Tag Archives: nas

Best Manager for PDFs…..and Stuff

I have a LOT of music, digital music. I recently pretty much completed scanning all my physical books into PDF. It has been worth it. I can now have them on my iPad, or if I want to copy a page for a student, it is there. Or email a page to them. Boom, its right there.

However, managing PDFs is a real problem now. iTunes absolutely SUCKS at managing PDFs and EPUB books. It throws everything into iTunes Music/Books and then maybe if there is an author (with ePUBs) it will put it into a folder with the author’s name (I generally tag all the say saxophone book PDFs as “Saxophone Books” in the Album Artist field). It generally has resulted in a HUGE MESS to manage. Plus, they are all stored on my Synology unit.

I finally found something that will not only manage my PDFs and ePubs, but also Movies. iDocument 2.

Now, I had been using iDocument (1.0), for a while. It sorta worked for me. It provided a iTunes like interface to view my PDFs. It worked alright, but the new version is heads and tails better. First, it does ePubs and Movies. And it will “Index” the folder if you want, meaning it won’t try to grab all these things and stick them into a library format (most all these “manager programs” want to do that). AND it will automatically reindex when it reopens. Pretty cool.

You can tag items in iDocument, or do searches, including searches of searchable PDFs (so like the word “Coltrane” that appears IN a PDF as well as the title). Searchable PDFs on a REMOTE drive. That is something nothing else seems to do (other than DevonThink Pro, but the indexing in that program is GOD AWFUL SLOW). Huge win. You can also set up Filters, so if you want to just find the “Aebersold” books you have, you can have a little hot link to them.

Two issues with the program. 1, it doesn’t currently do the covers of ePub books, and 2. I wish there was a way to have the program send stuff to your iPad or iPhone (I hate using iTunes for that).

Great program though. If you are having Media management issues (too many Movies, or PDFs, or whatever) and don’t want to use iTunes, OR have them stored on something other than your Mac (like a NAS, or removable HD), then look into this program, $30 well spent.

Looking for the Best Indexer of PDFs and Documents

I’ve been doing a project for several years now…..converting paper material to digital. I wrote about this a while ago, and the process still holds true for me. Since getting an iPad, and also since basically converting my teaching studio to being centered around electronic display.

So, in the process of going all “Digital”, you need to have some sort of “backup” plan. For years, I have been running a Infrant/Netgear NV+ to hold all my iTunes music and books. It worked great for many many years, but it is slow. It’s like 6 years+ old now. I recently purchased a Synology DS1512+ to replace it (the Netgear unit is now a RSync clone of the Synology that is stored off site). It works well. iTunes runs great on it and things are safe (RAID5). BUT….iTunes isn’t very good at all for managing PDFs.

Most everything I have is text searchable PDFs. Or text files. What I am looking for is a program to program like DevonThink that can keep track of all the PDFs and stuff, and you can search for text in the PDFs. BUT….I don’t want all the PDFs mashed into a single library file. Why? Cause I like having a play-along in iTunes that also has the book in a Playlist. If I had DevonThink handle all the PDFs, it would put them all into a Library file and I’d lose that ability.

I’ve looked into Yep, and that would be AWESOME for PDFs…..except it only works with Spotlight enabled drives. All the PDFs would have to be stored locally. Kinda defeats the purpose of having a NAS and RAID5. The other contender is iDocument, which is probably going to fit the bill. It is flexible in how it handles the PDFs, and doesn’t require you to keep them all in a single Library file (though you can), and doesn’t only work with a Spotlight drive.

Anyhow, it’s not a perfect solution, but it is getting there. Ideally, I’d love something like Evernote but that you can run locally without any of their limits in file sizes or bandwidth. Maybe Synology will come up with something for their units. They already have iOS/Android Apps that allow you to stream music or video from your NAS WHEREVER you are (home, on the go). It’s pretty darn cool. If they come up with something similar to Evernote for their Synology line…..that would be amazing.

Synology DS1512+

Years ago, in 2006 I bought a Infrant ReadyNAS NV. The thing has been ROCK SOLID in storing my 2.8 terabytes of archives, music, pdfs, backups. Everything. Love it. Though it is getting long in the tooth. It’s 360mhz processor, lack of software updates, support for just 2 Terrabyte drives, Ext3 filesystem, lack of software support……there is a list of things it doesn’t do that I’d like it to do. Though it has NEVER lost any data. A failed drive? Replace, it rebuilds, and we go on.

So, I decided to upgrade the NV to something new. Not that I plan on getting rid of the NV, but I’d like 2 copies of my stuff. So, I looked into Netgear (who bought Infrant) and their line of NASes. Not really cutting edge. Solid I’m sure. I also looked into Synology. They have a LOT of NASes they sell, and have some amazing software and even iOS apps to monitor the units. SOLD!

So, I get a unit on the 15th of March along with 3 2 terabyte seagate hard drives. Put the drives in, made a volume, updated the Synology software. Everything looked great. Awesome web interface, a speedy 2.1 gigahertz processor, FIVE drive bays. I’m in love.

Next up was to copy my ReadyNAS NV stuff to the Synology unit. I chose to use RSync on the ReadyNAS unit to make sure everything was copied, and that if I did any changes to the NV (cause I was still going to use it while it was backing up) the second pass of Rsync would catch any changes. So, I started the RSync job on Thursdays the 15th.

It finished on Saturday the 24th. It was slow (the ReadyNAS’s fault). The second pass of Rsync took like 20 minutes and caught all the changes I had made. Awesome. Ok, so next up was to power down the ReadyNAS, rename the Synology unit and reboot the Synology unit. Renaming it and rebooting it would make it show up as the old unit on my network and my iTunes share and network paths should, in theory, work without any tweaks.

Disaster…..so, I rebooted the Synology unit. And it never came back. It now blinks a steady BLUE power light. Scanning their support FAQ, if you take the drives out and power it up again, it should blink blue then beep and go solid. It doesn’t. It died. WTF! So, I email their tech support (actually before I did the taking the drives out). Nothing. Seems their tech support doesn’t work weekends…..which I think is unacceptable. I also posted in their forum my plight….seems at least 2 others right now, with newer units, have the same problem. Reboots or power back ons that just hang.

So…..what do I take away from this so far? Synology has shitty tech support. No support on the weekends? At all? Not ONE person in the company can be bothered to check and reply to the emails over the weekend? Terrible. A unit that is a week and 2 days old DIES when you simply reboot it? And I’m supposed to maybe have some sort of reliance on this product?

I would SERIOUSLY, as of right now, NOT RECOMMEND SYNOLOGY PRODUCTS. Go somewhere else. Netgear’s stuff is solid but doesn’t have the bells and whistles of Synology. But at least they have people replying to emails on the weekends and have members of their support staff monitoring and replying to forum posts.

I’m giving this a 0 out of 10 right now. I left a 1 star review on Amazon, and have contacted them through Amazon (still no reply). If it isn’t fixed by Monday, I will be filing a complaint with Amazon to get my money back.

UPDATE 3/29: After several emails with their support, and bitching about it, seems they will ship me another one to replace the unit. I did get the unit up at home on Monday. Passed the self test, and then I powered it down, and put the drives in, and it worked perfectly. So, I powered it down, brought it to my studio….and it did the blinking blue light thing again. I called their support, and they were like “it needs to go back from where you bought it”. And I was like “But I bought it FROM YOU through Amazon”. Ugh. So, after being disgusted on the phone with them, and having the unit completely unplugged again, I plugged it in, and it started working. I powered it down, and put the drives back in, powered it up and it works!

It’s a great little unit when it is working. The software is awesome, including the iOS apps for streaming music. Very cool. And you can remotely stream music as well. VERY COOL. Except that I’m worried about if I have to power it down or turn it off.

So, I’m going to revisit my rating of it. I’m going to give it a 5 out of 10. When the unit runs, it’s awesome. EXT4, awesome web interface, remote access, it’s FAST. However, their quality control seems suspect (a couple of other people on the Synology forums had similar issues with the XX12 series of units) and their tech support leaves a LOT to be desired (no email support over the weekend, no 800 number for support). I’d hold off buying a unit for a few weeks until they figure out what is the matter with these units. I suspect it is some sort of software issue with their DSM4 software.