Freeze Frame! NYC Time-Stop Prank

Over 200 New Yorkers recently walked into one of the busiest train stations in the world, New York's Grand Central Station, and at exactly 2:30 pm, all froze in place. There's one guy in the video who froze just as he was stooping down to pick up some scattered papers. Talk about commitment.

Link. Thanks, Jnova!

Perian: The missing Quicktime component

Quicktime is a both a great platform for video and a great playback engine since it supports a very wide range of video codecs. However, there is room for improvement. VLC can play even more video with winder codec support. Enter, Perian, the Quicktime Component you've been waiting for. Perian will play all types of DivX and MS-MPEG-4 codecs plus it also plays Flash Video. This is great because it makes it incredibly easy to transcode these formats into other standards-based codecs like H.264.

Make sure to remove some of your other components that Perian will now cover.


A crop of volunteer tomatoes

This spring we noticed that we had some tomato plants growing the front yard flower beds. We didn't plant them– they're volunteers and are growing vigorously, despite our lack of care over the summer. Our non-efforts were rewarded with 4 tomatoes totaling 5 pounds. They are most likely Brandywine heirlooms judging from their shape and color (I grew these last year, birds probably “deposited” the seeds).

Reasonably priced dimmable compact fluorescent bulbs

I found a reasonably priced compact fluorescent bulb that is also dimmable with standard incandescent dimmers. Most are not compatible with dimmers and thus ones that do are expensive.

I only ordered four to start with for the studio. The bulbs are rated at 23 watts, each replacing a 85 watt flood. The new bulbs save 248 watts of energy and put off more light (equivalent to 400 total watts of light). The four pack of bulbs from the Amazon vendor ended up costing $5.87/ea including shipping. Buying more brings the cost down.

An unfortunate side effect of these is that the X10 dimmer doesn't seem to function with these in place. The X10 signal is being sent but must be getting absorbed into the ballast in the bulb because I couldn't make them dim. I'll be replacing the X10 dimmer with a standard dimmer. I'm worried they'll buzz when dimmed so I'll be holding the final verdict until I can test.


NitroAV Vanguard V RAID Near Heart Attack Failure

When I turned on my trusty NitroAV Vanguard V RAID box this morning, I wasn't greeted with it's normal two-toned happy beep. Instead, it began to beep over and over with a matching red LED for drive bay 4. This is not how I wanted to spend my Sunday morning.

Luckily, I've had this happen before with the same drive about two months ago. When it happened that time my heart also sunk below my feet at the thought of loosing all of the data on that drive. But at the time, I “fixed it” by simply re-seating the drive in that bay (with the power off).

This morning would be different. I re-seated the drive several times without success. The drive wasn't mounting either (it didn't the last time this happened). But I was prepared for this sort of thing– I have a new spare Seagate 300GB drive ready to go that matched the current drives exactly.

I popped the old sled out, replaced the drive with the new one, slid it back in and.. nothing. The event log acknowledged I removed the drive and reinserted a new one but that's about it. No automatic rebuilding, no flurry of activity, nothing. Going through the menus on the terminal via the serial port trying to find a rebuild function was fruitless. Choosing functions like “RAID Set Information” said there was no RAID set defined. This is not good.

I took a deep breath, turned the box off, swapped the drive again, putting the “failed” drive back, power on, same symptoms. Instead, this time I choose “Active Raid Set” which now shows there IS a raid set defined. “Are you sure?” it asks with an eyebrow raised. I was scared, but said yes. The drive appeared on my desktop like normal (albeit minus one drive functioning). But this is the way it's supposed to work. No data lost! Yes! But I still need to get the new drive in there.

With the power on, drive mounted, I slide sled 4 out, swap the drive again, putting the new drive in. Now, I'm greeted with rebuilding information (which set, % complete, time elapsed, etc).

So, the trick is, your RAID set needs to be activated, mounted (in a degraded state) before the controller will rebuild to a new drive. I expected the drive to do these steps for me, but maybe it's a safety feature.

UPDATE: The rebuild completed successfully after a little over 6 hours.

Link to the NitroAV Vanguard V RAID box from Firewire Direct.

Use solar energy now: hang your clothes to dry outside

Why is it sometimes the most obvious escapes us? A quick way to save money on your energy bill today is to start hanging your laundry outside to dry instead of using the clothes dryer. I found it very rewarding this weekend after I successfully dried six loads of laundry outside, each taking about the same time my clothes dryer did (about 45 minutes). The clothes all smelled wonderful (helped I'm sure by the blooming wisteria on our deck) and the sheets and t-shirts dried without wrinkles. It's a tried and true method that our grandmothers and possibly mothers relied on for so many years.