Hard disk worry
#286 Henry, Monday, 28 September 2015 10:18 PM (Category: Hardware)
(Tags: harddisk)

My desktop is near my head, and there are 2 hard disks in it.

In front of me are 6 external hard disks.

My two servers are up to my left, and there are 4 hard disks in there.

Behind me is the mediaserver with 1 internal and 3 external hardisks.

Behind me is also the Drobo with 4 hard disks in it.

I am surrounded by 20 hard disks.

One of these hard disks is making a funny noise it shouldn't. I can't tell which one it is.

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Wunderlist joins Microsoft
#285 Henry, Monday, 21 September 2015 1:46 PM (Category: Apps)
(Tags: wunderlist microsoft skype)

I've been using the iPhone/iPad app Wunderlist off and on for a few years to track my to-do list. I have a long list of things that need to be done, sometime, and as the years go by the list gets longer. I like Wunderlist.

I'm a bit late to the party, but found out today that Wunderlist were bought by Microsoft earlier this year.

I always have mixed feelings when apps I like are bought by bigger companies. On one hand, they might have more stability to keep going. On the other hand, they might get shut down, or changed to the point where they aren't useful to me.

I remember when Microsoft bought Skype. Well, Skype is still running, and it's the same as before, except the app has evolved to the point where I don't know how to use it any more. I hope Wunderlist keeps their design independence.

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Burning drives
#284 Henry, Monday, 21 September 2015 11:57 AM (Category: Hardware)
(Tags: smartd harddisk)

I use smartd to monitor the health of my hard disks. I've been seeing notices like this on a regular basis:

Sep 21 10:57:10 cerebus smartd[857]: Device: /dev/sdb [SAT], SMART Usage Attribute: 194 Temperature_Celsius changed from 115 to 114

where the temperature of the hard disk goes up one degree, then later it goes down one degree. It's happening on three different servers.

But something struck me - it's called Temperature_Celsius and it's running at 114 degrees?

I opened my desktop up while it was running, and touched the drive. My hand did not crisp and burn. There is no way it is at 114 degrees Celsius. I don't understand. Is it called Temperature_Celsius but it's really in Fahrenheit?

I Googled for it and got this page which might explain it.

And I should have looked at /etc/smartd.conf too. The first section that sets DEVICESCAN provides a number of options that handle the temperature:

# Alternative setting to ignore temperature and power-on hours reports
# in syslog.
#DEVICESCAN -I 194 -I 231 -I 9

# Alternative setting to report more useful raw temperature in syslog.
#DEVICESCAN -R 194 -R 231 -I 9

# Alternative setting to report raw temperature changes >= 5 Celsius
# and min/max temperatures.
DEVICESCAN -I 194 -I 231 -I 9 -W 5

I went with the last one, only wanting to know about big jumps in temperature. So now at startup, I get an initial valuation of the raw temperature.

Sep 21 13:21:39 cerebus smartd[7317]: Device: /dev/sdb [SAT], initial Temperature is 36 Celsius (Min/Max ??/36) 

And 36 Celsius is what my fingers tell me is about right, and I'm okay with that.

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A weekend of shuffling
#283 Henry, Monday, 21 September 2015 11:00 AM (Category: Hardware)
(Tags: drobo backblaze backup caffeine harddisk)

I had a very successful weekend, and had no losses. That's always a good thing.

First, I had to update the webserver at home. It had two 80 gig hard drives in it, and as it hosts my books and comics and photos, those two 80 gig drives were at the limit.

I grabbed one of my spare computers and built it up from scratch. I made notes as I set up sendmail, mariadb, php, apache, and the web environment, and then transferred the databases and the data. I switched it in as the webserver and it worked just fine. Then I took the good webserver and did surgery. The two 80 gig drives came out, and a 500 gig boot drive went in, and a 3 terabyte drive went in as the home directory. The home directory has the databases, the websites, everything. Makes it easy to backup. I've always loathed the default locations for databases and Apache data, so I relocate them to suit myself.

I had problems initially with the 3 T drive. I still use fdisk to partition disks. It doesn't work on a 3 T drive. I had to do some research about big drives, and ended up using gdisk. That switched from a DOS/MBR style partition to a GPT style partition. I've never heard of this stuff. I guess I am really behind the times with hardware. But gdisk did the job and I got one big partition and I set up the ext4 filesystem. Another first - I've been using ext3 for such a long time, and only recently noticed that ext4 was available.

Up till about five years ago, every hardware advance meant more speed, more benefits. Then it hit a wall, and it all became good enough and I had no incentive to update hardware. There was no real benefit to me. So I keep using older computers that are good enough, and really only need newer and bigger hard disks.

But anyway, the big disk went in and that was a success. I set the webserver up, using my notes from the spare webserver, and then transferred the latest data to it and kicked it live. Perfect.

I then turned to my desktop. I had a 1 T drive in that, and a 500 gig secondary drive for data. The 1 T drive was about 90% full, and the 500 gig drive was about 50% full. That second drive was also making grunting and grinding noises, so it was not going to last.

I had one final ex-Drobo 3 terabyte drive left. Rather than have it sit idle, I decided to put it into service.

First step was to back everything up. I used the Drobo. I have, through painful trial and error, learnt how to keep the Drobo functioning well. I leave it attached to the Mac Mini all the time. But not mounted. I mount it manually when I need it, I use it, and then I unmount it. That keeps it functioning nicely. But not having it mounted permanently means that I can't use it with Backblaze which needs access to it for a few months to do the initial backup. And when I am using the Drobo, I have to turn on Caffeine which prevents the Mac Mini from going into power saving mode, as that really screws with the Drobo.

I backed up everything I could on my desktop to the Drobo. Shut down the desktop, inserted the 3 T drive. Started the desktop, used gdisk on it (glad I learnt that on the previous project), mounted it on /tmp and copied my home directories to it. Checked it carefully, all good, so erased everything under /home, edited /etc/fstab to mount the 3 T drive as /home, and then rebooted.

Nice. Worked first time. Dropbox required a big restart and log in, but everything else just worked. I still have to transfer some stuff from the Drobo back, but will do that tonight.

All in all, my projects for the weekend were successful. I didn't have to work through the night, and I didn't have any failures. Best upgrades I've done in a long time.

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Peace adblocker pulled from the store
#282 Henry, Friday, 18 September 2015 5:18 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: ios ipad iphone adblock)

I spent $2.99 yesterday to buy the Peace adblocker. Today, I find that the maker of the app is "conflicted" about it and has pulled it from the store.

He provides a link to how to get a refund from the Apple store.

That sucks. It was working quite well.

The next most popular adblocker app, which is now the most popular, is Crystal. I read that he is also "conflicted" about the success. Maybe the advertising industry is expressing great dissatisfaction with the iOS ad blockers?

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