2.5″ hard drive adapter uses compact flash cards!

Back in January, I blogged about my idea of using SDHC cards as a cheap alternative to solid state drives. Well, a company called Sans Digital has introduced a 2.5″ hard drive adapter that uses two compact flash cards.

Unlike existing RAID units that employs hard drives for storage space, the CompactSTOR CR2T utilizes pocket-sized lightweight Compact Flash cards as storage memory for data safekeeping. The CR2T supports spanning and RAID 1 (mirroring) by housing up to two Compact Flash cards. Designed with the same size and connectors as a 2.5” SATA hard drive, the CR2T is compatible with the hard drive slot of laptops, industrial PCs (IPC), small form factor computers, and 2.5” hard drive enclosures. By utilizing Compact Flash cards as storage, the CR2T embraces the same benefits as Solid State Disks (SSD), including less power consumption, minimized heat generation, shock prevention, and noiseless operation. The user is able to benefit from the features of a Solid State Disk at a fraction of the cost while using the CR2T.

* Houses up to two Compact Flash cards.
* Supports mirroring with auto rebuild and spanning.
* Same dimensions and connectors as 2.5″ SATA hard drive, providing an easy mirroring upgrade to exisiting laptop and Industrial PC computer systems.
* Solid State Disk benefit using Compact Flash cards.
* Lower power consumption.
* Minimized heat generation.
* Shock prevention.
* Noiseless operation.

MWave is selling the product for $89. I found a 32GB card for $140, so that’s only $369 for a 64GB drive. No too bad. 64GB cards should be out soon, if they aren’t already, so a 128GB drive is just around the corner. What’s cool about this is that you could just swap out the cards and increase the capacity of the drive.

Are commodities the next “bubble”?

The general public always seeks to find a way to make a quick buck.
A lot of these people don't have the background–some might say
intelligence–to make sound investments, but invest anyways. They've got
some money to invest, or worse, borrow money, and it
has to go somewhere. A little blind success is often interpreted to
equal knowledge or talent. In the past decade, it's been tech stocks, then
real estate, and now commodities.

At the height of the tech bubble, you could throw a dart out the
window and hit a winner. I heard people brag about making a
killing on this or that stock. I know a guy who gave a kid some money because he had read a lot of
books and had made some money for others. He turned a little profit on
the first investment and, obviously, this kid–and I really mean a
kid–knows something and has a knack for this. The guy went all in on
the next round and ended up losing almost all of it. The wife of a
friend bragged about how easy it was to make a killing on tech stocks
and that I should really get into it.

A couple years ago, another fellow I know was bragging about his
real estate investment in Las Vegas. How the value had risen so much in
the short time he had owned it. He was looking to make another purchase
in Phoenix. I was floored because even at this time the Phoenix and Las
Vegas markets were showing warning signs. I questioned him and he
hadn't even been doing any research!

You know what the sign of the good investor is? Knowing when to get out. You have to be willing to give up some potential upside for cashing in on actual gains. What most people don't understand is that the real trick to investing is NOT knowing when to get in, but when to get out. How many investor friends do you know that have an exit strategy?

Well, commodities have all the makings of the next bubble. In
particular, I'm talking about oil, because that's the most visible to the common man. My
feeling is that for a bubble to be created, you need mass amounts of
investors. So that means you've got to go past the normal institutional
investors and hit the everyday Joes. For that to happen, the investment
has to be understandable to them. It's gotta have a direct impact on
their lives. Tech, real estate, and gasoline all meet this test. It's
gotta sound logical to them on a very basic level. You aren't going to see a bubble in esoteric areas like pharmaceuticals, rail roads,
shipping, etc. because the everyday Joe can't see the direct impact on
their life and, more importantly, a big quick payoff potential.

It's kind of like a pyramid scheme. For it to work, you need a lot of suckers…err…I mean people. The smart people, the original organizers, are at the top. These are the institutional investors. These people do it for a living and know what they are doing. As the pyramid grows you need more and more base people and that means you have to go beyond the real investors. Eventually you run out of people (or money) and the whole thing collapses, or in our case bursts.

I suppose the litmus test is when you see people that don't normally invest start investing. I haven't heard anyone around the office claiming to be making boat loads of money buying oil, corn, etc., so perhaps this bubble has a ways to go. In the meantime, all of us will have to pay the price at the pump.

On a side note, I think the high price of gas is a good thing. It's
the only way we are going to see alternative fuel development. Also, if the
price gets much higher, driving is going to become a luxury and that
has got to impact traffic (if it hasn't already).


New Time Warner modem is a decent improvement

My previous entry chronicals the dumbass Time Warner tech support and how they wasted my time when the only problem was that they didn't have my new modem's MAC address in their system. An issue I brought up with the tech person at the begining of my 1 hour+ ordeal.

Anyways, I quick call to the local office fixed the issue in minutes and the new modem is humming along. According to Speedtest.net, I'm getting the full advertised 10M download and about 850kbps up, alittle shy of the 1M potential. Still, that's pretty good. With my old modem, I was getting about 7-8M down so that's a pretty good improvement. Upload speed is slightly higher as well. Nice!


I HATE calling tech support.

Spent on hour on the phone with Time Warner regarding a new modem that they sent me. A letter that came with the unit says “Your new modem will be activated automatically Friday, May 2, 2008.” I read that to mean that my modem's MAC address has been set up in their system. The tech person had me do the regular unplug, replug, shutdown, reboot, bypass the router, etc. etc. Oh yeah, I tried telling her that the IP address that was being assigned was and that probably meant my modem wasn't authorized. Oh we STILL need to do all the steps and she assured me that the modem was set up.

After an hour of this BS she tells me she needs to connect me with the local people because they are the ones that do the modem provisioning!!! Yeah, the modem isn't set up yet!!! What a bunch of friggin idiots. I'm even stupider for doing what she asked me to do.

I'm not blaming TWC in particular because I think that most tech support is manned (mostly) by drones who have to follow a checklist. I'm just venting…

Playing an album in track order using Orb

Orb is a very cool way to remotely listen to your mp3s saved on your home computer. (It also does video and photos.) Basically, you install the software from Orb.com on your home PC and point it to the folder with the media. Then on a remote PC, like at work, you log onto Orb.com and you’ll have access to all of your media. It’s pretty easy.

Anyways, currently Orb has a little quirk where, generally, it won’t play the songs on an album in track order. I’ve discovered, however, that it will play them in the correct order if you follow the following steps:

1. Search for any song or songs on the album.

2. Hover your mousepointer over one of the songs.

3. When the full dialog box appears (it can take a sec or two), click on the album name as shown below.

4. Eventaully, all of the tracks for the album will be listed on the page. Click on the green/white Play button on the top toolbar.

5. The album will now play in track order! Woo hoo!

Rising gas prices should mean less traffic

I've had this theory that we will soon reach a point where rising gas prices will result in a significant reduction in traffic. The demand for gas is inelastic, yes, but not absolutely. Demand will diminish if prices get too high. The question is how high. The turning point will be when a significant number of people can't afford to fill their tanks as opposed to just grumbling about the price. I've witnessed people at gas stations giving the cashier only $20 and even $5.

The reason I bring it up now is that the LA Times just ran a piece that discuss this and, albeit based on anecdotal evidence, some feel that traffic has lessened. My gut feeling was that $5.00/gallon was the magic number. That would be $100 for a 20-gallon fill up. Once we start approaching and passing the 3-digit fill-up price, people on a large scale will start cutting back.

Unfortunately, I think we will soon find out if I'm correct. 

Added a Wii to my console collection today

Well, the day finally came. I happened to be in a Target and they had several Wii's just sitting there. I called my buddy and he confirmed that it was not an HD device…I'm out of HD inputs. I got the green light from my wife and my kid was foaming at the mouth. Took it home and played a bit and decided a 2nd controller was a must. Lots of fun, but I can see how folks are getting something akin to repetitive stress ailment. Now I've got two original XBoxes, an XBox 360, a PS2 and a PS3. Crazy set up indeed. Even crazier is that I use all of them!