Blog | Admin | Archives | Random | Recent | Thanks

Back Everything Up ASAP is experiencing data integrity issues; I think some hard drives are dying.

UPDATE: Things are looking pretty bad. I expect there will be some major downtime in the near future — perhaps a week from now.

UPDATE 2: Thanks  to some timely work by Dan, the system appears to be stable again. It is possible this was all just a soft error of some sort — not sure on that though. Its still always a good idea to look into ways of backing up your stuff. We [Dan and I] may get something in place soon, but don’t count on us to protect any valuable data you might have.

RILOE to the Rescue

After attempted to run the open-source Math software Sage on Frankenputen and being harshly greeted by an error message claiming that libc was out of date, Bobby and I decided that it was time to upgrade the Dapper Drake edition of Ubuntu Linux that was running the server to the modern Gutsy Gibbon edition.

The first attempt was an abject failure. Used to Debian’s nearly perfect reliability, I thought I could get away with upgrading direct from Dapper to Gutsy by simply changing my sources.list file, the running apt-get update followed by apt-get dist-upgrade. Well, this series of actions ended quite poorly — what was left over was a pretty broken, not very-installed hybrid of Dapper and Gutsy. So, after some tinkering and with some help from Bobby, we managed to revert — eventually — to Dapper. Bobby then set about doing a more incremental upgrade, stepping from Dapper to Edgy to Feisty and then to Gutsy (notice the progression of letters). This apparently worked, almost.

Well, it did work, but at the same time something else broke. Namely, the kernel version shipped with Gutsy — 2.6.22 — and a package called evms do not coexist peacefully. The result was a system that would being the boot procedure and then get stuck in an infinite loop of error messages. The key services — such as SSH — that we would normally use to try to fix the problem never came up, so all hope was lost, right? Well, not quite.

Back when Dan purchased all the smograsbord (sp?) of technology that now comprises Frankenputen, the computer currently responsible for serving much of’s content, he had the foresight to purchase an nice little piece of technology called a RILOE card. RILOE stands for Remote Insight: Lights Out Edition. Basically, its a video card with a network port on the back. It runs a web server, which allows administrators to access a variety of functions on the server as if the administrator where at the computer physically. Even more spectacularly, it has a virtual local console — basically a virtual screen that shows exactly what would be on the real screen. So when the server was dead to the rest of the world, after a little tinkering, I was able to log in and watch the system boot from the ground up — even the BIOS messages are visible! Its really like being at the computer in pretty much every pertinent way expect physical proximity.

Watching the system come up gave some error messages which Google turned into problem-solving tips. Then, by booting an older kernel, uninstalling evms, and rebooting, the machine was back to working as good as old. But with a bunch of upgrades of course!

Once a Year

Some time this morning, I noticed that the permalink for my last post was not simply “wasted”, but rather it was wasted-3, implying that I had used the title twice before.  After a short investigation, I found that this was indeed the case — wasted was written in 2005 and wasted-2 was written in 2004 (it was imported from greymatter, so it received the “-2” moniker). I guess I didn’t have a wasted period in 2006; perhaps this will have to do.

At any rate, I figure having only one post with that title per year isn’t doing too bad. So while I get over the sniffles I acquired while staying up too late watching the first two seasons of Battlestar Galactica, listen to my music, and plug away at my Bioengineering project (due Tuesday), and contemplate some of life’s mysteries, I think I’m going to be just fine.

In other news, I changed the slugs for the three “wasted” posts to -2004, -2005, and -2007. Once a year.

Upgrades and Updates

I am now early in the process of upgrading to WordPress 2.2. A consequence is that the old themes don’t seem to work anymore. The original Checksum Arcanius theme was getting tired anyway, so I have started work on a new one. I want to move much of the current look and feel forward, while hopefully bringing a fresh look to the table at the same time. We’ll see how it goes.

Computer Naming Conundrums

Ever since I had my own computers, they have had names. The original, a Pentium Pro 180 in a full tower, was named oasis, after one of my favorite bands at the time, and also I liked the idea of a desert oasis. My next computer was an Athlon 600; it became the new oasis and the old oasis became wadi, an Arabic word for a normally dry stream (ie, the opposite of an oasis). I owe that name to my brother. Wadi became the first server behind; it was the computer that was hacked due to a vulnerability in the Linux kernel and another vulnerability in some photo album software I was using at the time. was then replaced by sf2 (“silverfir #2), a 500-MHz Pentium III.

About that same time, I inherited my Dad’s very old IBM Thinkpad, equipped with a Pentium 90 and 16 megabytes of RAM. The computer had only a small screen (12”), but it was heavy and black, so it became named blackbrick. With Bobby’s help, that computer became my introduction to Linux, wireless networking, war driving, and mobile computing in general. It was no surprise then that the next computer to come my way was a laptop that I purchased in 2003 during Fry’s grand opening sale. It was an HP with a AMD Athlon 2400+. I planned on having that computer last a long time, and it was my first modern mobile computer, so I named it mobius, after the Mobius strip — I thought that the name evoked the mobile nature of the computer as well as the eternal nature of the Mobius strip.

Then came an unexpected bump — in early January, 2004, I won another laptop, a Compaq desktop replacement with a Pentium 4 2.8 GHz processor. It was heavy, but I couldn’t justify passing up the faster processor speed, so it became my new primary computer and I ended up giving mobius to my mom. The new laptop earned itself the name of kleinoscope, evoking the idea of the Klein bottle, a three-dimmensional analogue of the mobius strip.

Oasis, in the mean time, lasted me through my first stint at college and a good ways in to 2004. However, in anticipation of the imminent release of Half Life 2, I purchased a new desktop machine. Its colorful case, along with the name of my most recent laptop, led to the obvious naming choice of kaleidoscope. Oasis was then recommissioned in place of sf2 as the primary server. Today, oasis remains’s mail server. Dan’s monstrosity Frankenputen, meanwhile, has taken over web and file serving duties.

Kleinoscope and I had been through a lot in three-and-a-half years, and the laptop finally died somewhat spectacularly not too long ago. It was time for me to get a new laptop. Enter the brand-spanking-new Dell D630. However, no name that seems appropriate has come to mind for this computer yet. Right now, it is named a rather terrible TBD and I don’t intend to let it stay that way for much longer. But I need help. Please leave your suggestions!

A New Theme

Ben McElroy, of has given me the opportunity to try out his new WordPress theme, Hibachi2. Check out the link in the upper-left to switch over (or, if you have already switched, the link will probably be on the lower right). Or, if you’re reading this from an RSS reader of some sort, you’ll have to actually show up “in person” to see what in the world I’m talking about.

As time goes by, I will try to move some of my other features into the new theme — the picture bar, for example.

Deliverator Delivered

Dan just updated the look of this site, The Deliverator-Wannabee. And it looks really nice, especially compared (cough) to the previous theme. Go take a look.

While you’re there, enjoy the copious amounts of useful technical information, reviews, and more.