Archive for December, 2008

Yes, Another New Car

December 14th, 2008 No comments

Yes that’d right I did it again.  I got another new vehicle.

The Grand Am was getting old.  Just before Thanksgiving the front left shock spring broke and I was out of a car for the weekend.  The cost of the repair: $240.  I talked to a guy at work and he has a buddy who also had/has a 99 Grand Am and the same thing happened to him then a month later the rest of the springs broke.  Ohh great there’s another $720 worth of repairs to look forward to.  Plus there’s already a looming $600 minimum head gasket replacement repair  that needs to be done and then who knows what next.  I didn’t want to deal with it so I traded it in on a new car.

I picked up a brand new 2009 Rogue SL: Nissan’s extremely popular new crossover.  I got it completely decked out and let me tell you the thing is nice!  It 2009-Rogue-SLhas all wheel drive, heated leather seats, a 6 disc in dash MP3/CD player by Bose with 7 speakers including a small sub, Auxiliary jack for MP3 players/laptops/whatever, XM radio, heated mirrors, self-dimming rearview mirror with built in compass, Home-Link (built in garage door openers basically), BlueTooth link for hands free cell phone use,  paddle shifters, keyless entry and start, the works!  The only option it’s missing is the tow hitch.  It’s quite a step up from the Grand Am none the less.

So how does it drive?  Excellent!  The steering is solid with zero play.  The CVT drive train is very smooth and quiet.  In fact the first thing I noticed was how quiet the vehicle is overall.  At an idle you don’t even hear the engine and it’s still not very loud when you accelerate.  Also there is really no wind noise at all, just your standard road noise which comes out pretty soft and dull so it’s very light on the ears.  The brakes are excellent.  The handling is great.  Bumps are smooth and don’t have any tendency to move the vehicle around.  Thanks to the AWD system you can feel the car push you around the corners while accelerating through a curve as there is actually power going to rear wheels versus the feeling like you’re going to slide off the road if you accelerate through the corner in a FWD car.  The vehicle also stays remarkably flat in the corners as well, not having a tendency to roll despite the extra height the vehicle has over a car.  The AWD traction control system also works amazingly and makes driving in the snow effortless.

During my second test drive it was snowing like crazy but, in the Rogue it seemed as though there wasn’t any snow on the ground.  It accelerated off the line quickly using all four wheels without spinning them.  It took corners with speed without sliding.  When I got the vehicle home that night I took it into an unplowed development and went down the street jerking the wheel left right left and nothing!  It just went left right left as if the snow weren’t there.  It also stops amazingly in the snow!  Just for fun I’d slam on the breaks, a maneuver that would cause all four wheels on the Grand Am to skid and the rear end to want to come around if I didn’t correct with steering, and the Rogue would just quickly come to a stop in a completely straight line.  Simply incredible!  I have never driven a vehicle that treated snow that way before.  It is just and excellent ride.

I have to say though the CVT system was quite strange at first.  If you’ve never driven a car with a CVT before you might find it a little bit weird when you accelerate quickly.  Slam down the gas and the engine goes to just under redline and stays there while you keep accelerating.  Rather than the rev up, shift, jerk as it revs up again pattern you get with a geared vehicle, it’s just a constant R.P.M. with smooth acceleration.  It’s quite odd at first but, you get use to it quickly.  It makes for a very comfortable ride but, if you just have to have the sensation of changing gears manual mode is always available.

Overall, I’m very happy with this vehicle.

Categories: Sit Reps Tags:

Server Upgrade: 1.5 TB Hard Drives

December 10th, 2008 No comments

Last month on November 19th I picked up a pair of Seagate 1.5TB hard drives for the server.  At $139.99 a piece they have the cheapest price per gig for hard disk space as of that date.   At that price it comes out at approximately 10 cents per actual gigabyte!  As of writing this though they are going for $129.99 a piece making it 9.3 cents per actual gigabyte.  While technically it’s cheaper to use DVD’s still as they run about 5-7 cents per gig, who really wants to carry around 318 DVD’s to match the size of a 1.5TB drive.  Plus try keeping that many discs scratch free.  I think the convenience of a hard drive is way worth the extra cost.

Anyway, back to the server.  I put the new drives into the server and originally I was planning to run them in RAID1 but decided against it as I heard a lot of stuff on the net about the drives freezing momentarily and cause RAID arrays to go corrupt.  I heard Seagate had a firmware update on the way to fix that (which is now currently available), but I decided I didn’t want to risk it and put the drives in as solo drives.  I did however maintain my goal of data redundancy by creating what I like to call a fake RAID1 array by using the free tool from Microsoft called Sync Toy.  With this little app you select a couple of directories to make a pair and then you set how you would like them to be synced.  I selected the two drives right at the root and set the sync mode to echo because all the file movements would be done on the first drive and I just wanted the second drive to match it, thus creating my backup.  I then set the windows task scheduler to run the sync every night.  Sure it’s not as ideal as a RAID1 where the mirror copy is made at the same time as the original, but it works.  I also kind of like this method better too because should one drive go down the other has the backup copy, but because it is in a single drive mode there is no rebuilding the RAID array or anything like that.  I just replace the down drive and use Sync Toy to synchronize them again.  Also, it lets me pull the drive out and put it into any other computer and  it works!  It can read the drive without loading up any RAID drivers.  Always convenient.

I must say though that these drives are FAST!!!  When I put the drives in and copied the data off the 640 GB to the first 1.5TB I was able to get sustained transfer rates of 90 MB/sec, but that’s not even the fastest!  When I transferred the data from the first 1.5 TB to the second I was greeted with sustained transfer rates at high as 110 MB/sec!  Basically put, these are the first drives I’ve seen that would actually be capable of saturating a gigabit network link.  Nice!!

As a side note, I have not experienced the drive freeze issue thus far however, now that the firmware update is out I will be updating the drives.  I don’t know how the drives would respond to being upgraded if they where setup in RAID, but fortunately I don’t have to find out.

Categories: Computers, Sit Reps Tags: