Category Archives: Computers

Netgear ReadyNAS NV+

For quite some time I haven’t been happy with the level of data protection on my servers … a while ago I ran mirrored (RAID 1) IDE (PATA) drives on my system using a Arco Duplidisk adapter.   It seemed adequate, but after I upgraded my servers to the Dell PowerEdge systems, it didn’t seem to work quite right.   It was reporting failed drives when there were none.

So, after a fair bit of research, I decided to get a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device.   My criteria were a) had to support various RAID levels (1 & 5 at least), have hot swappable drives, and support NFS (the linux network file system).

The device I decided on is a Netgear ReadyNAS NV+.   The model I got came with 2 x 500gb drives, with bays for two more.   It wasn’t cheap, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

It supports various RAID levels … RAID 1 (mirroring, where the data on one drive is completely duplicated on the other), RAID 5 (where data is stored on two drives with a parity bit on the 3rd … if any one of the drives fails, the data can be reconstructed on the fly using two of the drives), and it’s own RAID X … which is an eXpandable and adaptive RAID variation … which will use RAID 1 if you only have two drives, and RAID 5 when you add more.

Although there were a few hiccups, I’m not displeased.

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I was just looking at my laptop (Dell Latitude D620) and wondered about a few things …

  • Why do they bother putting RS-232 ports on laptops anymore?   I haven’t seen a device that connects via RS-232 in years.   The only devices I can actually think of that used a RS-232 port was an external modem … and most laptops have modems built in (not that they’re used much anyways).
  • Ditto with a parallel printer port.   Most printers that I’ve seen in the last few years have been connected by USB (‘course my laptop doesn’t have a parallel port, but Ginny’s does).
  • Why bother with a DB15 video connector?   Wouldn’t it be better to just go with DVI?   If you need a DB15 video connector, you can use an adapter.
  • The hard drive on my laptop uses SATA … I really wish there was an eSATA connector.   I tried putting an eSATA card in the PCI slot of the D/DOCK port replicator, but the BIOS wouldn’t recognize it (which is fairly logical, considering there’s no guarantee that the card would be there all the time).

On a somewhat different, although related, topic … I really wish someone would make an inexpensive tablet computer.   I have an idea for a nice little appliance application that would be perfectly suited to a tablet computer.   All it would need is a 12″ display, 512mb of ram, 4gb to 8gb of flash disk, wifi, and Linux.

Upgrade Complete

Well, I finally got my Linux systems upgraded … both Rivendell & Gondor got upgraded to Fedora Core 6 this weekend.

There were a few minor glitches … but nothing that couldn’t be handled.

One thing that was kind of annoying is the fact that the Apache config (httpd.conf) was replaced on both servers (the original was backed up to a ‘rpmsave’ file). This, in itself, wasn’t that big a deal … but I wasn’t expecting it.

I have an idea for a good open source project … that could be incorporated into new distribution releases … an “Upgrade Impact Analysis” tool. It would evaluate your existing configuration, compare to what is known about a new distribution, and tell you what config files could be used without modification and which files would have to be reworked.

Another problem I had, which had me worried, was the fact that I couldn’t get ClamAV to rebuild. After a bit of research, I found that my linker configuration file ‘’ had a ‘/usr/i486-linux-libc5/lib’ listed. This has to be left over from one of my older Redhat installs. The files in that directory are timestamped April 15th 1999. To be honest, I’m shocked I was able to build anything with that old code in the linkers configuration. Luckily, simply commenting that line out fixed the problem.

So far everything seems to be working OK, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

More Hardware Problems

Just to add insult to injury, my tape drive (DDS3) failed today.

Actually, it’s been failing for quite a while … I’ve just been ignoring it.

I’ve had that tape drive for a long time, so I guess it’s about time it quit.

I placed an order for a HP DDS4 tape drive.

The new tape drive is an external USB2 unit while the old drive is an internal SCSI drive. This has the obvious advantage of allowing me to use the new tape drive on any of my systems.

Hard Drives Hell

Oh boy … talk about a bad day for hard drives.

Thursday evening I noticed my laptop was getting REALLY sluggish … I ran uptime (part of the MKS Toolkit, which I can’t do without) and found out my system had been up for 15 days straight without a reboot. Almost a record for a Windows machine, I think. So I decided to reboot the system.

I started the reboot process and noticed it was taking a VERY long time to boot … so I powered off again and ran diagnostics. The hard drive was failing. Unfortunately, because this hard drive was an upgrade I purchased from Dell, it was not covered under my laptop’s warranty. And, even though Hitachi offers a 3 year warranty on the drive, Dell only gives a 1 year warranty.

Oh well, hard drives aren’t that expensive … so I figured I would swing by Frys after work on Friday. I was confident that I had a solid backup of the system, that was only a few days old.

During the day on Friday, someone told me that the archive server was very very slow. I checked it out and saw that that system (gondor) was showing disk errors on the 2nd hard drive. Oh joy, another drive to buy at Frys.

I went to Frys to get replacement drives … I wasn’t super happy with the selection (although they had a huge quantity of the drives they had available). I ended up getting a 100gb, 5400 rpm, Seagate PATA drive for the laptop and a 300gb, 7200 rpm, Seagate SATA drive for gondor.

Getting gondor restored wasn’t a big deal … it gets backed up on a daily basis to a usb removable drive.

The laptop is a different story … as Windows doesn’t really have the best backup mechanism I rely on Norton Ghost. It’s always worked OK for me in the past.

It’s in the process of restoring right now … it’s VERY slow going, but I have high hopes.

Luckily I keep the Quicken data files on a LAN drive, so I haven’t lost anything there.

Update … 5:30 pm … oh boy, talk about a long day.

I had to do the restore from the Ghost image 4 times … I couldn’t get it to restore the image and allocate the extra 20gb to my primary Windows partition.

I ended up just restoring the partitions with the same size they were before the failure. I’ll have to get a partition resizing utility in the next week or so so I can resize the partition to allocate the new space.

[tags]Windows, Hard Drives, Backup, Norton Ghost[/tags]


I found this modem in my dad’s den today … it’s an Everex EV-941 …. I think it’s a 1200 baud modem.

Yeah, you’re right, my dad is a packrat.

But I love him anyway.

[tags]hardware, modem, antique[/tags]

The Gift of Compute

My mom needs a new computer … right now she has one of my old systems … a Pentium III 700mhz and a really junky 15″ monitor.

Since I no longer need theshire anymore (all the applications that were running on it have been moved to gondor), I figure I’ll give the system to mom.

Since her monitor is so junky also … I picked up a 19″ LCD display for myself, gave my old 19″ LCD display to Ginny, and took her 15″ LCD display for the servers (which frees up a lot of space on my computer workbench). Now I can also give mom a much nicer 17″ CRT display.

Dad just has to adjust her computer desk so the new monitor will fit. He groused about that when I told him what I was going to do.

Programmer Humor

You can always tell what language a programmer works with by the way they names their kids.

  • COBOL programmers give their kids long hyphenated names … like ANNA-MARIA, MARIE-CLAIRE, or HORATIO-ALOYSIUS.
  • RPG programmers give their kids short names … like BOB, SUE, JOE, or AL.
  • C programmers don’t name their kids … they just point to them.

If you’re not a programmer, you probably won’t get it.

Backup Everything

Yes, this posting is in both the Life and Computer categories.

It’s just a reminder that you should backup EVERYTHING!

Your computer files, your insurance policies (which I have to do), AND the contact information on your internet domain registrations.

Specifically, make sure the contact information on your domain registrations has a valid email address that will work even if your normal email address isn’t working.

Case in point: I have a friend who’s internet domain has expired … and I’ve been trying to contact him about it because he has a lot of mail queuing up on my server. Unforunately, I don’t know if he’s actually receiving the mail because I can’t send to the email address he normally uses, and the email address on his domain registration seems kind of old.

[tags]email, domains, backup[/tags]

Patch the server

A co-worker (Jon) sent out a email notification indicating that one of our internal server applications would have to be restarted in order to implement a modification … or “Patch”.

Being the smart-ass that I am … I replied …

Me: Man, you have got to get those servers to kick the nicotine habit … they are just not handling the patch that well

Jon: Ya, well the Nicorette kept gooping up the CPU fan, so we had to try something different

Jon’s response almost made me fall out of my chair laughing.

(Yes, I am easily amused)