A NAS, a CMS and Frink

A few weeks ago I discussed the Synology RackStation RS409+, a 1U rack-mount network-attached storage device that I absolutely loved because Synology managed to get so much into one really well-integrated package.

So it was with great interest that I uncrated the latest addition to the Synology stable: The Synology DiskStation DS1010+, a five-bay desktop NAS that provides up to 10TB of RAID 5 storage and can be expanded with the DX510 add-on for a total of 20TB. And it's small enough to fit on your desktop.

The DS1010+ uses a 1.67GHz, dual core, 64-bit Intel DDR800 processor, which Synology claims makes the device 250% faster than the company's previous models. It ships with 1GB of RAM standard, which can be expanded to 3GB. All of this comes in a package that is just 6 by 10 by 9 inches, weighs just over 9 pounds, and consumes a measly 68W when active and a miserly 30W when the hard disk system goes into hibernation mode.

This device is not only a work horse in terms of what it can do (its list of features is more or less identical to the RS409+ except for the number of bays and dimensions), but it is also remarkably small and amazingly fast!

Naked (that is, without drives installed), the DS1010+ is priced at around $1,000 and with five 1TB drives (called the DS101+ 5100) it is available for just over $1,700. The DS101+ earns every decipoint of the score of 5 out of 5 I hereby bestow upon it.

Just to give you a 'heads up' on a future review topic, I just installed on this DS10101+ a terrific third party, PHP-based content management system (CMS) published by Interactive Tools. I reviewed some of the software from Interactive Tools a long time ago and was enormously impressed with both the software quality and support. Since then the company has refocused its efforts on a single product, CMS Builder.

Getting ready to do the CMS Builder install took a bit of fiddling and research as I had to first enable the NAS's Web services and MySQL service, then install and configure PHPMyAdmin, and configure a database for CMS Builder. The documentation for all of this enhancement of the Synology platform is community-created (i.e. sketchy), but nothing that an hour of perusing various Web sites can't solve.

Finally I ran the CMS Builder installer and in seconds, the CMS was up and running. Once I've delved deeper into CMS Builder I'll be slicing and dicing it for a future Gearhead, but for now, let me say that I am really impressed! Check out CMS Builder and watch for the review.

My final topic for this week is amazing. Called Frink, it's both a programming language and a calculator for physical calculations and named after a fictional character in the Simpsons, Professor John Frink.

Frink is incredibly useful as it tracks the dimensions of quantities (feet, cubic meters, degrees Fahrenheit, radians and so on) throughout calculations, thereby ensuring your results make sense.

Frink also performs: arbitrary-precision math, including huge integers and floating-point numbers, rational numbers without loss of precision, complex numbers and intervals; advanced mathematical functions including trigonometric functions (even for complex numbers,) factoring and primality testing, and base conversions; date and time math, timezone conversions, and user-modifiable date formats; translations between several human languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Korean, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, Swedish and Arabic; calculations of historical buying power of the U.S. dollar and British pound; and … well, go check out the Frink features list as it actually does way too much to detail here.

The author of Frink, Alan Eliasen, in his excellent documentation, gives the following example:

"I received one of those endlessly forwarded e-mails of dubious but 'interesting facts' which said '"if you fart continuously for 6 years and 9 months, you'll have enough gas to create the equivalent of an atomic bomb.' … But I didn't believe it and wanted to check it. The Hiroshima bomb had a yield of 12.5 kilotons of TNT, which is a very small bomb by today's standards. How many horsepower would that be?"

By entering the following into the Frink calculator: "12.5 kilotons TNT / (6 years + 9 months) -> horsepower" you get "329.26013859711395", the energy, in horsepower, required per gaseous expulsion, which, Eliason points out, is equivalent to " the power produced by a Corvette engine running just at its melting point."

Anyway, Eliason provides, for free, various Java-based versions of the Frink calculator as well as a Web interface version, a Web clipping application for the Palm VII, a WML version for smartphones, a browser plugin for Netscape, Firefox, Mozilla  or any browser that supports "Sherlock" search plugins, a Java-based Frink interpreter for embedding in your own software, versions for Android, Sharp Zaurus, various Nokia and Sony Ericson phones, a dashboard widget for OS X and a Google Gadget.

This is amazing. Frink is a remarkable achievement and if you do any amount of calculations in your job, this is a fantastic tool to have at hand. Eliason is hereby awarded a Gearhead Gold Star.

Gibbs adds it up in Ventura, Calif. Your computations to gearhead@gibbs.com.

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "A NAS, a CMS and Frink" was originally published by Network World.

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