Forget spaceships; I just want my music

A couple weeks ago, as my kids settled into the car, I asked like I always do, "what songs do you want me to play?"

They have a range of favored earworms, from Baby Shark to Babaloo, and usually the songs are tolerable, at least.

But a few albums, like Bluey's soundtrack, transcend the children's genre. They're genuinely fun to listen to, for everyone in the car.

Well, that fine day, the kids chose Ladybug Music. And let me tell you, besides a few duds, Ladybug Music slaps. And the songs incorporate diverse styles, too, it's not just the same nursery rhymes regurgitated in a bubbly voice.

So I found the album on my phone and noticed the songs were all greyed out.

I tapped one, and nothing. Just this notice:

Song not available Apple Music on iPhone

Not available in my region? Well, that's weird. I pay for Apple Music. And I know the artist is in the US, and I'm in the US...

Building a tiny 6-drive M.2 NAS with the Rock 5 model B

As promised in my video comparing SilverTip Lab's DIY Pocket NAS (express your interest here) to the ASUSTOR Flashstor 12 Pro, this blog post outlines how I built a 6-drive M.2 NAS with the Rock 5 model B.

The Rockchip RK3588 SoC on the Rock 5 packs an 8-core CPU (4x A76, 4x A55, in a 'big.LITTLE' configuration). This SoC powers a PCIe Gen 3 x4 M.2 slot on the back, which is used in this tiny 6-drive design to make a compact, but fast, all-flash NAS:

6-bay Rock 5 NAS

How I installed TrueNAS on my new ASUSTOR NAS

A common question I get asked whenever my ASUSTOR NAS makes an appearance is: "but can it do ZFS?"

I'm still trying to convince them to add it to ADM alongside EXT4 and Btrfs support, but until that time, the 2nd best option is to just run another OS on the NAS! This is now permitted, but you won't get technical support from ASUSTOR for other OSes.

Some people (myself included) like buying hardware and... doing what we want with it! And for computer hardware, that often involves installing whatever OS and software we want to do the things we want to do. Pretty crazy, coming from a guy who uses a Mac, right?

ASUSTOR Flashstor 12 - front

First look: ASUSTOR's new 12-bay all-M.2 NVMe SSD NAS

Last year, after I started a search for a good out-of-the-box all-flash-storage setup for a video editing NAS, I floated the idea of an all-M.2 NVMe NAS to ASUSTOR. I am not the first person with the idea, nor is ASUSTOR the first prebuilt NAS company to build one (that honor goes QNAP, with their TBS-453DX).

But I do think the concept can be executed to suit different needs—like in my case, video editing over a 10 Gbps network with minimal latency for at least one concurrent user with multiple 4K streams and sometimes complex edits, without lower-bitrate transcoded media (e.g. ProRes RAW).

ASUSTOR Flashstor 12 Pro - front and top

Streaming services lost the plot

Do you remember when Netflix first started their movie streaming service, back in 2007?

2007 era Netflix home page courtesy of the Wayback Machine

Physical media was still the preferred way to consume media. Besides sports content, and some TV shows that were cable-exclusive for a time, most people would run by Blockbuster and pick up a movie.

Netflix started with mail-order DVDs, then switched to streaming. The absence of ads (which were rampant on cable channels) and the convenience of not having to drive to a physical store (Blockbuster et all) made Netflix a no-brainer, especially considering the depth of their initial library.

Building a fast all-SSD NAS (on a budget)

All SSD Edit NAS build - completed

I edit videos non-stop nowadays. In a former life, I had a 2 TB backup volume and that stored my entire digital life—all my photos, family video clips, and every bit of code and text I'd ever written.

Video is a different beast, entirely.

Every minute of 4K ProRes LT footage (which is a very lightweight format, compared to RAW) is 3 GB of space. A typical video I produce has between 30-60 minutes of raw footage (which brings the total project size up to around 100-200 GB).

Answering Questions about the PetaPi

A few weeks ago, I posted a video about the Petabyte Pi Project—an experiment to see if a single Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 could directly address sixty 20TB hard drives, totaling 1.2 Petabytes.

Petabyte of Seagate Exos Hard Drives

And in that video, it did, but with a caveat: RAID was unstable. For some reason, after writing 2 or 3 GB of data at a time, one of the HBAs I was using would flake out and reset itself, due to PCI Express bus errors.

The Petabyte Pi Project

I haven't had time to write up the details yet, but I wanted to share a project that's been many months in the making: The Petabyte Pi Project on YouTube.

I'm still doing follow-up testing based on feedback from Broadcom storage engineers, and will put out a much more in-depth blog post later, but the gist is:

Can a single Raspberry Pi cosplay as an 'enterprise' storage server, directly addressing 1 PB of storage?

Now... caveats abound here. What does 'enterprise' mean? And what does 'directly addressing' mean? Those things are all answered in the video linked above.

But to give a tl;dr: The Pi does not perform swimmingly. But... I did get a single array of 60 hard drives—20TB Exos HDDs to be exact—working in a 45Drives Storinator XL60 chassis, controlled only through a single Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. Of course I had to rip out the Xeon guts and replace them with said Pi:

How I rip DVDs and Blu-Rays into my Mac (2022 Edition)

It's been more than a decade since I wrote Ripping Movies from Blu-Ray, HD-DVD and DVD, Getting them onto Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, etc.. Heck, back then I didn't write everything as a 'blog post'—that was labeled as an 'article' :P

In a surprising twist of fate, we went from a somewhat more centralized online media situation back then (basically, Netflix) to a hellscape of dozens of streaming services today. And in many cases, older movies can only be found as used and/or pirated DVDs on eBay!

Thus, I'm writing a fresh guide to how I rip DVDs and Blu-Ray discs into my Mac, then transcode them with Handbrake. Heck, some people who are deeper into the r/datahoarder rabbit hole even have dedicated transcoding servers so they can generate optimal archival copies in 4K, 1080p, etc. akin to how YouTube and other online platforms set up their files!

But for me, the basic process goes: