Recent Blog Posts

MetaZ - Alternative to MetaX and iDentify 2 for tagging video content in iTunes

For many years, I've ripped all my DVDs, Blu-Rays, and HD-DVDs into my computer, and it's great to be able to watch any of my digital content on any of my devices whenever and wherever I want, without having to have a huge stack of discs laying somewhere accessible (I store them all in a box in my basement).

For almost as long, I've used iDentify for this purpose, but it looks like the developer behind the app gave up on the iTunes/macOS ecosystem entirely in the past year or so, and the app stopped working on macOS Sierra 10.12.

I looked around for alternatives, and found mentions of iFlicks (didn't seem as fully featured), Vidalin (no longer developed), MetaX (no longer developed?), and Subler. I tried a couple of these and didn't find them as pleasant as iDentify, but then I also found MetaZ, tagged as "Two letters better than MetaX".

Review: Epson DS-40 WiFi portable document scanner

Epson DS-40 Portable WiFi Document Scanner

I've always been fascinated by digital scanners; my Dad worked in an industry that allowed him access to some of the newest tech in terms of computing, so I was able to use a full-color (16-bit!) digital scanner hooked up to an early Mac IIci running Photoshop when most people still used computers with 8-bit displays.

3-pass color scanner SCSI with PowerBook 180c
My very-old 3-pass color scanner connected to a PowerBook 180c. It took over a minute per scan—and much longer at 'photo' resolutions.

Ansible for DevOps is $0.99 for Black Friday/Cyber Monday 2016!

I decided to discount Ansible for DevOps on LeanPub to $0.99 for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The book has already been purchased by over 8,000 people on Amazon, LeanPub, and the iBooks Store, and is the only book available that covers the latest version of Ansible—and is continuously updated!

I've written a lot about the process of self-publishing, in case you're interested. I'm hoping to keep updating Ansible for DevOps every quarter or so indefinitely, to make it the best resource now—and as long as possible—for learning infrastructure automation!

Figuring out why an external USB hard drive won't spin down on my Mac

I am using a 2011 Mac mini as a backup server for all the data I store on iCloud, and for the first few days while I was setting up the Mac, I noticed the 4 TB and 2 TB external USB drives I had plugged in would spin down after a few minutes, and I would have blissful silence as long as there wasn't an active operation on that Mac (which should be fairly rare; just hourly Time Machine backups and periodic SSD activity since the iCloud libraries are all on SSD).

However, after a few weeks, I noticed that at least one of the two hard drives runs continously, 24x7. Something on the Mac mini must keep hitting the drive and preventing it from spinning down.

To see what was happening, I used sudo fs_usage | grep VOLUME (in my case, VOLUME is 4\ TB\ Utility) to monitor what processes were accessing the drive, and what files they were accessing. After a few minutes watching (and doing nothing else on the computer, to make sure I wasn't causing any extra filesystem seeks), there were a couple regular culprits:

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