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When is a NAS no longer just a NAS?
Since Synology, apparently.
I remember when a NAS (Network Attached Storage) was just a NAS, and whilst I like the features ingrained in a Synology NAS sometimes for lower end NAS’s it’s a bit much even for it to handle and it drags the device down. Now before any fan boys start kicking off, hear me out. I don’t think this is a bad thing as such, at all. I see it as giving the user a choice as to what they want to use their NAS for, and the rest they have to decide on. If they have feature X; they can have feature Y and feature Z but it might choke on that. Unless they have a more higher-end NAS that can handle it. I am pro-choice in this regard (And no, that’s not a political statement).
I used to have a Netgear Stora MS2110 which was slow, loud and frankly the worst NAS I ever owned. It had a read (download) rate of around 1.5MBps, and a write (upload) rate of around 750KBps. It had a loud fan and the hard drives in it echoed around the machine and you could really hear the clicking of the heads flying across the disk and all around crunching of the hard drive that hard drives made back then.
@Manni introduced me to Synology though as a user, he was an administrator of a NAS and I had access via the web interface and it was the strangest thing I had ever seen. Eventually I went onto eBay and found that these NAS’s started at around £140 - £190 for the DS212j, at buy it now, although some started at £250.
So a premium brand then?
I then found one on eBay starting at 0.99p and was currently at £17.52 with a few days left and decided ‘why the fuck not?’ and put my opening max price at £30, with plans to go up to £40 and have an upper limit of £50. I didn’t really matter too much though; because on the 25th of October I won it for £28.00.
Item: Synology 212J 1 TB NAS Price I paid: £28.00 Shipping: £7.50 (Courier) Total Cost: £35.50 Came With: Network Cable, Power Supply, Two HDD’s (500GB) The package arrived on time, and it seemed to be extremely well packed wrapped in layers of bubble wrap. The first thing I did however was open it up (Of course!) and take a look inside, the hard drives in the unit came out, and I gave the machine a quick clean down and replaced the CMOS battery with a Kodak Button Cell 3V lithium battery. Taking the device apart was actually insanely easy, and this is the whole computer board:
That’s pretty much it. There is a board that goes off and acts as the LEDs and power button as well as a board that extends the SATA ports for the hard drives, but this is pretty much the hub of the NAS right there. I am hoping that I can somewhat overclock the processor, or something or add a heat sink on it with adhesive thermal pads but I am not currently sure how feasible this is.
Marvell Kirkwood 88F6281 (Sheeva 88SV131 CPU core) (Feroceon 88FR131) @ 1.2GHz - Single Core L1 Data cache = 16 KB. L1 Instruction cache = 16 KB. L2 cache = 256 KB. DDR SDRAM Controller DDR2 400 MHz, Dual channel, 16-bit, 3.2 GB/s. supports up to four DRAM banks (four DRAM chip selects). supports all DDR2 devices with densities up to 2 Gb. supports up to 32 open pages (page per bank). It supports DRAM bank interleaving, as well as open pages (up to eight pages per chip select). Up to 2 GB total address space. DDR:CPU Clock ratio of 1:N and 2:N support. support for 2T mode. supports up to a 128-byte burst per single transaction from the Mbus port. supports up to a 32-byte burst per single transaction from the Mbus-L port. contains a transaction queue, read and write buffers. It can absorb up to 4 transactions of 128 byte each, in its buffers. Transactions from the Mbus are pushed into the transaction queue. The SDRAM controller arbitrates between the transaction from the top of the queue and transactions received from the CPU Mbus-L path, always giving priority to the CPU. For a CPU read from the DRAM, read data is not pushed to the read buffer. It goes directly to the CPU bus interface unit via a 64-bit wide Mbus-L path. This minimizes read latency. Cache: 256MB RAM 1000Mbps Ethernet Connection Hardware wise; there isn’t really all that much to show you, the motherboard of the device is shown above, this is the the SATA Bridge:
Which I find absolutely interesting. The one towards the top of the picture (As the unit is upside down compared to the next image) is HDD Slot 2, where as the one on the bottom is HDD Slot 1. HDD Slot 1’s SATA connector looks very different to HDD Slot 2, noticeably the port between data and power. This is what I was talking about with the server hard drives in part 3 of my Shit I brought from eBay, the hard drives in that server will only fit into the HDD Slot 1, not HDD Slot 2, because of how the ports are made. They’re both as far as I can tell - SATA, except one seems to have a gap between the power and data where as the other has a stop bar that isolates the ports. I defined the difference as being SATA/SAS But who knows. I could be wrong. Please feel free to correct me in the comments below.
This is what the NAS looks like with the hard drives in:-
As you can see from the top screws, these are screws that I have replaced, they have rubber washers around them (As you can see in blue) this is what I put in to further reduce the vibrations caused by the hard drives (which translates as noise) by absorbing the shock of it. At least that was my theory. I have no idea how loud this was before this modification.
When I plugged it in and got it set up I learnt that there was an update for the device which I downloaded and installed… Immediately bricking my NAS. It wanted me to open the port forwarding on my router and contact Synology so they can access it and unbrick it.
“Get fucked” I thought. Then I tried to do it myself… Telnet was disabled, SSH was disabled, and nothing was working. The device was completely inaccessible and refused to boot. I had a similar problem with the Netgear Stora once, and I remembered what I needed to do.
I took the hard drives out, and decided to mount them as a RAID under a Linux Installation on my computer and scan them to see if they were properly formatted before I came to own them (They were! They had absolutely no data on them from the previous owner) and I wiped them clean with a binary zero write from the first sector to the last. Although I could have used Windows DiskPart to delete everything off of them, and clean the drives up. I put them both back into the device and used the Synology setup manager to restore DSM - and it worked!
Once it had installed, as I was only going to go around and test it, because the HDDs were going to get used in my Part 4 project (My IBM Server), I decided to play arounnd with the interface and settings and I did some file transfer tests. So during my test, with the Synology version of RAID enabled, I installed an anti-virus scanner because I figured that this thing is going to be connected to the network, it’d be good to have a layer of protection on there, and I didn’t think anything of it.
So I went to test the transfer speeds and… Oh my.
The speeds were not very encouraging; as what I was seeing was zero bytes per second, that would occasionally jump to to several megabytes per second before crashing back down to zero bytes. After logging into the Web Panel I could see why.
The CPU spikes up to 100% and the transfer crashes. When the CPU calms down the transfer goes back up and causes the CPU to spike up to 100% which crashes the speed of the transfer back down to zero again. Repeatedly. Whilst this is objectively better than my Netgear Stora, it still wasn’t good.
So I did some research and put it off for a few weeks whilst I started writing up Part 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this miniseries. During part 4 I decided to move a 4TB HDD from my PC which had been previously acting up in my computer. But it was only going to serve the purpose as a backup drive in the NAS because after repeated hammering tests on the drive I cannot make the failure appear again and it seems to be otherwise fine. The NAS will serve the purpose as a backup drive, to back up data from the local network.
So let's now talk about DSM, specifically DSM 6.2:
When you go to the location that the NAS is installed on (as a website address) you’re presented with a login screen (That can actually customise and change to some degree) like you can see above. Once you’re logged in you’re then presented with a desktop environment essentially:
From here you can pretty much set up the rest of the device and how it sits on your Network, as well as set up user accounts and install features on your NAS.
So let's take a look at the control panel:
In here you have several options as you can see above that has own tree of sub menus and sub options you can look at although I won’t be putting the screenshots of which into this document.
The first item “Shared Folder” which allows you to create root(ish) level directories when viewing the NAS through the Windows Networking Explorer for the NAS. These can be locked to different permissions so if you want a folder that only user 1 can see, and not user 2, you can indeed set that up, or if you want it so that user 2 only has read access - this again is possible. I kept mine to just one; as it allowed me to easily mount it as one drive (Via Map Network Drives) under Windows:
Which allows me easy access to the NAS.
The Shared Folder setting also lets you control encryption of the folder, although I haven’t used it. I don’t think the CPU can handle it (And I will explain why in a moment).
In the “File Services” page you can set up the following:
SMB/AFP/NFS FTP/SFTP TFTP Rsync Bonjour SSDP WS-Discovery The only services I have enabled here is SMB (Samba) and SSDP (Simple Service Discovery Protocol) which allows my device to be detectable under the Windows Network, but also locks it down from being accessed from the outside, which is a layer of protection under the NAT on the router to prevent outside access to the NAS. But you can set it up so you can access your NAS from the internet - which means you can access for files anywhere. But in my opinion you’re opening yourself up to some trouble.
Consider this: You can already find Synology NAS’s that are open online merely by searching Google for it (I’m not going to give the key phrase here) but I have done it, and I can confirm you can do it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you’re broadcasting at that point to the internet that your NAS exists and it’s there. Things have already hit NAS’s that effectively take them and the data that they hold to ransom - just look at SynoLocker. By advertising your NAS on your IP address this is what you’re opening yourself up for. A dedicated hacker who wants access to NAS’s will eventually get in. And everything you store on it can be exposed.
So for me; I have it set to network access only; no internet. I have a private web server set up elsewhere for files I want to share with myself when I’m away from home. Something that is set up, designed and locked down to serve this purpose, which requires specific PGP Keys. It has no domain name, and doesn’t appear on any searches, not am I hosting it here at home. I won’t say what other security features I have with it, but I will say that It’s not perfect, and it can be a pain in the arse sometimes so… and it probably isn’t for everyone.
The next is “User” and this is self explanatory. This is where you set up users and their permissions to the NAS, such as what apps they can use, what folders they have access to and so on. The next on the list “Group” is very much so apart of the users setting I think its you create default group permissions.
The next setting, I assume is for advanced users because it’s the “Domain/LDAP” setting which is probably good if you have a Windows Server with a Windows Domain on it. I don’t use either of these so I’m afraid I can’t tell you what exactly it does.
Under Connectivity you have a setting called “QuickConnect” which is the Synology QuickConnect feature that allows your NAS to be accessed from anywhere (As long as you have an internet connection) I quite obviously have this disabled, and it requires a synology account. You get given a quick connect ID which will allow people to access the NAS without the need to give out your IP Address, and the next setting “External Access” with DDNS and router configuration is keyed into that. Again - I don’t connect externally, nor can my NAS be connected from outside the Local Area Network. My guess is, is that you can set up your custom domain here, instead of xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (Where ‘xxx’ is a number between 0 - 255), you can connect via a domain name like ‘www.domain.tld’. So this doesn’t apply to my use case.
The next setting is ‘Network’ and this was quite important to me. In here you can set up what the server name is, where the default gateway is connected to (In my case, my router), if there is a proxy server in the way, and what it’s configuration is, the network interface, traffic control restrictions, static routes as well as the DSM settings. The DSM settings allow you to control what ports you can access your NAS on (Which I have changed from the default), whether or not you want them to be automatically redirected from HTTP to HTTPS (Which I recommend, especially if you’re accessing it externally), enable HTTP/2 and edit your own Server Header. You can also enable HSTS but if I recall correctly for enabling it on EcchiDreams - you *need* a domain name, and a valid certificate.
The next setting is ‘DHCP Server’ which on the large part - I don’t need. Because my router is my DHCP server. But… If you wanted to, you could also enable PXE (Pre-boot Execution Environment) from here too, which some computers/servers are compatible with, which is pretty much used in Enterprise environments. It essentially allows you to boot and install a computer from a central location - might not be worth it for one or two computers. But for tens or hundreds, thousands or more computers on the same network - then it’s perhaps worth it. Trip down memory lane in spoiler:
The next setting is ‘Wireless’ which, if you connect a WiFi adapter to the NAS (By USB) you can have the NAS connected via WiFi. It seems to be able to support three modes; Wireless AP, Wireless Router and to join a Wireless network. In this setting you can also set up Bluetooth, with the correct adapter. I have mine connected via Ethernet port so this isn’t applicable to me.
The next setting is ‘Security’ which allows you to set up the security of the NAS. Such as an automatic logout timer, cross-site request forgery protection, CSP headers in the HTTP content security policy, allowing or disallowing the DSM to be embedded in an iFrame, and so on. It also has a built in firewall which you can control, DoS (Denial of Service) protection, login protections (Such as get a password wrong 3 times in 10 minutes and the NAS locks your IP out), SSL Certificate storage, HTTP compression and TLS/SSL profile levels, which I recommend “Modern Compatibility”, to get the best level of protection.
The next setting section is ‘System’ and under this at the top is “Info Center”:
Which is the hub of information about the NAS itself; the General Information tab which as you can see displays the status of the NAS. The Network tab shows the information pertaining to the network setup. The storage tab shows the information on the hard drive, such as size, free space, how much data is on it, what RAID format it’s in (In my case SHR), the model, temperature, location in the drive bay and whether or not it’s operating normally or malfunctioning. The next tab - Service, shows what services are enabled on the NAS and allows you to manually enable/disable them and allows you to test the connection. The next tab is device analytics which is data sent back to Synology on how you use your NAS. I’ve obviously disabled this because frankly it’s none of their business. The last tab here is for you to connect your Synology account to the NAS - which I don’t have one, nor will I ever get one.
The next setting is the theme setting:
This is where you can control the look of both the login screen via the “Login Style” and the general theme of the device via “Theme” although you can only seem to select light or dark. The login screen lets you put in your own pictures as a background which is pretty nice, and allows you to put in your own logo, which I have used the EcchiDreams information and logo to demonstrate for this write up.
The next setting is “Regional Options” or perhaps better known as Localisation. This allows you to control the timezone, and time settings as well as update your NAS to automatically synchronise the time with an NTP server. The next tab language is self explanatory it lets you set the default languages of the NAS, it’s notifications and codepage. Then of course you have an NTP Service which allows you to set up the NAS as an NTP Server (To syncronise time across devices attached to the network), the problem is though, most modern OS’s have this built in like Windows 10.
“Notifications” setting, in a nutshell lets you control how it sends notifications to you. It can do so via email, SMS or push service. With email it has a built in Google connect like interface that allows you to hook up a Gmail Account, Yahoo, Outlook, QQ or your own SMTP server to it; and it’ll send off email notifications automatically, including any welcome emails to new users. With SMS, you pretty much have a choice of ClickaTel, ClickaTel-2017 and Sendinblue-v3 all of which I do not use. With the push notifications you can use a Synology email server you download an app to your smartphone (Apple/Android) and pair your device with that. As seen with the mobile phone screenshot.
Not only can you receive notifications from this app, but you can actually pretty much control the device with an administrator control panel if you have the right privileges. It’s a pretty handy app to have, and I’ve not yet experienced problems with it. Under the advanced tab, like with EcchiDreams, you can select what notifications you get, and how you get them, like by push, SMS or email. So all in all pretty good.
Then there’s the ‘Task Scheduler’ setting that allows you to set automatic tasks that the NAS performs, such as DSM Auto Update and S.M.A.R.T Tests on the Hard Drives. It’s pretty simple. You can select how often these tasks run, or if they run at all.
Next you have ‘Hardware & Power’ which is interesting, and I’m going to go through this one by starting with a screenshot.
This has some handy little features that really put you in control over your own NAS. Much needed, especially after my Netgear Stora. Specifically the Fan Speed Mode. I have it set to quiet, because the current max temperature the hard drive gets to in the device is around 37oC - 40oC. Which is within tolerance. But then again it’s one hard drive. But I have to say that even on Full-Speed mode, the system is impressively quiet, although I am still considering on switching it to Low-power mode. Which completely stops the fan when it’s cool. In this menu is a power schedule that will allow you to have the NAS on at certain times of the day and off at others. HDD Hibernation allows you to power down the hard drive to minimise power consumption which I do (After 20 minutes), and further reduces noise when the system isn’t in use. This is something that if memory serves me right - existed on the Netgear Stora, but when it booted back up - my goodness it was loud. Then of course you have UPS which allows you to connect the NAS to an uninterruptible power supply. Seems like more of a server than a NAS, and I will get to that.
In the External Devices settings you can pretty much set up USB External HDD’s, Flash Drives and printers. I have tested this feature and it seems to work nicely with my flash drive. But I don’t use it.
‘Update & Restore’ is next. This is basically for DSM (Disk Station Manager) to make sure that the Operating System of the unit is up-to-date and so on. It also lets you configure backups as well as reset the NAS and restore it to factory defaults. But that said, I’d advise caution against the resetting feature. It seems that every time I’ve used it, I’ve needed to take the hard drives out to completely clean them under Windows using Diskpart to delete the volumes, partitions and then clean the disk… Because it bricks the NAS… Completely.
‘Privileges’ seems totally pointless to me, it’s to setup features enabled on a user/user group level which is already available in the User and Usergroup settings.
‘Application Portal’ is something I’ve not used. Nor do I really know what it really is. The help file says “Application Portal allows you to configure the connection settings of various applications so that you can directly access and run these applications (e.g. File Station) in independent browser tabs or windows.” However there’s a problem with this - that as I have said I will get to. Because you can’t enable too many features on this NAS.
‘Indexing Service’ or ‘Media Indexing’, pretty much just scans for multimedia files automatically such as photos, music, videos stored on the NAS. It also lets you control what kind of quality you want thumbnails to be in and enable video compression for mobile devices. You know that problem I mentioned in the previous paragraph- yes. I will get to that in a moment. It even warns you as a hint here “Note: Enabling this option will take more time and CPU resources.” The idea is to compress it, and I assume Transcode it for lower end Mobile Devices.
The next setting is ‘Shared Folder Sync’ which requires me to use RSync, which I don’t. I assume it lets you sync multiple NAS’s together. I only have one, so I don’t use it.
‘Terminal & SNMP’ Setting is the last setting in the control panel and this is something I will not use, nor leave open. The Terminal is basically Telnet/SSH which allows for command line access to the NAS, I have tested it and it is basically a Linux server. I see no need to enable it at this time. As for SNMP, if I recall correctly is some kind of Simple Network Management Protocol which I do not need to enable on my NAS.
And that’s it for the settings. The next thing you might have noticed in all of the screenshots is the ‘Package Center’ this is where you go to install new software features on the NAS… And we’re drawing near to my problem with this device that I have said repeatedly “I will bring up later.”
Just look at all these additional features… It’s… Well, it’s a lot.
One has to ask: How often are these applications - especially by third parties, updated? Because the MediaWiki app is version 1.30.0 which is out of date, there is 1.30.1 and even 1.31.1 which are both security updates. To make matters worse; Apache HTTP Server 2.4 is version 2.4.29-0011… The latest is 2.4.37 which I am pretty sure that between .29 and .37 there are a number of security updates as well as bug fixes. I wouldn’t consider this secure, especially if you’re hosting a website on that has access to the internet. Node.js only seems to go upto 0.10; the version now is 11.3.0, with security fixes released just a few months ago.
Same things with:
phpBB, what you get on the NAS is 3.2.1 (July 2017). Current Version is 3.2.4 which was a security fix. WordPress, what you get on the NAS is 4.9.7. Current Version is 5.0. Python3, what you get on the NAS is 3.5.1 (2015). The Current Version is 3.7.1. Drupal8, what you get on the NAS is 8.4.8. The current version is 8.6.3. Ruby, is the most egregious of the lot that I found. On the NAS: 2.4.3… Latest version: 2.5.3, with tonnes of security fixes and patches. So when is a NAS, no longer just a NAS? Since Synology apparently… In this day in age we need to keep things updated and this NAS has all the features of a web server, it lets you even make on… But you can’t keep it up-to-date and in my opinion this is not ideal to say the least. Now some of these - maybe no problem. Sure. But some of them are missing critical security fixes and are severely flawed. Control has to fall with the user, and if Synology insists on making it easier for the user then Synology has to update the software, or have the NAS download the latest version of the software.
I would not recommend using any of this, personally.
Don’t get me wrong - this is hands down the best NAS I have ever owned and it’s a low end model. I love it. But come on. I have to be critical here, and some of these might open pandora’s box of security holes, exploits and bugs that could run the NAS into the digital ground.
But the temptation - and this is where my problem comes in, is to start enabling all of the features willy nilly. But the problem is… Just loading this screen, this package centre takes about ten seconds at full CPU usage, and if it does that just loading up the screen then how can it run any of these things? Certainly at the same time as you’re trying to use it as a NAS… It’s going to choke.
Even with just the Anti-Virus scanner enabled; the system was unable to maintain good read/write speeds, constantly breaching 100% CPU usage, and holding up the upload/download, until it went down again, and even then the web interface freezes up repeatedly whilst 1 person is transfering files to and from the NAS… I’m sorry but to ask it to do more than one of these things in addition to being a NAS is simply not going to be as responsive and the more you install the worse it will get.
But maybe it’s not a problem if you’re going to say - use the NAS as a mini-web server instead, with Apache, PHP, PHPMyAdmin and MariaDB. But there are several problems here too, the complexity of the web application you want to use will pretty much be your limiting factor. Installing and running something like IPS (The Forum Software we use) might not be feasible, or quick and responsive at all, and may even require modifications that you cannot make such as installing additional PHP Extensions like GD2 extension or the mbstring extension.
That tiny 1.2GHz Processor doesn’t even have a heat sink, it’s passively cooled so I don’t know what kind of power people expect to really get out of it. As I said I couldn’t browse the web interface with ease when someone was using the NAS and that was just one person transferring files to the NAS. So I have no idea how it’s going to handle transcoding video to one device let alone several, or how you can really enable any of these features if multiple users, use the device.
Maybe with a more powerful NAS you can run these features side by side, I don’t know. But with the DS212j… I really wouldn’t recommend that if you want advanced features.
As for transfer speeds with barebones - no extra features:-
Download from the NAS:
Upload to the NAS:
It’s certainly better than 1.5MB/s download and around 750KB/s upload. So I am happy about that. I have been able to download on some occasions at around 50-100MB/s which is amazing. But these are far and few between. I spent £35.50 on it second hand, and it works. Do I really have a right to complain at all? ... Probably not.
I might include one final topic, either this year or next year as a bonus. It’s not something I bought on eBay but it might be fun to look at.
When you were younger; did you collect Pokémon Cards?
Chances are if you were born in the late 80s/early 90s you probably did, I know I certainly did and I was pretty efficient at doing so, owning at least 6,000 or 7,000 Pokémon Cards by the time it went out of style, but I handled many, many more despite the fact that I only ever purchased 2 booster packs at the very beginning. I am going to start this topic by sharing some of my memories of Pokémon Cards and I really hope that you also share your memories too; please leave a comment and tell me what your fondest or darkest memories of the whole thing was for you.
There’s a lot of stories associated with these little cards in my history, I became quite astute in Pokémon card economics for my area where I’d see a hole in the ‘Market’ as it were and where I’d go out and ‘buy’ those cards cheap by trading outside of my area (Like around Darbyshire, Oxfordshire, Staffordshire, Wiltshire, Devonshire, Denbighshire and so on) depending on my travels; as I travelled a lot with family. I’d also quite often bulk up my deck by picking up Pokémon cards that were discarded by people who had way too many of that card and didn’t want them, it was very common in my primary school for students to dump cards and just toss them to the ground when they didn’t want them, or for students to drop the cards by accident, and for them to get blown around in the wind. I never got a shiny from anything like that, but I did get some neat cards, and I was willing to pick them up. As deck bulkers.
Of course I’d bring those acquisitions home and start bidding wars with groups of other people who wanted them to maximise my profits (In cards) which explains pretty much how I got hold of my ‘vast fortune’ of Pokémon cards. I didn’t need to resort to ‘crime’; IE - Stealing Cards, Fraud or anything like that because I was pretty damn successful at it. My favourite trick was to trade one card for multiple cards; and once (my best deal ever!) when I brought back an illusive shiny Charizard (Which I traded a Venusaur and Chansey shinies to someone who had three Charizards), I got it purely to trade with someone in my area who was willing to part with half of their collection (Including several shiny cards - which included a Venusaur and Chansey!)
Why? Because both of the people I was dealing with were collectors - respectable collectors that were only ever interested in completing the sets that they had; Base, Jungle, Fossil and Team Rocket's “Dark” cards. I was less interested in ‘buying’ from ordinary people and more interested in selling to them instead, and ‘buying’ from collectors who had no interest in having multiple copies of the same card.
By the end of it; I had 4 Charizards. One in great - mint condition; that was for my private collection and was kept safe in a photo frame that I had in my bedroom; it was the pride of my collection and I very rarely took it out (Except for one incident), and I had three that were in decreasing conditions; one of them was barely a card anymore as the previous owner took it to bed with them and cuddled it causing it to be severely damaged and even the front was splitting from the back and there was no amount of repair work that could fix it; and surprise, surprise no one wanted it.
Did I ever have a deal that went bad? Well to be honest, some of my deals felt like a drug deal. I’d have protection, the other side would have protection (In numbers of people) and we’d trade by putting one card on one table and the other side putting their cards on another table before crossing over to collect each other’s cards and leaving. I am and always have been a tall bloke; I am currently around six foot six (6’ 6”) and I was quite tall for my age when I was younger; and extremely strong for my age too. I tried to avoid deals that had to go to certain lengths but when you’re trying to run a ‘Pokémon Card Empire’ in your local area, sometimes you needed to make fantastic trades from people with bad reputations, something I thought I could mitigate with ‘Protection’.
One time I remember distinctly that I had a knife pulled on me (I was ~12 years old at the time)... Needless to say my reputation for people who fuck me around is as infamous as it is today. I become extremely unpredictable. Very quickly the guy who pulled the knife, lost control over me, I stared at him blankly and told him to put it down before he poked someone's eye out with it, or I’d ramn it up his arse. He laughed thinking that he had the upper hand, but then I just kind of lunged for him, grabbing his wrist with one hand and his throat with my other hand, knocking him onto the floor. I don’t remember too much of what happened during the struggle - this kid was around the same age I was, and he was holding me at knife point (With one of those red covered swiss army knives, with a tiny blade) and there we were fighting each other over fucking cards. I realised this when I had him to the floor, his own knife to his own neck below my hand; telling him to just let it go. He didn’t want to; and I could see it in his eyes. I told him ‘If you don’t drop it, then I’m going to push it in. If you let go; I can’t do that. Please let go.’ He eventually dropped it and I told him “Look at us. We’re going to kill each other over Pokémon cards. For fuck sake man.”...
The above story is absolutely true in that it was a dream. It's a particularly nasty dream that I remember to this day because of the effect it had on me. I woke up afterwards and reassessed what my (I guess you could call it) subconscious was telling me. I kind of saw that one of these days these deals with bad people is going to backfire, like it did in my dream, and I kind of stopped trading with bad people. This was brought about by the amount of people who were getting beaten up for the Pokémon cards, it was so bad that I remember it even being on the news at one point too. A young kid at the end of my street was left needing stitches because some other kids beat him up for his cards.
I have a story that I will share, that actually happened in that it happened in real life, not in a dream or nightmare, but real. Whether you believe it or not is up to you.
I was in a Pokémon card battle with a school bully in Primary School who when he’d win against people he’d take their Pokémon cards, he’d entice them with, “If you win, you can have all my cards. If I win you have to give me all of your cards.” He had advertised it the previous week, that he was doing it on the following Monday, and I knew exactly what was going to happen. (Spoiler alert: It did happen). It was the one time I risked my good Charizard; because I knew I was going to be in a position where I was going to be winning back the cards that everyone lost. He played fair and reasonable in each battle, having done about eight when I decided to stop this and challenge him, after watching his strategy. Needless to say, as soon as I started evolving my Charmeleons on the bench into Charizards, he started sweating. When I won... He didn’t play fair.
When he lost he didn’t live up to his end of the deal which I fully expected; I told him to the effect of; “I don’t want your cards; I just want the cards that you’ve taken from people. If you want to walk away from this with your own cards then do I am telling you. If you don’t want to walk away with your cards then carry on doing what you’re doing.” You’d think he’d chose the former option, but no, he chose the latter. After securing my cards which was easy for me because I only brought my fighting deck where as he had all of his cards there. I decked the ten tonnes of shit out of him, and took all the cards including his own; just as I promised, put them in my bag… Although I had to be careful where I was putting them, because my bag had a hole in the bottom of it, so I put them within this kind of stiched on meshed compartment in the bag that would hold them all. Then I got the fuck off School Premises, and took my stash home because I knew he’d go straight to a teacher and blab. I snuck into my home, and put the cards somewhere safe, and then I also made sure to have a new deck of cards, putting my fighting cards away and kept the other cards safe. The new deck of cards I had was full of my lowest quality cards that was mainly energy cards and trainers and I went back with them. When I came back, I hid behind one of the mobile buildings between a hedge and the building and waited for a teacher to find me. Why? Because that was my alibi. I didn’t “Leave the School.” I was hiding all along. I sat there and started planning every possible outcome I could think of to try and keep my story credible.
The headmaster eventually found me and ordered me to get to his office where I found the fellow classmate I had beaten the shit out of nursing his wounds and forming bruises, and I just smirked at him… Like a fucking nutcase. When the headmaster wanted to get to the bottom of it; I decided because at this point I had nothing to lose to be almost completely honest with him. The only thing I lied about was the going home bit - as that would destroy my insurance. I told him that he was battling people for their Pokémon cards; and when they lost they had to hand over all of their cards or he’d beat them up. The headmaster said “Well then they knew what they were getting themselves into, not that, that’s okay. But that’s their fault. They could have said no to the battle in the first place.” So I said “we had the same deal”, I was the last to do it, and the deal was that if I lost I had to hand over all my cards or else I’d be beaten up. If he lost he’d have to hand over all of his Pokémon cards. He lost and refused to hand over his cards and all the cards that he won off of the fellow students. So I beat him up.
The headmaster didn’t like that, and started pinning the whole thing on me; I repeated back to him “Well he knew what he was getting himself into, not that it’s okay, but he could have said no to the battle in the first place.” But of course he tried to twist and turn it, he then asked “What did you do after that?” To which I said “I ran from the playground and hid behind the classroom where you found me.”
The headteacher then did exactly what I thought he was going to do. He told me to give him all of the cards I took from the student. (Give to the head teacher that is, not the student) to which I feigned resistance - after all if I make it look like I was all too willing to, I was concerned that it was going to look too easy. After several threats of expulsion I handed over the cards and said “That’s all of them.” Which the student said it wasn’t even a quarter of them. I told him “It’s all of them.” This would be the second lie I told. The head teacher then forced me to empty my bag and pockets, and even sent the receptionist out to go look for the cards around where I was found. Because of course he believed the bully over me. (And people wonder why I was such a little fucking shit back then?)
When the receptionist came back and said that she couldn’t find anything the head teacher asked me “Where are the Pokémon cards?” For a moment I thought I was about to be found out, I thought my clever plan was falling apart right from underneath my feet, and I couldn’t understand how or why, because he was questioning everything. I told him and lied again, “That IS all of them. I don’t have anymore!”
My fatal flaw in my plan had become obvious when my head teacher asked “So where are the cards that you won the battle with?” Damn it; why does my head teacher had to have children who’s explained how they worked to him! I had to come up with an excuse fast, and the first thing I could think of was “I mixed the cards up, they’re all there… Including mine.” It was the third lie I told, and I only planned to tell one lie… I was already seeing that I was building a wall of lies… I had to stick to it - in hindsight like playing Poker. He then asked “So if he won a battle with eight pupils, and each battle deck has sixty cards including yours and his that’s at least six hundred cards. So where are they? This isn’t six hundred cards.”
I fucked up.
I fucked up bad.
I hadn’t even taken that into consideration and I was kicking myself, that I hadn’t even thought about that, I had the perfect plan but I missed something so fucking obvious. I told him that on the way from the playground to the building I “dropped” the other cards somewhere on the path knowing that it was a high traffic area and that any student could just come along and pick them all up. It wasn’t uncommon to find Pokémon cards lying around when I was at school, either cards that someone chucked away because they were worthless or dropped by accident - as I said in the first paragraph. In fact most of the cards in this deck I gave the headmaster were what I called ‘dropsies’. I said that I couldn’t go back and pick them up because I didn’t want to get found by anyone as I only realised when I was hiding that they fell through the hole in my bag. I acted pissed off about it, to really sell that I was kicking myself for doing it.
“You could have put them in the netted compartment in your bag.” My headteacher said to which I replied indignantly “Yeah I could of! Then I’d still have them. That’s all that’s left… I’m annoyed as it is, that I didn’t.” The lies were just compounding and compounding by this point, as I put on a look of annoyance, I was thinking about the lies I was spinning and working out if any of this was worth it or not, and what my narrative had changed from when I originally planned this out to what it was now, and focusing on trying to remember the key fake-facts of my narrative.
The head teacher then told us both to show him where it happened and we all went outside to the playground where we showed him where the battle happened, we discussed a few things there, before he then told me to show me the route I took to when I went to go hide, which I did. I showed him my route making sure to tell him “I was running so my bag was bouncing up and down at this point…” And he was looking everywhere for cards, it just so happened that on the path we were walking by there was two Pokémon cards in the bush - a Grass Energy and an Electric Energy, and further down the pavement there was another card a Caterpie, I told him that “The cards must have dropped here and someone came along and picked them up.” But regardless we continued to the building I hid behind and said “I opened my bag and took out the only cards I had left. I swore loudly as I realised that I lost nearly all of them; and I put what I had left into my pocket because I didn’t want to lose anymore.”
We then went back to his office where the bastard gave the son of a bitch bully the Pokémon cards he took off of me and said “Let that be a lesson to you to never battle people for their cards again. You got lucky in that you got some of your cards back. But if I hear you’re doing it again, I will suspend you.” I felt relieved because if he was buying into the narrative that they were his cards then my lies worked, or were convincing enough for him to believe it. He then looked at me and told me that I was suspended for two days and my father will be called to pick me up for fighting a student.
To me; getting suspended was no big deal - it actually happened often in Primary School (In year 4 especially) and I took it as two days off to play computer games or study on my own terms, and my own things… Or watch Star Trek:TNG and Voyager. xD
My father wasn’t happy - of course. And I couldn’t tell him the truth because I knew he’d take my cards from me, and go back to the school with all of my cards just to “teach me a lesson.” I was grounded, and when I went back to school I told the people who lost their cards to come to mine on Saturday when my grounding was let off. I also told them to come to me with a list of Pokémon cards that they knew that they had in their collections, and I’d happily hand them back over to them. My father was going to be out in the back garden mowing the lawn and my mother was going to be at work on that day.
There was a couple of them that claimed that they had cards that weren’t in the collection I stashed away, and I told them to be honest with me, otherwise they’re getting absolutely none of their cards back. One of them tried to push their luck but when I told them “That’s it. I’m keeping your cards.” He fessed up and admitted that he lied. I got pretty much all of the cards back to their rightful owners; and was left with the bully’s original collection, and several others… Where I got the Chansey that I’d later use to trade to get a Charizard.
And if the bully ever reads this; and knows exactly who I am from it because he’d know the story, then you’ll know exactly what this means; “I’m such a winner that even your mum thinks that you’re a loser.” (It was his favourite phrase). This was one of the factors that eventually lead to Pokémon Cards being banned from the school; what put it in the coffin was when teachers started confiscating cards and people would come back to the classroom when it was empty and steal them. I know this because I proved it could be done, when I stole some from the teachers drawer that she had confiscated from my friend, just so I could promptly return them to my friend, after school because the Teacher was going to confiscate them for “a month” - something I felt she wasn’t allowed to do. -- Again I don’t view that as stealing, I view that as taking back my friend’s property to give it back to my friend. I didn’t request or take payment.
I did feel dirty about lying, but I didn’t want him to win, and because I stuck with it, I won. Was it stealing? No. I gave him every chance and opportunity to play fair. But he didn’t. I had to lie… I don’t feel right about it, but at the time I saw it as the ends justifies the means… At the end of the day I was doing a net good. But it was still lying… But then again, the headmaster DID give the cards back to the bully… So… What do you think? Was 10 year old me, in the right or the wrong? If you have an opinion on it let me know. I think ultimately I was in the wrong, but it’s a complicated a case; I think I used morally ambiguous means to do something good. To give the cards back to the people who lost them.
I of course had legitimate and fun battles with people I won’t say exactly how far I got with that because it probably can be used to personally identify me. But my tactic was sound; have a deck that had two types of cards (Like if I picked Fire, I’d pick something that if the player used something strong against Fire, I’d pick something weak against them. I never battled with Psychic cards), I may have thrown a couple of Normal cards in there; that way I could keep my energy cards to a reasonable level and have room to put in some decent trainers. It was a strategy that really worked for me, and made deck building - something I spent HOURS, on my weekends doing.
By the beginning of 2004, my collection was stored in my cupboard when we moved house, and that’s where it remained for years… Now as I’ve said openly a number of times; I was quite a little shit to my parents… Well, to everyone really. In 2006 I moved out of my parents when I was 16 and moved into a friends place until they made up some bullshit and threw me out. In 2007, 6 months after I came back home I moved out again this time permanently, except during this time one of my sisters (from what I have been told by third parties) stole all of my Pokémon cards and either sold them for weed or kept them to herself. They disappeared from the face of the planet, and I’ve never seen hide nor hair of them ever since.
Which brings me to Shit I’ve bought from eBay.
I was talking to @Neptune and @SMFoxy about the days where I had Pokémon cards, and obviously they were talking about the days when they had Pokémon Cards, back in September. The only one of us that was able to keep a hold of their Pokémon cards was @SMFoxy, which he mentioned here in his status later in October. Both Neptune and I however; had zero to our names; except for two or three that were given by Neptune’s sister (My sister in law) from promotional packs that contained two or three cards. We were in town doing some shopping one day and we just happened to stop by Game in the high street, where Neptune saw the Pokémon cards and sighed in lemeant as she wanted them, I asked her what was up, and she pointed them out and said that she remembered the days when you could walk into some cramped and shady looking comic book store and buy Booster Packs for a quid, or get it from a book shop but didn’t want to ask for it, or to buy something for herself to which I told her that’s fucking nonsense and then I asked her which one did she want. She picked it up and I took it from her and waltz right up to the counter and said “One of these please!” Whilst she stood there dumbfounded.
The guy seemed to be hell bent in getting us a membership card, and offering pre-orders and god only knows what, to which I refused; I don’t shop at Game enough to warrant a card, and I don’t pre-order (Not since the X:Rebirth incident. No way. Never.) He then had no choice but to check it out, we paid £20 for it and told him to keep the change and GTFO’ed so fast it was unbelievable. Of course one of the booster packs in the tin contained a Mega Rayquaza EX, which she was very lucky to get and keeps it in a soft plastic sheet within a hard plastic wrapper because she considers it a high value card.
1x Pokemon TCG: Evolution Celebration Tin - Leafeon GX (Neppy) 1x Pokemon TCG: Battle Heart Fall 2016 Tin - Pikachu EX (Me) 3x 100 Pokemon Cards Bundle RANDOM HOLO GUARANTEED -Mixed Lot Mint (Neppy gets 150, I got 150) 1x Pokemon Promo Dragonite Card Nr Mint (Me) 1x Pokemon: Arcanine - 18/108 - Rare - XY Evolutions (Neppy) 1x Joblot Bundle Of 825+ Official Pokemon Trading Cards (No Energy Cards) (Split 50/50) 1x Dragonair rare non holo pokemon card. Base Set 18/102. Wizards of the coast. (Me) 1x Ninetales 12/102 Holo/Shiny Pokemon Card, Base Set, Rare (Neppy) 2x 90 Pokemon Energy Cards Lot - 10 of Each Type Bundle Deal (Split 50/50) 3x 100 Pokemon Cards Bundle RANDOM HOLO GUARANTEED -Mixed Lot Mint (Neppy gets 150, I got 150) Price I paid:
£19.99 (Game - Not eBay) £20.95 (Amazon - Not eBay) £27.97 - £5.01 (Buy 2 Get 1 Free) £3.49 £0.99 £37.49 £0.99 £3.24 £10.00 £27.97 - £5.01 (Buy 2 Get 1 Free) Shipping:
£0.00 (Bought from Retail Shop) £0.00 (Free Shipping) £0.00 (Free Shipping) £0.00 (Free Shipping) £0.00 (Free Shipping) £0.00 (Free Shipping) £2.00 (Royal Mail 2nd Class Signed For) £2.00 (Royal Mail 2nd Class Signed For) £0.00 (Free Shipping) £0.00 (Free Shipping) Total Cost:
£157.08 To see the full list of both of our collections you absolutely can; right here. It’s been alphabeticalised and sorted. In the Mixed Lots (Where we would get three packs of 100 cards) we often got a little more like 103 - 105 cards. So I’d say that particular person on eBay is pretty good; and all the cards that come from them appear to be 100% genuine. If you’re in the UK and you’re interested, in knowing who the seller is on eBay, send me an EcchiText and I’ll send you the seller’s name/listings. He usually sells them in 5’s, 10’s, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 100’s. 200’s, 300’s, 400’s, 500’s and 1000’s, and at the time of writing has a buy 2 get 1 free deal (You might indeed be able to find him with that information on its own.) I can at least say that the things we’ve purchased from him were legit, and pristine. Very professional. If you play TCG Online; I think he also sells codes.
The 850 random card lot we got which was mainly commons and uncommons, there were hardly any rares in there, and if I recall - no holos. It was a bit of a bullshit buy to be honest, but the purposes of getting it was to pretty much bulk out the collection. Also I’m not going to complain 850 cards for under £40 is not bad at all, in fact I actually still left positive feedback, because there was nothing in there that wasn’t advertised, and there was nothing that was advertised but not in there. It seemed to be a one off sale, so this seller doesn’t regularly sell them.
With that aside; I will show you some pictures and show you some statistics of the cards we have.
Here are some pictures of my cards, with a sneak peek of what’s to come in the next part of Shit I’ve Bought from eBay…
And here are Neptune’s Cards
The following graphs cover the following data:
Amount of Cards in Each Set Rarity of Cards Date Obtained Card Types Pokémon Types Holographic Count There are somethings that I feel I should point out before I start this; I am well aware that we have labeled a few things that are not canon in the Trading Card Games; for example what we call ‘Normal’ is what most would call ‘Colourless’, what we call ‘Steel’ is what most would call ‘Metal’, ‘Electric’ - ‘Lightning’ and so on. I know some of you will be itching to mention it in the comments below so I thought I’d get that out of the way. I did at least try to stick to the HTML colour pallet of the card types in “Pokémon Types”. We also only started recording date obtained after October 6th.
Amount of Cards in Each Set:
Rarity of Cards
Next on: "Shit I've bought from eBay" - HP ProLiant DL380 G5 Rack Mount Server
Do you still have your Pokémon Cards? Did you used to collect them? Please leave a comment below and share your experiences! 😄
"Leave the battlefield in ruins with the Cataclysm theme deck! Awakened at last, the mighty Lugia is yours to control! But it's not alone. Appearing amidst the rubble left in Lugia's wake are other dangerous Pokémon such as Hypno, Raticate, Arceus, and Scyther! Play your cards right, and watch with glee as the Cataclysm theme deck sends your enemies running for shelter!"
The picture used is an edited(by me) version of an image from DeviantArt user Inosuke-0101. I added the gradient effect and the text. I found a free app that allows for lots of picture editing fun, including lovely fonts like the ones used here. The deck is based on a story I'm writing.
Is it wrong that I wanna pinch this thing's cheeks? ❤️ Anyway, little Kylie. She was the result of a pairing of Dr. Kai Russet and a Cinccino. She was once shown to have the power of mind control, and weak reality alteration.
Don't think too much into the pose. She's rubbing her belly. And the picture was classified as "Safe," anyway.