Good deals on gift cards

Well a few tricks here to double dip:

  1. doesn’t work on gift cards mainly because they are largely excluded from rebates.
  2. However, MileagePlus X is explicitly all about gift cards, so check there first for deals. As an example AMC is a 5x bonus with a 25% additional bonus if you hold a United Visa card. That means 6x on any purchase.
  3. If they don’t have it you can try Granny Gift Card. Yes that’s a name and look for other sites with cards. There is more risk here in that these are often times physical cards sold by random people, so beware.
  4. For 2% of so discounts, use to click through to and look for an e-card there. If it is from PayPal, you can be pretty sure it is legit.
  5. Once you have an e-gift card, then you can use it at a portal like United MileagePlus or on Cashbackmonitor as they don’t care about the form of payment.

When FileVault forgets

Sometimes when you boot your MacBook particularly in some recovery modes it will forget the cached FileVault credentials. You then get thrown into a strange mode where it says it forgets and asks for FileVault password. And says you forgot your password. 

Actually it’s not you. It’s the macOS which has lost the encrypted disk credentials

Of course you don’t have it because you never got to type It in. What you need to do is just type in I forgot my password and then you login with your Apple ID. 

It will then recover your FileVault is from iCloud and then ask you to type in a new login password. Then on reboot all will be good. 

Buying from Nike, get a 28x Mileage bonus

OK, this is a little convoluted, but Happy Fathers Day here is how it works (hat tip to TPG) but here’s some documentation on a promotion that ended June 16, keep on the look out for more, but the basic idea is you find a retailer that is on both the United Portal and also where you can buy an egift card on their mobile application:

  1. Buy through the mileage plus shopping portal for 15x the normal rate. Note that you can use any form of payment to do this, just click through the portal. That’s basically 30% off right from the start through June 16
  2. If you spend $150 then you get an additional 500 miles (so 3x multiplier, an additional 6%) through June 23.
  3. If you use the Mileage Plus X application then you can buy a Nike gift card for 10x off and use this for the above purchase.
  4. If you have a United credit card, then this purchase above is multiplied by 10% more.

So doing all the math, this promotion is 15x + 3x + (10x *1.1) = 28x and at 1.7 cents value thats an amazing 47% off.

Ilford Galerie Smooth Pearl 290 grams on Canon Pro9000 printer

It’s been so long since I’ve printed (in facts, four years since that’s the last time I posted how to do this!). But here’s a reminder of how to do it:

  1. Go to the Ilford site and download the ICC profile that matches your paper to your printer. Look at the paper and find the various names and hope that they profiled your printer now download the ICC profile.
  2. Looking at the README, you unzip the ICC profile and stick it in a magic directory. For macOS Sierra, this is /Library/Colorsync/Profiles. ColorSync is the tool that does color management on the Mac.
  3. Now you get to decode the very terse name such as GPSPP11_CANpro9000_PPPSn.icc which in this case is the type of paper the Gallerie Professional Smooth Pearl model 11 (which means 290 gsm) and then the next set identifies that Canon paper that it best maps too. In this case looking at the Photoshop dialog, it must be Canon Photo Paper Plus Semiglossy, you can only tell this by going through all the possible papers in the Photoshop CS/Print/Print Settings/Quality and Media/Media Type pull down. Is that complicated or what?! The final n means no color correction.
  4. Now you go through the Photoshop CC dialog in File/Print and make sure to select in Color Handling, Photoshop Manages Color.And then choose the Printer Profile that is the long string above.
  5. Now choose the Rendering Intent. For small printouts, pick Relative Colormetric but if the print is highly saturated or a very large, then pick Perceptual and always select Black Point Compensation
  6. Now go the Print Setting sub dialog and make sure that Color  Matching is set to ColorSync and off you go.
  7. Now to get the correct printout, you also want the image to take the full paper size. The best way to do this is to make sure to select the correct paper size in File/Print/Print Settings/Paper Size and hit save. Now scroll down through the dialog box (I know, a scrolling dialog box is pretty strange, but that’s how it works) until you get to Position and Size/Scaled Print Size, now pick the shorter dimension, in 5.7 for instance, that is the height of 5 and type that into the Height dialog box entry and it will scale with some cropping.


Training and maximum heart rate

Well, training by heart rate has been something that has been around for decades now, but whats the magic maximum heart rate. Turns out the traditional formula 210 - Your Age is at best an approximation. So here’s what Lifehacker says:

  • In your twenties, 210-Age works and this is how the formula was first fit
  • If you are under twenty or over 30, then try 207-(70% * age)
  • If you are female and over 35, then a better fit is 206-(88% * age)
  • If you older and healthy or a woman, then 211- (64% * age)

Are you confused yet? And most of these are really +/-5 to 10 ppm based on individuals. To really try it, you should do a stress test, just be careful and have a doctor.

As for me, I admit that I tried all these formulas and then you should see what your real life maximum is. Which sounds a lot like seeing where you are going to have a heart attack 🙂

Heart Rate Zones

Well what’s the point. Let’s say for simplicity that your MHR is 175, then what do you do with it. So there are many theories here, but from Australia, here’s a nice way to look at it is to get training, you need to be above some rate:

  • VO2Max Boosting. 92% of MHR. 161
  • Anaerobic Threshold. 85%. 149
  • Aerobic Endurance. 75%. 131
  • Base Endurance. 65%. 114
  • Recovery. 50%. 88

Being a weight weenie again comparing 2016 to 2001

Well, I spent years a long time ago on Weight Weenies figuring out how to lighten a bike. I remember sitting in meetings calculating the cost per gram for lower weight. Sometimes I went too far when a handlebar broke, but by and large it worked and I got down to a 15 pound bike not bad for an old Trek 5900 to get to the UCI weight limit of 6.8Kg.

Now with the latest offering, I haven’t weighted it, but feels much heavier than that Trek, so on to figuring out how to make it more reasonable;

  • The new bike has disc brakes so that is a one pound penalty right there typically although I’m having trouble finding numbers, it’s a little hard to find how much a groupset weighs, but for Dura-Ace, they had a very similar weight for years. The 9000 was 2101 grams (with cable), 9070 with Di2 (2080g) while 90, the newest versions the 9100 is 2097g and the 9150 Di2 is 2051g. The disc brake versions 9120 adds 348 grams for mechanical while the 9170 adds 338 grams. So this is adding 12 ounces to the build. I can’t regret this as it is about safety.
  • The newer bike uses Ultegra 11 while the older one is Campagnolo Record 10 (yes I know I splurged!). At least for the older Dura Ace 9000 vs Ultegra 6800, there is a 296 gram difference or another 10 ounces which is way more than I would have thought. Also the Campagnolo Record at least a few years ago was super light, about  24 grams less that Dura-Ace, so call it an 11 ounce difference. Going back of the years, you can add up the groupset from Sheldon Brown as I can’t find it online. While expensive, losing 11 ounces is actually a pretty big deal.
  • The pedals are SpeedPlay X/1 Titaniums are an amazing 150 grams for a pair! Now the cleats themselves are lots heavier, but the PowerTap P1 weigh 429 grams, so that’s a huge different right there of 279 grams or half a pound. But on the other hand, knowing the power is so important to training and they are simple to remove if you want.
  • The wheelset before used Topolino wheelset with 23mm tires while the new one is ENVE with DT Swiss 240 and 25 mm tires. I used ultralight 180 gram Veloflux Pavelights and eyeballing it the 25mm tires are more like 225 grams , so call it an extra 90 grams just for the tires. And the Topolinos I got because they were just 1390 grams. Now the ENVE 3.4 with DT240 are amazing strong and weight just 1492 so about 102 grams more. For a total of 192 grams 6.8 ounces. Can’t really regret this as the Topolino wheels were great, but definitely not a rigid as the ENVEs.
  • The Dogma F8 Disc frameset weighs in at 798 grams while the Trek OCLV 110 was 1030 grams. That’s actually a gain of 232 grams.
  • The fork on the Trek is 345 grams while the F8 ONDA 2 fork is 400 grams so that’s 55 grams heavier

The net is the new bike is going to weight more although it is far stiffer and faster (I’m getting about 1-2mph more speed out of the thing) but to add it all up: 338+320+279+192-232+55=952 grams about 2.1 pounds. That means even if all the components are equal, this will be a 17 pound vs 15 pound bike.

But we are probably over that, so here are some places to make equipment changes:

  • The saddle on the Trek is a Fizik Aliante 2003 with Carbon rails so it is 175 grams while the newer Dogma has a Fizik Aliante 8 coming in a 275 grams. I also have an incredibly light but uncomfortable Selle Italia SLR which is 120 grams not counting the electrical tape you need on the side because the leather is so thin it will wear through. A simple fix to gain 100 grams is using the Outdoor Gear Labs recommendation and getting a Fabric Scoop Carbon Flat Pro Flat which is 176 grams. If you spend an additional $100, you get this down 10 grams (which isn’t really worth it).
  • Stem. I remember lusting after this stem, it was one of the first carbon fiber stems. Made by Time called the Monolink Pro, it is 130 grams while the Dogma has a MOST TigerALU ST which is the internal brand for Pinarello and is 160 grams. For $80, you can get the MOST Tiger Ultra 3K which is 130 grams or for $160 there is the MOST Tiger Ultra 1K which is 100 gram (wow!) stem.
  • Skewers, these were really nerdy, but I did get the Salsa Titanium skewers at 91 grams for the Trek and for the ENVE has titanium skewers so probably about the same weight, but I really should get bolt on skewers to prevent them from moving around which are $44 at Bikeparts and 47 grams since they don’t have the quick release mechanism. As an aside, another option is the DT Swiss RWS Thru Axle, this uses a 12mm hollow tube, so theoretically stronger than a simple titanium skewers, it weighs just 54 grams but is $43 at JensenUSA for each axle so roughly twice the price of the Control Tech but is supposed to have better clamping force than quick release and is easier to manage than the lock nut system because it has a simple lever and is the best of both worlds in that sense.

Doing all this removes 100+70+45=215 grams or nearly 7 ounces. Wow, I’m a weight weenie, but it does get closer to that 17 pound mark.





The cycling workflow

Of course a dedicated bike computer has a longer battery life than an iPhone particularly for long rides, but if you are just going out, it is possible to use the iPhone as a computer as long as all your devices support Bluetooth LE (as long as it’s a short ride). Here are the things to know

The Applications

These run on you mobile device:

  • Powertap Mobile, these speak Wifi and BLE and they have an IOS application for data logging. You can use this to record detailed power meter information and then upload it to Strava, MapMyRide or Training Peaks. This seems like the best merge of all information with the exception of gearing that Shimano provides.
  • Shimano E-tube. While this is mainly a configuration application with the new wireless transmitters they speak BLE, so you could theoretically have an application that can read the gearing and battery. One cool thing is to be able to add what gear you are as you ride, but I couldn’t figure out a way to do this.
  • Strava. This is the ticket, it syncs with power meters, speed and cadence as well as heart rate monitors that communicate on Bluetooth LE. It works pretty well. The main issue is that it costs extra to see real time updates and if you are using the screen, then your battery will only last three hours or so. But if you pay $60/year, you get more analytics. And also a simple set of training plans.
  • Garmin Connect and Garmin Express. This is for Garmin products with Bluetooth connections (not the Garmin 800 which is ANT+ only). It runs on your phone and bails ride information up to the Garmin at

The Sensors

Here are some products that have Bluetooth LE and I was surprised how easily they work. Pairing does seem to work and all of these support simultaneous connection to an ANT+ device like the Garmin 800 as well as to BLE devices like an iPhone:

  • Wahoo Blue SC, This works well with Strava and synced automatically.
  • PowerTap P1. These pedals work fine
  • Scosche Heart Rate monitor. This is another simple product.

Analytics, canned training and coaching

Finally what do you do all this data, well, you can use one of these tools. The main tricky part is getting the raw data up into these sites. here’s how and what you get after you do.

Garmin Connect. Garmin has both analytics and also training and coaching.

Strava is mainly about social networking but its  mobile application to do direct upload or you can use Garmin Connect with late model hardware. Or Garmin Express if you have to plug it with USB. For extra $60/year you then get real-time analysis of the data while you are riding and a canned training from Time Crunched Cyclist so that you can make progress with as little as six hours a week of training. These are not customized but they seem to work. These are interval workouts mainly.

Training Peaks. I actually used this years ago and it has three things: a) analytics, b) canned training plans and c) a coach. You can also upload so the workflow is:

  • For long rides, use your Garmin and then use Garmin Express (for older Garmin 800) but I’m not sure how you go from Garmin Express to Training Peaks or sync them from Garmin Connect to Training Peaks.
  • For short rides, auto connect Strava for social sharing via an auto connect and upload from there.
  • Finally, to get more detailed power information use PowerTap Mobile.  You can even take your training plan and for later Garmin computers download the plan into your bike computer. If you have Mac or PC near your computer, you can use PowerAgent to do this upload.


Building a Machine Learning machine

Well, if this summer you need some heavy iron to train models, here are some tips. The main issue is that both AMD and Intel are in a transition, so availability of the really cool hardware is delayed.


So you have two choices, one is to stick with the last generation CPU and use the latest generation GPUs where the main compute lives that means:

  • X99 Motherboard. You want one with extra PCI switches so each graphics card see a full 16 lanes to the RAM for loading images. The ASUS workstation board does this and we’ve used successfully.
  • Broadwell-E processor. If you get the Xeon 1650 V3, you can even overclock it to get about 30% more peak power. However it would if you need a lot more threads running then you need more cores. For instance the 18 core 2699 V4 runs at 2.2GHz CS the 4.3GHz you get from overflowing the above so in theory if you relatively few threads you should go to the $3k vs the $600 chip.
  • nVidia Tesla cards. This is the big change, depending on how much VRAM you need, that’s either the Titan or the 1080 Ti.

if you can hold a little bit then it makes sense to use the upcoming Skylake X chips which will have many more lanes and cores:

  • X299 Motherboard (yes they skipped the X199 for some reason). This has Optane support for hybrid hard drives.
  • Skylake X. These are coming in the second half of the year and will be monsters with lots of cores (way past the 4 cores in the current Kaby Lake X). You can even overclock some of them. You will need to spend at least $1k to 44 pcie lanes. And the 1 core monster is $1k

Finally there is AMD with Rizen which has more cores at lower clock speeds. And with lower prices

  • Rizen 1900X. It is 8 cores and about $500 vs the Kaby Lake version. Also all supports ECC with this Much memory you need ECC
  • Threadripper. Ships later this month 16 cores and 60 PCI Express lanes. Not sure the price but perhaps $1k
  • Epyx. This is 32 cores and 128 PCIe lanes so perfect for big multithreaded jobs.
  • X399 motherboard for the above

Net net some tough tradeoffs. Main advice is to hold off if you can until July to see these new parts. Limp by in x99 if you must. But it will be interesting to see what works better an Epyx vs Kant Lake X or HAswell-EP vs Rizen 7

Quick Slideshow for Noobs

If you have a bunch of photos and just want a random slide show to appear on a TV, what’s the easiest path?

  • If you are lucky your TV has a built in player, that is when you stick a USB key in, it knows how to read the slides and play it. Our Samsung from five years ago try to do this, but the user interface is horrible. Or some of them let you create a movie and then play directly from the USB key as with 2016 Samsung TVs.
  • Next up is to bite the bullet and get a laptop. Now Mac Photos lost the ability to show random slideshows, so instead you have to use the Screensaver mode want then put the machine into that mode to get it. Pretty inconvenient and there isn’t music.
  • Another alternative is to rip out your Apple TV and use the screensaver mode on that thing. This works with iCloud Photo sharing pretty well. Select the photos you want click on the little export icon at the upper right. Pick iCloud Photo Sharing and then this makes an album.
  • On the AppleTV, you then make that album the screensaver view and then it will just come up.

Optimizing Synology disk storage with 8TB drives

Synology has really made it easy to get yourself into trouble. We have a 12 drive Synology at home and a 8 bay plus older Drobo 8 bay and a Drobo 4 bay. Somehow we’ve ended up with terabytes and terabytes of storage, but I’m always running out on one volume or another, so here are some recommendations. While expensive, a 12 bay array is super flexible, it is about $1K to buy one of these, but the Synology operating system by itself is worth it. Frequent updates and lots of features.

The main problem is that even with enterprise class drives, you are likely to get errors if you have rebuild a RAID array. The math for 10TB drives is that you get an error every 10^15 bits you read, that’s about 120TB per error. That doesn’t sound so bad until you realize that if a RAID drive fails all the other drives have to be read. Let’s do an example:

  1. You have 6 x 10TB drives in a RAID 6 array.
  2. You lose one drive, now the other 5x10TB drives or 50TB have to be read. But you still have one drive of redundancy.
  3. The odds are 50/50 (120TB per error/50TB needed to be read) that the rebuild will fail, that is the second.
  4. Now you have no more redundancy and you still have to read 4x10TB to rebuild the first parity drive. The odds are 1 in 3 that this rebuild will fail and you will lose the whole array.
  5. If you do all the math, then there is a 50% * 33% = 16% chance that upon losing a drive, you will lose the entire array.

That’s not designed to make anyone feel so good particularly if you use cheaper consumer drives that fail 10^14 times (or about 12TB.failure). That means reading a full 8TB drive has a 1 in 3 chance of an error?!!! Even a 6TB drive has a 50% chance of a problem.

How did this happen, well basically, the capacity of drives has gone up by 100x but reliability has not. The old 100GB drives have the same error rates as the new 10TB ones.

Net, net, what’s the solution?

  1. SSD caches. well one big ones is to use SSDs because their error rates are much lower. Consumer SSDs are 10^16 and enterprise SSDs are 10^17 and they are much less dense at typically 1TB, but also more expensive. This means that you don’t read the hard disks much. In looking at our internal hard disk use, a RAID 1 1TB SSD (about $800 worth or thee same as a 10TB) has a low chance of failing. And you are not using the disks super much.
  2. More RAID arrays. The other solution is to double and triple up on backup arrays and offline storage. You are basically adding more backups, so more have to fail. At home, that’s why we have a backup for each RAID array and then an offsite backup. This theoretically reduces the likelihood of failure by 9x (since all three systems have to fail to lose data).
  3. Error correction above the file system with btrfs. For really vital files, you need to put error correction above the level of the file system. The biggest hole here is an easy system for recovering errors in JPEGS (which are dead with a one bit error). Most other files like movies do recover (since you get a new key frame) or Word documents where again there is redundancy. Btrfs while new does checksumming for data as well as metadata. This doesn’t protect you again disk rebuilds but does help when you get NBERs just reading disks (which can happen). It puts a CRC on files in essence.

Net, net in planning for using 10TB drives, here seems to be a good layout which balances the bit error problems with density for a  DS243+ 12 drive array that can handle 10TB

  1. Use two drives for 1TB SSDs. Use enterprise grade to 10^17 NBER, so for a 1TB drive, the odds that a rebuild will have a problem is very small (10^17 bits/10^12*8 = 10^5 or 1/10,000 chance of an error). For most of your data, you will only be using the SSDs which is good from a disk error rate point of view. For most systems, you can look at the SSD cache advisor, but it the use is reasonably local, this is going to have a 90% hit rate (in other words, it reduces the number of accesses to the hard drives by 10x). Using btrfs on top of this also adds a checksum on top so the chance of a normal running bit error is very low certainly.
  2. For the remaining 10 drives (100TB of storage), you should format them as two RAID 6 arrays (that is 5 drives or 50TB with two parity drives) and the main thing to worry about is failure during rebuilds. This means that on a failure, you will have to read 40TB of data so will have a one in three chance of a read failure as noted above and then with the remaining 30TB, you have a ¼ chance so total is about 8% chance of a total array failure).  This does mean you are committing in essence 40% of your drives to raid, but it reduces the chance of a problem on rebuild.
  3. To further handle the issue, have a backup RAID array, so now the chance of total failure drops to 8% of 8% or 0.64%. Finally go with offsite storage (AWS advertises 0.999999 chance of data lose with their system, so you now are at 0.00064%).

The math is a little different for our older DS1211+ which is 8 drives with a maximum of 8TB per drive. In this design:

  1. Use two drives with 1TB SSDs as a cache this reduces the number of bits read dramatically in the normal case as above and essentially prevents read issues.
  2. With the remaining six drives you have 6×8=48TB of raw storage. At this level, if you have a single SHR2 or RAID6 partition, you will have on a single failure, the need to read in the worst case 40TB of data so this is the same error probabilities as the above or about 8% that an array will fail. The ratio of data is actually better in this case as you are using only ? of the drives rather than 40%.

So here is how to implement all of the above. Synology has a pretty confusing array of applications for dealing with files, there are a basically three levels, first there is the Storage Manager which is a top level application available in the upper right hand button, then in the control panel there is the File  You use this to first create a Disk Group. Use this to allocate the disks properly and provide the basic RAID support. You will likely want to use SHR2 which is RAID6 but more flexible in that all the disks do not have to be identical. Then in the Control Panel there is the File Sharing applet that lets you create shares on top of the volumes and assign permissions.

When you get the thing, you don’t want to take the default, this will create a volume for you on the bare disks. This isn’t super flexible. Instead, you want to create a disk group first. Why? Because then you can move your volumes around or have them share space. As an example, suppose you have a volume for user data and another for say movies and music. Without a disk array, if you make a mistake you could end up with lots of space for user data but nothing for movies. By putting both volumes on a single disk array, they share the empty space.

The other reason is that the larger the array, the less you spend on redundant disks. So for instance with two 4 drive arrays, you would normally use SHR (this is a flexible version of RAID 5 or a single drive failure). So you would have two RAID 5 partitions, a double disk failure on any one array is catastrophic. If you use RAID 6 then you still use two drives for failure, but now you can tolerate two failures and you still have your data.

After you make our disk groups, you allocate volumes, unlike disk groups, don’t choose max, what you want to do is leave some unallocated free space. The best thing to do is to have different volumes (said for data or for music) and then they can share free space. If you have just one massive volume, then it is hard to allocate and move them around. I find you don’t want a hundred, but having 2-3 really big groups is good. For us, data, movies and tv shows are the big chunks at home.

The above means that in addition to a single array, you want a backup array as well and probably an offsite backup as well. That is what we use at home, we backup onto another array and then into the cloud. So even if one system has a 5% chance of failure, the odds are you will still have data.

SSD caching. If you have a workload which is pretty concentrate, then you should use the SSD Cache advisor to tell you what you should do. If you just want read caching, then you can use a single SSD, if you want read and write caching, then you want two SSDs in RAID 1. You need RAID 1 because if an SSD fails with a write, then you have corrupted the array. For our workloads, it shows that a 1TB read SSD is good for our media files whereas for our personal files a 256TB suffices. Synology has direct support for SSD caching and you set it up in the Volume manager.

Here is the full configuration step-by-step:

  1. Insert a pair of SSDs into the system and your 10TB drives. you can use lower capacity drives, but the math above assures you that the failure rates will only better with lower density because the drive error rates seem to be independent of drive size.  Use the Storage Manager SSD section to configure these for read/write caching.
  2. Install all the hard drives, then in Storage Manager/Disk Group create two disk group each using five drives for the 12-bay system or a single group of six drives for the 8-bay system. Create these as SHR2.
  3. Now create volumes in the Storage Manager/Volumes on top make sure to select btrfs as the file system type. Don’t completely allocate the volumes, leave some spare space so you can manage it. You probably want one or two  big volumes so it is easy to manage them.
  4. Now create public shares on top of volumes with Control Panel/Shared Folders. This  is where you add permissions.

If you have existing volumes, you have to create enough space as disk groups and volumes once created can’t change their configuration. Fortunately, the File Station and a Copy To commands that you can right click and move things to temporary locations.

Once that is done, you can destroy the volumes and disk groups you don’t need and then add the extra disks to a Disk Group.