Two strikes, and you’re out

Back on 11 January 2005, I had a bit of a problem with my primary drive, which I “fixed” two days later with the manufacturer’s drive utilities. At the time, everybody yelled “get a new drive, it’s going to fail any second now”. I didn’t, because part of the fun of running your own computer is keeping everything going on a shoe string when you can. The other part of the fun is buying nifty toys when you want to, which is the stage I’m in now. And the reason I’m in that stage is that this morning I got another email from “smartd”:

From Thu Aug 11 02:31:23 2005
Subject: SMART error (CurrentPendingSector) detected on host:
Date: Thu, 11 Aug 2005 02:31:22 -0400 (EDT)
From: (root)
X-Spam-Status: No, score=-2.5 required=5.0 tests=AWL,BAYES_00 autolearn=ham

This email was generated by the smartd daemon running on:

host name:
DNS domain:
NIS domain: (none)

The following warning/error was logged by the smartd daemon:

Device: /dev/hda, 1 Currently unreadable (pending) sectors

For details see host’s SYSLOG (default: /var/log/messages).

You can also use the smartctl utility for further investigation.
No additional email messages about this problem will be sent.

I looked in /var/log/messages, and it had been reporting this every half an hour since 02:31 this morning. After a bit of googling, I found that a “pending” error means that there is a block that the hard disk wants to remap somewhere else, but can’t because it can’t read the block. It will remap it automatically when it can read it, or when it needs to write to it. I also found The Bad Block HowTo, which told me how to find out which file it is that’s giving the problem. Turns out it’s a bogofilter database that I don’t use any more. So I can remove it, secure in the knowledge that the hard drive will remap that block when it tries to reuse the now empty block.

But this means that the drive is getting worse, so I think it’s probably time to replace it. The drive is 80Gb, and surprisingly enough, I don’t think I need any more space than that. /home is only 52% full, /usr is 45% full, and the rest of the partitions are down below 25%. I’m not even sure you can still get drives that small. The problem I’ve found is that bigger drives run hotter, and don’t last as long. Oh well, it’s off to the web I go.

Boxing days

I feel like my life for the last few weeks revolved around packing boxes, and for the next few months or years it’s going to revolve around unpacking boxes.

Tuesday was moving day. I guess the movers did an adequate job, except it seems that they were hampered by the fact that the guy who was supposed to pack us up the day before did about 1/4 of what he was supposed to do and buggered off at 11:30am when we had stepped out to do other stuff. But over all I’m not impressed with how much work we had to do before, during and after. I thought paying movers meant that muscular young men would do all the work while Vicki and I could sit around sipping our mai tais saying “oh, put that in that room, and be sure not to scratch it.” The reality was a lot sweatier, and a lot less satisfactory in terms of collatoral damage to furniture, door frames, plaster, etc.

For the last two days, I’ve been stuggling to get my office set up. It’s the most complicated, because of course I have to keep downtime on my server (this very server that hosts this blog) up and running as much as possible. Plus I’m trying (and not succeeding very well) to avoid having a rats nest of wires like I kept having at the old place, and also I’m trying to set aside an area for bill paying and other important papers, and another area for aviation stuff (charts and passenger headsets etc) so I can find it all when I want to plan a trip or leave for one. I’m slightly hampered in this by the fact that I can’t find one of my desks, one I took apart and now I can’t find where the movers put the bits.

Two days of work, and all I have to show for it are four empty boxes and a bunch of full shelves. Only about 6 billion more boxes to empty.

Another problem hampering this whole process is the fact that in many ways this house seems more cramped than the old house. This isn’t totally crazy, because this house is bigger, but most of that bigger-ness is in the living room, the dining room and the master bed room , and the hallways. The biggest problem is that we don’t have an equivalent to the finished basement in the old house. That was one large room that acted as library, computer room and entertainment center, and sometimes a bird room. In this house, we’ve got separate bird room, library, office/computer room, and the TV/TiVo/DVD/Stereo are going into the living room.

Oh well, back to the boxes.