09 June 2009

Most Blogs Now Abandoned

I find this article to be informative, and ironic.

22 April 2009

Recovery Stimulus Package

The Bad News: My personal media server blew it's hard drive the other day, taking with it almost all of my music, videos, and pictures. Nearly 100 gigs of MP3s, lovingly ripped by my wife and I from our CD collection, or acquired online. More than twice that of old TV shows, anime, and such. And tons of family and vacation photos. All locked away on a hard drive that suddenly refuses to boot, or allow access for more than five minutes at a time.


The Analysis: I know... it's just data. It's just "stuff." But it still felt like a kick in the guts to know that all of that was gone. And I know it's not really "gone." Between my iPod and my wife's, I know that we've got almost all of the music available there. I had been meaning to delete a lot of the videos that I had already watched, but was packratting... old episodes of Naruto and Bleach, 3x3 Eyes, Mouse, Brimstone, Blue Seed, etc.

The family and vacation photos, on the other hand, have sentimental value and can't be replaced.

So it's not a total loss, but it's still an inconvenience. It's would be much better if I could just recover everything. I checked around for prices for data recovery, and for the most part they run $250 for corrupted data, and $600 for physical problems. It looks like I'm going to be fixing this one myself.

The drive itself is a 500 gig Western Digital drive that is currently out or warranty. When it's powered up, it runs fine and allow access when it's connected to my sata to USB connector, but stops being able to be read after five minutes or so. It also gets very hot.

So I figure that the heat is the big problem here. The other problem is that the drive is formatted in the linux ext3 file system, so windows refuses to recognize or read it.

The solution to the first problem seems to be finding a way to actively cool the drive. To that end, I've cobbled together a cooling solution that I really hope does the job. Start with a micro-fridge from ThinkGeek, add a ziplock bag full of water to help transfer as much heat as possible to the cooling element of the fridge, and cross your fingers.

The solution to the second problem seems to be R-Linux from r-tools technology. It runs on windows, and is capable of imaging broken drives, and extracting the files from ext2 and ext3 file systems. Hopefully, between these two, I can get back as much as possible. As I type this from work, the recovery program is working it's way slowly through the drive, one byte at a time. We'll see what it's recovered when I get home.

The Good News: I'm moving into the world of RAID! The replacement "drive" for the media server is going to be a pair of terabyte drives set up in a disk mirroring RAID 1 configuration. I'm also going to be adding another, smaller OS-only drive to the server. This way, the OS files will be separate from the media, and the media files will be protected in case one of the drives fails.

21 April 2009

14 April 2009

To save a little lucre and eat a little healthier, I've reinstituted "Meatless Tuesdays." I'm still trying to work out how I'll get Wheatless Mondays going.

I had some granola for breakfast, and for lunch, I'm having a *very* spicy homemade vegie/mushroom curry soup. It wasn't what I expected to come out of the pot, but it's very good!

Dinner will probably be interesting.

03 April 2009

A new appreciation for kneepads: The right tool for the job

A while back, my house was damaged during a big wind-storm. My neighbor had a trampoline in their back yard, and the wind picked the thing up, flipped it, and deposited it two stories up on my roof. Once it was up there, the wind ripped it into a mass of heavy aluminum pipes and springs attached to a wildly flapping tarp, and then took the opportunity to beat said pipes and springs against anything within reach.

I'm really lucky that window didn't break.

But all of that banging around cracked the siding, and helped the wind to rip out some shingles and damage several more.

So this past Wednesday, I climbed up there with a load of shingles and some nails, and started working.

Replacing damaged shingles is actually pretty easy, once you get the hang of it. Use the pry-bar to break the seal of the shingles around the one you're replacing, pull out the nails, slide in the new shingle, nail it down, reseal the older shingles and boom, you're done. Well, you're done with that shingle anyway.

Something I realized, after kneeling on asphalt shingles for over an hour, was that I really should have had some sort of kneepads. I was wearing jeans, but I still managed to rip up my knees pretty painfully. I have a pair of kneepads for rollerblading, but they're hard plastic, and designed to let me slide on pavement without damage rather than cushioning my knees and keeping them from sliding off the roof to my doom. (Doooooooooooooom!)

Something else I realized, was just how well the pry-bar that I was using worked for this job. I could easily slip it between shingles to break the free from the row above them. I could pry out nails from underneath shingles that I'd never be able to reach with just a claw-hammer. It even has a slot along the shaft to slip over the head of the nails and lift them out from way back under the other shingles. If I hadn't had this tool, the job would have been much more difficult, and would have been more time-consuming and probably more painful.

So having the right tool for the job made all the difference. And that allowed me to do take the time to the job right the first time. And *that* is a huge important thing to me. I've done too many rushed repairs in my life, and as a result seen too many crappy-looking poor quality fixed that I wasn't happy with and had to redo later. And I wasn't going to do a shoddy job on something this important.

While I was up there, I noticed that a house down the street from mine had a whole crew of workers on the roof doing the same things that I was, but on a much larger scale. The thing that I observed from that was that "the right tool for the job" for them was a pneumatic nail-gun. :) That sure would have saved me a bunch of time and nail-tapping.

Anyhoo, I got everything done and it looks great.

01 April 2009

This tickled my funny bone

Link to original.