My Less Than Satisfactory Experience With Drobo Transporter

crashed vintage plane

The Transporter is a device for creating your own personal cloud storage so that you can have more trust in the privacy and security of your files when compared to services like Dropbox, Google Drive or Box. As a consultant I work remotely from client sites and I often need access to certain files. I’ve wanted one of these for a while. I finally decided to get Transporter Sync and re-purpose a Seagate FreeAgent Go 250 GB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive that I wasn’t using.

The Sync has no internal storage. Setup was easy. I attach the supported Seagate FreeAgent Go hard drive and attached the Sync to my network via Ethernet and powered on the unit. In less than 10 minutes I had it all up and running. I installed the Transporter Desktop software on my iMac and MacBook Air and was able to copy files to the Transporter folder. The Transporter Sync worked like Dropbox, giving me the ability to drag and drop files into a folder on my iMac and have them sync seamlessly across all my devices. I was able to get access to the files from my iPad and iPhone as well. I was excited.

I use a MacBook Air when working remotely. The Air has a 128GB drive. It’s small but large enough for installation of the software I need. Because of this my intention was to use the Transporter Library. The purpose of Transporter Library is to store the folders that I don’t want to keep on my computer as local copies, meaning that these folders are assessed only over the network and are stored only on my Transporter. Basically the system will function as a remote Network Attached Storage (NAS) device. After making sure that the basic sync function works I move my files to the Transporter Library and looked forward to testing things out from the office the next day.

I tried to get access to my files on my MacBook but the Transporter folder was empty. I was not able to get access to the Library folder at all. I went to the Transporter support site and tried some trouble shooting tips from the Knowledge Base. Frustrated I gave up. When I got home I verified that the Transporters lights were the correct colour. I verified that while on my network, files were being sync between the iMac, Transporter, and MacBook.

I came back into the office the next day and tried again. Same results. I decided to open a support ticket. This is where things started going downhill. I submitted my support request on February 19th at 7PM (4PM PST). I got a response on February 21 at 7PM (4PM PST). My Technical Support Agent, Katrina, asked me for some information about my setup including the model number of the Transporter, logs, serial number, location of the Transporter folder, etc. I responded that I had only just setup the device, that the folder was in the default location, that the drive was supported, that the lights were the right colour, and I uploaded the logs she requested. I also noted that I could access the files via my iPad or iPhone while connected to the same remote network as the MacBook.

I got the following message back:

Thank you for the information about the lights and those logs. I’ve escalated this case to my tier 2. He will be in touch as soon as he has the chance to look over everything here.

That was the last message I received about my issue. No phone calls. No email. This morning — March 2, 2015 — I contacted the company via their online chat service. I asked how I could return the device for a refund. I was given a toll-free number to call. When I called around 9AM EST, I got an automated message that said that I was next in the queue and that my wait time was 1 minute. Ten minutes later someone answered the phone. I explained my frustration and asked to be put in touch with someone who could issue me a refund. The person on the phone took down my information and promised someone would call me back. It’s 3PM EST and no one has called.

I think this is the worse customer service I have ever encountered. The entire experience has left me frustrated and angry. The device has not been successfully at doing the one thing I want it to do. The Transporter may well be a good product but with I can’t recommend it to friend, colleagues and family members.

Oskar Blues Beer Dinner at the Rocky Hill Inn

Last night I attended my first beer dinner. The dinner was hosted by the Rocky Hill Inn. The RHI is one of our favorite places to grab a quick brew in between the 45 minute tae kwon do classes our kids are in. We enjoy chatting with Eric the bartender, and meeting interesting characters from the neighborhood. My favorite bar food are the deviled eggs. Delicious.

Last night’s event featured five beers from Oskar Blues Brewery from North Carolina. I quick look at Untapped and I knew that I would be sampling at least four new beers.

For the first course we had a mushroom toast, crème fraiche, pancetta, poached egg with a wine glass of Mama Little Yella Pils. I have had the Pils before but apparently did not like it. I’m not a fan of pilsners in general. I find them lacking in any notable character. The mushroom toast and crème fraiche were also “meh”. It was not memorable.

The second course was a roasted wild boar chop, wild boar sausage, quince purée, and bacon jam with Dale’s Pale Ale. The ale was quite good with just the right amount of hop. The wild boar sausage was spicy and salty. I enjoyed the heat but not the salt. The wild boar chop with bacon jam was perfectly paired with the Dale’s Pale Ale.

I was starting to feel a little full by the third course; BBQ pacu ribs, chimichurri aioli, jicama slaw paired with the Oskar Blues Old Chub Scotch Ale Nitro. This course was my favourite. The jicama slaw was incredibly delicious. It is something I think my wife would have enjoyed. In fact I’m going to look for recipes to make this. I think the slaw could have stood on its own.

The pacu is a large omnivorous South American fish that is related to the piranha. These pacu ribs actually looked liked miniature BBQ ribs. However, despite the size of the fish, the fish bones are smaller than normal ribs, which made this slightly more challenging to eat. The Old Chub Scotch Ale Nitro was fantastic. It’s my new favorite stout. Smooth. Perfect. It was just right for the smoky sweet taste of the pacu ribs.

For the fourth course, Chef Evan served a mini-burger (slider), with St. Agur cheese, pickled red onions, roasted red pepper, and wild arugula. The Oskar Blues rep paired this with the Icey PA, a double IPA. this was my second favorite course. The burger was delicious. The salty cheese with roasted red pepper was incredible. Although a double IPA, the Icey IPA was tamed by the flavours of the burger.

The last course was desert, a Resse’s Peanut Butter Cup bread pudding with bacon crème anglaise. For this final course we were served that Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout. I didn’t like this stout. Too high in alcohol. Its’ 10.5%, hence the name. It reminded me of the Bourbon County Brand Stout (BCBS) but much less sweet and without the hints of bourbon. I only had a small bit of the bread pudding. It wasn’t so sweet that it needed a stout this strong. I think a white ale could have stood in nicely.

Overall, I enjoyed my experience and look forward to doing this again. But I would prefer the company of my wife and some good friends.

The Cost of Privacy

Woman's Blue Eye

It seems that privacy is the buzzword du jour for security. This is expected given the recent White House Summit on Cyber Security and Consumer Protection that was hosted at Stanford University on Friday, Feb. 13. Many of the executives in attendance challenged the government to do more to protect American’s privacy and some warned of the consequences of a “surveillance culture”.

If those of us in positions of responsibility fail to do everything in our power to protect the right of privacy, we risk something far more valuable than money. We risk our way of life.Apple CEO, Tim Cook

But I think what’s really at stake is “trust”. Perhaps I don’t trust the government to respect my right to privacy especially when their agenda — dealing with their fear — conflicts with mine. But perhaps I trust other entities. Perhaps I trust certain companies via the written service agreements they put in place. They state their philosophy and intentions clearly but back it with action.

Or perhaps I don’t trust anyone so I host my own services and I trust in my ability to configure my server and applications. It means more work. It means spending time and perhaps money. Even if I only buy surplus on eBay the costs add up.

In the past I was a big supporter of cloud based services. At one point in the past, my email, calendar, contacts, photos, and documents were all hosted with Google. I trusted them. But when Google launched Google+ then soon after started “hard selling” Google+ to users of every other Google service; I realized that perhaps I had made a mistake.

Then they shut down Google Reader. It took a while but I found alternative services. Most were in some ways better than Google Reader ever was. But they were not free. The cost wasn’t prohibitive for me; about $30 per year. $30/year was the cost of being profiled and “used”. The quality of the service improved over time, adding features I never saw in the many years using “FREE”.

Unfortunately, it’s become clear to me that digital privacy is quickly evolving from what should be a right to something that looks more like a privilege; a privilege I think we’re going to end up paying for.Paying for Digital Privacy | Tech.pinions

I started to think about other services and about my network traffic. How do I protect my self from being tracked and profiled by my ISP or cellular service provider? I started using a network VPN service on all my devices. The cost of that? $28/year.

I started paying to host my email. I bought hardware and built my own personal cloud storage system. I moved my calendar to another provider. Protecting my privacy was starting to get expensive.

I’ve only just started and it’s only going to get worse.

It bothers me that this is happening at all. Are American (mostly) companies so hell bent on making profit at any cost that there are willing to disrespect their customers in this way? Are we nothing but revenue streams?

There are those who understand what’s at stake. They get it. Let’s encourage them. Consumers need to start weening themselves from the “trap” of free. These companies need to pay for servers and bandwidth and developers. Your privacy is the product. If you value it, you may have to start paying to protect it.

With ad-supported business models, the desire to collect as much data as possible to better target advertising to you becomes an insatiable addiction.The Superfish Truth: A letter about Internet Security and Online Advertising.

The Superfish Truth: A letter about Internet Security and Online Advertising.

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