My love letter to Drobo

Drobo is a US based firm that makes storage devices for home and small business. The amount of bays available range from 2 to 10 and you can purchase disks of any size, and all the units offer protection using their home-grown BeyondRAID.

I personally don’t own a drobo, I have to use one at one of my jobs and it’s quite painful, the list below will explain why:

  1. You have to use the Drobo Dashboard for everything.  The Drobo Dashboard is a windows based platform, and installs a Drobo service into your windows registry. It only takes up 20 MB of space, but you have to use it to configure shares, administrator passwords, IP addresses, and most of the other tools including copy jobs and so forth. The dashboard is java based so it seems to take a long time between clicks to get somewhere useful. Waiting to get to the admin panel takes 4 clicks, and clocked in about a minute. That might not seem like a long time, but when you’re pressed for time waiting for some animation to finish, it gets very tiring, very quickly. I’d prefer to see a web browser interface. My home NAS has it, and it can be accessed anywhere as long as I can forward the right port.
  2. It’s slow.  Copying to and from this thing caps out at 20MBps. That’s on a good day. It’s surprising since I’m running full GB nics forced with 9000MTU’s on each Drobo. This is using a Cisco catalyst 2960 with full Gig duplexing turned on. I can copy files from PC to PC at close to 80MBps – why does this drobo with 10TB of storage only recieve a quarter of that speed? I thought “maybe it’s just the computer I’m using”. So after installing SSH with many reboots (see below) I logged in and did a “rm-r” command from putty. The command seemed to take up to 5 minutes to work on one 4GB file.
  3. The apps don’t always work.  The Drobo website says it’s a simple: from the GUI (that has to be loaded from Windows), enable the droboapps check-mark (in a place that doesn’t really make sense). Then the unit restarts (why, I don’t know). When it restarts, it produces a new share called droboapps. Put whatever droboapps you can find from the Drobo website into this folder and restart [again] so the folders expand and install. However, the apps don’t always work properly – I tried to get ssh working and after restarting how many times it still didn’t show port 22 as being open. The same thing happened with Rsync: after finally getting ssh to work after about 5 reboots I tried Rsync from the command line, only to be shown ‘Rsync is a not a recognized command’. Lovely.
  4. You can’t view the log files.  The log files on the Drobo are all encrypted when you generate them. Why would a company encrypt their log files in the first place? Some of the most useful features of any NAS or storage unit is the ability to view history in the log. Useful information such as boot times, RAID configuration, share points, local users, groups, even being able to see a TIME stamp would be helpful, instead all I have is the GUI, that can only be loaded from a local computer, and only has basic options.
  5. You don’t know what kind of RAID configuration you’re getting.  When you first set up the RAID array, it doesn’t specify what type you want, it just seems to create it’s own RAID structure (see BeyondRAID). The only option you’re presented with is “protect my data”. I don’t even know what that button really means, it just does SOMETHING and the amount of free space I have somehow changes.
  6. Copy jobs aren’t saved on the the unit.  There’s a Drobo copy feature you can access that allows you to copy information from a PC to the Drobo.  I found this useful as I could copy another network share onto the Drobo.  However, that option disappears when you change computers or open the Drobo GUI on another computer – the job should stay with the drobo device. Just annoying
  7. Barely any features.  No USB connections, no eSATA connections, no print service ability, droboapps are sparse if not dismal.

Perhaps I’m a little critical on the Drobo offering, as I had tested all performance with one unit. When another showed up on my desk I had to configure a replicated backup solution I was a little perplexed why both had terrible transfer performance. Drobo insists that the ISCSI transfers are fantastic, but I don’t plan on putting any virtual media onto this yet as I’m not certain it will break past the 20MBps threshold I consistently achieve. The original intent for this was to be used as a file server, given the poor performance I can’t in good conscience recommend it. The other painful point is the lack of Active Directory integration, the linux file permissions just don’t work for a business with a Windows Domain Controller.

I’m hardly the first person to complain about Drobo units, and by the looks of things I certainly won’t be the last.

Drobo seems to reply back to every piece of negative media, which makes me wonder if the company is attempting more damage control and not enough development.  I’m certainly not fishing for anything here, with my experience with this device there’s certainly no way one would find it’s way in my home.

Model: Drobo Pro FS - (2 of the same model )
Disk config: 8 x 2TB WD Green 5300 RPM drives for both
Role of Drobo Pro FS (1): backup to disk location
Role of Drobo Pro FS (2): replication of backup to disk



G.I.Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Year Released: 2009
Directed by: Stephen Somers
Starring: Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Incredibly Hot Sienna Miller, Rachel Nichols
Production Company: Paramount Pictures
Release Date: August 7, 2009

I remember when Stephen Somers burst onto the scene with The Mummy. Here was a franchise that hadn’t been touched in long time, and was a classic movie monster. At the time, I was blown away, digital effects were gaining ground, and the story was solid. Pretty good material for its time. G.I.Joe on the other hand is based on the popular American cartoon television series that more Gung, than Ho. It glorified guys with big guns and promoted American Values such as reading (“Knowing is half the battle”) and other forgettable things that I can’t seem to muster up right now.

Take those elements, and the child like wonder of Somers who is able to treat the source material in the same way many 10 year-olds did. The end product is something that is both insulting to the intelligence, and completely non-sense. What a complete waste of money. The only reason I wanted to see this was for Dennis Quaid, and he’s quickly stepping into the realm of B-movie actor in quad leaps after watching G.I.Joe.

I kinda wish I paid more attention to the “Travelling Pants” movies…

As a paying movie-goer, we have to suspend our belief every once in a while, and take what is given to us. I simply cannot accept what happened here, all the dialogue is cookie cutter thin, and the characters are stock representations of their plastic toy counterparts, with as much appeal behind a blister pack. The plot makes no sense the special effects were bargain basement. If Stephen Somers set out to make his movies as uninteresting, and un-entertaining as possible, by Joe, I think he’s hit the perfect note here.

I’m never sure what to expect with a Wayon Brother cast into an action role. You either get “White Chicks” or some variation of the Halloween mash’em ups. With that mind, they’re usually into gross out humor with B-List actors. Well, there’s no gross out humor here, but there’s plenty of B-lister’s on stage strutting their stuff in the hopes an A-list action director comes calling with a casting sheet. Even Dennis Quaid seems to be hamming it up with his serious, gruff, plastic-type mannerism that comes off as cartoonish, and to think he’s got the most serious role. C’mon Dennis, you’ve done so many good films, why choose this one to screw with your karma?

Style takes a backseat to substance here folks, and this is the end product so many of us were waiting for, and now will forever be stuck with. It’s a reminder, that in a time of technological wonders, we can have high expectations, yet have them dashed in a moment. For that, I firmly place the blame on George Lucas for forgetting to write scripts to his prequel movies. For shame people, for shame.

Bet you had to look twice, didn’t you?

The comedy should add to the exciting things on screen, but the comedy here comes completely from the visual effects department. There simply is no consistency when jumping from scene to scene; the backgrounds are straight out the cartoon, complete with brightly colored palettes and bad lightning techniques. Marlon simply shows up the green screen set with his attitude. And at least he’s sporting a character, the rest are either too busy brooding or trying to remember their simple dialogue they’re all played off as foolish and silly. At least Snake Eyes had the good grace to take an oath of silence and let his physicality take the main presence over the rest of the amped up cast.

2009 was a dismal summer of movies, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, one of the most anticipated sequels of the year fizzled, the Terminator prequel/sequel received more attention behind the scenes with Bale’s rant than in the box office, and it just doesn’t seem to add up. Perhaps money doesn’t make a good product (too many cases in point here). G.I.Joe just fails me at every level. At least Transformers believed in itself enough to try to sell me on the idea. The sales pitch falls flat in G.I.Joe, it was more DOA than COD, and that’s from a guy who had to watch a rental.

2.0 out of 10

Punisher:War Zone

“Frick I forgot the BULLETS!”

Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Lexi Alexander
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West, Julie Benz, a bunch of copper shell jackets
Production Company: Lions Gate Films
Release Date: Dec 5, 2008

Punisher: War Zone reads less like “revenge”, and more like “re-hash”. This is the Punisher’s third time at bat, with a new production company, new director, and new star Ray Stevenson. This version wasn’t anything horrible, yet between the plot holes and one dimensional characters, it all feels a little flat. Granted, no one in Punisher: War Zone is going to walk away with any statuettes, but the screen writer should at least examine what makes the comic book character tick.

Frank Castle is the NYPD cop whose family is massacred after witnessing a mob slaying. Frank, the lone survivor takes it upon himself to punish the unjust that the cops can’t touch by donning black garb and using a skull as his symbol. He’s been doing this a long time, as NYPD’s finest can attest to; the special Punisher unit has an entire basement full of evidence and an exceedingly high body count. Along with this, they have his true identity, but no leads to his whereabouts. Listing off all those facts, the cops stick up for him at every turn and actually let him go every chance they get since they believe he’s doing the city a favor; It’s nice knowing that mass murderers are held in such high authority by the people paid to protect us. Frank unknowingly kills an undercover FBI agent posing as a mob strong arm in an opening scene. In the process, he horribly mangles Billy Russoti (Dominic West) in a glass recycling machine, the set up there is that Billy becomes Jigsaw, the stitch faced killer out to do Punisher in.

“Now where did I put that girdle?”

There’s at least some motivation there. Billy wants to kill Punisher because he’s screwed with his face, and of course the big P is ruining his whole mob-drug-trafficking-trade as well. So there’s the set up; you got two bloodthirsty guys, each with their own sets of tools who will inevitably meet up for one final death match. Along the way we’re introduced to a whole bunch of throw away characters like Julie Benz, who I have to say looks waaaaay better raven haired than blonde, a stone eyed Colin Salmon and a completely wasted Wayne Knight as Microchip. I really wanted to like this movie, as I was disappointed with Jonathan Hensleigh/Thomas Jane’s Punisher, I figured a new addition, or a reimaging under Marvel Knights more explosive, bloody line would kick things up a notch as the Vertigo line for DC did a few years back. I didn’t get anything this time around, just another shoot em’ up action-fest that plodded along trading an actual storyline for bloody head count.

Guess he didn’t like the Fantastic Four movies either

For all the bashing, I do have to say the lightning, costumes and sets were beautifully done right. The atmosphere for each setting played nicely to each character, showcasing the darker traits that I didn’t see before. The lightning used particularly in Punisher’s Lair against the neon drudgery that was the Bradstreet hotel was refreshing. Not only did the ample shadows give good hiding spots, it also garnered a few points in my books.

The Punisher series of movies can’t take many more outings; probably one more film will be the final nail in this coffin. The franchise is either handled badly or just isn’t worth reviving, believe me when I was a kid watching the Dolph Lundgren version I was enthralled. Although these days my tastes have matured and I’ve moved onto more ‘Dark Knight’ reboot worthy films of late.

2.0 out of 10

Movie Review: Hancock


Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman
Production Company: Sony Pictures

Something must have happened during production on Hancock. I’m talking about the great first act, the build up of the character, the Superman complex: a God trapped in a man’s body, the initial hurdle Hancock had to overcome and the title character’s progression into becoming the God everyone needs, rather than everyone hates. It was artfully handled, I felt for Will Smith. His portrayal of a Superhuman trapped in the everyman’s world of L.A., a crime infested city where each time he helps, and he’s causing more property damage while trying to stop the bad guys. He’s an alcoholic, but we still like him. He’s easily hateable, but there’s the one guy that truly believes in him, and gets him to reform (Jason Bateman). Instead of being grateful, the city is more satisfied pointing out his drinking habits and the whole ‘flying-while-drunk’ problem. So, to reform, his newly self-appointed P.R agent Ray (Bateman) makes it his mission to create a friendlier, family centric, professional Hancock. On good faith, he asks Hancock to do some time in a federal prison; reluctantly he complies – until the mayor needs his help in a downtown bank robbery/ hostage situation.

“Didn’t y’all like ALI?”

Okay, so at this point I’m not giving away too much, but he saves the hostages, puts the bad guys in jail and treats the people he’s saving with much more dignity and respect. He even asks a lady cop if it’s “Okay to have physical contact with her”. Seriously. So, at this point, you’d think the movie goes into a nice blue sky where Hancock flies away and we’re all happy that he’s become a round character and overcome his demons.


Instead, we’re treated with what seems like a half finished storyline involving Charlize Theron being his super-being wife. The twist here is that they can’t be in too close contact otherwise they start to lose their powers. Cue in some weird tornado’s in downtown L.A. when the two fight each other, and the fact that even though the movie sets the ground rules that: the closer they are, the weaker they get, the movie does a great job of not following this formula.

“I sooooo need to piss.”

For instance: During the fight between Hancock and Theron, she at one point throws a dump truck directly on Hancock. He’s able to get back up, no problem. Later on, in a hospital part, he’s getting the snot beat out of him by a couple of thugs: and for some reason Theron feels Hancock’s pain(?). To say the least, the inconsistencies of powers, the magical additional events that happen when the couple is together, and the lack of support of story adds up to a dismal second act, and a confusing third act. The only saving grace for me was seeing Charlize Theron alongside Jason Bateman again: I was hoping for some reference to ‘Arrested Development’, sadly, I was disappointed.

So we have a movie with an A-list star, major blockbuster bucks and a great marketing campaign. The videos were viral, and the public was pumped to see this as it’s been in development hell for at least 5 years. And for a movie in development that long, it sure felt rushed. The mythos isn’t properly explained, the Wolverine-esque amnesia back story that’s conveniently never revealed by Theron is never flushed out. The additional element such as the heat given off from Hancock and Theron together isn’t explained, and neither is the fact of how they were made or what the exact origins are. I’m sure the movie was written this way to get the public salivating for more, but the way the subject is handled is clumsy and we’re more annoyed than curious.

That being said, if were to grade Hancock on the first 40 minutes, it would stand alone as a pretty good movie. Taken with all the parts, it’s much more baffling, rushed and incomplete.

5.0 out of 10.

Movie Review: Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Year Released: 2007
Directed by: Tim Story
Starring: Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Julian McMahon
Production Company: 20th Century Fox
Review done 4:45 PM 5/16/2008

As you probably know, this is the story of four superheroes enbued with powers that fight crime. I think I just summed up the entire likeability factor in once sentence. That being said, I wish I could stop here, but I try to commit myself to writing a bit more than ‘don’t bother’. As it is, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is the dismal sequel follow up to the original Fantastic Four movie. Same director, same characters, some new nuanced plot, even the same villain (Dr.Doom) makes an appearance. I would probably be more forgiving, but seriously, I’m insulted as a comic book fanatic.

The characters are still one tracked and static. They all have the same goals and the same damn personalities plus a few more special effects to add ‘weight’. Additionally I’ll break down the characters as you’d expect. Although, this might sound familiar if you read my review of the first movie:

Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd) is smart and a scientist because he’s constantly playing with new technological gadgets.

The Thing (Michael Chiklis) should focus on getting a Hulk/Thing cross over. Seriously.

Human Torch (Chris Evans) excels at being a dick. He is however, the most fun character and automatically the coolest character, and for some reason is the only person to have any sort of personality. This is INCREDIBLY sad.

Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba) looks good in skin tight blue spandex.

Silver Surfer (voiced by one very cool Laurence Fishburne) looks cool, an act cool, and is a complete and utter TOOL to Galactus. Plus, they screwed up his source, scope, and majesty of power.

The tone you’re hearing is the one of complete annoyance, basically because Hollywood decided to hand the keys to the FF franchise, which was built on over 60 years of excellent stories over to the guy who directed ‘Taxi’ starring that guy from SNL who can sing pretty good. And that movie sucked! If there were any justice left in the world, the producers would have made Silver Surfer the main character with the FF in a cameo role. Who really cares if Reed and Sue Richards are getting married? It’s not like there was any sort of impending doom that could stop this huge crux of marital vows, right? Oh, the Silver Surfer showed up. And he’s not really doing anything, he’s just scoping out the earth as a tasty treat for his boss, Galactus. So the Fantastic Four have to stop him from….looking around.

As an added treat [sic], Julian McMahon reprises his role as über evil Dr.Doom – who in the comics was a horribly scarred maniac despot ruler of Latvia, hell-bent on destroying the world with his superior scientific knowledge, some magical powers and GENIUS intellect. The movies however, opted for a good looking all American boy that prances around in a cape and is a millionaire industrialist, y’know: because business is evil. Anyway, Dr.Doom shows up, helps the military and the FF capture the Silver Surfer in perhaps the silliest way possible. At this point, he harnesses the Surfer’s power and it’s up to the most immature character, the human torch to take him down. All this is happening while: Galactus is on his way to make earth his next dinner. God, I wish this was made up – oh wait, it IS.

There’s quite a bit of build up to Galactus, he’s basically the quasi villain, the be-all, end-all of the earth. The ultimate destroyer of all humanity. And what are we treated with? A BIG FUCKING BLACK CLOUD. How entirely menacing is that? Even on paper it sounds ridiculous and it somehow got past the special effects team. If this thing eats worlds, it defies all logic of internal organs, stomachs, this thing must have a brain and reasoning if it gave powers to the Silver Surfer, yet it’s just A BIG FUCKING BLACK CLOUD.

***********some spoilers, like I care***********
Somehow, in this entirely too long, too loud, too stupid movie, the writers thought it would be smart to have the Surfer destroy Galactus WITH THE POWERS GIVEN TO HIM BY GALACTUS IN THE FIRST PLACE. And it was this bit of scientific writing that was supposed to bring all the events of this sitcom together and make sense.

FF: Rise of the Silver Surfer is just like 70’s big bellbottoms – utterly forgettable, short, loud, preposterous and full of stupid.

1 ouf of 10