Domo arigato, Mr. Drobo

Many months ago I won a contest on Twitter (thanks to @Photojojo) and received a free Drobo.  I was super suspicious at first because I don't win things.  But, I finally realized it was legit when the Drobo arrived at my house.  I had grand plans of backups and data security for my new found friend.  Of course, I wasn't quite ready to implement those plans so he (do Drobos have gender?) sat there in the box for many... many months.

I felt guilty.  Mr. Drobo surely deserved a better life than what I was giving him.  Many friends suggested that their home was more Drobo friendly and would gladly take him off my hands for the same price I had paid.  Some even offered to purchase him for a reasonable price.  But, I knew I was just waiting for the right time to bring him into his rightful place in the family.

The right time finally came when I bought a Mac Mini to be used as our media center computer.  Now, with a machine that was always on (we're a 2-laptop family), the Drobo would have a suitable place to live.  And so it was that I ventured down to Micro Center and picked up a few 7200RPM 1.0TB drives to fill his empty stomach.  Mr. Drobo was happy.  Very happy.

Now, I've migrated our entire DVD collection onto the Drobo.  Took some time with MacTheRipper, but totally worth it to be able to access our entire library from within Plex.  He also hosts a backup of my primary iTunes and iPhoto libraries as well as a couple of user-specific folder shares for making stuff readily available on the network.

The connection is FW800 and I've never had any problem with the streaming.  Everything just works... flawlessly.  Most importantly, I've got piece of mind that in the event of a drive failure, there's data redundancy and I can simply replace a drive and carry on.  That is a HUGE win in our small network setup.  I still use a combination of Amazon S3 and Jungle Disk to make offsite backups of critical/irreplaceable things (photos mostly).  But Mr. Drobo happily sits below the television protecting all our data and serving all our media.

Domo arigato, Mr. Drobo.  Domo.

Display Hidden Files in Mac OS X Finder

Recently I wanted/needed to move my EyeTV archive folder from my Mac Mini's internal hard drive to my Drobo.  The instructions from Elgato made it sound fairly simple and, in fact, it was with one small exception.  The steps outlined for moving your archive are:

 

  1. Change the location of the EyeTV Archive folder in EyeTV's preferences.
  2. Copy any existing files from the old folder location to the new one.
  3. Make sure your user account has the appropriate write permissions on the new archive folder.
  4. Restart EyeTV.

 

When I did this, all of my Library recordings were copied over as well as my schedules for recordings that were coming up within the next week.  What I was missing, however, were my SmartGuides (Items that query the programming guide to find occurrences of programs that I want to record).

I opened up a Terminal window and navigated to the old archive location.  From there, I did an ls -a and saw that there were a couple of "hidden" files (Folders actually) that I had not copied over when using Finder.  Specifically, .EyeTVPlaylists and .EyeTVSmartGuides.  The leading dot (.) in the filename is an indicator to OS X (and the underlying BSD architecture) that these are hidden items.  By default, OS X's built-in Finder doesn't display them.

Unlike Windows, there's no "Display Hidden Files and Folders" options in Folder View Options.  Instead, you'll need to open up your Terminal and issue the following command:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles TRUE

 

This changes the default setting for Finder.  Then, for the changes to take effect, you'll need to restart Finder:

killall Finder

And, voila... now your hidden files will be displayed alongside all your other files in the GUI Finder windows.

When you're done and you want these files to be hidden again use this:

defaults write com.apple.finder AppleShowAllFiles FALSE

and finally restart Finder for the changes to take effect:

killall Finder

and you'll be back to the default settings.

More Secure Surfing

Often when I visit a wireless cafe and try to get some work done, there are other users sharing the same wi-fi access point.  Because these access points are unsecured, this provides for the possibility that someone else could be monitoring my traffic.  As a precaution, I use port forwarding to create a secure SSH tunnel for all my surfing traffic.  There are several methods for accomplishing this, but this brief walkthrough will show you the easiest.

What You'll Need:

  • A Mac (the software in this example is Mac specific).  You can accomplish the same type of port-forwarding using Windows, but I don't know of an easy front-end similar to SSHTunnel.  I'm sure there is one, but I haven't had a need to discover it.
  • SSHTunnel from Antoine Mercadal
  • A server that allows SSH (check with your hosting provider)
  • A valid username and password for the server mentioned above

Download SSHTunnel from the link above.  Open the DMG file and copy the application to your favorite spot.

Launch SSHTunnel.

First you'll need to click the "Servers" button.

Initially, there are no servers in the list, so we'll need to create one.  Click the [+] button in the lower-left of the window.

We now have a blank server entry to populate with our own server information.

Double-click the entry for "No Name" and give your server a name.

Example Information OnlyNow, fill in the rest of the fields with the information for your server:

  • Server - Use the IP address for your server
  • Port - Use 22 for standard SSH
  • User - Valid username on your server with SSH permissions
  • Password - Password for your server account

You'll be prompted to "Apply to All Sessions".  Click [Yes]

Now, return to the "Sessions" page.  For this example, click "Airport Proxy" as we're in an Internet cafe and need to build our SSH tunnel using our wireless connection.

In the "Use this server" drop-down, select the server you created in the previous steps.  A default port of 7777 is chosen.  That's OK, se we'll leave it.

Click the toggle-switch in the bottom-right to ON to create the SSH tunnel.  You'll get a confirmation message if successful.

Now we need to make sure our Internet traffic uses the SSH tunnel.  In order to do this, we'll setup a proxy in our browser.  For this example I'm using Firefox, but other browsers should be similar in configuration.

From the toolbar, select Firefox > Preferences.  In the Preferences box, click "Advanced" and then "Network"

Click "Settings..."

Select "Manual proxy configuration".  In the field for SOCKS Host enter 127.0.0.1 and 7777 for Port.  This sends our traffic through the SSH tunnel.  Click [OK] a couple of times to close the Preferences dialogs.

If you want to confirm that you're using the tunnel, surf to a site that will report your IP address.  In this case, we'll go to www.ipchicken.com.  Notice that the IP address reported is the IP address for your server hosting the SSH tunnel, not for the Internet cafe.

That's all there is to it.  Once you're done, return to SSHTunnel and click the toggle switch to OFF for your session.  Then, from Firefox Preferences>Advanced>Network>Settings... restore your previous proxy settings (None).

This walk-through is based on the excellent information from http://www.revision3.com/hak5 and their follow-up segment on Mac Tunneling the Free and Easy Way.