More fun with Hard Drives November 8, 2007 at 8:20 pm

previously wrote about my woes with a Samsung drive in my Macbook Pro.  I had decided to try a Hitachi Travelstar 7K200 drive, because 200gig is enough for me and the extra speed sounded nice.  I ordered it online and it showed up about 2 weeks ago.  I put it in the MBP and installed Tiger (OSX 10.4) on it.  The install went somewhat slower then I expected and within a few hours (as I restored data) I started getting long hangs and there were error messages in my system.log file.  From google hits for the errors it’s an indication that the disk is failing.  That sucked.. brand new disk basically DOA.  I went back to the Samsung disk and lived with the hangs every few days.


Last night I plugged the 7k200 into my linux box in my home office so that I could make sure it showed failures on there, and mainly wanted to write random data on the disk to cover over the data I had on there.  However, it worked perfectly well in the linux host.. no errors, and I filled the complete disk with random data.  I decided to try it in the MBP again, thinking that either maybe the connector was loose, or maybe it had something to do with the disk not being fully initialized in my system (I just used the erase setting in the disk utility vs a completely new partition).  

Since then the host has been perfectly stable and I don’t see any messages in the system.log indicating any posible problems.  It seems like maybe the fact that disk utility have to create the whole GUID table and partition the disk from scratch (I’d used fdisk in linux to create a DOS label and did a mkfs.ext3 and mkreiserfs on the disk under linux) somehow fixed whatever issue I was having last time.

Fingers crossed, but hopefully my MBP will stay stable now.

The Wildfires… October 28, 2007 at 9:39 pm

Might as well make a quick entry about the wildfires since everyone else has.  Wasn’t directly effected by the fires myself, other then 3 days working at home because work decided to have us stay home.  Part of it was due to the amount of people effected, part was due to the horrible air quality.  I have a lot of relatives and friends that were evacuated, at least a couple of which either just barely got to go home today, and perhaps one that hasn’t yet.  


I was able to snag the periodic mpg file from the HPWREN cameras, on Lyons Peak… well, from their archives.  I used iMovie to stitch them together and basically have a full time lapse movie from approximately noon Monday until noon Friday.  Over Tue-Wed night the fires burn right up to the structures, and the next night, you can see little flashes where the fires continually flare up a bit then die out.  Impressive really.

I haven’t put them online yet because I want to get permission from the people at UCSD first just in case.  I didn’t see anything saying the files were copyrighted at all, but figure better safe then sorry.  Will likely put on Youtube if I can, then link from here then.

Yes I am a gadget junkie… October 7, 2007 at 8:46 pm

So I was able to wait a few weeks,but I finally. Caved and got an iPod touch. I got an 8 gig model vs a 16gig one, mostly because no one had any 16gig models in stock but also because the difference isn’t enough to make a big difference at these sizes. I would wait if there were known plans for a hard disk model or maybe even 40+gig but for now 8 is plenty to play with. Plus I wanted the video and wifi more than Massive storage. It easily holds my main playlist and another of some albums I like more. Plus several videos, plenty of photos, my contacts and calendar too.

The video quality is amazing, and the screen is surprising big for how small the whole thing is. The web browsing is pretty cool too; in fact, I’m posting this from it now. Typing I’d obviously slower than with a fullsize keyboard but it’s pretty good and relatively fast.

If you’ve been thinking about getting one and don’t need to carry your whole iTunes library with you, it’s worth it.

On, lack of 3rd party apps and any games yet kinda limiting,but I’m sure that’ll change fairly soon. …and yes I’m aware of some hacking to get apps, but I’m tired of dealing with hacks on stuff like this and the firmware and iTunes updates tend to break the hacks fairly quickly.

Samsung’s HM250JI drive with firmware < -08 sucks October 1, 2007 at 10:14 pm

I took a chance and bought a 250Gig HM250JI from Samsung about 2 months ago, and did the upgrade in my 17″ MacBookPro (big pain).  The OS installed ok (though it did seem to take longer then I remember from previous installs) and worked ok for a week or two, then the system hung with the colored pinwheel.  Since then, it would perform fine for a week or so, then hang and I’d have to power cycle the MBP.  It always booted up ok, no data loss or failures on the Filesystem.

Last week, the “week or so” average time suddenly dropped to a day if I was lucky, sometimes only a hour or two after boot until hang.  The drive always seemed to hang during heavy RAM usage or when writing data (which high RAM usage causes due to swapping of course).  To be safe I rsync’d all my homedir and the /Applications folders onto an external firewire disk as a backup, then booted the install DVD.  I tried a verify using disk util which passed.   I ran a repair anyway… no difference.  I even booted the diagnostic tools and ran the normal and extended tests (Hold D to boot it off the install DVD… for intel macs anyway).

This weekend I finally had time to do more in-depth net searches and I finally found what looks like the answer.  There was a known problem with the drives… until updated to firmware HS100-08 (mine shipped with -06).    I downloaded the zip’d iso image from samsung, burned a CD.. booted (holding down C to boot off cd).. it took less then 20 seconds to flash the firmware.  So far, Things have been running fine.  The drive seems to be a bit quiter overall now too.  It would periodically click fairly loudly, doesn’t seem to do that anymore.

So from what I’ve read regarding OSX installs failing completely, or windows boots seizing up (like my system would) on boot… I was apparently lucky that the drive worked as well as it did for me as long as it did. 

Now I just have to see if it makes it at least a week without seizing up again.  If I get to 2 weeks, I’ll feel a lot better.

UPDATE: Added link to the page at Samsung about the patch with the patch link in case anyone with similar issues ends up here.

Upgraded to MT4 September 23, 2007 at 2:05 pm

I took the plunge and upgraded the system to MT4.  Boy is it a lot different, and a lot more powerful.

I spent some time over the whole week in order to figure out the differences from the older versions, and I had a lot of learning about how css works.  I’ve really wanted to dig into css for a long time now, and this was a perfect chance.  I tend to learn how things like this work by trying and working off examples vs just reading tutorials or HOWTOs. 

Things I really like: The widget sets.  With the templates, the whole sidebar is now just an include statement to include my sidebar widget set.. and I can re-order how things appear, or add/remove things by just dragging and dropping:

images/MignetSidebarWidget.jpgThe tools for creating entries are more complex, and quite a bit different, but pretty easy to get used to.

I’ve got everything set on dynamic for now.  I want to see how it performs with all page views generated dynamically vs the old static way I used (mostly because several plugins only worked in static mode).  I prefer dynamic when the load isn’t too high because then any changes to any css settings, or templates or anything are reflected immediately rather then requiring rebuilds.  Plus when the whole thing is in an sql database is seems like it’s tailor made to be built on the fly vs rebuilt whenever told to, or when a comment is posted.

I did lose one thing from before that I did like.. the ability to list amazon items recently read or being read… or at least I haven’t figured out how to do it with the new 2.0 beta of the MediaManager plugin.

We’ll see if I keep up posts much (if at all) and how I like (or don’t) the new software as time goes on.

Latest Nerd Test September 11, 2007 at 4:34 pm

So the Nerd test 2.0 is out, and since I haven’t posted in ages… ’twas an excuse to put up something.

You’ll be happy to know that I am sill a Nerd God:

NerdTests.com says I'm a Nerd God.  What are you?  Click here!

Now that’s what I call recording time… May 21, 2007 at 8:16 pm

Following the info from the chatter on the web recently about being able to use the eSATA port on the Tivo Series 3, I ordered an Antec MX-1 enclosure and a 750Gig disk and updated mine to 1TB of storage.

Kicking it in was rather simple.

Here the Tivo is activating the disk during boot:

tivo_sees_disk.jpg

Note the new storage estimates.. w00t:

tivo_new_estimates.jpg

Yeah, that’s 51 DAYS of standard def programming storage. Wow.

IMDB broke WMDB…. again February 19, 2007 at 1:20 pm

So IMDB has massively changed their layout again. This broke most of the parsing bits that WMDB did.

I’ve put together a Diff against functions.php for fixing these changes.

note that I did remove the $end value from the end of several strpos calls so that it does more parsing of the data then it used to. Could probably fix orders so that it doesn’t have to, but it’s working this way. I’m guessing the order of how things appear in the html changed from how it was parsed before.

The Irony February 5, 2007 at 9:32 pm

I hate how invasive advertising is getting. It’s one thing when a few product placements are done in a show or movie, in the background. But it’s becoming more and more “in your face” these days. Now we have things like idiots paid to stand by the side of the road with a big sign, because I guess billboards weren’t enough.

I have a Tivo, so I tend to skip commercials, so they’re finding other ways to get the products shoved down our throats, like the above examples. But this is just going WAY to damn far. What’s ironic is that it was advertising Pacific Law Centers, looking to represent people who have been accused of DUIs and such. Ironic in that it’s massively distracting and might itself, cause an accident or two.. especially someone who’s driving under the influence and more prone to distractions from big shiny things on the road. Notice that the signage is brightly lit and it periodically changes between 2 different displays.

Apologies for the crappy quality… whipped out my cell phone and used its camera while keeping my attention on driving at the time.

D’oh January 28, 2007 at 5:40 pm

[ Listening: B Minor from the album "Elm Street" by Lanterna ]

So I just had my 34th birthday. That didn’t really make me feel old. What did just make me feel kind of old is catching up on some Tivo’d Simpsons episodes and hearing Homer mention his age. I just realized that when the show first came out, I was 16 years old… and now I’m almost as old as Homer! Ahhhh!

His age has fluctuated a bit over the years, but on the ep I just watched, Homer claimed to be 38. I remember one of the commentaries on one of the DVDs had Groening and others that make the show making a similar observation (of course there were a bit older then 16 when the show started and they’re now all older then Homer).