Archive for May 2009

Dear SQ, redux

Not much time to write. Busy watching great Aussie movie I’d never heard of till you reccomended it, on the crystal clear big wide screen.

All is forgiven.

PS phone is charging off the USB port, a nice touch. Pic related, droid included for scale.

Dear SQ, please don’t force me to listen to my favorite music.

Dear Singapore Airlines,

I love you. Really I do. Out of all two international airlines I’ve flown, your by far the best. I’m only flying cattle class, in your planes cattle can only be a reference to those Japanese cows that live a hand-fed, daily massaged life.

It’s the little things you do so well that make the difference: the hot towel immediately on takeoff, recognising that just getting to the airport can be a hard day. The frequent – it feels like every ten minutes, but is probably more like once an hour – offers of a juice or water. I don’t do booze on flights, but the couple beside me do, and your staff have kept them supplied with beer and Baileys until they stopped whining (the couple, not the staff – as far as I can tell, bringing a constant stream of booze for this couple fulfilled the childhood dreams of the staff, judging by the looks on their faces)

I do apologise – turns out they weren’t sated, just resting – but once again the hostess bringing the booze seem thrilled to be of service. It’s little things like that that make me return every weekend to my favorite local cafe, and will keep me returning to your airline.

You get the big things right too – last time I flew SQ, I had the absolute pleasure of riding in an A380 from SIN to SYD. Being first to fly that plane, something you’re rightfully proud of, is just a small demonstration of your comittment to remaining one of the world’s leading airlines.

Right now I’m treating myself to a runthrough of my Living End albums on my iPod. This is a real treat – their early work remains some of my favourite music of all time, and I don’t get to listen to it often enough.

As nice as this is, it’s not what I had in mind when I boarded your aircraft. You see, you’re famous for your entairnment system, and again, rightly so. The games leave a bit to be desired, but your movie and TV selection is second to none. It’s not just the number of programs – it’s the variety! Hollywood, Bollywood, European and Chinese – you have a vast range of programming from all over the world. The first thing I did on boading the plane was to peruse your entertainment guide and plan my next 8 hours of relaxation.

So why am I listening to my own music? Because your entairnment system has failed me. It’s been off for over half the flight. It was off for over 90 minutes at the start of the flight. Eventually it came up, but minus the Video On Demand. Even so, I managed to watch some of Gomorrah on broadcast channel 13 – but before the movie ended, the system rebooted again.

After a considerable time with no entertainment the system came back. This time I decided to go for something shorter, so I started on some of the TV documentaries. I managed a show about gardens in India, and most of another show, before the system crashed entirely. Still about 2 hours from Singapore, and my only entertainment is provided by the music I provided my self, and writing you this rant.

I’m not going to pretend this means I won’t be back: an SQ flight with no entertainment still beats most carriers. I just want to let you know that flight SQ232 today was almost the perfect flight – it was only your entertainment system that let you down.

I look forward to flying SQ again soon – my next three segments are already booked, the last one once again on your A380, the first mere minutes after I get off this flight – and look forward on particular to being reminded just how good your system can be when it’s working.

QNAP TS-409 Pro: initial setup from a non-windows (linux/mac) machine

I just bought myself a QNAP TS-409 Pro from Skycomp. Very happy with both the device and Skycomp so far.

However, the initial setup was a struggle.

The device has a very limited openwrt-style firmware. Very, very limited: it contains the bare minimum functionality to be able to bootstrap the device with a more capable OS once you have disks installed.

The documented way of doing this is via a “QuickInstall Wizard”, that comes on a provided CD in Mac and Windows flavors. I only have Macs on my home network, so the windows flavor wasn’t useable for me. The Mac flavor is… interesting. I ran into the problem described here: In short, the full firmware isn’t pushed until after the drives are initiated; but the Wizard gets stuck at the “Initializing drives” stage, so the full firmware is never pushed.

I got around it using these instructions – they’re described as being “For linux”, but as it just uses basic tools like telnet and ftpd, it will work on any *nix.

Some notes:

  • Obviously, had to enable file sharing via FTP on my mac first. Did this under “Sharing” prefpane, “File Sharing”, “Share files and folders using FTP”. As the warning states, this involves transmitting your username and password in cleartext: only enable this if you’re confident you’ll only be transmitting them across a safe network. Better, use a username/password you created just for this purpose; which has no special privileges, and which will be turned off as soon as you’re done.
  • Out of the box, the device listens for telnet connections on port 13131. Username and password are “admin”.
  • Once you’ve successfully updated the firmare and rebooted, you won’t find a telnetd on 13131 any more. THIS IS NOT AN ERROR, DON’T PANIC. Instead, you’ll find an sshd listening on port 22.
  • You’ll also find a web interface listening on port 8080. If you visit that, you can start the process of setting up the device.
  • It may be helpful to have let the wizard run at least to the “Initializing drives” stage at least once. After I thought I knew what I was doing I switched to a new set of disks and tried again; and this time the hard drives weren’t mounted at all, so I couldn’t go through the documented process.

It’s not clear from the documentation, but the device creates a RAID-1 segment 500Mb in size on each disk you insert (/dev/md9 in my case), and mounts this on /mnt/HDA_ROOT. This is where configs for the device, packages you install, and so on are stored.

The device can handle multiple raidsets – although with only 4 disks to play with, you’re not likely to end up with >2 sets. In my cause I currently have 3 1Tb drives in a RAID-5 set, and a single 500Gb disk sitting on its own.