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11/12/15 Adobe Lightroom still has no support for the Phase One IQ150–my method of fixing this

When Phase One first announced their flagship CMOS digital back, the IQ250 over 2 years ago, many photographers felt that the price point of $39,995 was way too much for a 50MP 1:3 cropped sensor back.  This issue became even more inflamed when Hasselblad came out with the 50c later that year with a price tag in the $15,995 range, more than half the price of the IQ250.  However both cameras shared the same sensor, the Sony 50MP CMOS chip for medium format cameras.  Later on Pentax announced the 645z, and a third camera hit the market with the same Sony chip and it’s price was 8.4K.  With the Pentax announcement and pressure from Hasselblad, Phase One made the decision to sell a “cheaper” version of the IQ250, and announced the IQ150 @ $34,995.  For 5K less you did not get a 5 year value add warranty or wifi support.  Also 1 year past, with the announcement of the Phase One XF camera body, IQ1 cameras did not receive the full support for all the new features the XF would offer.  But Phase One did allow for Capture One support for the IQ150.

I first tried out the IQ150 in April of 2015.  I was very tempted to purchase it with a trade it of my IQ260.  However after giving it a lot of thought, I held on to the IQ260.  The IQ150 would be a great fit for a XF or DF+ (both Phase One camera bodies).  With the CMOS chip, you now have an excellent implementation of Live View so manual focus was much easier using the excellent IQ LCD.  Use with a tech camera was not so positive as there was considerable color shifting past 10mm or so of shift.  So I felt that using the IQ150 would allow for a easier route for software conversion, as now I could pick from Lightroom (LR) or Capture One (C1).  However when I tried to open the IQ150 raw files IN LR, I received this screen.

Screen shot of LR import for IQ150 files before exif change to IQ250

Screen shot of LR import for IQ150 files before exif change to IQ250

Basically, LR can’t see the files since they have a exif header of IQ150.  LR had long ago picked up support for the IQ250, but back in April 2015 when I was testing the IQ150, I could only use Capture One.  Sure Capture One should be the best software as it’s made by Phase One and the IQ150 is also.  However there are times, more often than not, that LR due to it’s newer panorama and HDR tools may be a better fit.  Both of these tools work better on raw files rather than imported tiffs.  I naturally assumed that Adobe would pick up IQ150 support later on in a update to LR, however as of November 2015, you still can’t import the IQ150 raw files.

I have seen this issue before when new cameras first roll out as it takes sometime for the raw converters to catch up.  However when I tried the IQ150 in April of 2015 it had already been announced for over 6 months so I was surprised then that LR did not support it.  Now finding 6 months even further out, there is still no support I guess it’s safe to say, “Adobe plans not to support the IQ150″.  I am not sure what that is all about as it’s a very simple change on their side.

The good news is that you can easily make one change to the exif information on the IQ150 file and LR will work fine and allow you to import the images.  Just change the head from IQ150 to IQ250.  It’s as simple as that.  As the IQ150 and IQ250 share the exact same chip and CFA screen from Phase One, any profile from Adobe for the IQ250 will work fine with the IQ150, THEY ARE THE SAME CHIP 100%.  So what is the best way to do this? You will need an exif editor software.  These come in many types, some are command line other have a GUI interface.  As I am not a programmer, I prefer GUI.  So I found a neat little freeware program call ‘EXIFTOOL”.  You can find it here:

When you go to the site search for the GUI part of the program.  You have to have the base code loaded to your PC first then the GUI runs on top.  Works great and will take care of stupid oversights like this one where Adobe overlooked the IQ150, or they don’t care about it.

The GUI will look like this when you open it:  click on the image to view it larger.

Part One using ExifTool

Part One using ExifTool

Notice you have the standard windows folder interface on the far left, and when you click on a folder the files in that folder will open up in the middle part of your screen.  When you click on an individual file, the far right panel will open, will all the exif details for that particular file. Notice in the far right panel, that the “model” line lists this file as from an IQ150.

All you have to do is click on that line, the model line which then selects that item to be worked with.  When you click on the model, it will load into the box at the bottom of the screen in the right hand panel.

2nd Screen shot from ExifTool

2nd Screen shot from ExifTool

Now just click on the IQ150, and change it to IQ250 and hit enter.

3rd Screen shot of ExifTool

3rd Screen shot of ExifTool

Once you do this, notice “model” line has now changed to IQ250.  All you have to do now is hit save and you are done.  Exiftool will do the rest.

That’s all it takes, you don’t have to do anything else to the file.  If you are good with command line coding, then you can drop a large number of IQ150 raw files into a folder and then run ExifTool on that folder.  It will change just the model type for each image, if you can figure out the correct command line code structure.  The only drawback to the Gui is that you can only select one image at a time.  So if you have an IQ150 and are wishing to use it a lot with LR, then you might want to press Adobe to fix this issue with a update later on in both camera raw and LR.

Here is a screen shot from LR CC on the import screen.  You can see that LR now has no problems reading the images.  All it took was a SIMPLE HEADER CHANGE.  Not sure what either Phase One would not want Adobe to make this change as there will always be someone out there that is not going to use Capture One.  Since the issue has not been resolved now for over 1 year, I have to wonder what the acceptance rate of the IQ150 is inside the United States.  It can’t be that large or there would have been a fix for this by now, as it’s not that big a deal to fix in the first place.

LR import dialog after the IQ250 header change

LR import dialog after the IQ250 header change


Maybe this will be fixed sometime in the future, but for now this will get you the support you need in LR.  Also, don’t worry about this change for Capture One support.  Capture One will just use the profile for the IQ250 on the IQ150 files and all is fine as they are the same exact chip.  But more importantly they share the same CFA algorithm so all color profiles will work between the two with no problems.  NOTE, this is not as true with the Credo 50.  Here the CFA was developed by Leaf and there are some subtle differences in color profiles.



09/20/14 Surface Pro 3 update (after replacement by Microsoft)

My original Surface Pro 3, was having major issues with the battery and a full charge.  Several times, I would power off, (via Shut down) the Pro 3 with 35% of the battery remaining, only to power it back on the day and find it totally drained.

I had also found that when my original Surface Pro 3 was running at less than 20% of battery remaining, many times it would just shut down and not give me any warning.  Having owned many different laptops over the years, this pointed to me that something was wrong on my Surface 3.

I contacted Microsoft Surface Support.  They had me run a “battery report”, which showed a few abnormalities, but nothing glaring.  After this, Microsoft support asked that I reload the OS on the Surface back to the original load.  This is an easy process, which I did.  The battery issues remained after this and if anything they got worse.

Microsoft then agreed to send me a replacement unit.  I choose the option where Microsoft can place a soft hold on my credit card so that a new unit can ship immediately.  The replacement arrived in about 3 days via Federal Express Ground.  I was a bit shocked at how it was packed,  in that the unit was just placed in a padded envelop then in the box, with no extra padding.   The new unit came up fine, with no apparent issues, so I kept it and returned my first Pro 3.

I have been using the new machine now for 2 full weeks, and can report that it runs much better than the first one.  I was having temperature spikes also with the first unit.  My machine is the 256GB i5 with 8GB of ram, probably the most common of the Pro 3 units shipped.

I have since taken the new unit down to under 2% on the battery and it was worked fine.  I did receive a warning telling me that my battery was getting low when I reache3d 10% and then again at 5%.  I have shut down the replacement Pro 3 at least 20 times now with the battery level at 30% or lower and each time the machine has powered up the next day with no drain.

I feel that it’s clear that my first machine had some form of a full time power drain going on.  This replacement unit also seems to run cooler.  I have had instances where the fan does come on but when it does it’s not as loud.  The only time I have found where you can get the fan to run on full is when the unit is installing updates and attached to the AC adapter.  If you install updates on the battery, (something I will do if my charge is over 50%), the fan is not an issue and the unit does not get hot.  During updates with the AC adapter plugged in, back of the Pro on the upper right gets pretty warm to the touch, which implies to me that is where the processor is installed.

So far the the replacement Surface 3 has been a much more reliable PC and I am starting to regain confidence in it as much as I had with my Surface Pro 2.  This is just another example of not running out to be the first in line to purchase a new technology as there tend to be quite a few bugs that have to be ironed out.

I also wanted to add that so far I have been impressed with the phone support for both the Surface Pro 2 and 3.  Microsoft has stepped up to a very good level of support.  Every time I have called in my issue has been resolved on the first call.  I will also state that the tech support individual has had a very good technical understanding of the Surface product line.





09/16/14 Capture One Vr 8 is announced and is now available for download

Capture One Version 8

Capture One Version 8 is out

Well, one bit of good news from Photokina, Phase One has released Capture One Version 8.  This is a major update to the software with some very nice enhancements.  As a long time user of Capture One, I welcome this update and find it well worth the price of admission, $99.00 to upgrade from Vr 7.  You can still download the full version for Phase One digital backs, (non Pro) for no charge as I understand it.

Here is a list of new features and or improvements from Version 7.

  • New Capture One 8 processing engine
  • Improved image quality for HDR
  • Improved image quality for local moiré suppression
  • Improved image quality for luminance noise reduction
  • Improved black and white conversion quality especially for aggressive adjustments
  • New clarity method called Natural
  • Live view focus meter for Phase One IQ250
  • Live view direct capture
  • Live view depth of field button
  • Live view force orientation
  • Customizable tools and tabs in the live view windows
  • Repair tool for cloning and healing
  • Film grain tool
  • Target colors and other curve tool improvements
  • New crop ratio “Original”
  • Freehand rotation with the crop cursor by grabbing just outside the corners of the crop frame
  • Double-click thumbnail to show viewer and entry in the keyboard shortcut editor for toggling the viewer on/off
  • Batch chromatic aberration analysis
  • Local white balance
  • Local HDR
  • Local noise reduction
  • Local purple fringing
  • Layer selection points in the viewer
  • Hierarchical keywords
  • Metadata terms editing in the filters tool
  • Synchronize folders for catalogs
  • Split importer settings for sessions and catalogs
  • Export collection as catalog
  • Import sub-catalog
  • Session and catalog templates
  • Refined metadata editing

I was a member of the beta testing for the software.  From version 7, I see a totally new look and feel, the background now is pure black by default instead of the grey it has been in version 7.  Phase One claims there is a new processing engine and so far I have found that the processing speed does seem faster.  I am running a i7 Win 7 64 bit machine with 32GB of ram.  All the mention of open GL, I believe is only for the Mac side.  Phase One always seems to give the Mac side just a bit more.  One of these days, they may realize that there are way more windows users out there than Mac.  So if you want to increase your user base, take a hint.

For me the single greatest improvement is that Capture One 8 has greatly increase the support for Local adjustments.  Unlike Lightroom, Capture One allows for the user to create up to 10 local adjustment layers.  In the past color adjustment in these layers was very limited.  Now you can have White Balance adjustment in each local adjustment.  You also have local adjustment control over highlights and shadows and noise reduction, something that was missing totally in version 7.

However there still is no history, just the old undo switch.  I guess Phase One doesn’t feel this to be very important.  Sad as it’s one huge strength for Lightroom.  Both Lightroom and Capture One offer so much capability for raw conversion and image correction, not having a history of adjustments is really a handicap.



07/10/14 New Surface Pro 3 Firmware–All is still not well with WiFi and battery life

As of 07/08/14, Microsoft has added yet another firmware update to the Surface Pro 3 family of Laptop/Tablets.  This is the 2nd firmware released since the units were first sold.  You can access this upgrade via the Surface Pro 3 update process.  Once there,  you should find the firmware (07/08/14) towards the bottom of the update list along with about 15 other software updates, mainly to Windows 8.1.  The update takes about 5 minutes on a normal DSL link, so if you are running a more modern internet connection like U-Verse it should be much faster.

I am still seeing a pretty consistent issue with my Surface Pro 3 where the WiFi connection is not very reliable.  This morning for instance, I powered on, made my normal connection and started to work on my websites, however withing 4 minutes of connection, I was seeing slow responses, and hangs.  While this was going on, I grabbed my Surface Pro 2 and also connected to the web via DSL, no problems, no hangs, etc.  I was able to get the Surface Pro 3 to finally settle down, by going to Control Panel, and disabling the WiFi (Marvell), then re-enabling it.  This seemed to fix the problems as for the next hour I was fine, web browsing was excellent and uploads were not a problem.  I have had to do this or something similar now about 1/2 of the times I have powered up my Surface Pro 3.  Luckily I am mainly using this unit for a tethering PC for my Phase One digital back, so WiFi is not critical, however for the average user, I would say this is issue Numero Uno.  I still may just have a machine with flaky  WiFi, but in my 25 years of hardware experience, such intermittent issues don’t tend to be hardware especially on a machine like the Surface Pro 3, so it’s drivers or software or a combination of both.

I am still seeing a few issues that concern me on the Surface Pro 3

  1. WiFi is not anywhere as consistent as the WiFi I had with Surface Pro 2
  2. The battery life may actually be less than the Surface Pro 2.  After 2 weeks of use, I am seeing my machine at best getting 3 hours of constant use.  This is with the LCD brightness well below 1/2 and running in “power saver” mode
  3. The fan is behaving erratically.  At times it comes on when I am just browsing the web, and it stays on.  You can feel heat on the back side of the machine so the fan is working like it should, but it seems the processor is working a bit hard
  4. Whenever I run a hardware update, after the files have been downloaded and installed, during the reboot process the fan runs at full bore, and it’s quite loud.  Don’t be fooled in thinking this machine “has no fan”
  5. I still see the strange issues with the trackpad as I did with the Surface Pro 2 where the mouse pointer just stops working or when the mouse pointer doesn’t enable what it’s clicked on.  As with the Surface 2, removing the keyboard and snapping it back on seems to fix this 85% of the time
  6. Machine seems to run hot even with very low taxing work, (I base this on the fan behavior) so I am not sure it the Surface Pro 3 will work for tethering in the field since during tethering the processor and memory are working much harder than when web browsing
  7. Sadly, Microsoft forgot to include the feature of the Surface Pro2 where when finished charging, the light on the A/C adapter goes out.  With the Surface Peo 3, the light stays on all the time.  Maybe a minor nit pick, but it was a nice feature to know when charging was finished.

Based on Microsoft’s past history, I don’t expect to see any real changes to this behavior without some EC’s (Engineering Changes) and this won’t apply to my machine, only units shipped after a certain period of time.  In fact Microsoft more than likely has already made several EC’s to the Surface Pro 3.

My conclusion is that for now, once again sticking out my neck an buying bleeding edge equipment was not a good decision.  My Surface Pro 2 was purchased only in April 2014, so it was much further along in EC’s and internal fixes.  I still feel that the design of the Surface Pro 3 is excellent, but overall I don’t feel that enough testing and Quality Control was done on the Surface Pro 3’s prior to shipping.  This is sad as you only get 1 chance to make a first impression.



07/09/14 Power Options on Surface Pro-3–How to improve your WiFi Connection with Hyper-V

Hyper-V enabled on Windows 8.1--Surface Pro 3

I just posted an article on how to improve your Surface Pro 3 WiFi connection, by enabling Hyper-V in Windows 8.1.  The Surface Pro 3 has some changes to how “Power Options” are handled.  These are a major difference to how the Surface Pro 2 worked.  Mainly by default the Surface Pro 3 only offers the “balanced” power option.  And inside of that option, you don’t have the same control to fine tune the power to various devices like WiFi, LCD Screen, or your Fan.  Notice in the screen shot above, taken from my Surface Pro 3, you can see that I have enabled Hyper-V Management Tools.

This issue was driving me crazy before I discovered how to turn on Hyper-V in Windows 8.  I am not sure what all Hyper-V does and what it was written for, but basically, with the Surface Pro 3, it allows you to get back to the 3 original power options.

  1. Power Saver
  2. Balanced
  3. High Performance

With the default plans with the Surface Pro 3 you only have “balanced”.  By enabling Hyper-V in Windows 8.1, you now can control the power that the WiFi is getting, and I changed mine to Maximum Performance.  Since I did this, the WiFi connections of my Surface Pro 3 have been much more realizable and consistent.  You can read more how to do this in this article:  How to turn on Hyper-V on the Surface Pro 3.



02/05/14 Capture One 7.2 is released to the field

Capture One 7.2 is out

The newest version of Capture One is 7.2

If you are using Capture 7.x, look for the latest version of the software which is 7.2.  Capture One has finally released this newest version to the general population, about 1 week after they announced their latest digital back, the IQ250.  It looks like no new tools were added, sigh!!.  I keep hoping to see the ability to have noise reduction in a local adjustment along with the ability over lapping color adjustment levels that don’t cancel each other out.

Here are the main improvements in 7.2, besides support for the new IQ250 are:

  • Improved live view frame rate on Mac.
  • Improved live view alignment between Mac and Windows.
  • Fixed a number of live view issues.
  • Improved tethered stability on Mac.
  • Fixed some XMP syncing issues.
  • Improved importer performance on Mac.
  • Fixed a stability issue related to collapsing of stacks on Mac.
  • Fixed a stability issue related to reordering jobs in the batch queue on Mac.
  • Fixed some LCC issues.
  • A number of other bug fixes.

In my workflow, I don’t see too many things that make me want to upgrade my main production machine to 7.2.  I am going to check out 7.2 on my MAC and see if any new tool sets were added or if anything else was modified.  Obviously, if you purchase a new IQ250, you will have to have this version as there will be no support in prior versions of Capture One.

From looking over this list, it seems that most of the bug fixes were around Live View, but this must all be about Live View on the PC or MAC while tethered, again not anything that will help me in my outdoor workflow.

However there is mention of “fixed some LCC issues”, I am wondering if this might have fixed an issue I had with 7.16 where somehow my LCC processing was corrupted.

I work in session mode. After I started to working with 7.16 during some processing of IQ260 and IQ280 files a strange issue occurred.  When you process an LCC in Capture One, you process the LCC image, and then Capture One allows you to save the processed LCC as a preset.  Once the LCC is processed, you will see the check boxes of 1, color cast, 2. Dust removal, 3. light falloff selected by default.  I noticed that all of a sudden even though the saved LCC showed these defaults selected, when I applied the LCC to the image, nothing happened.  So the color casts and light falloff that was visible in the image did not change.  I could go back to the saved LCC and all three check boxes were now unchecked, and greyed out.  I could not select anything.

To fix this I tried first to delete the current LCC, and re-create it.  This worked as it should but as soon as I tried to apply the LCC, the check boxes greyed out again.  I closed Capture One and re-opened it which fixed nothing and then I rebooted my PC, and still it was broken.  Not a good deal as all my images are from tech camera.

What was interesting was I could could go to another folder of images and the LCC’s worked like they should.  It only seemed to apply to this one folder of images.  The only thing I had done differently was move some IQ280 raw files into the same folder as my IQ260 raw files as I was working up a comparison.

The only way I could fix the problem was to delete 7.16 from my PC and reinstall 7.15.  Then all thing worked correctly.

Hopefully this fix mentioned in 7.2 addresses this problem.  But I will wait a bit longer to load 7.2 on my production machines.






09/22/13 Drobo 5D Firmware update 3.0.8 problems with Windows 7 64 bit

Update on 10/12/13

What I thought was a fix, turned out to be a dead end as the replacement Drobo would not work correctly on my production PC.  It would boot up, and briefly showed all the correct lights, but as soon as windows gave the new hardware tone, the Drobo rebooted and started this process over and over, never coming on line.  I was able to bring up a new disk pac with the replacement drobo, (2) 200GB drives.  This worked correctly, but for some reason, my (5) 2 TB drives would not work.  I also received a windows error about “A USB device attached to this computer cannot be recognized”.  This error comes up with either Drobo, mine or the replacement. 

I went back to my original Drobo 5D with my hard drives and booted it up.  It came up fine, still getting the USB device error, but still it comes up and is recognized by windows and assigned a drive letter. 

As of Friday, Drobo is sending me yet another replacement 5D now stating that the original replacement was defective!!.  Something I believe I tried to tell them after I first tried to use it.  As of today, I still have not SPOKEN to anyone at Drobo, from a tech to supervisor and it’s quite apparent now based on the information I have inputted to the case, that Drobo is not interested in talking to me.  I am sorry to see that this is the way that Drobo has gone and I have for sure purchased my last piece of equipment from them.  I love their website showing all the “happy” users, well, that is pure fiction.

Update on 10/05/13

After working through two more days, and getting a better feel for the tech support with Drobo, I finally was able to fix this issue.  The problem stemmed from the fact that both of my PC’s (with Asus boards) were running very back level USB3 drivers.  On one PC drivers dated back to 2010 and the other 2011.  I am planning to write up a bit more about this, but I did want to state, that DROBO DID RESOLVE THIS MATTER AND MY 5D IS NOW RUNNING ON BOTH MY PRODUCTION AND TEST PC’S WITH NO PROBLEMS.  I am willing to take some of the blame for this entire debacle, however Drobo could have made this so much easier with just one phone call explaining the issues with the USB3 drivers.  I will also note that Drobo was helpful in providing an updated driver for both of my Asus mainboards, something that Asus was not able to do since they quit updating the P8P67 mainboard over 1 year ago.  Net, to this story, things have changed at Drobo.  In the old days, you could talk to a person, and that person gave you an extension and you could call them back until the problem was resolved.  Now you are going to work on-line, (the way of the world) and no doubt there will be some misinterpretations of instructions.  However I have to state that my initial extreme disappointment with the Drobo support group has now been lessened and in the future I will know how to proceed with them.

Update 10/02/13

Amazingly since I started this problem after trying to upgrade my Drobo 5D firmware, I still have not been able to talk to a “supervisor” within the Drobo tech support organization.  Yesterday I received a “replacement” unit, which was dirty, smelled burnt and was scratched on the faceplate.  This was the unit that was supposed to work correctly with USB 3, however when I brought it up on my PC, it had the same issue:  The Drobo comes up, is seen by Win 7, Win 7 makes the tone for adding a new device, immediately after that the Drobo drops back to standby and on a detailed inspection the USB mass storage driver has failed.  ON THIS REPLACEMENT UNIT I WAS NOT ABLE TO GET THE UNIT TO EVER COME BACK UP EVEN BY RELOADING THE USB MASS STORAGE DRIVER.  

Based on my 20 years experience in the PC market, where I worked for IBM for close to 30 years, I am amazed by this response, especially from a company like Drobo that just a years ago had excellent customer service.  If you can’t get through to a supervisor especially after having an open call for over 60 hours and the unit is still not working, then THERE ARE SOME PROBLEMS IN YOUR COMPANY.   Sadly this seems to be the trend in business today and I hate to see Drobo go this route.  They have obviously spent a ton of money on marketing, just look at their current website.  However I WOULD STRONGLY warn anyone or any company not to make a large investment for data protection with Drobo products.  Their lack of ability to communicate, reach out to a customer who has a Drobo that was working perfectly before attempting a Drobo firmware update, and lack of management follow up is pretty telling. 

As long as you bring up the 5D in a USB 2 environment it still works fine, however this totally defeats the over $800.00 dollar cost of the chassis in that you are dropping back to a USB2 transfer speed and you can get a 1st Gen Chassis for that.  Sure they are no longer sold by Drobo, but there are plenty of them around.  However now that I think about it, that might not be a good idea either since the support for an existing product is pretty much terrible, I can’t imagine what it would be like for older 4 bay.

I understand I running a Asus mainboard, but the USB3 drivers with most board companies are pretty much the same as long as the board is a Intel board. 

From here it’s back to chassis and LSI cards, with drives for me. 

This is my earlier post when the problem first started.


I have been using Drobo products for storage/backup now for almost 4 years.  For most of those years I used the original 4 bay 1st Gen Drobo that connected via USB 2.  This device has been stable for most of this time, and had worked as a external raid 5 enclose would be expected i.e. notifying me when a drive was close to failing or failed and allowing me to replace said drive with no data loss.  My only issue with the 1st generation Drobo was the fact that is slow for reads/writes mainly due to the fact that it’s only connection was USB2.

When the Drobo 5D, 5 bay product was announced I did not immediately move to purchase one.  I felt (and now still do) that the price point of close to $850.00 was too high for my budget.  However early in 2013, I was totally out of space on my 1st generation Drobo so I purchased the Drobo 5D.  I installed the 5D on my main windows 7 64 bit machine, utilizing the USB 3 interface.  I used all 5 drive bays and filled them with 2TB drives.   Since I made the installation of the 5D, I had had no problems, until this past Friday night, when I made the FATAL mistake of allowing the Drobo dashboard to download and install the latest firmware for the 5D.  Normally my thought process on firmware updates are “don’t update to them unless you see a specific need fixed”, however on this night I went ahead and allowed the Drobo dashboard to upgrade both the firmware on the Drobo 5D and Drobo Dashboard.

From here, things went downhill fast.  The firmware update on the hardware failed.  This pinged my memory back to when I tried this on my Drobo 4 bay, and I remembered that I had had the same issue with it.  On the installation failure the Drobo 5D rebooted and then attempted to come back up.  It went through the entire reboot, and then just as I received the tone of a new device being added to Windows, the Drobo 5D went into standby.  I attempted one more hard restart and the same thing happened.  From here I called Drobo customer support, and again I was in for a rude awakening.  One thing I forgot, was my old 4 bay never worked correctly on firmware updates from the Drobo dashboard software, instead I had to always do a manual firmware update.

In the past I all of my tech support calls with Drobo support have been positive.  They have been prompt, informed about the product, and have been able to provide a fix, either software or hardware.  On this call in I was told that I had not “registered” my Drobo 5D, even though I had placed a tech support call with Drobo when I received the unit and I could see both the call record and serial number of the 5D in “my support” portion of the Drobo website.  The tech I spoke to was polite, but would not proceed until I registered the product.   I went ahead with the registration and then found out that Drobo no longer provides “free” tech support after the 1st 90 days of ownership.  After this, you have to purchase a 1 year support contract for $162.00.  This surprised me, but at this point, I didn’t care, as I needed to get to the data on this Drobo 5D.  Most was backed up offline, but not in a local backup.   NOTE TO DROBO, for the price of over $800.00 for a empty raid enclosure, I believe you should be able to continue to provide tech support for no charge for at least the 1st year of warranty.  However Drobo has taken the sad path of most companies, if you need help, prepare to pay.  This needs to be spelled out a bit better up front.

After paying the 1 year contract, not much else improved, except that I figured out on my own that my 5D was still OK, and somehow the firmware update had created an error on the Windows 7 mass storage USB device driver. After taking to Drobo tech support, it became quite clear that the firmware update had not taken and I had to download the firmware and do a manual update.  This did not fix the problem and the 5D still came up and went into standby.  A NOTE TO DROBO, you need to post a bit more information on this upgrade as when I spoke to a 3rd tech later on Saturday, I was informed that this is a known problem after you upgrade the firmware on the 5D to 3.0.8.   This is terrible customer service, period.  If you are using a raid enclosure, you are using it mainly to protect your data and provide a level of security, NET, if I had not followed the prompts on the screen, my Drobo 5D would be working fine.   The 3rd tech I spoke to on Saturday also told me that there currently was not a fix for this issue and blamed it on the Windows 7 mass storage driver.  Really?  Did Windows suddenly change this driver?  I checked as far as I could and the date on my system for the USB Mass storage driver showed no change, in fact it’s the same date as when the OS was loaded. 

Here is where things are currently:

  1. If you are running Windows 7 64 bit and have a Drobo 5D, using USB 3 connections, then if you update to the latest firmware of 3.0.8 for the Drobo 5D, you have a very good chance of getting this same issue.  I am running an Asus XXXXXX board, with a Intel i7 processor.  This is no way I know to get this driver/firmware screwup fixed.  Net each time from now on, when you attach the Drobo 5D, it will come up normally, then go into standby.   I tried a full system restore back to the date before I did this firmware update, the system restore was successful, however the problem was still there.  Based on this it’s a fair conclusion that a full image restore of the OS (Win7 64 bit) would not fix this problem as the issue is with the Drobo firmware 3.0.8 and the stock Windows 7 64 bit Mass storage driver for USB.  The only way I can think to fix the issue is to back off the firmware to a previous version than 3.0.8 on the Drobo 5D.
  2. You can fix the problem and continue to use the Drobo 5D by either unplugging the USB 3 cable from the PC or back of the Drobo 5D, while leaving the power on the Drobo 5D.  Windows 7 will then see it correctly and add the drive letter for the Drobo.  You can also go to control panel==device manager and locate the USB mass storage device driver that has failed.  It will have the dreaded yellow ! next to it.  Select this component and go through the process to reload the driver using the 2nd option.  This will get the drive back online,  and the Drobo will come out of standby and Windows will assign a letter to it and you can operate as normal.
  3. You can also plug the Drbo 5D in to a USB 2 port and it will work fine.  This was one answer I received from Drobo tech support.  This makes no sense as you have now brought your 5D back to the speed of the older 4 bay models.

Overall I still have a ticket open with Drobo tech support and if I get some form of resolution, I will post the results here.  Currently I can only get my 5D to operate at the correct level, by unplugging the USB 3 cable, or reloading the Windows 7 mass storage driver.


Bluehost goes down for the big one–9 hours on 08/02/13

Bluehost goes down for the big one 9 hour outage

Bluehost goes down for the big one, a 9 hour outage


I have used  Bluehost for my webhosting  for almost 2 years and during that time, I have never experienced any downtime.  This ended on the 2nd of August when Bluehost took a major outage that lasted the entire day.  My two main sites were both offline for over 8 hours but when Bluehost finally got things fixed, I experienced no data loss that I could tell.  Overall I have to give Bluehost  a “F” on this situation.  Their non-ability to handle this size of an outage became quite clear.

What was interesting was that Bluehost’s main site, was also down and they were not answering their phones.  The phone part may have been because they were overloaded with calls, but they should have been able to have at least a recording, so that callers knew they knew something was going on.  Instead they tweeted all day long about possible fixes and when things might be fixed. As I am not a member of the tweeting generation, I did find this a bit distracting, but I guess it’s just how things work now.

I never did hear if Blue Host was hacked or not, but for my sites, the total downtime came to over 9 hours.  There was no loss of information on my sites and I did not have to bring up a site backup.  What seems interesting is how no communication from Blue Host was ever generated.  I received no email notice, or phone calls, even a a recorded phone call.  This is the normal way a company should handle a total outage that take them down 100%, so much so that their main website is down also.  Please don’t just respond via Twitter, that is a very non professional way of doing business.   Twitter is used by a younger-me now generation and I don’t believe it’s a very professional way to handle a business i.e. your only way to communication to the outside world for over 9 hours. 

My websites are my e-commerce venue for selling both my photography, and my printing services.  Taking a 9 hour downtime without any proactive communication from my hosting company is not what I expected.  I have used Bluehost’s technical support several times in the past and not had any issues.  However in regards to this outage, it’s given me enough concern that I am again looking for a hosting company and most likely will move my business.

06/28/13 Working with a RocketRaid 2640X8 Raid Card and a hard drive replacement

I recently had a failure of a Rocketraid 2640 2 channel Raid 1 card.  The process of replacing the hard drive that had failed was a bit more involved than I thought it would be.

Rocketraid 2640 PCI Express card

Rocketraid 2640 PCI Express card

If you work with a lot of data, you eventually will find yourself using some forum of a Raid solution to protect your data from loss.  There are many implementations of raid (redundant array of inexpensive disks) but the most common are Raid 0, 1, and 5.  Each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages in regards to speed, protection and implementation. Here is a brief overview of the 3.

  1. Raid 0 writes data over multiple disks (call striping) but does not write any multiple records.  So for example if you have a 2 disc raid 0 array, your data will be written over both discs.  However there will be no redundancy, so if you lose 1 of the 2 discs, you have lost everything.  The only real advantage to Raid 0 is that it’s very fast and allows you to spread your data over multiple discs which will decrease your overall write times.
  2. Raid 1 (also called mirroring).  Raid 1 requires at least 2 total discs.  The raid implementation writes 1 record to both discs at the same time.  The theory being, both discs won’t fail at once and if one does, you can still continue to work in a degraded state until you replace the failed disc.  The total capacity of n/2 n being the total amount of storage. So if you have (2) 2 terabyte hard drives in a Raid 1 array, you will have 1 TB of usable space.
  3. Raid 5 allows you to have multiple discs in a array and gives you better utilization of storage with a n-1 capacity solution, n being the total number of drives.  So if you have (4) 1 terabyte hard drives in a raid 5 array, your total available storage will be n (4TB) – (1TB) for 3TB of total storage.  Raid 5 can have 1 drive in the array fail and then run in a degraded state.  You replace the damaged hard drive your array will run slower until the data has been replaced over the new drive.   Raid 5 tends to have more overhead and slower overall performance over a Raid 1 solution.

Only Raid 1 and 5 offer any data protection.  When using a PC or Mac, you have many ways to implement a raid solution.

  1. Raid implemented from the system board (most times a raid 1 solution)
  2. Raid implemented from a raid card installed in the PC or mac.  This off loads the system board from having to process the raid array and is much easier to work with.
  3. Raid implemented from an external device like a Drobo.  The Drobo can allow the user to pick the level of raid and all of the processing is handled by the Drobo.  The Drobo is attached to your PC or Mac via Fireware, USB3 or network.

In my setup I use both internal and external raid arrays.  Over the years, I have started using the Rocketraid brand of card for my internal raid arrays.  Rocketraid cards are inexpensive, work in all PC’s and have a very good track record on both performance and reliability.  The Rocketraid card I use is the 2640X8 card which uses a port on the systemboard.  I tend to use the Rocketraid cards that have the 2 channel implementation in a Raid 1 array.  The cards are made in China or Taiwan, and they really don’t have a very good tech support setup.  They list a phone number for tech support which is a California number, but when called, you won’t ever get an answer.  They expect you to open your issue over the web, which requires getting the serial number of the raid card.  Once a card is installed, the only way to read the serial number is physically remove the card, something I do not prefer to do especially if the card has been installed for a period of time over 6 months.

Rocketraid cards will scan the bios of the card each time you boot.  If there are any problems, the system will stop the boot and bring up the Rocketraid bios screen.  Most times you will get a message that your array is “critical”  Critical means that a drive or channel on the card has failed or is failing.  With modern hard drives like the Western Digital lineup allow raid cards to query the hard drive to see if there are any errors starting to show up.  The raid card will have a certain tolerance level and once this level has been exceeded, the array will go “critical”.  NOTE, you may get this on one boot and the next time the machine will boot up clean, but it means you do need to watch your array since once a drive starts to show errors, it eventually will fail.

The Rocketraid 2 channel cards in a raid 1 array don’t allow you to have a “hot spare” since they only have 2 channels and both have to be active.

Recently I booted up my main production machine and found my Raid 1 array was critical.  I knew I had a hard drive that had either failed or was started to throw enough error codes that the card was hitting it’s tolerance level.  I opened the web based utility that allows you to view the array and get the status and found that one of the 2 drives was “critical”.  The software tool will show which hard drive needs to be replaced by serial number.  So I know which drive to pull, however getting the array back on line was a big more trouble. As I already mentioned, Rocketraid has no tech support by phone (at least not a realistic one).  Their manual that ships with the card does not cover drive replacement after a failure, which surprised me.

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