New Toys!

As to the general nature of non bloggers trying to blog, I don’t update often;  this is a perfect time for a general-life-update-post.  But that’s not what I’m going to write about.

This friday I finally made it to the Dallas under the bridge sale.  I’ve known about it for years, but I’ve made it down there, that is until now.  It is essentially a tech flea market held twice a month in Dallas.  It was nowhere as large as I was expecting, but it still had some interesting stuff.  Specifically a little IBM Thinkpad X41.

I’m a major sucker for IBM equipment, especially their keyboards and laptops.  My 2 main keyboards:  an IBM Model-M and an IBM Model-M space saver.  My main laptop, a thinkpad.  Past laptops have been ThinkPads, and my next laptop will be a ThinkPad.  Hence why I was so drawn to this little X41.  I am a firm believer that the best laptop is the one you will actually carry, and it fits the bill to the T.  It has a 12 inch screen and a 1.5 ghz Pentium M making for some pretty netbook like specs (Ok, actually this should be faster than the usual 1.6 ghz Atom found in a netbook– The Atom archetecture is notoriously slow per clock cycle), but what this has and netbooks lack is the infamous “ThinkPad” badge meaning its a pretty solid little machine, and between its ridiculously low price and its solid build construction, I’m not afraid of throwing it around. Plus it has things like gigabit ethernet, something you’re hard pressed to find on a netbook.

In essence, I got a new toy, Yay!


Even more bad sectors!

The past few days I decided to go through, and clean up all my old backups; See if I could free up a few more gigs of space and the whatnot.  After some trimming, it occurred to me that one of my drives is still formatted with NTFS, back from my windows days, so I figured I’d play some data tetris and format it with something a bit more pertinent to my setup, ext4.  So I moved everything off, and jumped into the Ubuntu Disk Utility.  To my dismay, I discover the drive has a few bad sectors. 

“well great >.<” I thought (cause I totally think in chat emoticons [I really do]).

One of my friends suggested writing to every sector of the disk using:
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb bs=1M

Which seemed to do the trick, and luckily failed to unearth any more bad sectors, and I guess I can live with the few that it currently has since its nothing too terrible.   Next time, I’ll prolly target specific partitions, writing the entire disk zero’s wiped out the partition table too (which I suppose is good since there could potentially be bad blocks there) but it also forced me to crack out another utility to recreate it;  an extra step in an otherwise simple and elegant solution. 

Anyway, I’m kinda paranoid now, so I’m shuffling data off all my disks individually and running dd to try to reveal any more bad sectors.  More fun than a barrel  of monkeys.

Laptop Woes

I’ve been having a few issues with my laptop for the past couple of months; I was originally thinking I had a corrupt partition table (it was getting a tad annoying cause I would have to run fsck to get everything running again). This seemed pretty likely cause I had 3 operating systems on there, and my partition scheme was pretty hectic and had changed quite a bit. So naturally, I assumed that was the problem.

So a couple days ago, I decided to wipe everything fresh, plan out my partition scheme in advance so I wouldn’t have to change it, and merge the functionality of the 2 linux distros I had on there so I was only dual booting instead of tri booting. Basically, the assumption was that I was going to be eliminating all the contributing factors to the fragile partition table.

Everything was going great for a few days, until lo and behold I ran into pretty much the same issues, just a bit more extreme: Something caused a temporary kernel failure, but I was able to work around that and keep on trucking. After fiddling around a bit, I just decided to give up and reboot. Fast forward a few minutes, and it wouldn’t properly shutdown, so I killed the power and booted it back up… just to have complain about only being able to mount the disk read only. Basically the same random issue I had been facing before. Luckily with the same fairly easy fix. 2 fresh operating systems, a fresh partition table, everything should be fine, therefore, the only conclusion I can draw is that my disk is failing.

Also, this is a great example of why, despite the usually successful windows approach, you don’t reboot a *nix box if its having issues. I went from a functional environment, albeit a read-only one, with networking and such. Where I was able to save some active stuff to my server, and instead dropped myself into a bare minimum recovery shell, without any network services or anything else that would have let me limp along like I had been.

Once again, luckily it is a generally easy fix, but if it hadn’t been an easy fix, and there had been important files on there, I would have lost them… All because I rebooted.

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Hello world!

With school starting, and a few potential jobs, things should be heating up in here pretty soon.


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