Category / Computer Bits

Finally April 11, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Only took them a month.. but my 360 finally showed back up last Friday.  They never bothered to even send an email letting me know it had shipped so I could be there to sign for it… luckily they left it with my neighbor who called me (first time he ever did.. at first I was worried my house was on fire or something until he said he had a package).   Sadly… either swapping out a DVD drive is far too difficult for MS techs or something on the mobo itself was failing (maybe the sata controller) because they sent me a replacement unit.  Why that took 4 weeks to do is beyond me.

However it seems to be running fine.  I have to at least give them credit for getting me back a working unit.  There have been plenty of stories out there about people sending in broken 360s that come back and are DOA.

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.

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.