Category Archives: Uncategorized


The origins of life are still mysterious. There are efforts at the biological level to recreate the conditions where biological life presumably started – the idea of a primordial soup. Write a program that does the equivalent – not a simulation of biological life, but a primordial equivalent for A-life. Real A-life.

LG N2B1 NAS with Blu-ray writer

I bought one of these about 4 years ago. It’s discontinued, but still works, and I wanted to use it recently, so I had to find software for it. Besides 500 GB of backups from 2010 on it, it has a Blu-ray writer and I’ll see if it still works (it’s been packed away in its box, so everything should be good – it powered up nicely and I can copy files to/from it).

Product support page

There’s new firmware and new UI, but this requires the drive to be wiped. I probably won’t do that unless something fails to work

Some better links, although this isn’t the exact model (but I bet it’s the same software)

I downloaded a Mac NAS Detector from Softzilla

While I wasn’t paying attention, Mac NAS boxes had a bit of a kerflufle in 2011, Apple transitioned protocols (decided the old one had insecurities), and this means that out of the box, Mac OS X 10.7 and up can’t talk AFP to older NAS boxes. There is a way to re-enable the old DHCAST-128 protocol.

On a related note, MuCommander might be useful. Note: written in Java.


Intel SSDs reliable, OCZ deserved their bankruptcy

I ran across a fascinating analysis of current-generation SSDs from the point of view of reliability.

The author was involved in some large-scale deployments of SSD drives. Over 50% of the OCZ drives suffered data corruption, and virtually none of the Intel SSDs did. The author set out to create some tests to evaluate drives with, and found out that OCZ went for performance over reliability, in an insane way.

Further investigation then dug up an interesting nugget: it turns out that OCZ apparently had been warned by Sandforce not to enable a switch in the firmware which would result in “increased speed”. OCZ, in their desperate attempt to remain “king of the speed wars” ignored the advice that doing so would result in data corruption. The results correlate with this advice: at higher speeds, data corruption occurs.

OCZ drives actually worked at some point, but OCZ started shipping drives that were somewhat faster in benchmarks, but failed quite quickly. I had two of these drives, one failed within days, so I returned both of them. I would agree with the author’s conclusion:

The OCZ Management deserve everything that’s happened to OCZ. They should have listened to Sandforce: the history of SSDs would have been a radically different story.

It might be interesting to recreate his torture tests and try this on some of the newer drives like the Samsung 840 EVO.


The Consensus Monte Carlo Algorithm

A paper was released recently:

Bayes and Big Data: The Consensus Monte Carlo Algorithm

This describes an approach to doing Monte Carlo on big data sets that requires little communication between machines. This is important if you want a problem to scale. Sounds cool, but also not new, and evidently not as universal as it seems.

Hacker News has a thread on this at:

which had some posts by what appear to be experts in the field. What I found unique about this thread was that the snark was reigned in really quickly and the comments were useful. I’m not an expert by any means. What I see is some validity to the complaints, but not enough attention paid to practical versus theoretical; perhaps what these people discovered wasn’t breaking ground in a theoretical sense, but can it be used in a practical fashion?

I found the paper more readable than many other papers of its ilk.

There’s another complaint levied against the paper, and that is that our scale of data may make Bayesian inference computationally intractable:

It’s not really a complaint against the paper as much as a fear that the technique may become irrelevant in the near future.