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Month: October 2009

Acoustically Dampened Hard Disk Shelf

With an iMac soon to replace my Mac Pro, I’ve had to set up some external disks to take care of extra storage and backup needs. Most hard disk enclosures contain fans and are a bit noisy, so I decided to move them to a place where I won’t be able to hear them: in the floor beneath my desk. As was done back when I had a fibre channel disk array in the basement I’m running a cable through the wall and floor, except this time the drives will be located sitting on an acoustically dampened (with neoprene) shelf, and connected via Firewire / IEEE1394b.

To build the shelf I used 1/2″ birch plywood and applied neoprene to most of it using contact cement (picture). A space was left for an APC Back-UPS ES (BE550G) which will be used to provide power to the disk enclosures (picture). The space above where the shelf will fit was then lined with the remaining neoprene, stapled in place using my Dad’s staple gun (picture). The board was then screwed in place using a number of drywall screws, with them concentrated around the UPS end, as it will bear more weight (picture). With a layer of neoprene between the base and the joists I didn’t tighten the screws down fully, as this should provide some additional isolation between the board and the floor.

I expect that once they are located on the shelf I will not be able to hear the fan in the rather noisy Vantec NexStar NST-400MX-UFB or the disk access in either it or the Macally PHR-100ACB. This will make for a nicely quiet computing experience in my office, with plenty of room to fit more Firewire disk enclosures should the iMac need additional expansion.

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It’s Made Of People!

This power supply, the Solytech Enterprise Corporation AC Adapter Model AD5012G came with the Vantec NexStar NST-400MX-UFB that arrived today and I keep misreading the label as ‘Soylentech’. This disk enclosure will eventually be used with the replacement for my Mac Pro, a 27″ iMac with Core i7 processors. Since the iMac only has one internal disk I’ll be using Firewire disks to add additional spindles for virtual machines, Time Machine, etc. I’m still not sure where I’ll put the drives, but my current thought is either on the back side of my desk, or in the basement, suspended from the ceiling.

After first disconnecting it I found the fan in the NST-400MX-UFB to be necessary, as the drives were becoming quite warm without it. As this fan is fairly loud, I think I’ll be placing the drives in the basement, in a slightly soundproofed enclosure. Today after work I picked up a rather lengthy roll of neoprene from the foam factory and it should go quite a ways towards eliminating fan noise that may emanate from the enclosure through the floor. Some smart baffeling may cut down one the sound in the basement too.

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I Love Michigan’s Scanner Law

I love what is known as Michigan’s Scanner Law. In short, this law states that if one is charged more than the stickered price for an item rung up via a computer scanning a bar code, one is legally eligable to be refunded the overcharged amount plus ten times the overcharged amount, with a cap of $5 on this surplus. In this case I went in to Office Max to check the price on a Logitech LX8 mouse. It was marked as $29.99, so I purchased it. As expected, it rang up for the normal price of $39.99 and the cashier didn’t notice the stickered price.

After a quick walk out of the store then back in I returned to the cashier and asked her about the difference, which she promptly refunded. I had to remind her about the aforementioned Michigan Scanner Law, but doing so resulted in a manager being called over and my receiving an extra $5 cash. Thus, what’s normally a $39.99 MSRP mouse ($49.99 at Office Depot) was obtained for $26.79.

The last time I took advantage of this I obtained a large quantity of 2GB SD (20 or so) cards from Micro Center, most of which were marked $5.99. I was charged $6.99 per card, and upon visiting the customer service desk I was refunded $1/card. When I reminded the cashier of the scanner law she simply re-rang all the cards at $1.99/ea, essentially a $5 penalty per item. When multiple items have their price adjusted the store must correct the price on all and refund the difference, but they are only obligated to pay the 10x penalty once, but if Micro Center wanted to do otherwise, I was not going to go out of my way to correct them.

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Mapping River Bends

For tonight’s bike ride I headed over to River Bends to poke around the paths and experiment with using my phone for producing maps. I found that the phone should be sufficient, as long as I mark every intersection with a waypoint. Most likely I’ll need to head back out and do the mapping / marking again, stopping more often to mark every interesting intersection and point. From there I’ll be able to make a proper map of the hiking / bike trail, and any other interesting bits of trail that I may come across.

It’s interesting to see that the asphalt (yes, what was limestone a week ago is now paved) to dirt transition occurs directly in line with 21 Mile Road, right behind Utica High School. This makes me wonder what the eventual route will be for connecting River Bends and the Clinton River Park (or whatever the trail is called), just on the other side of Utica.

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Maybury Lungbuster Cyclocross (CX) Race

Today I participated in the Maybury Lungbuster Cyclocross Race at Maybury State Park in Northville, MI. Racing class C I did four laps in just over 30 minutes and was right on the edge of vomiting once I was done.

In cyclocross one has to frequently dismount the bike and (ideally) run up hills or hop over intentionally placed obstacles (barriers and logs, in this case) before hoping back on the bike; all while not stopping. I generally didn’t have a problem getting off the bike, but because of the fine clay-bearing soil at Maybury my cleats kept becoming packed full, making clipping in difficult. Being particularly ungood at running and not in that great of shape, the running up hills was particularly challenging as well.

Now that I’m back at home, I’m feeling absolutely exhausted. My right tricep is also sore, which is likely from picking up the bike to hop over the barriers. I think a bath and beer may be in order, but only after eating the Apple Crumble which Danielle currently has in the oven.

If you’d like to see a few more photos from today, here they are:

· Geocache unexpectedly found near the long runup at the Maybury Lungbuster CX race.
· Looking up at people from previous races waiting for Class A racers at the Maybury Lungbuster CX race.
· Two Class A riders from American Cycle and Fitness running up the runup at the Maybury Lungbuster CX race.

I must say, I particularly liked that a race named Lungbuster was held on the grounds of an old tuberculosis sanatorium, Maybury Sanatorium.


Masala Dosa, Race Across The Sky

Here, have a photo of the Masala Dosa from Rangoli Express that I ate for dinner before meeting some friends to see a mountain biking movie called Race Across The Sky. While the dosa was excellent, too large to easily fit on the tray, and requiring some 16:9 cropping to look passable, I thought the movie was just okay.

I really enjoyed the footage of people riding through interesting and beautiful places, but much of the fanboy / celebrity worship bits wore on me. In particular, during the panel discussion portion before and after the movie the presenter’s strong desire to talk about Lance Armstrong whenever possible wore on me. Although, I guess he is a brand to be sold, and one which brings lots of attention to the race…

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Temporary Illumination

After breaking my normal biking headlight I fitted Danielle’s bike light, a NiteRider MiNewt Mini-USB Plus to my bike. At 110 (stated) lumens it’s probably not going to be enough for riding single track, but at least I’ll be able to go ride around the normal paved loops, as long as I pay particular attention to cars, since they won’t be able to see me as well.

This evening I sent my light off to NiteRider for repair via UPS’ 2-Day Air. It cost $23 to ship, but if I get the light back two days sooner, it’ll be worth it. After talking with a customer service person on the phone I expect the repair (and new helmet mount) to cost US$60 – US$80 with a five day turnaround. While not cheap, it’s still cheaper than a new, comparable light.

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