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shoe stores

Filed under: Life — Thomas @ 19:26


really do not sell you only one shoe. Not even if they only have the one shoe of the pair. For example, when they accidentally sold a mismatching pair.

No sir, the shoe goes back to the factory. Even if it's last year's model, out of sale, can't be ordered. That one shoe will sit there in the other factory next to the other bigger shoe, and both of them will die of loneliness. They will not allow me to save one of those two.

Sucks, after 4 hours of shopping.


Filed under: Life — Thomas @ 12:21


In shaving, nothing quite beats the feeling of having a fresh blade glide over your face.

I keep forgetting this as I blunt my blade through the weeks, and then I get surprised all over again when I change.

ps i hate you

Filed under: General — Thomas @ 19:52


CPU usage is currently expressed as the percentage of time spent running
during the entire lifetime of a process. This is not ideal, and it does not
conform to the standards that ps otherwise conforms to. CPU usage is unlikely
to add up to exactly 100%.

This explains why my nagios checks for processes with >90% CPU use doesn't work.

It's logical when you think it through, but the nagios check is very misleading because it doesn't mention this at all, just talks about CPU.

Sigh, let's try with sar instead.

USB Drive as Floppy

Filed under: Hacking — Thomas @ 00:10


Dear lazyweb,

I have a 4 GB Cruzer Micro USB Drive. When mounted there's a /dev/sr1 device which is pretending to be a CD-ROM, and a normal sdc1 device that is a VFAT/WIN95 partition with some files on. I deleted everything on there, and then copied a flash image for my BIOS to it.

When I boot into my BIOS (GigaByte board), there is an option to go straight into the flasher utility.

The flasher utility can save and load bios from floppies. Floppy A is a real floppy, Floppy B is I assume the USB one, and is only present when I insert my Cruzer USB stick.

But the flasher utility doesn't see my BIOS file, even though it's named 8.3

I can save my current BIOS to Floppy B, and on subsequent reboots the file is always there. But when booting into Linux, I can't see the files the Flasher saves and sees, and vice versa.

Where is this hidden file ? What is the Flasher utility seeing ? Is part of the USB stick pretending to be a floppy and Linux not picking up on that ? How do I get to that area so I can copy the BIOS there and flash ?

Nerd Night part 2

Filed under: Hacking — Thomas @ 17:20


Two things that I forgot to put on the list.

One, Kristien keeps complaining about the loud computer in the living room. I want to keep it on at all times (I access it remotely from Barcelona), but it's too noisy for her. So today, I called Peter and we went shopping for ways to cool the system.

We started out by looking for a silent power supply and a silent CPU fan, but in the end we realized that the CPU in the desktop (A Dual Core P4 of the first generation) is just always going to be a heat generator (it runs at 60C when idle), and in the end I decided to change motherboard (also getting more RAM), CPU (Quad Core, it was just 90 euros more expensive than dualcore), get an Antec low-noise case, and a Noctua CPU cooler (which the shop guy claims is better than the funky Zalman CPU coolers). The only thing I'm really worried about is the video card - an ATI Radeon 2400 HD - it doesn't look to well-supported under Linux.

All this stuff gives me a new desktop for around 700 euro - amazing. I remember how I painfully emptied my wallet to get an Athlon 550 system - top of the range at the time - for the equivalent of 1700 euros.

So, what better project for Nerd Night than working on a silent PC ?

The other thing is going to be even more fun. Yesterday evening I froze one of my hard drives - literally. I put it in a ziplock bag filled with grains of minute rice and put it in the freezer. According to a mail Peter sent me, this might just give me enough working time

Why, you ask ? Well, Remember my previous problem. I never followed up on that post, because it was just too embarassing. Here's what happened right after that post.

Recall that I had a software RAID with one of the two drives failing to work. I was fiddling around with the good drive and a new drive, trying to copy stuff. Of course, I just had my desktop lying flat on the floor, with the drives sticking out a little under various angles, the way I always do when I'm working on the guts of a computer. Then, at some point, I reached to grab something from the shelf, and from the top of my shelf a motherboard box slipped and fell down.

It fell down with a point of the box *right on the good hard drive*. Yes, a 50 cm2 target, and the box hit it. It knocked the drive out of commission. So, this left me with the curious situation of having both of my software RAID drives out of order.

I again contacted some data recovery companies, but all of them would charge at least 1000 euros to recover the data. Even though I'm absolutely convinced it can't be much more work between a 400 GB drive and a 100 GB drive, they still charge you a lot more for the bigger drive.

Well, I am no one if not the kind of person that sees opportunity in every problem. I have two identical broken drives. So I can use at least one of them to try out a non-conventional recovery method. Peter suggested the freezing method, so that's what I did. And tonight we'll know if it works!

I have a USB carcass ready to take the drive, and some scripts that should copy the things I need in order, to maximize useful working time in case it works. I don't have high hopes, but one never knows...

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