After 5 years it’s time to replace my Drobo with a Drobo (FS ->5N2)

I have been using a Drobo FS file store for over 5 years.  I purchased back in 2011/2012 and started out with 2 x 2TB hard disks (Which at the time seemed a huge amount).  Over the years I’ve added drives and replaced drives both because of failure and upgraded.  I’ve got from 2TB to 4TB, to 10 TB to it’s current state of 13.54 TB.

Screen Shot 2017 08 26 at 13 44 37

In all this time I’ve lost no data and managed to survive 2 drive failures. Obviously the reasons for buying a Drobo vs the likes of Synology or QNAP are well documented.  Whilst I would have  had to buy a QNAP system and 4 match 2TB disks all in one go, with the Drobo I’ve been able to buy disks at the time I needed them.  I checked the receipt recently and when I first bought the system my 2TB drives were just over £250 each.  Fast forward 5 years, and a decent 4TB drive is now just over £100.  This flexibility is just too convenient and leads to a near complacency.

So why am I changing?

Firstly, I’m moving to another Drobo and secondly I’m not replacing but augmenting.  My plan is to add one of the new 5N2s with 3 x Segate 10TB Ironwolf Pros and a 240GB m.sata accelerator SSD.  In due course I’ll likely migrate most of the FS data onto the new 5N2, but I will have a period where I run them side by side.  I’ve still not fully decided if I’ll sell on the FS and move over wholesale.  Certainly moving 15 TB (the contents of my FS & some USB attached drives on my server) will take a good few days to move- so I’ll maybe put that decision off until later in the year.

What’s new in 5N2

I’d looked at both the D810N (the 8 bay SMB system) and the 5N2 which, when I began my decision making, was very new.  I decided to go for the 5N2, after considering the facts and realising that the 5N2 would give me 40TB usable storage for under £2200 at today’s prices (and hopefully less as drives drop in cost).  Secondly the SSD acceleration and tiered storage is now available in the 5 bay format, which should make for much greater disk performance.  

Drobo 5N2 m.SATA Accelerator.jpg

Coupled with the new dual gigabit network ports, and the latest generation Seagate Ironwolf drives with their 210MB read speeds, and I hope the whole system should be way more flexible and give me the capacity I need for the next 4 or 5 years.

Drobo 5N2 dual gigabit

Can I be post PC? – This weekends experiment Part I

So there’s several ways I could start both this post and this experiment.  I’m not sure I’d be happy starting with any of them as a standalone explanation of what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and what I hope to achieve.  So in no particular order some facts and developments that have created some questions that I hope to answer.

1. I am getting old, I might only be 37 but I know that I still tend to reach for my MacBook Pro when I’m creating something, the iPad up until now, at least for me, has been a device to consume content and not create.

2. IOS 11 announced at the recent WWDC2017 really seems to have focused on the iPad (the iPad Pros in particular) and the introduction of several features: the Dock, the Files application and the fact that already by Beta 4 (and now in Beta 6) that the release is so stable I am running it now on my IPad Pro, my Mac Pro & my iPhone (not quite ready to commit for my main workhorse MacBook Pro)

3.  iCloud Drive – not that this is new, but recently Apple have taken the plunge and lowered the 2TB storage option to 1TB (with family sharing looking to make this increasingly useful and affordable). And this in cojunction with No.4 (below) may change a lot of things.

4. Ubiquitous 4G connectivity, with good tethering limits.  I’ve already extolled the virtues of Three in the UK.  Whilst EE gets the headlines, all my family have moved over to Three, which gives great coverage, great speeds, and unlimited data. With home connectivity of a Gigabit, and 30 and 40megabit 4G connectivity on the move, my aim is to see can I be a “roving reporter”.

So with all these points said, what’s the whole aim here.  Well I normally carry a MacBook Pro, a Nikon D810 (at least if not also a 610) a couple of prime lenses, and a zoom.  Tonight I’m off to the Edinburgh Fringe and tattoo and so rather than taking all that gear my kit bag consists of two things basically: an iPhone 6S (64GB) and an iPad Pro 9.7 (128GB) along with the Smart Keyboard.  My aim is to see whether I can capture the memories of the trip, take some great pictures, blog and connect to my social media and examine connectivity and storage via both on device storage, VPN back to home servers and using iCloud.  As well as this I want to see how connectivity works on this two device solution and finally decide if the idea of carrying an iPad for shorter trips with an iPhone for photos can actually live up to the hype of the post PC era.


 As of  3.10PM on Friday, I’m getting a fuzzy glow.  I’ll be blogging and sharing through the trip.

An amazingly unique gift, now available to order

For my mum’s 70th Birthday we decided to create a montage board to allow people who were present at her party to sign a message.  The image is created in Photoshop from around 100 scanned images resized and placed behind a mask.  Whilst this example is of 70th birthday party graphic, the technique could be used for any wording or lettering, combined with any images.  Total work time for this example (with around 100 pictures) is in the 4-6 hour mark ,but its’ come out beautifully.  The black background goes ideally with metallic silver, pink and blue pens for signing, before looking fantastic when framed on an A1 matted frame.  Finished product can be delivered as in a tube or pre backed on foam for added quality.

70th Birthday graphic

With around 100 photos in it, with a similar or greater number of layers, this graphic needed a powerful machine to process.  A DNG file size of 1.5GB meant that the Mac Pro really worked it’s socks off to get this render.

I will be producing these for family occasions, weddings, birthdays and the like, with prices from £149 (A1) and £199 (A0) with a range of options for printing and framing.  Turn around is within a week, with a review session before printing/backing and sending.  Please contact for more information.  Graphics can be created and sent worldwide – a unique gift that will keep the memories alive long after an event.

A B&W Dock- with perfect Symmetry

Nikon D810 / 24-70 @ 24mm / f16 / ISO100 / 1/80 second.  Post production to B&W.

Nikon D810 / 24-70 @ 24mm / f16 / ISO100 / 1/80 second. Post production to B&W.


I’m really proud of this picture. This was taken up in cabin/cottage country North of Toronto, by a lake in the Lakeshore region of Peterborough County.  The original picture was shot full resolution RAW on a Nikon D810 camera, and post production was accomplished in Adobe Lightroom to give it the black and white smoothed look.  Apart from a bit of straightening, balancing and noise reduction, the trees and the sky have a slight burn to enhance the lines.  A beauty- available for purchase framed or unframed, and available in sizes up to A1 (UK).

I think it’s turned out great, but what do you think – hit me up on Twitter for comment, information or ordering!

Old Black and White Typewriter

Saw this kick ass old typewriter at a relations house, just had to pull it out and take some pictures.  Not done much research but seems to be from the Underwood company.  Then cool thing about it is that it has elevated posts which when shot from the front make it look like the type writer is floating! Killer..
All taken on the D810 with 24-70mm sense, I know that it’s not well though of by a lot of photographers ,but for a single do “most thing” lease it’s pretty sweet.  I can get a reasonably wide 24mm at 2.8 plus go through the standard 50mm for day to day, and even at a push a wee bit of zoom with the 70mm – I’m a big lad, so the weight doesn’t bother me (considering it’s on a D810 body with an extra battery pack, the lens is the lease of the issues).

via Flickr

Journey to Gig/Gig broadband with Hyperoptic (RT:

This article was originally published on my personal blog to do with technology and the like.  Given the clear benefits for photography (high upstream- great for uploading) I’ve republished it here.  Head on over to for more details of the hyperoptic service and my buildings journey to gig broadband!


I live in the centre of a major Scottish city, which has according to wikipedia has an urban population of 1.75 million people.  That’s no small number of people.  I just assumed when I bought my place, that being in a large new development that when infinity began rolling out that it’d be available pretty much after launch.  Well thanks to the mystery of BT Planning, I’ve sat for the last 5 years and watched as promised date after promised date has slipped.

Late in 2014 it became abundantly clear that BT had no interest in enabling us, all the vague excuses piled up and I realised it was going to have to be a DIY approach for our building.  First the facts- our building is just over 7 years old, is a steel frame building with inbuilt ducting and services and false ceilings.  All these things make it super easy to install services.  Secondly, the location and pricing of the building means that there’s a lot of young professionals, and home workers (i.e. a captive market).  To me it made no logical sense that the building hadn’t been enabled (I’ve actually come to get information that makes me believe it’s not a technical reason but a planning/political reason holding us back).

So i began my search, which in all honesty I was expecting to be fruitless.  I mean- if BT the largest telecoms group in the country can’t get us cable who can!  My first port of call was Virgin, where I reached out and got positive noises from they cable my street team.  I registered my interest, had a few neighbours do the same, and had good conversations with one of their outreach managers on twitter.  After 6 months though we had no committal, no in person engagement and weren’t going anywhere.

Frustrated I looked at the market again and came across Hyperoptic – a company which on paper our building was purpose made.  I have to confess that due to travel I didn’t make the first approach, but a neighbour picked up the baton and made the initial contact.  I got re-involved in summer of 2015, after which time I assumed the role of Hyperoptic Champion for the building, and pushed the project.  I started by joining our residents association, primarily for a single task (i.e. getting the fibre fitted) and began to work with the excellent John McCabe at Hyperoptic.  Our residents association really lacked social media skills, a domain name and a Facebook forum later I had the ability to outreach to folk and begin campaigning.

I started by speaking to neighbours I new in person, however it’s a big development so I probably only knew 20percent of the folks in the development. Hyperoptic require residents to register interest on their page, and have a very transparent tracker.  To assist I was sent marketing flyers and materials, which allowed me to do a mail drop.  I took the basic materials, and made them a bit more personal by branding and explaining a few things on an accompanying letter.  I mail dropped them in early September, and by the end of that same month we were showing the adequate number of registrations to move forward.

Hyperoptic were true to their word and surveyed the building, reporting back that they’d be able to fit the service with no issues.  The only fly in the ointment was the lack of service hatches in the ceilings outside the units. Hyperoptic offered a solution of installing these hatches and picking up the cost. (The truth being that we should have had these in anyway).  As is typical we had the doubters who though that these small hatches would “spoil the look” but to be frank I never accepted that given that we have smoke detectors, lights and so forth already there.  Anyway, a vote sent out by the factor saw no significant objection and we were green light to get the way leave signed to get Hyperoptic in and fitting.

The internal cabling is high quality Cat6e, I’m not 100percent sure of the switch infrastructure but effectively the fitted network should be able to support 10gigs and beyond (technology permitting).  Cabinets were installed in the basement levels where the switches are housed, and cat6E cabling was run first below in the carparks, and then up through the 3 blocks of the building (10 storeys).  The install is first class, to the point where in a straw poll of folks visiting my house I said- do you notice anything? – to which the answer was – what?

Fibre install has been a bit of a bear, with the contracts (BT) wasting dates, and making delays, however we have the fibre into the basement, and jointing is to go ahead.   I’m already confident this service will have massive benefits to our residents.  To go from a 14meg internet connection which is beginning to struggle to support multiple over the top media services, to a symmetric 1gig service is going to be a huge change, and I’m going to blog about how it affects the day to day of what and how we utilise media.   Stay tuned for more articles.

Winter comes to Glasgow Green, January 2016

Footprints in snow

The first day of snow in Glasgow came early this year.  I took the opportunity to jump out as quickly as I could and take a few shots, figuring that snow is at best fleeting in Scotland.  As it turns out, now at 9am (nearly 12 hours later) there’s still an abundance of the white stuff.  I started outside my flat on Glasgow green whilst the powder was still falling.  Heading West towards town managed to grab this lovely picture of the Glasgow Green sign, I like the absence of colour and the yellow and blue of the signs (it saves me doing my usual trick of B&Wing the picture and then introducing a single colour.










If I’d tried to go and take these now I’m sure there would be a lot of the ground “missing” we have about a foot lying now – I’ll try to take some photos… sounds like a good reason to go to WEST, well it’s for the art 🙂