Saturday, March 19, 2011

Setting up a FreeNAS

I'm pretty much done setting up a FreeNAS server for my home network. It's home to my video, music and picture files. I had been using a SimpleShare NAS I bought for $40 on eBay a couple years ago. It was 230 GB, and was getting a little bit crowded, so since we had an old XP box with a Celeron processor at 2.8GHz, I decided to set up the FreeNAS.

Setting it up was a piece of cake. Adding a 2TB drive has not been so easy. Because this is an older computer I had to buy a SATA PCI card, and it's not really working right. It hangs up the system on a reboot, but if you unplug the drive and re-connect it after it has finished rebooting, you can using the Web GUI to re-attach the share and it works just fine then.

I tried updating the BIOS on the PCI card, but it didn't work, and I was getting frustrated, so I left it at that.

I also had a bit of trouble with streaming to the XBox. The FreeNAS server would show up in the Video Library only when I clicked the "Save and Restart" button on the UPnP page, but when I selected it in the Video Library, it never found any folders and then gave me an error message. It turns out the problem was with the built in ethernet adapter. I bought a cheap NIC from newegg and now files are streaming to XBox with no problems at all.

To move the files from the SimpleShare NAS to the FreeNAS, I first mounted the SimpleShare directory on the FreeNAS box with this command:

mount_smbfs -I //SimpleShare/pictures /mnt/SimpleShare/pictures

You have to be logged in as root or you'll get an error message. Once the directory was mounted, I logged out as root, and logged back in as an ftp user, and simply copied the files over with this command:

cp -a -P /mnt/SimpleShare/pictures /mnt/2TB-DATA

The -a flag means to copy all files and subdirectories. The -P flag means retaining the file properties like Date Modified, etc., which is important if you are moving pictures and home movies.

Monday, March 7, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 3

Day 3 - Pixie Dust at Epcot

After the room-shuffling of the previous morning, it was nice to be able to just wake up, have some breakfast and get ready for Rope Drop at Epcot.

Staying in a DVC studio means having a kitchenette, which includes a medium-sized refrigerator, microwave, toaster and coffee maker (picture courtesy of

We use the Disney Dining Plan for lunch and dinner, and prepare a light breakfast in the room – usually bagels or english muffins, cereal, some fruit, that kind of thing. What’s unique about having breakfast at Animal Kingdom Lodge is doing so overlooking the savanna.

Apparently they take the giraffes inside in the early morning to check on them, figuring that most people are leaving for the parks at that time. But we usually had something to look at while we ate…

Sunday, March 6, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 2

Day 2 – Check-in to Kidani and “Let the Adventure Begin” at Animal Kingdom

I woke up about 6:00am, showered and headed over to Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village to check in. I had used a similar strategy in February to snag an available room by being early to check in. When I arrived I had to wait about five minutes behind another guest checking in, and then it was my turn.

The front manager was training one of the new Cast Members on the check-in procedure, and he asked if it would be OK if she checked me in with him right there to help. I said it would be fine.

It took a little longer than usual, especially since we had done Online Check-in, but the best news was that we had gotten our request for a room close to the pool on the Sunset Savanna.  They told me we would be on the same floor as the lobby, just a handful of rooms away from the Lobby, and that it was a great location. The room wasn’t ready, though, so we’d have to wait to find out exactly what room we’d be in.

Armed with my packet of check-in material, I headed back to Pop Century to finish re-packing, gather up the family, and head over to our park for the day - Animal Kingdom.

We got there about 8:30, plenty of time for a Photopass picture in front of the Animal Kingdom sign. The photographer told us to make claws and growl, so we did. As you can see, I really wasn’t into it so much, while DD give it her all…

We found an unattended but “green arrowed” turnstile where no one was waiting and got in line. It was here we discussed our rope drop strategy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

August 2010 Walt Disney World Trip Report - Day 1

Day 1 - Take Off and Splashdown

We spent a week at Walt Disney World August/September 2010. We had a really great time and some very magical experiences. Here's a trip report.

Our flight left from Buffalo at 7:40am. Since the airport is about an hour and 15 minutes from our house, DW and I were up at 4:00am to shower, make a quick breakfast for the trip, load the van, and get DD ready. We were out the door at 5:00, and were at the airport, through security and waiting at the gate by 6:30. The flight took off on time, and we were off!

I had copied some movies and episodes of Kim Possible to my laptop for DD to watch on the plane. As soon as the pilot gave the OK, I set it up for her to watch. My battery must not have been fully charged, though, because it gave out after about 90 minutes – it usually lasts about 5-6 hours – plenty for our two and a half hour non-stop direct flight. So DD listened to Disney Theme Park music on her ipod.

Our flight landed about 10 minutes early. We waited for our bags, then headed down to National to pick out our car from the Executive Aisle. Last year there was a convertible Sebring, but this year, no such luck. We ended up taking a black Jeep Liberty from the regular Emerald Aisle. It had 8,000 miles on it – not the newest, but better than the 18,000 mil SUV parked next to it.

After about a 30 minute drive from the airport – we had arrived!

We always have to take a picture as we drive under this sign. This one came out better than any other we had done – a sign of good things to come, perhaps?

Friday, March 4, 2011

Testing Mobile Blogging

Just testing uploading a mobile post with video and pictures. I used an app called BlogPress, which worked really easily. If you use BlogSpot/Blogger with YouTube and picasa, the integration is super easy. Plus it will push a tweet and make a Facebook post stating that you have a new blog post(an optional setting).

This is what I saw last night when I went in to check on the kid.

After an archeological dig, I found her !

A little sweaty, but otherwise OK.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Family of the Day at Magic Kingdom

Here's some video of us helping to open the Magic Kingdom on September 1, 2010, when we were chosen to be Family of the Day. Eventually I'll get around to posting my tips for giving yourself the best opportunity to be selected.