This wouldn't have happened with Gainsborough or one of those proper painters.

Monday, December 17



Looks like the new server is ready to go, which is a good thing, because the deadline is basically today.

Today's glitch-de-resistance: bzip2-devel wasn't installed.  So the Python bz2 module didn't build.  So the Minx blog import module wouldn't work.  So Minx fall down go boom.

Currently doing what I'm always doing: Frantically pushing 200GB of data from one server to another before I lose it completely.

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Getting Better All The Time

I'm copying my torrents folder across from Lina to Haruhi.  It's about 200GB, and it's only achieving 5MB per second, so it's going to take about 12 hours (during which time I can't download anything...)

As a test, while that was running I grabbed one folder at random (it just happened to be G-On Riders) and dropped it onto the anime directory on Yurie.  That ran at over 40MB per second.

Now that's an improvement.

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Sunday, December 16


Well, That Was Horrible

I had Midori - the server; there's only the one now - scheduled for a ram upgrade Saturday at 9 PM Central.  They actually tried to do it on Thursday, but fortunately stopped before they could screw anything up.

So, I'm sitting there, waiting for the upgrade to start, while frantically running backups just in case anything goes wrong and trying to get two million files copied to Aoi before they pull the plug.  And the maintenance window arrives...  And passes...  And my backups finish.  And I post a query as to whether anyone is home at Softlayer.

And they respond (after an hour) and the upgrade is rescheduled for the next maintenance window, 2 AM - 4 AM Sunday.  And a little before 3 AM, they shut down the server and upgrade the memory.

And lo, the server is inaccessible.

So my first, second and third responses are to panic, for not only is this currently the only server for, it is currently the only DNS server for, so the whole shebang is pretty much off the air.  Okay, it's 3 o'clock on Sunday morning and no-one cares much right now, but I've got to get it fixed, and fast. 

Which might not be easy, because #1 suspect is a failed system disk.  The user directories are on a different disk, and backups are on yet another disk, but if I can't log in they don't do me a lot of good.

Now, among the goodies Softlayer provides me with is KVM and text console access.  Unfortunately, this is via Supermicro's IPMI tool, and it sucks your choice of equine anatomy.  Most notably, the K part of the KVM fuction suffers from severe arrhythmia.  When you press a key, you get, more or less at random, between zero and thirty copies of that keystroke.

Oh, and the text console doesn't work at all.

It's something of a miracle that I was even able to log in, and more of a miracle that I was able to quickly work out what the problem was: noexec was set for the /usr filesystem.  I'd meant to set it for /var/tmp, and missed, and hadn't rebooted since.


At precisely this moment, for extra points, the KVM widgie decided to invert my capslock setting, making it an interesting experience to navigate vi.  But I did, and I fixed fstab, and I saved, and I rebooted, and apache didn't start but I have an easy shortcut command for that because it's something I need to do every now and then and lo we were back again.

And I've spent the last seven hours on a five-minute memory upgrade.

On a Sunday.


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Saturday, December 15


In Happier News

Haruhi and Yurie are up and running.  Haruhi was still having problems with Memtest86+ - just a couple of errors on a complete pass of 8GB of ram, but that's three too many.  I pulled out the ram, rearranged it (so I could see if the errors tracked the module or the socket) and reinstalled it.  And it came back clean on a full 3-hour test, so it looks like it was Just One Of Those Things.

I was seeing some video glitches before, so I underclocked the built-in graphics, suspecting that it was overclocking itself the way memory was.  That seems to have worked fine, and it's running Aero at a quite acceptable speed.  You'd hope so, but it's nice to see that it works like it should.

Now I just need to install approximately 12,000 programs to get my usual working environment back.

Oh, and speed?  Pretty snappy.  I had a Core 2 Duo 2.4 at my previous job, and this feels about the same, though it's slower in benchmarks.  Definitely much faster than Lina, my 2003-era P4 2.6.  So despite the extra day taken to assemble them, I'm pretty happy with my two tiny goddesses.

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Let's see how it works on 1.1
Okay, I think that could still use a little work...

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The Other Other Thing

The Vista install will freeze in bad places for a long time if you don't have DHCP server configured correctly.

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The Other Thing

I was installing some software on my old Windows box to help the recovery of my old Linux box that died a couple of weeks ago, and it needed a reboot.

The system shut down just fine.

I also discovered that I can crash it by running fixmbr repeatedly.  I need to get off that machine now.  Well, as soon as Memtest86+ completes a full pass.  Takes a while with 8GB of ram...

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Why Is It Always Like This?

So I assembled Haruhi and Yurie last night.  That went pretty smoothly.  I didn't slip while tightening a screw and gouge a hole in the motherboard.  I didn't short anything out, and I only plugged one thing in backwards (the HDD LED on one machine).  Both machines POSTed first try, a huge improvement over last year's effort at building a small media center box, which never worked at all and was eventually scavenged for parts.

So, as I say, they POSTed fine, so I did what comes naturally and ran Memtest86.  The resulting explosion was so violent that I'll be picking bits and bytes out of the ceiling for weeks.  I've never seen Memtest86 actually crash before.

Funny thing, though.  It crashed on both machines, no matter which of the 6 dimms I used.  As a quick test I popped in the Fedora 8 Live CD, and it booted up just fine.  Hmm.  I then tried installing Vista, and that went just fine too.

Until I installed the video drivers from Gigabyte, anyway.  Then it all went haywire.

A bit more poking around showed that the memory was running at 868MHz.  That's not a big overclock, but it's cheap memory, so maybe that was the problem.  So I went into the bios to change the timing settings...  And there weren't any.  Nothing.  Nada.

So I downloaded the latest bios update, put it on a flash drive, and installed it.  (That's something they got right, at least.  No more floppies!)  Still no overclocking settings, and I know I saw some in a review before I decided on this motherboard.  I'm not that fussed about overclocking, but it's handy to have that extra control just in case something goes insane.

So, a bit more poking around, and I find that you have to hit Ctrl-F1 on the main bios screen to access the hidden overclocking settings.  There's no fine-grain control over memory clocks (though you can control all the little details like CAS and RAS delays down to the nanosecond), but setting the clock to 667MHz showed up as 748MHz in Memtest86+.

Oh, forgot to mention.  Memtest86 explodes on sight.  Memtest86+ seems to work fine.  It did find a couple of errors while running at 868MHz, so I restarted it after downclocking the ram.  So far, so good.

It's possible also that the screwy video is connected to the screwy ram timings.  I can test that out too.  If that works, then everything's peachy, except for Vista, which I will loathe for a good long time yet.

One side thought: If Microsoft sold for $100 a program that did one thing and one thing only - told Vista shut up, I know what I'm doing - their profits would be secure for the next five years.

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Thursday, December 13


Eatabus Eataby

My notebook (Compaq Presario V6000 series) now has 2782MB of available memory, which should interest Hewlett Packard who list the maximum supported memory as 2GB.  Most of the rest (there should be 3GB in total) has been eaten by the integrated GeForce 6150 graphics, which has no memory of its own and seems to have gotten greedy at the sight of all the extra RAM; it's bumped its default allocation up to 256MB.

Even with that, I can run two Linuxes under VMWare with 512MB each and still have more memory left than I did yesterday when VMWare wasn't running.  Not bad for a $55 investment.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 09:24 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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Bad Planning

I got all the parts for Haruhi and Yurie delivered to the office where I currently work three days a week.  (The other four days I work from home on and

I ordered half the stuff yesterday, and went out and bought the rest at lunch today.  Now I just need to get it home. 

There's two cases, two power supplies, two motherboards, and a stack of smaller stuff.  It will be difficult to carry it all even in two trips.

I could get a taxi home tonight, but that would cost a fortune.  I'm not in the office tomorrow.  I can't drop in during the day because I've got an air-conditioning repair person coming.  I can't go into the office on the weekend because the trains won't be running.  There's little point coming in next Monday, because I'll be in on Tuesday anyway.  And there's no point taking the stuff home Tuesday or Wednesday, because I work pretty long days and I won't have any time to do anything with it.


Oh.  Ha.  The trains won't be running this weekend between Hornsby (where I live) and the city...  via the North Shore.  But they'll be running just fine via Strathfield.  (That's what I had to do last Christmas, too. There's a lot of trackwork going on because they're building a new line cross-linking the North Short and Strathfield lines.  I think the new line opens next year.)

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