Thursday, December 05, 2013

DNS323 Formatting “stuck” at 94%

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DNS-323_sideThe DLINK DNS323 is a network storage device that takes two SATA disk drives,  plugs into your local network, and acts as a file server for media and documents.

We’ve had one for the last 5 years, and it has served us very well.  It’s quick, reliable and easy to use.

We had two 1TB Western Digital “Caviar” drives installed.

Unfortunately, one of those drives failed last night.  I replaced it with a Seagate “Baracuda” 2TB drive.  We’re not running the DNS323 in a “RAID” configuration, so a different type of drive isn’t a problem.

When I booted up the unit with the new drive, the web interface told me it found the new drive, and was it ok to format it?  It assured me my other drive would be ok.

I answered “Yes” and it started formatting the new drive, but it stopped when it got to 94%.

There are a whole lot of articles online about this problem, and people have come up with many and various issues to get around it like using a different browser, clearing out cookes, even formatting the drive on a separate machine.

There was a mcuh simpler solution, however.

A 2TB drive is pretty big.  It takes a long time to format.  It just so happens that on this device, most of the formatting happens when it gets to the 94% mark.

So the easiest solution to this problem is to WAIT. 

Do nothing for an hour.  Eventually it will finish formatting, and everything will be ok.

If you don’t like doing this, feel free to try a different browser, or bury your computer in peat for a couple of hours, or chant incantations for a while.  I assure you whatever you do, if it takes longer than an hour, it will fix the problem.

Well…. it will appear to fix the problem.

Or – just wait.  Let the thing finish formatting.  Then everything will be ok.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

DIY iGoogle Upgrade

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I’ve upgraded the DIY “iGoogle” start page.

You can see the latest version here:

The previous version is here:

The previous previous version is here:

Major items:

1. Each widget has its own “Settings” page which allows you to edit settings. Just click on the “settings” button at the top right of any widget:

Widget Settings Button

2. You can add / edit stocks & shares. If you click on the settings button for the stock widget you get a screen which lets you change the existing stock codes, quantities and buy prices.:

Stock Edit Screen

To delete a stock item, click on the red “X” button.

To move a stock item up a line, click on the blue up-arrow (↑)

To move a stock item down a line, click on the blue down-arrow (↓)

To add a stock item, fill in the blanks and click the green “+” button.

To save changes, click on the “SAVE” button.

To cancel changes or close the edit dialog, click on the [x] button at the top right of the window.

3. You can edit the links in the top-bar by clicking on the “*” to the right of the links in the top bar.

4. You can add / edit / remove widgets by clicking on the “Setup” link in the top bar.


To delete a widget, click on the red “X” button.

To move a widget up a line, click on the blue up-arrow (↑)

To move a widget down a line, click on the blue down-arrow (↓)

To add a widget, fill in the blanks and click the green “+” button.

To save changes, click on the “SAVE” button.

To cancel changes or close the edit dialog, click on the [x] button at the top right of the window.

Click “Factory Reset” to clear all your settings and revert back to the original settings that you downloaded from the website.

5. All settings are stored locally on your hard drive using the HTML5 “localStorage” facility. This is like a cookie, only bigger. The page settings were over 4,000 bytes in size, so would not fit in a cookie which officially can’t be larger than about 4,000 bytes. Local storage can be as large as your hard drive, so there are no storage limits, and the security / privacy settings are the same as for cookies.

You can download the source code here:

If you plan to use the weather widget, please change the “Weather API Key” in the “Setup” screen. Since lots of people are using this start page, the current API key will run out of API calls each day and won’t work. There are instructions on getting your own keys here:

As with all previous versions, you don’t need to load this start page on a web server. It will run fine from a folder on your computer. Just unzip the zip file, and click on index.html.

If you plan to put it on a public web server, you might want to password protect it with a htaccess file to protect your privacy.

Please try it out and let me know how you go.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY Replacement for iGoogle.

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iGoogle will be gone at the end of this month.

I love iGoogle. It was free, convenient, and worked well. But because it was provided free by Google, it’s their right to pull the pin on it if they want to.

This event made me realize that any free service online may be cancelled. So if you don’t want the inconvenience of losing a free service that you love, you’re best off doing it yourself.

Here’s my modest attempt at writing my own iGoogle replacement page.

You can download the source for the page here:

When you’ve downloaded the zip, you can unzip it to your own hard drive, or put it on a web server somewhere.

Before you start using it, you need two things: A Google API Key, and a Wunderground API Key.

Google API Key

1. Go to

2. If prompted, click on the “Create Project” button

3. Click on the “Services” button and change the status of “Custom Search API” to “ON”. Accept the terms.

4. Click on the “API Access” Link

5. In the “Simple API Access” section, click on “Create new Server key…”

Leave the “IP Address” box blank, and click “Create”

6. Copy the “API key”. This is your “Google Key” that you need to put in your index.html

7. Edit “index.html” and scroll to line 21 or there abouts. It will say something like:

var GoogleKey = “XXaaAaAAaAaAA9A9a9aaaaaAAA99a9aaaaA9AAA“; // Get your Google key here:

8. Replace the red key with your Google API key.

9. Save the index.html file

 Wunderground Key

1. Go to

2. Click on “Sign Up for FREE”

3. Create your free account

4. Activate your membership

5. Login to Wunderground

6. Click on “Explore My Options”.

7. Select “Developer” option ($0) then click “Purchase Key”

8. Complete the questionaire honestly.

9. Click on the “Key Stettings” tab.

10. Copy the “Key ID”. This is your “Weather Key” that you need to put in your index.html

11. Edit “index.html” and scroll to line 23 or there abouts. It will say something like:

var WeatherKey     = “99999999999aaaaa“; // Get your API key here:

12. Replace the red key with your Weather key.

13. Save the index.html file

You might want to change “WeatherCountry” and “WeatherCity” to reflect your home country and city.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

ObSrv Bug Fix – Please read

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I’ve fixed a bug with ObSrv that was causing empty image feeds to appear.

There is a long term problem that we need to address, and I need your help to sort it out.

The problem is that Google is limiting the number of image searches that ObSrv can do to 100 per day. The problem is that once we exceed this limit, no images are returned and you get a blank feed.

I’ve temporarily fixed this problem by changing the image search provider. I’m not saying which, as I don’t want to cause any more waves.

But eventually they’ll start blocking excessive image searches as well.

So I’m considering changing ObSrv to require you to supply a Google API key. It won’t be hard to do. All yu need to do is go to the Google Code API console, log in (or create an account) and request an API key.

Future versions of ObSrv will require you to enter that API key as part of the Feed URL.

For now, you don’t need to do anything. Everything should be working perfectly. Your images should come through as expected.

I’m just alerting you to what may have to happen, and I’d like your feedback please.

You once might have had a feed URL that was something like:

But I’m suggesting we change that to something like:[your API KEY]

This way, any ObSrv feed requests will be linked to your API KEY and not mine. And (provided you don’t go over 100 requests per day) Google won’t hassle you. This shouldn’t be a problem. Image feeds don’t update that often. Even if you refreshed the feed every hour you’d be able to have four separate feeds and stay under the limit.

If you exceed Google’s limit, they’ll probably want you to open up a commercial account with them and pay them something. This has nothing to do with me. I’m not asking for your money – I’m just explaining how Google deals with people who use their resources in an unusual way.

Please leave a comment, or email me, and let me know your thoughts.

The challenge we face is that Search Engines are a moving target. Writing a web service like ObSrv that keeps up with this target is difficult, but not impossible.