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January 2005 Archives

January 3, 2005

El no a you smoko

So Kathryn and Kaitlyn finally got their social security numbers today (it took less than a week after we finally got off our butts and filed the paperwork with the Sorta Security Administration). But I was somewhat surprised to see that their numbers are not contiguous!

There’s one number between them. Some bastard snuck in between and stole the number that was destined for my child.


January 13, 2005

'tis the season for disk failures

Wow — two disk failures in totally disparate systems in a single day.

The first is the [Linux] server at my church. It’s a Dell PowerEdge server with 3 disks running in a RAID5 configuration (which I have Kim B. to thank for convincing me that “what the heck; we might as well run RAID5, right?” — woot!). Earlier this week, the server stopped responding entirely. The on-site staff rebooted it and it all came back fine, but nothing showed up in the logs as to why it was failing. So we scratched our heads and went on with life. The next day, it “half-died”, meaning that Samba kept working fine (which is the main purpose of the server), but incomming ssh connections would hang halfway through the authentication.

The on-site staff connected a monitor to the machine and saw that there were SCSI errors on the console (but not in the logs!). I got in early the next morning and found that one of the three disks was issuing media errors, so I forced it offline. RAID5 took over without a beat and no data was lost. Woot!

The machine is still under warranty, so Dell overnighted a new disk that should be there today. The hardware RAID is hot-swappable; I’m told that I can just plug in the new disk and it will automatically start rebuilding the RAID5.


One of the two brand-new SCSI disks in WOPR (the server that hosts squyres.com and several other friends’ domains) also died. It’s running software raid (RAID0+1, IIRC?), and has been issuing warnings for a few days, and finally totally failed last night. This caused massive badness in the machine (unresopnsiveness, inabaility to hard reboot, etc.). Bmoore spent a good amount of time with Jason on the phone (the on-site tech); they managed to coax it back into life by somehow convincing the software RAID that the disk wasn’t there (the RAID was failing in odd ways when it thought that the disk was there, bringing the entire machine down).

I bought these two new disks in early December from a low-cost supplier (no names mentioned). Luckily, they have a 365 day warranty. The failure occurred supposedly during their business hours, but I couldn’t get anyone on the phone. According to their web pages, after I filled in a web form for warranty service, I can supposedly expect an RMA number within 2 days (!). Apparently (it’s not 100% clear from their web pages), we have to ship the disk back to them and then they’ll ship us a new one.

So I’m thinking that it’ll be at least a week before we get a new disk — squyres.com will be running without RAID backup for the entire time.

Just contrasting this with my experience from Dell, I’m probably never going to buy from these low-cost vendors again. The immediate/no-hassle/no-fuss service from Dell was worth the extra cost.

The Ballad of Sir Camcorder, II

My new LaCie DVD external DVD burner arrived yesterday.

Oddly enough, their software installer for OSX just wouldn’t work — it would tell me that I didn’t have permission to install their software, even if I was running it as root. I called their tech support who had me manually copy one file under /Library, and then life was good.

iDVD doesn’t support this drive (it apparently only supports the Mac SuperDrive), but at least I can use iDVD to burn to an image file and then use Disk Utility to burn to this DVD drive, which is definitely an improvement over before (where I had to convert the .img to be an ISO image and then copy it to a Windoze machine to burn it). So it’s still not optimal, but it’s good enough for me.

January 14, 2005

It's Raining Failed Disks

In a previous entry, I mentioned how I had two disk failures within 24 hours of two totally different machines. I found out that in the same week, a friend found 3 bad disks in another RAID in one of his systems.

I smell a global consipiracy!

So the new disk arrived from Dell. When I went in to install it, I was surprised to find that that disk, too, was bad (!). Specifically, it wouldn’t even start up — the RAID controlled immediately identified the disk as “failed.” I called Dell tech support and spent over an hour convincing the support guy that the replacement disk was bad and that we needed [another] new one.

That’s not nearly as bad as it sounds — the Dell guy was actually quite knowledgeable, but he [rightfully] insisted that we try an exhaustive set of tests to ensure that the disk really was bad. Unfortunately, I was doing this in the evening, and it was long past the deadline for overnight delivery, so it’ll be delivered after the holiday next week.

For my own system, I submitted a web form the night of the failure to get an RMA number. I then called them first thing in the morning to see if I could convince them to send me a new disk before they received the old disk back. It took 13 minutes to look up my order (apparently I had committed the cardinal sin of having the disk shipped to where the server resides, so I didn’t have the invoice. The invoice is apparently the sole place on the planet where my customer order number exists; it wasn’t even on the receipt (which I have). Weird.

Once he found my order, I explained my situation (including telling him that I had submitted the RMA form the night before). He issued me an RMA number on the spot. After much groveling, cajoling, and begging, the guy also grudgingly agreed to send me the new disk right away. So I’m very grateful for that, but it seemed pretty odd that I had to go through so much trouble for reasonable customer service.

And then, to top it off, towards the end of the day (i.e., several hours later), I got an e-mail response to the RMA form that I submitted the night before with a new RMA number.

Yeah, I don’t think that I’m going to order from this company again.

January 15, 2005

No, I mean, thank God I sent Will in my place

It’s official — I got my first snail mail addressed to “Wailing Banshees” the other day (from the Kentucky Division of Unemployment Insurance; one of the three ID numbers that I had to apply for in order to pay our nanny legally).

We got an XM MyFi for Christmas — an XM walkman. It’s pretty nice; it can record up to 5 hours of broadcasting (which I think is how one normally listens to it indoors). I do believe it can even do timed recording, like a VCR, so you can “tape” specific shows, if you want.

It also amuses me that it has an NYSE stock ticker across the bottom of the display.

So I’ve retired my old Delphi Roady radio and am using this MyFi instead. Rich M. actually bought the Roady from me; I’ll be shipping it to him shortly.

January 16, 2005

The results are in

USB jump drive (obtained free at SC): 1
Washing machine: 0

January 17, 2005

Munchkin update on the munchkins

Some idle musings while watching over the munchkins:

  • While carrying two babies around the house, the number of Baby Thermal Units (BTUs) released can be quite high — daddy and daughters can be quite hot and sweaty after the experience. It’s like carrying around two minature portable (but squirmy) fusion generators.
  • The velocity of a baby sneeze is approximately 7,000 mph and has a range of roughly four miles. I’ve learned not to get in the way; at that speed, baby snot can do some serious structural damage. We have special titanium face masks for sneeze emegencies.
  • If you blow in a baby’s face, they blink a lot and blow bubbles. I have zero clue how these two reflexes are connected, but it’s quite repeatable.
  • When you think your child has gotten over acid reflux and it’s safe to take them off their daily anti-vomitus maximus medication, you’re wrong. If you still think you’re right (even though you’re wrong), prepare for an onslaught of barfage.

Here’s a few munchkin updates:

Kathryn is getting better at sitting up. That is, she’ll actually sit up (with some assistance; she can’t sit up by herself without assistance yet) and more-or-less stays there herself. She’s babbling a lot, making lots of gurgle and vowel sounds. She also has figured out that she doesn’t need to scream to get attention (what a novel concept!) — she can do a low-power squine (squeak+whine) that sounds like air escaping from a tire. Seriously, it sounds like my daughter is leaking. It usually means, “Daddy, you have displeased me in some way. I realize you have no idea what you did, but a) get used to it, and b) fix it.” Kathryn is also almost-rolling-over. She can get about 3/4 of the way there (and does so frequently), but hasn’t quite figured out that she needs to move the ground-side arm inward in order to complete the roll. Finally, Kathryn has the cutest sleep faces, particularly if she’s asleep and “surfaces” for a minute or two — she’ll raise her head, smack her lips a few times, and then re-submerge.

Kaitlyn has this amazing spike of hair near the crown of her head — it’s at least 3-4 inches long (whereas the rest of her and Kathryn’s hair is about 0.5 inches long). It’s the funniest thing — she looks like a tiny mad scientist. Kaitlyn is [generally] sleeping better/longer than Kathryn, but we’ve still got a ways to go in the sleep department before mommy and daddy will get a full night’s sleep. Kaitlyn’s not babbling or rolling as much as Kathryn, but she is trying to laugh. She and her sister have had full smiles for quite a while, but now she’s actively trying to mimc laughing noises (which is pretty funny in itself, because her laugh noises are not yet developed).

About January 2005

This page contains all entries posted to JeffJournal in January 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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