Displaying to a mount television

It used to be really complicated to mount a television on the wall, now that televisions are so small and light, it’s pretty easy you just need:

  1. Television mount. The best are tilting stands. If you have the little bit of space, this $85 unit also swivels a little which is useful if you get glare in your office. Although the $20 Amazon Basics mount will work well for most common mounting.
  2. Shelf mount. Just put this underneath the television if you have a teleconference system. The other devices can just mount behind the television to make it neater
  3. Google Chromecast Ultra. This supports 4K and is just $70 and with the Chromecast application it works with Windows, Linux, Android or Apple devices by downloading the application first. As an aside if you just want to cast audio to any speaker, this $25 Chromecast Audio works great.
  4. Apple TV. This is $150 and you should hold off if you can for the 4k versio, but it is the easiest way to get ‘no-click’ support for apple devices as the Airplay protocol is built into all Apple devices.

Adding drives 512n, 512e and 4kn

Wow there are lots of things to think about for hard disks, the main one is the warranty and performance. Paying a little more for an enterprise drive makes some sense for a consumer because you are not BackBlaze. A failure takes time to resolve and with RAID arrays too many of them and you lose data. I normally get the Seagate Enterprise Capacity drives. These are 7200 rpm with a 5 year warranty and decent reviews on Newegg. They are not super fast, but for a home NAS, that doesn’t matter that much.

However with drives today, you have a choice of sector sizes and there are some tradeoffs:

  • 512n. This means a native 512 byte sector. This was very efficient with a 40MB drive (yes those were a thing), but with a 4TB drive, it is inefficient because each sector needs its own error correction (so you are about 88%¬†efficient vs 97% for the larger 4kn drives.
  • 4kn. This means a native 4K sector, this has two advantages, first is the efficiency noted above also. With a 100 bit ECC, a single areal disk hit is less likely to take out all your error checking in a 50 bit ECC on 512n. The main issue is compatibility. With Synology for instance you cannot mix 512n/512e drives with 4kn drives. Most modern operating systems (Synology DSM 4 and higher) support them.
  • 512e. This means 512 emulated on a real 4K sector underneath. Thus, you get compatibility and efficiency with the sector format. However particularly for write, the disk controller has to read a 4K sector modify a 512 byte subsection and write it out, so it slows things down.

The net is that if you haven’t been too worried about this, get the 512e drives. But if you are doing to have a dedicated array and then getting 4kn is the better long term choice until all

Ideal disk configurations with 10TB disks in Synology 12-disk and 8-disk arrays

Ok with 10TB hard disks and 10^16 UBER, you really can’t build raid arrays anymore, because a complete read of a 10TB disk is very likely to have an unrecoverable bit error. So what’s a person to do?

Well two strategies for a 12 disk array (like the Synology DS-1512):

  1. Install RAID-1 SSDs, this is because SSDs are 10^17 and much more reliable. If you buy a 1TB set, most of the data you will use will live on these SSDs.
  2. For the remaining 10 drives, you have a few choices focused on a RAID10 set. RAID10 seems like it is not as good as RAID6 or SHR2 because it only has one disk worth of fault tolerance, .Since the RAID-1 means mirroring however, it is much less likely to generate a UBER. As an aside, we really need something that mirrors to three disks to get two disks of fault tolerance, but that’s not a thing ūüôā
  3. So with the 10 remaining drives, you are much more limited because the drives now have to match exactly. One of the nice things about SHR2 (Synology Hybrid RAID) is that you don’t need need disks of the same side.
  4. With your random disks that are less than 6TB, you can keep using SHR, the odds of failure are 1/2 that of the 10TB disks.
  5. Then for your new 10TB disks, create a RAID10 array. Note that with RAID10 you also can’t extend this disk array either, so you need to create it in place. Then when you want to expand, you take the random disks and make a neat RAID10 array when you run out of storage.
  6. As an aside, you want to get 4K native for the new 10TB and then 512e for the others assuming that SHR2 is going to be used with bunches of old disks. Since Synology requires you to have 4Kn drives separate from 512e this should work nicely

So here is one disk layout.

  1. 2 x 1TB SSDs. These are the caching drives
  2. 4 x 10TB hard disks 4Kn. These are the “new” store, set them up as RAID10, so you have really two sets of mirrors, but you stripe the data off of two drives at once. This will give you 20TB of storage.
  3. 6 x random disks 512e in SHR2. If you have a collection of 3TB, 4TB and 6TB drives, you can gradually expand this with drives up to 6TB until you get a full 6x6TB with 2 parity so effectively 24TB of data.

Then when you run out of 54TB of storage (yes, this will happen :-), you can convert the 6 slots into 10TB x 6 in RAID10 to reach a total capacity of 2x10TB = 50TB with a good chance of recovery if the 10TB fails. When the 12TB and 14TB come out, you can buy them in groups of 4x and 6x and replace them.

For an 8-disk array, it is a little trickier:

  1. The easiest thing to do is to stick with 6TB 512e drives to get 8x6TB eventually with effectively SHR2 giving you 6x6TB or 36TB
  2. If you need more, then you use the 2 x 1TB SSDs leaving 6 drives in RAID10 at 10TB given you effectly 30TB, you can see in this configuration things will actually be faster, but in this case you will have less storage than with SHR2 and smaller drives. This is because of the bit error problem on restores.


Yellow jacket trapping

We use these rescue traps and there are two flavors of traps for the Rescue:

  1. A water trap that uses an attractant and then a vial that you put into water.
  2. Then below another vial where you can buy a 10 week supply that is $5 from Amazon. Or a 2 week supply where you soak a cotton ball.

It’s pretty confusing, but just using the bottom one seems to work pretty well.

Adding custom resolutions, TV remote application and Netflix and Amazon to Samsung MU6300

We have seven Samsung televisions masquerading as computer monitors in the office, so getting them to work is a challenge. Here are some cool things to do:

  1. The remote does not like having lots of televisions in the same room. Something as simple as scrolling doesn’t seem to work. You can power it on and off, but for some reason the remotes are disabled. I wonder if this has to do with two way communications and having lots of TVs send IR. The solution is to download the Samsung mobile application and then connect it. This is a little tricky, but download the Samsung application and the TV will allow it (it’s really a computer after all!)
  2. The MacBook Pro (2016 or later) does not correctly recognize the HDMI connection is 60 hertz capable. Debian seems to work fine. The workaround is a little painful, but works. You basically have to install a custom resolution into the screen. Then you can delete the application.

So here is how to do it:

  1. First you need to disable System Integrity Protection which keeps you from doing things like this. First shutoff your Mac and then when booting hold the Command-R key down and enter the Restore utility. Choose Utility/Terminal and then type csrutil disable
  2. Now go back and download ScreenResX and install it. It is a ten day demo version.
  3. Make sure you have an HDMI 2.0 cable and an HDMI 2.0 to USB C adapter that supports the full 60 hertz (aka 18Gbps). And reboot the machine.
  4. Now you should boot your Samsung screen into 30 hertz mode (boo!). Start System Preferences/ScreenResX and go to to the Custom Resolutions tab and entire 3840 x 2160 x 60 for the frequency and choose apply. That’s it, it should now appear in your display selection as the 60 option.
  5. Now you can remove the ScreenResX by going to System Preferences and right clicking on ScreenResX and uninstalling it.
  6. Now shutdown your computer and the power on while holding the Command-R and go back to terminal and type csrutil enable to get back this important security precaution and you are done.

You can check it by power cycling the Samsung TV and it will tell you what resolution it thinks it sees.

Finally to get Netflix and Amazon, here are some of the tips:

  1. You need a Samsung account to enable the Smart Hub. For some reason, the passwords that you create on Samsung.com do not work with the television. First is that TVs force a 15 character limit and even if you type it, it doesn’t work. Best workaround is to use a secondary email account just for Samsung TVs and register from there.
  2. Now you have to laboriously type in the user name and passwords for Netflix and Amazon. It is almost worth it to connect a Bluetooth keyboard to the television just for this.
  3. Next up is getting UHD content on the two other televisions that I’ve tried it has just worked, you suddenly see UHD logos or 4K logos, but this doesn’t seem to happen on this model.

Managing Windows on a huge monitor

If you are lucky enough to spend $500 for a 43″ (?!!) 4K monitor, you will find that managing the windows is just terrible, fortunately, Alex has studied this and there are a few solutions:

  • Divvy (http://mizage.com/divvy/) which let’s you split the screen into a “grid” so that you don’t have to deal with overlapping windows anymore :slightly_smiling_face: (Back to Windows 1.0, that’s a joke for the oldsters here). It takes a little customization to create a set of shortcuts but the Shiftit key combinations are pretty good. This costs $15 with a free trial.
  • Shiftit (https://github.com/fikovnik/ShiftIt) is a good goto, if you have a smaller display. Works with four sub windows only, but with Divvy, you can get six or even eight subwindows on the display.
  • And yes for Ubuntu, there are tools like this as well Compiz Grid (http://wiki.compiz.org/Plugins/Grid) works well), but you need a full-sized 101 keyboard to use.
  • Quicktiles is the utility for XFCE on Debian, this is a cool tool with the main issue being collisions in the defaults with XFCE workspace management. You have to use a different shift key set to make it work (Ctrl-Shift and then a letter). But it is nice because the upper left command if hit twice give you first the top quarter, then the top third. Top thirds are perfect for 40 inch monitors and above. I ended up using a¬†s¬†z¬†or the left keyboard keys instead of the number pad for instance. (so a¬†is the up key for instance, if you’ve ever used the wasdfor moving around a character based game, it will be super natural. In this case w is up, d is right, a is left and s is center. I then use x for down.

Here are some additional tips on using Divvy and

  1. It doesn’t come with any shortcuts, so you need to create them yourself. I used the Control-Option-Command (e.g. all three left buttons for this purpose), but if you map 1, 2, 3 and 4 to upper left, right, bottom left, right, then it is easy to have 5, 6,,, 9, 0 map to the upper left third, etc.
  2. To save these is tricky, you need to type divvy://export into Safari or Chrome, this means call divvy from the browser. Then it will paste into a clipboard a long url that starts as divvy/import while strange this is pretty convention, on a new machine, install divvy, add your license keys and then paste the above url into the browser, restart divvy and you get new shortcuts.

argh Samsung MU6300 and monitor stands

Well, it is so confusing monitors. it took some digging, but it looks like the Samsung MU6300 has a pretty special screw requirement. For a different model of Samsung, they need a M8x45mm course threading (1.25mm/thread). The 45mm is an estimate, but it is definitely deep.

The mounting doesn’t have any of these screws so off to the hardware to store to get a set.

M8Also to mount a consumer TV to a monitor arm, you need a 100mm Vesa to 400mm Vesa plate adapter and of course the screws are wrong again. We use the AmazonBasics (a steal at $99 IMHO), but you need something that attaches properly.

Here is exactly what you need to tie in:

  1. Samsung MU6300 43″ monitor. A steal at $550 or so ūüôā
  2. Vesa 400mm to 100mm adapter plate. About $20 on Amazon, this is because TVs have a standard 400mm x 400mm set of screws for mounting, but PC monitor arms use the smaller 100mm x 100mm size.
  3. AmazonBasics Monitor Arm. You can ignore ¬†the warnings about it only working on monitors 27″ or less, it works fine on this 43″ mainly because panels are so light these days. This is a terrific arm and looks like an OEM version of something costs 2x as much.

Then you will be short hardware to mount it, you need comes in a Long Monitor Wall Bracket to TV Bolt package for about $11.

  1. M8 x 1.25mm/thread (the so called course threading) in the 30mm length. Four of them.
  2. A spacer or bushing as the adapter plate cannot be flush agains the monitor. The perfect dimensions are 5/16″ Inner Diameter, 1/4″ long, 5/8″ outer diameter.

T-mobile be careful when you add a new line and other tips

I love the insider hookup and the service (particularly in big cities like Seattle),  but be careful when you add a new line, we just did and there are some peculiarities with doing this:

  1. Even if you have Autopay enabled, it will not give you the Autopay discount unless you call. This is apparently because their computer system is that it doesn’t notice your Autopay discount (it’s significant!) for a few months.
  2. Your bill will appear to spike. The reason for this is that say, you in the worst case, buy a new line one second after the start of the month. It will not pick up the new line until the month after the next. The reason is that apparently, the billing system uses the number of lines open at the start of the month for it’s count. It then bill at the end of the month. In some sense, you get a “free” month with your line, but then it catches up the month after that. And yes, I had to talk with the T-mobile rep for a while before I got this.

Final tips,

  1. Wait for sales, they are pretty frequent, for instance, we got 4 lines for $160 with Autopay.
  2. And it sure helps to have a friend at T-Mobile as well as they have a nice program that provide an additional discount that you can stack.
  3. They also have promotions for the T-mobile SIM card as they charge $25 for activation. You can also typically get a prepaid T-mobile SIM and if it is less than $25, then you can use that instead. Also many times during the year, they don’t charge for activation.
  4. If you are a frequent Alaska Airlines flyer, they give you one hour free access on the plane. And if you are lucky, they will even throw in T-Mobile One Plus which gives you unlimited access. Note that if you are on a family plan, you get one hour per line so with five lines.
  5. Last note is their Canada and Mexico roaming works well and the 2G access internationally works well in Europe for sure, it is slower for images, but perfect for iMessage, texting and email.