Monthly Archives: June 2007

Hard Drive Failures

Hard DriveI’ve noticed something … in recent memory, I have not suffered one single hard drive failure.

I’ve only suffered multiple hard drive failures … all my drive failures seem to happen in batches.

Last weekend the refurbished Seagate hard drive in my laptop (Rohan) started generating errors. About the same time, the main drive in Gondor started to flake out.

My laptop had been recently backed up with ghost, so getting it restored , to a spare 100gb hard drive I had, wasn’t a problem. I did struggle a bit because there was a Linux partition on the replacement drive … that Ghost didn’t know how to delete.

The drive in Gondor was a bit more problematical … although Linux was reporting problems with the drive, the Dell hard drive diagnostics reported problems with the drive, when I ran Spinrite over it, no problems were reported.

I decided to let the drive sit and see if the problems came back.

Obviously they did … this time, however, when I ran Spinrite on the drive it found a bad cluster. Luckily it was able to recover the cluster. After Spinrite was done, I copied the old drive to a new 300gb drive. Now I just have to get Dell to send me a new drive. Not sure what I’m going to do with a spare 80gb SATA drive.

Of course, all these hard drive problems got me to thinking … why the heck don’t operating systems raise serious alerts when a drive failure is detected?

On Windows XP, the drive problem was silently being logged to the “System Event Log”. I think it should have popped up a warning message telling me that something was wrong.

On Linux, the drive problems were also being logged to syslog … but if you aren’t actively monitoring the systems logs, it’s easy to miss something like that. I’m going to investigate some system monitoring software (something like Nagios) to keep an eye on problems of this nature.

Candidates by Server?

Have you ever wondered if Open Source software could be a factor in the success or failure of a political candidate?

Douglas Karr has an interesting political analysis on his blog … Which candidates are running which servers.

Here’s a quick breakdown …

  • Democrats: 90% are running open source operating systems (Mostly Linux, however Barak Obama is running FreeBSD, but that is just fine with me) . Hillary Clinton being the only democrat to be running Microsoft.
  • Republicans: 69% are running Windows Server 2003.

Very interesting analysis … and it pretty much breaks down the way I would expect, and hope, it would.

Camera Bags

Over the years, I’ve owned a number of camera bags … some better than others. I thought I would take a few minutes and give you a rundown on the camera bags I’ve seen and what I thought of them.

The first bag I had was a Tamrac 515 … it’s a nice little bag that can comfortably hold a single camera with a longish lens. Nothing more than a 300mm zoom though. It’s got a pocket in the front to hold film or filters. It also has a see thru pocket in the top for other accessories. This bag worked quite well for me when I only had a single lens and not a lot of accessories.

Tamrac ExplorerAfter I started purchasing more lenses, filters, and other accessories that I needed to carry with me, I figured a new bag was in order. I looked at a number of bags, but decided that the Tamrac Explorer was a good choice. This bag has partitions to hold a SLR camera body with a short lens, plus spaces on the sides for other lenses and accessories. It also has a nice zip open top cover for easy access. The front pocket has space for filters, memory cards, and such.

Once I started getting even more accessories, I found that the Explorer wasn’t quite big enough. Time to find another bag.

Tamrac ExpeditionMy first thought was to get a backpack style camera bag … something that could hold a lot of accessories. I gave the Tamrac Expedition a try. While this bag certainly has a lot of space available, I found it cumbersome to use. There was no really easy & quick way to get to the camera without unslinging it from your back and unzipping it. I was worried that items in the bag were going to fall out (which is obviously not good for things like lenses).

Tamrac VelocitySince I only had the Expedition two weeks, I decided to return and try something else. When the sales person handling the return asked why, I explained what I didn’t like about the Expedition. He recommend I try one of the new Tamrac Velocity bags. Plenty of space, easy to carry, and easy to access items inside.

I haven’t had a chance to use the Velocity much yet … but I think it’s got good potential.

Thanks for the notice

camera_1.jpgA few months ago the Village of Hoffman Estates sent us a letter informing us that they would be reconstructing our street.Last week, Ginny and I went out of town … we left on Wednesday (June 13th) evening and got back yesterday (the 17th) . As we drove home from the airport, we noticed that our street had the first layer of pavement scrapped off. I figured they had started the reconstruction.

As I was going though the mail that Pat (our pet sitter) had brought in, we found a letter from the village indicating that the reconstruction of our street was going to start on the 15th. I figure that the letter had been delivered on Wednesday … which means they were giving us a whole two days notice before commencing the reconstruction. Not a whole lot of notice.

So, for the next 4 to 6 weeks, we won’t have the use of our driveway … and have to park on the streets near our house. For me that isn’t a major deal, as I usually get home before most people … I’ll be able to find a good parking spot. For Ginny, however, it will be a pain … because she doesn’t get home till much later … she’ll have more of a problem finding a reasonable spot.

For what it’s worth … the image above is actually a live capture from my webcam.

How to make Steve shriek

My friend Steve showed me this picture today … at first I thought it was simply a ugly phone wiring job that he found at clients site.


Turns out it’s actually an ETHERNET connection … that’s currently carrying a gigabit signal. Apparently it’s been working fine for the past 5 years.

When Steve saw it … he shrieked out loud.

Suffice it to say, Steve is going to replace that ‘connection’ with proper CAT6 next week.


For those of you who aren’t aware … the 17 year Cicada are out again.

Here’s what they look like … lovely, aren’t they?


Oh, it gets better … they are very well known for the amount of noise that they make … care to listen?

Download link

The sound is their mating call … not sure what the attraction is, but I guess the lady Cicada’s like it.

The picture and sound were both recorded at the Morton Arboretum .