorts of thing I'm doing, it's more than enough. And I didn't have to drag ethernet cables throughout the house in order to do it, which is super, super nice. So unfortunately for you, that's not gonna help you, but maybe a listener can hear this and say, "Ha ha, that sounds perfect." And give that a shot. - Yeah, and that's a really good tip, Casey, to be honest. And I also looked at power line ethernet as well, because that is actually an option. I could do that. But what my concern is, is that, although I don't have a crow or a digital sampling oscilloscope or anything like that, I spent a long-- well, OK. So as an electrical engineer, I did play with that a lot in my-- well, in my youth. Oh, my god. Anyway, I'm getting old. Anyhow, and I just know what the waveform used to look like. When you hook it up and you see this 50 Hertz or the 60 Hertz in North America, and you see that beautiful sinusoid that you're taught, yeah, that's what a sine wave looks like. That's the power line looks like for AC. And then you'd see the real thing. And it's just this jagged, cragged, crooked, squished. It is barely recognizable as a sine wave. And that was 20 something years ago. And now we've got switch mode, LED lighting. I've got a bunch of solar panels on my roof with a DC to AC inverter on it. And all this other crud running. And I've heard that I've done a bit of research into them and sometimes the power line ethernet adapters have massive reductions in their speed and efficiency because of all the noise and crud that's being spewed out by a million devices these days, all being switched mode. So I kind of avoided that and I've just sucked it up and I've gotten to the roof space and I've started pulling cables and it's the dumbest thing to be doing now that we're coming into summer, at least in the Southern hemisphere. So it's like, this is the absolute stupidest time to get in the roof. And my son said to me just yesterday, "Dad, we should get in the roof and run some more cables." And I'm like, "What's the matter with you?" It's summer. I'm not doing, it's summer. Anyway, all right. So, enough about that. But I just want to talk about one more thing about Plex, because I've got the free Plex. I say free Plex, it's 'cause Plex is free, but you can also pay for an account. And I think you need to pay in order to share libraries, is that right? - No. - No? - So, well, certainly on the stream, like receiving end, you do not need to pay. So you and I could be Plex friends, and should be by the way, Plex friends, and you could stream from me even without having paid for it. I think, but I'm not 100% sure, I think that actually is both ways. So you could stream to me even without having paid once we become Plex friends. Again, check me on that because I might be wrong, but some of the features that are exclusive to what they call Plex Pass, which is their for pay offering, live TV streaming, which is-- ah, that's probably where you got confused. So Plex offers, if you have what is effectively a bridge between antenna and ethernet-- so it's like an HD home run, for example. So you hook an antenna to this box, this box to ethernet, and then it's not literally a bridge, but then things on your network can go and ask this box to give them a TV feed. And I think it's just basically raw MPEG-2 feed coming off the antenna-- or coming out of this box coming off the antenna. And here in America anyway, all of our local channels, like ABC, CBS, Fox, most of those you can get in most places in America via an antenna. So I forget how much the HD Home Run is, but antennas are like 20, 30 bucks for a passable antenna. And this is full HD, mind you. It's not like when we were kids where it was like staticky and gross. And I remember vividly when I was really young, like having to spin the dial on top of the TV, which would then cause the antenna to literally spin in the attic so you could tune a different station. Like, it's not like that at all. It's all digital. And so if you have a Plex Pass, one of the things you can do is hook it up via software to this HD Home Run or equivalent. And it will let you stream local television in the same way you would stream something that's stored on your Plex. And you can also record it. It'll act as a DVR as well. It does work well. Personally, for my money, I actually prefer Channels, which is a for-pay iOS app. The client is iOS. And I think, well, they have a web client as well that's workable. But the server-side software will run on darn near anything. And channels does a similar function, where it'll hook up to your antenna and record things and act as a DVR. But what I really like about channels, which I do not think Plex does, is you can use channels with something called-- it's either TV Everywhere or TV Anywhere. I always get it wrong. And what that basically means is if you still do pay for traditional television, like cable television, like we do, You typically can use the credentials from your TV provider-- so for us, it's Verizon Fios-- and you can put it into channels and hook it up to TV anywhere. And then you'll get access to most of the channels, the cable channels that are not broadcast over the air. You'll get access to most of those via internet streamings, like the ESPNs of the world, the food networks of the world, things of that nature, Discovery Channel. And so then that means that channels can act as a DVR for almost anything you're getting on your cable box as well, which is super duper nice. And channels does a really good job like Plex does of like, you know, adaptively changing how fast it's streaming and what quality and so on and so forth. And now channels is made by a local friend of mine. So I am a bit biased, but for live TV stuff, I really recommend channels for other things that Plex does. Oh, the other thing, the other big thing that Plex Pass gets you is, and this is not really relevant these days, but if you were to say get on an airplane, remember those? Those are fun. If you were to get on an airplane and want to watch something, but you obviously can't stream it because you're in a tube 40,000 feet in the air, Plex Pass, when you have a Plex Pass, it will let you download stuff from your Plex server or others if they've blessed you as such. You can download stuff onto your devices and then watch them offline. Last I heard that was a Plex Pass only feature. - Yes, that one, yes, you are. Yeah, that is one I'm definitely sure about, but you know what we should do? And thank you for letting me know about that channel thing. I might have a look into that. I'm not sure how well, if that will work out for me in my geographical location, but I'll have a look into it. And so far as the whole Plex thing, Plex Pass things, and yes, we should definitely try and see if we can connect up. So I've got a whole bunch of stuff that you may be interested in, or not, I don't know. Who can say? (laughs) Who can say? - So awesome. All right, well, yes. So I love Plex and it's been great. It's been far more reliable than iTunes, to be perfectly honest. Not, sorry, it's not iTunes anymore. It's now movies, I'm sorry. Or no, it's not even movies anymore. It's TV. I lose track. It's changed too much. - It's bad. - It's bad. It's terrible. I used to have this thing where you would go into, you'd load up iTunes, you'd select your computers on Apple TV. It's like your computer And it would just sit there and spin its wheel and it would just never load anything. So I'd have to restart iTunes. Then if that didn't work, I'd restart the computer. If that didn't work, I'd then restart the Apple TV. And then if I was lucky, it would just work. So I mean, yeah, it just works in air quotes, right? But hey, and with Plex, it practically never happens. It's like you load it up, it just loads and it plays. And it almost every time. And I'm like, this is what it was supposed to be like. Apple, what happened? - Yeah. Plex has its own set of foibles and problems. So as an example, in order for it to do all of the magic to pull in the posters from movies and cast information and stuff like that, Plex is extremely opinionated about the way in which you arrange the files on your file system and the way in which you store them-- or name them, I should say. I don't personally have a problem with that. But if you have some sort of system already, bending it to meet Plex's needs may be frustrating. But it's not a very complicated setup. It's actually very straightforward. It's just it's very, very opinionated. And there's only one real right way to do it. But if you get past that, Plex is one of those things that a friend of mine told me about. And I've done this many times in the past. But a friend of mine told me about it. I was like, you've got to get on this bandwagon, man. It's so good. [MUMBLING] And then I finally saw the light and was like, mother of God, I cannot believe this has not been in my life already. And truth be told, our Apple TV is almost exclusively a Plex client. It's like 80 to 90% Plex and like 10% channels and you know whatever remainder I may have is other stuff like you know like Apple TV Plus or maybe Disney Plus or something like that. But we almost exclusively use our Apple TV as a Plex client and the Plex app on Apple TV is really good. I cannot say enough good things about Plex. Same with the Synology but Plex as well. And one pro tip, I don't know if it's happening right now, it doesn't look like it, but it is not uncommon for Plex to put a lifetime Plex Pass on sale. So as we sit here today on Cyber Monday in the United States, it's $120 for a lifetime Plex Pass. This is in contrast to $5 a month or $40 a year. For my money, there is no doubt in my mind that even at $120, the lifetime Plex Pass is the right answer. That being said, again, they often, at least a couple times a year, they'll put it on sale for the lifetime Plex pass. I don't recall for how much. It may not be a night and day difference, but it's a difference. And so, if you're thinking about it, I would keep your eyes peeled, maybe follow their Twitter account or what have you, and check it out. And if you're interested in this at all, get a lifetime Plex pass because it is, I think, the best value for money without a doubt. So, do you know what it is normally, this normal list price? I think it is $120 normally. I actually don't think it's on discount right now. I don't really keep up with it though. So it's very possible that it is on sale and I don't realize it. No, that's okay. It doesn't say anything about being on sale. But yeah, I mean, in in, in my unusual currency, it's 160 or 159.99 Australian dollars, but which sounds like it should be about 110 120 us or something like that. So it's 120 right now. So yeah, there you go. Okay, cool. Well, good to know. All right. I think it's time we start talking about Docker Because. Indeed. Yeah. So how what? I've never come up with a good elevator pitch for Docker because it's like it's like a VM, but it's not really a VM. But it is a VM, but it's not exactly VM. How would you describe Docker? I would describe Docker as imagine a VM with an operating system that's had all of the extra craft pulled out of it. And it just does one thing. And you can't really modify it. it's kind of like an app and an operating system in a bubble. - Yeah, that's a good way of putting it. Yeah, yeah. - Yeah. - I've only dabbled with it a little bit. I think I started with PyHole, which I mentioned earlier. - Yes. - Basically what that is, it's a local DNS server that will refuse to answer DNS requests for things that it knows are advertising and tracking. So, you know, your computer, when it goes to load a website, it will try to go to advertisement.com or whatever, And it will have to ask the pie hole, because it's your DNS server, OK, what is the IP address for advertising.com? And the pie hole will say, I don't know. And so that means it just won't load whatever's there. And it's, again, not without its foibles and problems here and there. But generally speaking, it works really well. And I did have that on Docker for a long time. And the reason I took it off was because it seemed like-- and maybe it was because my ISP changed. Maybe it was something with like Ad-- what's Google's? AdSense changed or something. But I noticed that I seemed to be getting a lot more ads all of a sudden. And I think what had happened was, somewhere, someway, somehow, I started getting these ads served over IPv6. And I personally did not have the technical ability to figure out how to get PyHole in Docker on the Synology to accept and take an IPv6 IP address. So what happens is, if you think about it again, your computers and go into advertising.com and it somehow or another decides, well, is this IPv4, which is like 192.168.1.1, or is this IPv6, which is a bazillion character IP address. And in the case that it was IPv6, because the pie hole wasn't there to answer the question, it would go to my ISP's DNS server, like it generally would, and I would see the advertisement. And so that stank and I didn't like it. So that's why I ended up putting it on a Raspberry Pi. The other thing I am using it for now is Homebridge. - Of course. - If you're not familiar, Homebridge is, it was a completely, just a total disaster and hacked up piece of garbage, but it worked. Now it's actually relatively pleasing to use, but it's a thing that will allow stuff that isn't on Apple HomeKit to be on Apple HomeKit. Now this can be stuff like, say, Belkin Wemo, which was a very popular early days smart home line for switches and plugs and things. Or it can be something that's completely hacky and technical. So as an example-- and we talked about this a lot on ATP-- I wanted to be able to know if my garage door was open. And I wanted to be able to see that in various different ways, and one of them was in HomeKit. And so what I did was I put a different Raspberry Pi, literally sat it on top of my garage door opener, and put a moment switch, a proximity switch on the garage door. And basically, I told Homebridge, well, just ping away at this IP address, this web IP address, which is something internal to my network. And when that website returns 1, that means the garage door is either closed or open. And when it returns 0, that's the other one. And so now, here's something that is completely custom. But as far as Apple's concerned, it's a legitimate garage door that I can see in HomeKit, which is super neat. And like I said, Homebridge is way less fiddly now. It's still super fiddly, don't get me wrong. But they actually have a user interface for it now. And so it's way nicer than it used to be. If you're not into smart home stuff, which means you're probably smart, and/or if you just don't happen to have a need for this, then that's not going to help you much. But if you happen to be like me, where you're trying to put together bits and pieces of all these different ecosystems and try to get them all onto HomeKit, Homebridge does work really well. And it works super nicely in Docker. and that's the only thing I have going right now. John, I'm assuming you have about 45 things, like you have 45 VMs. - Maybe not 45, but certainly more than one. And yes, I did actually also play with Homebridge. I have one device, just the one, which is a robot vacuum. It's a Roborock S6 robot vacuum cleaner. Love that thing, it's fantastic. And the only problem is, of course, it's not HomeKit, hence the need for Homebridge. But the only thing is to integrate it, what you need to do is get an Android device, download this specific version of this, and there's two apps, just, I don't know why. So you've got the Mi, I think it's Mi Home app, Mi Home, Mi, H-O-M-E, anyway, Mi Home. And you also have the Robo Rock app, the app is called Robo Rock. And each of them, this is one specific version of Mi Home, that they accidentally left the unique identifier key unencrypted. And so you log in, you follow this procedure, you dump the log file from the database and you extract it because of course, this is just the sort of way we geeks amuse ourselves on the weekend. And then you integrate it with Homebridge and so on. Anyway, so that works as long as you're using the Mi Home app and I hooked it all up and because HomeKit doesn't actually have anything for a robot vacuum cleaner, it sees it as a fan. And so, you'd say, turn fan on. And I'm like, okay, great. The fan is now on. And so, you know, the robot vacuum, which, you know, my wife christened Vicky, Vicky the vacuum. So, Vicky would she would undock and sit there and then she would be like, yep, okay, job done. And then it reversed back into the dock and charge again. And that's about the most I could get it to do. And so, I'm like, okay, not perfected yet. Couldn't quite get the rooms to work. Couldn't really, you know, it was having all sorts of problems when I was running it using the Mi Home app because it was a bit older. So I mean, it would literally sit in the middle of the floor and just lose its mind. It wouldn't know where it was going, what it was doing. So I ended up going to the other app which blew away the key. And then of course, it wasn't a hacky version. So I couldn't get the key anymore. And I just had to give up. So oh, well, maybe someday in future, I'll invest in some more smart in air quotes, smart home stuff, but we'll we'll see how we go with that. Some people have advised not to so maybe not, I don't know. So that was my home Bridge Fun. As for the rest of it, just a real quickly, I played a bit with Etherpad as well, which is a, which is a node Docker. The problem I had with that is that it stores all of its it's just like a collaborative text app, like like Dropbox paper kind of thing, because I hate hate hate Dropbox and Dropbox paper. And that's just me and never mind. But the point is that I couldn't figure out how to make this particular Docker image retain, because you have to have an external data database where you can save all the values because it's all driven from MySQL. And yeah, it just became too much of a pain in the neck. And then I found out that this, the Synology office worked just as well and had more features. So I'm like, yep, okay, I don't need that anymore. Okay, so the three that I spend, one, two, three, yeah. The three that I spend most of my time using, transmission, which I use for, you know, legitimate torrents. - Linux distributions. - Linux distributions, yes. And there's two others. One of them is called Sonar. And Sonar is actually a TV show program tracking kind of software. So, what it does is it goes and talks to all the different movie and TV show data indexes around the world. And so, you say, "Hey, when's the next episode of, I don't know, The Amazing Race or Catfish or whatever it is you might like to watch?" And it'll show you the TV schedules for when that's going to be coming up all past seasons and so on and so forth. So that's really, really handy. And it also can be integrated with other bits and pieces to automatically grab TV shows about Linux distributions, for example, that would also be freely available. And Jacket is another one. And Jacket searches a bunch of torrent indexes for said shows about Linux distributions. And they all go together. And if you name all the directories correctly, you can basically get a system that integrates with Plex because it can then write those to the correct directories in Plex. So they then automatically load in Plex as well. It's kind of magical, but it's a pain in the neck to set it up, but once you've set it up, it's kind of set and forget. And so, yes. And so I have now just automatically download a whole bunch of stuff that is really interesting about Linux distributions. You know, it's funny you bring that up too, because I don't have that very, very common and yet very convoluted setup. It's a very Unix-y way of doing things, right? Like each of these things does one thing and does it well, but then you have to hook them all together, like you said, and it gets interesting from what I've gathered. But on the occasion that I do need to download a Linux distribution, files, was it download Download Station on the Plex is actually a very decent BitTorrent or Newsgroup client. So if you hook up, say if you have a Newsgroup account where you can download Linux distributions that have been split across 80,000 text-only Newsgroup messages, you can set that up in Download Station. You can set up BitTorrent in Download Station. And it actually works pretty well. And it's really nice. another example of why it's nice to have a computer that's hooked up to the internet and just sitting there waiting for you to ask it to do something. Because you can actually just go and put a NZB or a torrent or even just a URL into Download Station. It'll just sit there and quietly download it while you're doing other things and let you know when you're done. One really unfortunate thing, however, is that there used to be a client app for this on iOS. So if you, say, ran into an NZB or something as you're browsing the internet on your iPhone or iPad, there used to be an app called DS Get that would let you-- it was a first party app from Synology-- that would let you upload that NCB or torrent or what have you to Download Station. Unfortunately, Apple Co-op went into the fact that this mentioned the word BitTorrent somewhere and punted it off the App Store. And as far as I know, there is no equivalent available. I can still use it because I had downloaded it literally seven years ago. And so this ancient, ancient version is currently still working, although I'm sure it'll give up eventually. If there is a third-party equivalent, which hypothetically there should and could be, these are all APIs that other people could use, please let me know. I would love to know because I would love a modern version of this app. And I wish, John, there was some way I could get it to you because I know you can't get to it since it's so old, but yeah, you should keep an eye out for that because even just the stuff that's in Download Station is actually very, very good. I didn't give Download Station enough attention because it's listed as a productivity tool, which I totally can sort of get that classification. I might have another crack at that and see how I go. And just on the comment about like it's a common, but it's like a very unixy way of doing things, three separate containers to do one thing. There are some people that have actually created a combined container. And yeah, so they have done it, but I don't know why. I guess I just, I just, maybe I think it was because I started one at a time and I'm like, "Oh, I'll just get this one working." And then, "Oh, I'll just get that one working." And then, it's like, "Oh, I don't want to blow away what I've already done." So, that's kind of how I got to it. And just to make sure that obviously everything is all nice and encrypted end-to-end, they all automatically connect to my open VPN, which is actually out on a VPS somewhere out in the world, because, you know, and yeah, because links distributions. So, and the one that I've I've just discovered recently, which I hadn't come across until recently, was this thing called Watchtower. Have you come across Watchtower at all? - No, I don't think so. - So one of the problems that I had is that I would log in to any one of those three, and it would give you a warning just every now and then, by the way, your software is ancient, and there's a whole bunch of updates you should probably download. And I'm like, yeah, but it's a Docker image. So I can't really do that 'cause it's kind of like in a bubble. Anyway, so it turns out that you can actually use this Watchtower Docker container. And it's a Docker container that watches Docker containers. - So meta. - I know, right? It's just so funny. Anyway, so I love it. Anyway, and the only thing that's strange is that you can't actually create it from the DSM Docker application within DSM's interface. You have to do it from the command line and- - Oh, that's a bummer. - Yeah, it's a bit of a pain, but once you do it once, it's fine. So you just set it up as a single task with a bit of Unix in there, Unix speak, and it just, it creates it. And then after that, it's fine. The only downside I found is that some of the retentive information may get blown away when you update the Docker image. So you gotta be careful about where you store what. So I'm still playing with it, but on the plus side, I've also probably have eliminated a bunch of potential vulnerabilities by updating and getting a few extra features. So there's that. - Nice. Before I go any further, I'd also like to talk about our second sponsor for this episode and that's ManyTricks, makers of helpful apps for the Mac. Whose apps do, you guessed it, ManyTricks. And their apps include Butler, KeyMau, Leech, DesktopCurtain, TimeSync, Moom, NameMangler, Resolutionator, Witch and the return of Usher with Usher 2. There's so much to talk about for each app they make, so we're going to touch on some highlights for 6 of them. Usher 2, the return of the classic Usher, but now it's a full 64-bit app that works well with Catalina and Mac OS 11 Big Sur. So what is Usher? It's an amazing, powerful media management and playback app that can see your movies that you have in TV, music and the Photos app or any library location that you'd prefer on your Mac. It can organise them for you if you like, you can create advanced playlists and sorting criteria and you can even edit their information all from within Usher. Not only that, to celebrate the return of Usher, you can grab the Usher 2 beta from the link in the show notes and there's a special presale for it as well. Check it out. Time Sync. Track your time spent in apps or activities on your Mac the simple and easy way with Time Sync. You can pool your apps by common activities, create custom trackers for non-Mac activities and its simple but powerful reporting features show you exactly where your time went so you can plan better and stay focused. Resolutionator It's so simple. A drop-down menu from the menu bar and you can change the resolution of whatever display you like that's currently connected to your Mac. The best part though, you can even set your resolution to fit more pixels than are actually there. It's very handy when you're stuck on your laptop and you need more screen real estate. Witch You should think about Witch as a supercharger. For your command tab app switcher, if you've got 3 or 4 documents open at once in any one app then Wiches beautifully simple pop-up lets you pick exactly the one you're looking for. You can switch between tabs as well as apps and app windows with horizontal, vertical or menu bar switching panels with text search for switching you can show the front most app in the menu bar icon with full touch bar support and much much more. Name Mangler You've got a whole bunch of files to rename quickly, efficiently and in large numbers Well, NameMangler can help. It's designed for stage renaming sequences with powerful regex pattern matching. Recent additions include a group by feature when making a sequence and title case conversions can now keep their existing formatting or convert them all to lowercase based on word length. The best part is it shows you the result as you go. So if you mess anything up, just revert back to where you started and try again. Moom makes it easy to move any of your windows to whatever screen positions you want. halves, corners, edges, fractions of the screen, and then you can even save and recall your favourite window arrangements with a special auto-arrange feature when you disconnect or reconnect an external display. It has full touch bar support and keyboard integration with Adobe's apps, and it also works perfectly on an iPad operating in sidecar mode and has a sharper hexagonic look in Big Sur. It's the first app I load on a new Mac because well, it's just awesome. Now that's just six of their great apps, that's about half of them, and they all work on the latest version of Mac OS Big Sur. All of these apps have free trials that you can easily download from ManyTricks, alloneword.com/pragmatic and you can easily try them out before you buy them. They're all available from the website or through the Mac App Store. However, if you visit that URL, you can take advantage of a special discount off their very helpful apps exclusively for Engineered Network listeners. Simply use ENGINEER25 that's ENGINEER the word and 25 the numbers in a discount code box in the shopping cart to receive 25% off. Now this offer is only available to Engineered Network listeners for a limited time so take advantage of it while you can. Thank you to ManyTricks once again for sponsoring the Engineered Network. Alright that's probably enough about Docker because there's one more thing I really want to talk about and that's backups. And I wanted to finish on backups because basically it's something that's irritated me for a long time. And I know we've kind of talked about it a little bit. So, just skipping over the stuff that we have talked about. It's funny about people that think about backups and what's a backup. So, I kind of see like backups as layers, maybe layers like a cake, although it doesn't taste as as nice as a cake, but still. So do you use your Synology as a time machine backup destination? - Yeah, so we didn't actually ever talk about this, but so I have eight drives in my local Synology and two of them are RAID zero, which most people are like, (gasps) no, because RAID zero, what RAID zero means is they're just acting as one big drive. But that means if either of these physical hard drives coughs then the entire volume, the entire two drive array goes down. And I'm using that only for Time Machine backups. So it is extremely rare that I ever go into Time Machine to dig something out. I've only probably done it five or 10 times in the 10 plus years I've been using a Mac. So for me, this isn't a big deal. Your mileage may vary, but the first two drives are just a RAID 0 Time Machine backup. The remaining six drives are Synology Hybrid RAID, which is their proprietary RAID setup, which basically you can summarize as, You can, at least earlier on, you could get at least one drive redundancy. Now I think you can basically pick how much redundancy you want. And so that's what the rest of the Synology is for me. And the backups that I do of the Synology, we'd mentioned the nightly backups off-site. I also do a thing with Backblaze where I have a single external 12 terabyte hard drive that I hook up to the Mac Mini every couple of weeks. And I'll R-sync literally everything from the Synology over to that hard drive. Because I still can just barely eke in under the 12 terabytes. And then I'll leave that connected to the Mac Mini for a day or two and make sure that that all gets sent to Backblaze. So I have a complete copy of everything at Backblaze. And then for certain things that I consider irreplaceable, I also have a couple of smaller, more portable-- because the 12 terabyte hard drive is one of those big old, I think it's a Western Digital desktop hard drive. You know what I'm talking about? those humongous textbook-sized external hard drives. Well, then I have a couple of the more portable, standard-issue external hard drives, one of which gets a clone of all of our photos once a month, one of which gets a clone of what I consider to be irreplaceable media. So this is coming out of Plex. And what that basically amounts to is concert films, many of which I have captured as they were being streamed live on the internet. So they may or may not exist anywhere else. And then certain TV shows that I've put a lot of effort into collecting. Top Gear is an example. My son really loves Paw Patrol, although I think he's starting to phase out of that. And what I found is, you know, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, which is another very, very small kid show that my daughter likes. And over the last six years, since my son has been born, many of these shows will put one or two episodes up for free to watch on the internet. And I'll use a tool called YouTube DL, which I've spoken about many, many times on ATP, and capture that episode, and then I'll stick it on Plex. And when you do this for six straight years, you end up amassing darn near every episode of "Paw Patrol" and "Daniel Tiger" that's ever aired. And so it would be a real shame if I lost that. Now I'm sure I could go and maybe buy seasons on iTunes or something like that. But I have acquired these through means that I consider to be OK. Maybe they're not, I don't know. But I don't want to lose these. And so a subset of my Plex library gets duplicated onto this external hard drive. And those external hard drives also live at my parents. And those would make it super easy for me to restore the stuff that's there. So my entire photo library I could restore very easily. Subset of my Plex library I could restore easily. Hypothetically, the external hard drive that sits on the opposite corner of the house from the Synology could also-- the 12 terabyte I was speaking of that's huge-- would also make it easy to restore the entirety of Mycenology. But we don't have time to talk about it, I don't think. But one of the things that I found was I treated Mycenology's internal redundancy as enough. And I had a scare six months or a year ago wherein two drives failed simultaneously. Because in the process of restoring onto a new drive, all of that work and stress that was being put on the remaining hard drives caused one of the remaining ones to briefly fail. It ended up that it was able to cough back to life. But what that meant was my entire six-disk array almost had a catastrophic failure. And I almost lost a lot of data. Like, photos I had, but my Plex library existed nowhere else. And so it was at that time I caught religion with regard to backups. And now I have this kind of ridiculously redundant and over-engineered backup system. But now I know that I pretty much cannot lose my photos. I pretty much cannot lose a subset of my Plex library, and it would be extremely difficult to lose anything else on the Synology, because not only is it on this external drive that's in the opposite corner of the house, it's on the Synology at my mom and dad's, but it's also on Backblaze. It's interesting, isn't it? We have these experiences, scares, and then it changes our perspective on backup. The thought occurs to me as you're telling me that story that I simply haven't been scared enough perhaps. I've drawn my line in a different place. And I guess what I wanted to sort of like, I'll just step you through a little bit about what I've got, which is nowhere near as much relays of redundancy that you've got or protection and guarding against failures. So I use my Synology's time machine backup for all the laptops in the house. And I just put on the same redundant storage array, which is probably, maybe that's not necessary, but like I could probably do a single drive that was not redundant, I could potentially, but I guess it's got four bays and 12 terabytes of usable, well, 10.9 of usable space, so I don't know. Anyway, I have the external drive, four terabytes, and it's enough to carry family home movies, home movies I haven't edited yet, and of course the entire photo collection and have some room for growth and to spare. The rest of it is essentially stuff that I consider to be more expendable. The truth is that I would probably be cringing if I lost my entire, you know, TV and so on library of favorite shows. I suspect it would take me a long time if I would even be able to recover some of it. But yeah, I haven't reached that. I haven't had that scare, I suppose. Why haven't I haven't? I mean, I lost some and I kind of got over it, but I had a hard drive failure back in about five or or five, six years ago, and I lost some of the original audio recordings of Pragmatic and yeah, it was kind of sad. And so I have the MP3s of course, but I don't have the original audio. So that's sort of been, was my wake up call and that's why I switched to Backblaze. But then I kept getting the bills in from Backblaze and I thought, well, look, what I'll do is I consider that Array2Array is a backup at the very first layer, which is I now have data spread across two devices. So I'm guarding against this failure of a single device. And that's all well and good until you have multiple drives that fail. So I figured, well, what are the failure mechanisms? And you just highlighted one I hadn't considered, which is in recovering one, the next one is overstressed and may potentially fail. And that's definitely a risk, especially if you buy the drives all at the same time. So they're all gonna be the same age. They're probably all from the same batch. So if they're all gonna fail, they're all going to fail around about the same time. So that's true. And I am potentially exposed to that even if my three shiny new iron wolves won't be shiny new in five years time. So I should probably consider that at some point, but yes, food for thought. But anyhow, at the moment, I have a fireproof safe in the house. And obviously I'm, if the house burns down, the literal, you know, the worst case scenario, house burns down, what do you do? And I am trusting that my fireproof safe is in fact fireproof enough that it would not toast my hard drive in the process. And the truth is that were the house burned down and I was in the house when it caught on fire, the first thing I would do is get the family out. And the second thing I would do is I'd run back in and grab the Synology. But- No, you joke, you joke. But I swear to God, that is exactly what I would do. Like you said, family first. We don't happen to have any pets. So, you know, humans first, and then I would just rip all of the cables out of that technology, you know, graceful, shut down, be darned. And I would run out of the house with that thing because as, as silly as it sounds, like that is countless hours of my life sent, um, spent amassing all of this stuff. And I, you know, of course it means things that may or may not have fallen out from the back of the truck, but I more mean like photos and videos of the family that, that again, like I have enough redundancy that I don't think I would lose it, but it would be very nice not to have to go through all that, you know. So, I couldn't agree with you more. It would be family first and then the Synology second. Exactly. Family and NASA's first. Yes, family and then NASA. Anyway, yes, it's just incredibly- It's easy to underestimate just how much effort went into building all of that now that we have it. Losing it would be terrible. So, I mean, I did look into, 'cause I did in fact suspend my Backblaze in so doing this as part of my rationalization for spending so much money on it. But then after I got it and I started thinking it through, I started looking into, well, what if I, 'cause they were sort of said, well, you can connect the Synology to B2, which is, you know, Backblaze's block storage, I think it is off the top of my head. And I added up for 10 terabytes. It cost me about $51 US a month to store it. - Yeah, I did the exact same thing. 'Cause I don't really love that I'm sort of kind of cheating the system with Backblaze. What I'm doing is an accepted acknowledged thing that you can do, but it's clear that that's not really what they want you to be doing. And I would much rather just have the Synology upload itself to Backblaze rather than having to do the stands with the external drive and the Mac mini and so on and so forth. But in order to do that with a really and truly blessed first party solution from Backblaze, it would have to go to B2. And yeah, I have about the same amount of space. And I had the exact same reaction. Like, this data is invaluable. But is it $50 invaluable? I understand what invaluable means. But it's $50 a month, 12 months. That's one year. It's ridiculously expensive. And so I feel like I can kind of go around and make a equally robust solution that's yes a bit more fiddly and more involved without having to spend $50 a month if it was yeah if it was 2030 bucks a month I would think about it if it was 10 to 20 bucks a month it would be no question I would absolutely do it sure but 50 bucks a month is just not affordable to me yeah it's it's a pretty expensive bridge to cross I sort of because I was thinking about like the way you've got it set up with the the hyper backup over the internet between two separate locations. I really liked that idea because my problem is with I thought about offsite backup because I mean, so you do it. I'm pretty sure Merlin does it. Lots of, well, I said lots of people, some people that I know who care deeply about their data and their backups do actually do the offsite thing, but I'd be the sort of person that would just forget all the time. And I just, I know that I would, but, and I haven't been going into the office as much with the whole COVID situation. So, but having said that, chances of the office burning down is probably far less than this house. I mean, well, actually, I don't wonder if that is statistically true, but in any case, you've got diversity of geographical locations. So, there's that. And I also thought about it, you know, my mother doesn't have internet, but my mother-in-law does. So, maybe, I don't know, I need to think about that and see if she'll miss a small Synology in the corner of her house. Maybe she won't mind. So, you got me thinking about that. But in any case, I just wanted to sort of point out, and this is one thing just irritates me is that there's a common expression that RAID is not a backup. And it kind of it frustrates me like, OK, I'm not talking about RAID 0. OK, RAID 0 really isn't a backup. OK, that's true. But I mean, any RAID that has any kind of- You have two drives and they are essentially either running in parity or they're running like the Synology hybrid RAID system, which is essentially the same kind of thing, just a little bit more. It's like a software raid versus a hardware raid, and that's another discussion. But the truth is that if you're guarding against a single hard drive failing, yes, it is a backup. Is it enough? Well, that depends. I mean, how much further down the stack do you want to go? I mean, the way you've gone, so you've got raid. So you've got Synology Hybrid Raid. You've got hard drive backed up to Backblaze. You've got another NAS that's in a different geographical location. And you've also got a hard drive that you put in another location physically. I mean, seriously, you'd have to drop several atomic bombs in several locations to wipe that out. That's like- And that's the hope, right? And, you know, Backblaze did not sponsor this particular program, but they have sponsored my show in the past. And they have a really, really good- I don't think this is a unique creation by Backblaze, but they have a really good site or page, I should say, that's very, very quick. And it talks about the 3-2-1 backup strategy, which says in reading from the site, a 3-2-1 backup strategy means having at least three total copies of your data, two of which are local, but on different mediums. So different devices, maybe one on optical disk and hard drives or just different hard drives. And then one copy that is off-site somewhere. So two locally, two different devices, and then one that's off-site somewhere. Now, naturally, Backblaze is saying this because they want them to be your off-site backup. But I still think the principle makes sense, right? And here it was, I thought my Synology hybrid rate was bulletproof because, you know, if it ended up that, that one of my hard drives died, well, no problem. I'd slap in a new one. I have one on deck ready and waiting, like not literally in the machine, but you know, in my office, I have a brand new, fresh hard drive ready and waiting in case one goes kaput. Uh, I just have to slap it in and wait a couple hours, right? And then what ended up happening was it caused another drive to fail. And so, um, that was, uh, I, I was in tears when I thought that I had lost everything and I swore I will spend whatever I need to spend to get myself to the position that like you said short of a nuclear bomb it shouldn't be an issue. I actually think it'd be in multiple Casey based on everything you've told me. One would not be enough to wipe it out so and that's what you're going for so it's all about the levels that you're prepared to go to so there's no such thing as you know I backed up enough because you could always do more. But in any case. So anything else to add about the Synology? I think we've covered quite a lot of ground. Yeah, I mean it's expensive. Like I said earlier, it's extremely expensive and it is oftentimes, before you've embraced the lifestyle, it seems somewhat wasteful. I mean you are powering on multiple spinning, what did you call it before spinning iron? Spinning rust. Yeah. Spinning rust. There you go. Multiple spinning hard drives all day, every day. And I mean, they theoretically could power themselves down, but in my experience, they never do. I mean, this is a not insignificant power draw. It's a not insignificant footprint in your office or den or basement or what have you. I mean, there's a lot of reasons that this seems like a bad idea and it's a significant amount of money. But if you think that you want to have the ability to just throw something into a bucket and not have to have to worry about overflowing said bucket, then I cannot recommend it enough. If you have a situation where you want to have a computer that's sitting there at your beck and call waiting to do things, I cannot recommend it enough. I mean, it is such a wonderful, wonderful experience having a Synology. And again, the ones I've received, they were either from Synology or left over from somebody else. I've never actually spent my own money on this, so I understand I'm a little hypocritical. But I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that if my 1813 died today, I would be next day airing a modern replacement of it for the following day because I cannot imagine living without. Yep, and I'll echo that sentiment. I mean, whilst I did put my money down but here's the thing is I tried to go on the cheap. My advice, don't. Just get new drives up front. Please don't do what John did. But I mean it was a bit of a pain to set it up and that was not the Synology's fault. It was just trying to protect me from myself and ultimately it failed at protecting me from myself but never mind I got there in the end. And ever Ever since then, I've just fallen in love with this thing and I could not go back. It's been wonderful, six months in and I'm not regretting it for a second. So I love my Synology, definitely recommend. And yeah. So anyway, if you want to talk more about this, you can reach me on the Fediverse at chigi and engineered dot space, on Twitter at John Chigi or one word or the network at engineered underscore net. I'd personally like to thank Solver by Aqualia for sponsoring the engineered network. You've tried a calculator and a spreadsheet, but if you haven't tried Solver yet, you're missing out on a great app that fits perfectly with the way your brain actually thinks. Solver 3 for Mac is available from the solver.app website as well as through the Mac App Store. If you use the URL in the show notes, it helps out the show. So please use the URL in the show notes to learn more about this amazing app. Check it out today. This episode has also been sponsored by ManyTricks. If you're looking for some Mac software that can do ManyTricks, remember to specifically visit this URL, manytricksalloneword.com/pragmatic, for more information about their amazingly useful apps. If you're enjoying Pragmatic and want to support the show, you can by supporting our sponsors or via Patreon at patreon.com/johncheejee or one word. A big thank you to all of our patrons, a special thank you to our silver producers, Mitch Bilger, John Whitlow, Kevin Koch, Oliver Steele, Lesley, Law Chan, Hafthor and Shane O'Neill. And an extra special thank you to our gold producer known only as R. Patron rewards include a named thank you on the website, a named thank you at the end of episodes, access to raw detailed show notes, as well as ad-free high quality releases of every episode. So if you'd like to contribute something, anything at all, there's lots of great rewards. And beyond that, it's all really, really appreciated. So if you'd like to get in touch with Casey, what's the best way for them to get in touch with you, mate? You know, I keep trying to divorce myself from Twitter, but it never works and probably never will. So you can find me there at Casey Liss, C-A-S-E-Y-L-I-S-S. Same on Instagram, another thing that I should probably leave behind, but won't. You can listen to my two podcasts, the Accidental Tech Podcast at ATP.fm, or Analog, which I do with my dear friend, Mike Hurley, at relay.fm/analog, spelt either the correct way or the way with excessive use, for you, John. So anyway, you can find me just about anywhere, and you can also see my website at caseyliss.com. Awesome. Thank you so much. A special thank you to our patrons and a big thank you to everyone for listening. And as always, thanks for coming back on the show, Casey. It's always a great, it's always a blast. Thank you so much. Oh, same here. Thank you for having me. [MUSIC PLAYING] (upbeat music) (upbeat music) [Music] [MUSIC] (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) [Music] *sigh* Wow, I love my NES. Yes. *laughs* [BLANK_AUDIO]
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Casey Liss

Casey Liss

Casey appears on the Accidental Tech Podcast each week as well as on Analog(ue) at relay.fm and also blogs here.

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.