Netgear SC101 Storage Central

I was recently paid by a client, so I took the opportunity to add a little hardware to my home network:

 Netgear SC101
Netgear SC101 Storage Central

My home network consists of two laptops (mine and Wifey’s, via w-fi), and my desktop (wired to the base station).  I needed to be able to access the same files from my laptop and my desktop.  These include my iTunes library, and source code stored in my VSS repository.  Wifey needed to back up iTunes, and I needed to make sure she can access the thousands of images from the flower shop’s weddings and funeral work.  Netgear’s “toaster” seemed like it would fit the bill, so I ordered it and a pair of Maxtor 200 GB IDE hard drives.  Total cost was under $400, significantly less than for a full file server.  One of the reasons this is so much cheaper than a full file server is that this is more of a networkable hard drive, and this particular model is meant for the home network.  Technically, this device is a SAN, not NAS (  Similar products on the market are Iomega’s StorCenter hard drives or the lower-end Snap Servers.  One advantage this device has over the other competitors is that you can determine how much storage you have.  You have to buy the drives separately, but you can start with one and add another one later.  You can also upgrade the drives for more storage down the road.

Setup was very easy—I literally opened the side of the SC101, dropped in the two drives and connected the power and ribbon cables to each.  The side needed a little more force to get back on than I wanted to use, and the lock is spring loaded, so I had to use both hands, one to keep the lock unlocked until the side was back in place, and the other to press the side into place.  It’s like they needed to leave a few mm more space than they did, and the side still doesn’t fit back perfectly.  I then attached the network cable and plugged the unit in, and it started its self configuration.  You do need to have your network running with DHCP, which is the default for most home networking gear.  If you haven’t fiddled with the DHCP settings, you’re probably good to go.

Next step was to install the software, which you must use in order to make this work.  Installation was quick, and it even prompts you to check for an update first.  Good thing, as there was a minor version upgrade since my unit shipped.  Once the software is installed, your first task is to configure the drives, and I was pleasantly surprised as to how the drives can be configured.  During configuration, you’re prompted to check for a firmware upgrade, and this too had a minor version upgrade.  The firmware upgrade was the only glitch in installation—the installer program crashed after the update finished, and I couldn’t reconnect to the device with the client software until I power cycled it.  After the power cycle, I could configure the drives, and everything progressed normally.

I was most interested in having my drives mirrored for data protection reasons (, but you do have some options in how you divide the physical drives into logical drives.  You can define the physical storage media into a number of logical drives, and each drive can be mirrored or not.  I could have two drives, each of 190 GB (representing the two physical volumes), or one 150 GB mirrored and two 40 GB non-mirrored (one on each physical volume).  I ended up with a 150 GB and a 40 GB drive, each mirrored.  Total time was maybe 20 minutes from when I started unpacking to finishing configuration.

In the Amazon reviews, you’ll see people complain about the speed of the device.  Part of this may have to do with the network speed, part may have to do with the speed of the physical drives (try to buy faster ones if you can), and part may have to do with the size of the logical drives.  I use a Microsoft MN-500 base station running at 100 Mbps (the speed of most corporate networks), and it took 2–3 minutes to copy 1300+ files (894 MB) from my desktop to the SC101.  You will probably get better performance by partitioning into smaller logical volumes, and by using a wired connection (the laptops connect at 10 Mbps via wi-fi, but newer wi-fi networks can connect at 54 Mbps).  On the larger volume, it does seem to take a few moments longer to load folder and file listings than on the smaller volume, so I would suggest several smaller logical drives, rather than one monster drive.

There are a couple considerations/downsides.  One thing you definitely need to make sure of is that if you’re using a wi-fi home network, you should definitely secure it with WEP or WPA, especially if you’ll be storing sensitive files on the SC101.  If you don’t, there’s a chance someone could access your files.  I suspect this device uses some form of embedded Linux, and it doesn’t support NTFS or Windows security—it just uses a simple password to access the volume (if you set one).  There does not seem to be any client for Macs or Linux machines, only Windows.  Since I bought two new drives off the shelf at Staples, I can’t say if older drives work or not (you can find a list of tested drives at  Also, Netgear’s website says that the device is compatible with Windows XP SP1, but the box and product insert both say that XP SP2 is the minimum system.  I had to upgrade Wifey’s laptop to SP2 in order to make the client software connect, and the software worked fine after the upgrade to SP2.  Also, SFS bypasses the Windows cache, so folder and file information must be reloaded each time you access your drives.  This absoluetly slows the interface down, and can get annoying if you have to keep accessing different folders in a short amount of time.

All in all, I’m very pleased after several days of use.  One cool feature is that the drives do not need to be defragged.  The controller software uses SAN File System (SFS), which is self-optimizing (to oversimplify).    Even though it’s not a Windows-based device, I haven’t noticed any incompatibilities at all, and the speed seems fine for normal file operations.  And, you can choose to share the logical drives, or keep them private.  This allows you to have a central family place for photos or whatever, and private drives for each family member.

<update 2006–01–01>

I noticed today that for some reason the Windows Installer is painfully slow when I have drives attached.  When using the Add/Remove programs, or when installing a new application, the installation takes forever.  To remedy this, I ran the drive wizard and detached the drive.  Then, installation was pretty normal.

Logitech Wireless Headphones for iPod

Wifey came through with a seriously cool find this Christmas–I didn’t even know these existed:

Logitech Wireless Headphones for iPod
Logitech Wireless Headphones for iPod

These are Bluetooth-enabled headphones that connect to my iPod with a tiny transmitter.  There are 5 buttons on the right earpiece (play/pause, FF, REW, vol up, vol down).  Both the headphones and transmitter are rechargeable.  The volume buttons are easily distinguished from the FF/REW by small dimples in the buttons, and the play/pause doubles as the power button on the headphones.

So far, I’m really pleased.  These are not the lightest headphones you’ll ever wear, and people with melon heads may find them a little tight on the ears (especially if they wear glasses).  The sound quality is surprisingly good–in fact, some of the best I’ve heard through headphones (not as good as my Etymotic ER-6i earbuds, but that’s to be expected).  The Bodeans are crisp and clean, and my classical selections are full-bodied.  The bass response is quite good, without sacraficing treble or suffering distortion.  If I didn’t know these were from Logitech (which I still think of as a mouse company), I’d believe the speaker portions were from an audio company such as Shure or Sony.  The headband goes behind your head, not on the top, so it won’t mess up your big hair.  The headphones/transmitters are paired, so I don’t know if the signal can be shared.  I’m the only one I know with these headphones, so I can’t test it, either.

For me, the best part is the wireless control.  I’m no longer chained to a 4–foot radius in my office.  I can move about freely, and still have control over the songs I listen to with the FF/REW buttons.  It’s kind of Trekkie to press a button on the side of my head when a coworker stops by.  Remember these control an iPod, not iTunes, so if you’re listening at home, you’ll need to use your iPod.  At the end of the day, I just plug in the headphones and transmitter and let them charge overnight.  I’m ready to go the next morning!

I would still recommend the Etymotic ER-6i earbuds for lawnmowing (snowblowing for the next few months) or plane travelling, but Logitech’s Bluetooth headphones are awesome for the office.

<update 2006-01-06>

Here’s the transmitter mounted on my iPod.  USB-powered lava lamp not included.

Now playing: Southern Culture On the SkidsHouse of Bamboo

Support the DotNetNuke Project – Become a Benefactor

It’s been three years since the release of DotNetNuke, and today Shaun announced the DotNetNuke Benefactor Program.  Basically, you can make a donation to support the project, and get some extra benefits in return.  DNN will remain open source and free, and becoming a benefactor is optional.

The DotNetNuke Benefactor Program was created with the intent to preserve the delicate balance between the needs of the open source community, the serious business ecosystem it has fostered, and the on-going management of the project. The Benefactor Program provides the ability for community members to gain access to a premium set of layered benefit packages; with each level designed to satisfy the needs of a specific stakeholder group.

Full information at

Now playing: Pearl JamYou’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away

The DNA Coiling Demonstration

If you were to take all of the chromosomal DNA in a single human cell, unwind the strands and lay them end to end, you’d have about 6-8 feet of DNA. If you were to take all of the chromosomal DNA out of a human body and lay it out the same way, you’d have a strand long enough to reach to the sun and back again (

Let me repeat that.  You have enough chromosomal DNA in your body to reach all the way to the sun and back!  That’s some serious distance all wrapped up inside of us.  It’s that wrapping I want to talk about in this post.  This will be a bit of a simplification, but you’ll get the point.

DNA exists as a double helix.  A corkscrew is an example of a single helix—there’s only one strand that is twisted up to form the helical shape.  A nautilus shell is another example of a helix.  In the case of DNA, there are two strands twisted around each other, forming a double helix.  Imagine a ladder, with the legs secured at one end.  You’re holding the legs at other end, and you start twisting the ladder—that’s pretty much what DNA looks like in its simplest form.

The example I used in my lab classes involved shoelaces.  Take two shoelaces and hold them closely together.  Secure one end (in a desk drawer, tape on the bench, or under that thick bio book).  Then, while pinching both ends together, slowly and gently twist the shoelaces around each other to form a double helix.  Stop when you have a helix all the way down the shoelaces.  This is your basic double helix.

Now, start gently twisting again, leaving a little slack.  After a few twists, the shoelaces will start coiling around themselves, forming irregular loops.  The more you twist, the more loops will be formed, and the more compact your shoelace helices will become.  This is how meters of DNA fit into each cell—very tight winding, around and around and around.  As you can imagine, the irregular coils-upon-coils could cause problems for DNA replication, since they may end up in knots.

Instead of forming irregular structures, DNA in higher animals is wound around proteins called histones (follow the link for a good illustration).  Wrapping DNA around histones helps keep in in regular structures, which are then wrapped around themselves, and so on.  When time to replicate, the DNA is easily uncoiled from its regular structures.  Much like your shoelaces, DNA does not coil and uncoil on its own accord—there is a system of proteins that perform this task, and the deeper science is truly intriguing.  It’s a very elegant and amazing system, and it has to be to pack millions of miles of DNA inside my 6’ 4” frame.  Elegant and amazing is the take-home message for this post.

On a similar note, if you want to see some really cool images of cells and DNA, check out the Invitrogen-Molecular Probes gallery at  These are examples of cells stained with fluorescent dyes for various proteins, organelles and nucleic acids.  These photos are as cool as the Hubble images, IMHO, and very similar in some cases.

Now playing: Budapest Strings2. Alla Hornpipe (Water Music Suite #2 In D, HWV 349)

Formulating Hypotheses

In an effort not to write a Toltsoy-esqe blog post, I’m breaking some background information out into separate posts.  There’s a point, I promise, it’ll just take me a couple posts to get there.

The Scientific Method is a standard process which is used to properly frame an experiment and guide the experimenter (at least it should be, but there’s a lot of junk being done these days).  Various descriptions of the Scientific Method give it a variable number of steps–from 4 to 7.  Those with fewer steps combine a few things that others break out into separate steps–there’s no big divergence in process.  For the sake of discussion, we’ll use the description at

One step, in this case #3, is always stating your hypothesis.  Classically, one wouldn’t just make a single statement and test against it; one would make several statements, each predicting a different outcome of the experiment.  Usually there is a statement of no difference, called the Null Hypothesis, and abbreviated H0 (that’s H sub zero).  One would then offer Alternate Hypotheses predicting different effects, and abbrevizted Ha, Hb, etc.

Let’s look at a simple example: will fertilizer help us grow bigger tomato plants?  We’ve made our observation that Farmer Brown grows nice tomatoes, and he uses fertilizer.  Our hypotheses would be:

H0: Fertilizer will have no effect

Ha: Fertilizer will help our plants grow

Hb: Fertilizer will hinder our plants’ growth

Simple, and easily tested.

Not every hypothesis can be tested.  The human lifespan is too short, and the vastness of space and time and the complexity of our own bodies (let alone the ethical considerations) make some hypotheses virtually untestable.  In these circumstances, even with some solid evidence, the discussion is more academic and philosophical than scientific, especially if there are equally strong (or preposterous) interpretations of the same evidence.

Additionally, another important component of the Scientific Method is repeatability.  Performing an experiment numerous times, and getting the same (or wtihin statistical probablity) answer each time is essential.  In our tomato experiment, we can easily reproduce this hundreds or thousands of times under very controlled conditions.  Referring again to vastness and complexity, some experiments can’t feasibly be repeated.

Quod erat demonstratum (“that which is to be proven”) sometimes always remains as such.

 <background information>

For anyone who’s new to the conversation, I hold a BS in Environmental Science and an MS in Biological Sciences.  I earned my MS studying the genetics of pollution-degrading bacteria and the external proteases of a pathogenic bacterium.  While in graduate school, I was both a teaching and research assistant; I was awarded two teaching awards, and was rated “excellent” by my students when I taught MCAT prep classes for The Princeton Review.  After graduation, I worked as a molecular biologist in medical research for many years before switching to computer programming.

</background information>

Now playing: BoDeansTrue Devotion

SharePoint Error: HTTP Error 403 – Forbidden: Access is denied.

This is for people who get the following error either immediately after you create a WSS site, or when you try to access a WSS site or SPS portal:

You are not authorized to view this page
You do not have permission to view this directory or page using the credentials that you supplied.

Please try the following:

Contact the Web site administrator if you believe you should be able to view this directory or page.
Click the Refresh button to try again with different credentials.
HTTP Error 403 – Forbidden: Access is denied.
Internet Information Services (IIS)


Technical Information (for support personnel)

Go to Microsoft Product Support Services and perform a title search for the words HTTP and 403.
Open IIS Help, which is accessible in IIS Manager (inetmgr), and search for topics titled About Security, Authentication, and About Custom Error Messages.

If you are using SPS, try to access http://<portalname>/default.aspx instead of http://<portalname>/.  If you can access the URL with the pagename, then the problem may be in your application pool settings.  Likewise, if you try to access a WSS site and get this error, see if you can add default.aspx to the URL.  If that works, same problem.  You might also get this error immediatelyt after you create a WSS site, at the point where you are supposed to pick the site template.

Fortunately, the fix is really easy.  You need to open up the IIS manager on the server, and the open the properties for your virtual server.  On the Home Directory tab, you probably need to change the Application Pool the site is running under.  There’s probably one named SpsAppPool or something like that.  If there are several and you’re unsure, try choosing them one by one, and trying to access the URL (the one without the default.aspx) after each change.

For more technical information, I recommend

Now playing: The CallingWherever You Will Go

Designer Display Cakes Re-launched

We’re happy to announce the lauch of the completely revamped Designer Display Cakes (  Designer Display Cakes is a local creator of artifical wedding, occasion and everyday cakes, and her cakes have been featured in commercials for Saturn and on the TV Show “Ed”.  The new website is powered by CandyPress shopping cart, with some tweaks and modifications.  The photo gallery is nGallery with a customized theme.  If you’re looking for a fake wedding cake, Designer Display Cakes is the place to find one!


Now playing: BoDeansTrue Devotion

Review: The Big Moo

First, let me traingulate you on my feelings for similar books.  “Who Moved My Cheese” – hated it.  I thought it was puerile and condescending, but I’m not a person who has change issues either.  “Good to Great” – excellent book, and I’ve used the advice in my business dealings.  “Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”– not a big fan of the entire book, but some of the chapters were though provoking (haven’t seen it in many, many years though).

The Big Moo is the brainchild of Seth Godin, but credited to “The Group of 33”.  It’s not written in traditional chapters, but rather short vignettes—written sound bites, if you will—in some cases, possibly originally scrawled on a napkin at a bar and later transcribed verbatim.  Perfect bathroom reading.  Not being in formal chapters means I can’t do my usual chapter-by-chapter technical overview, so look for a short review here.

Some of the vignettes are the “what if” type of philosophy like you got in your freshman dorm after a lot of beer from people you barely knew.  The ones I found the most interesting covered actual situations, such as Rockport shoes or the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Some made me think, some inspired me, and some were just plain dumb (and I don’t mean in the good way as talked about in the sketch entitled “The Power of Dumb Ideas”, which was a good vignette).  Thankfully, there were more of the interesting or thought-proviking ones.  It doesn’t matter which stories did what, because I think everyone will take something different away from the book.  Perhaps my opinion of some of the dumb ones would be different if I weren’t on the loo, but rather in a place in my life where they would inspire me.  This isn’t a book that changed my life, but it is one I’ll keep around and flip through from time to time.

Readers are encouraged to share the book with their coworkers to try and inspire them to be remarkable.  Assuming you have coworkers who can be inspired to be remarkable, this book could really be a good thing.  Everyone will take something different from the book, and that makes for good conversation at the coffee pot or over lunch.  In my experience, good communication on anything is the basis for a cohesive group, and those are the groups that become remarkable ones.  Reading this book isn’t going to help you turn anything into something remarkable single-handedly.  But look around, and if you have a few coworkers you think can help you overcome stagnation, definately share this with them.  Make sure to read it first yourself. 


Now playing: The ClarksMercury

Crystal Reports Pop-ups and XP SP2

If you haven’t read the article “CodeSnip: Opening Crystal Reports in a New Window in ASP.NET” (, do that before you read this.  I received this comment recently:

When I tried this, it was blocked by Windows XP SP2. When I said to temporary allow blocked items, it stated it had to refresh, and then nothing happen.  I got the original page back, not the new page containing the report.

Any suggestions.

My first suggestion is to make sure there are no other pop-up blockers installed and running.  Many antivirus programs install pop-up blockers (sometimes called “ad blockers”), and every search engine toolbar I know of also includes a pop-up blocker.  I use this codesnip in an application I wrote and support; on one support call, we found four pop-up blockers installed (XP SP2, McAfee, Google and Yahoo toolbars).

I also suggest permanently allowing pop-ups from the site you’re working on–add your site to the “allowed sites” list (Tools >> Popup Blocker>> Popup Blocker Settings, then enter the URL of your site).  This will always allow pop-ups from the site in question, and will make debugging easier.

If you are exporting to PDF, XLS, etc. in this window, there are a couple of other settings you may need to adjust.  Go to Tools >> Internet Options >>Security, and choose the zone your website is in (Internet or Local Intranet), and click “Custom Level”.  Scroll down about 1/3 of the way, to the Downloads section, and Enable both “Automatic prompting for file downloads” and “File download”.  In my case, I’ve had to adjust these settings for both zones, since I develop and test in Local Intranet, but deploy to Internet.

I have yet to have a problem after doing all of these things.  You may need to close and restart IE to get all the settings to take effect.


Now playing: Marc BroussardHome

January BADNUG Meeting – Excel XML Writer and nHibernate

New Location!

Communifax has graciously offered to host us in their conference room.  They’re located just a minute or two down 228 from BC3; find directions at  Thank you Communifax!

Tool of the Month (“use one, don’t be one”): Excel XML Writer

It’s a safe bet more business decisions are made in Excel worksheets than in all the boardrooms and golf courses in the world, combined.  If you spend any time at all querying data from ERP systems or data warehouses, and think there has to be a better way than VSTO, you’ll want to see this free library in action.  Rich Dudley will make your life a little better.

Main Presentation: nHibernate

We’ll all feel like hibernating come late January, but no time for naps yet.  nHibernate is an “object persistence library for relational databases”.  Basically that means you can use nHibernate to keep database stuff in memory, and get at it very easily, to build more scalable ASP.NET applications.  Eric Kepes will show us how.  We’d write a better description, but we don’t fully understand it ourselves.

Full details at