12 entries categorized "Computing"

Not sure I have enough laptops here

Technology clutter
Left to right:

  • My own MacBook Pro. It started coming to work with me a few months ago.
  • My older work laptop, a Dell Vostro something or other. It’s connected to the dual widescreen monitors.
  • My new work laptop, an HP Envy dv7. Hoping to have it fully configured and switched as my main work machine by this afternoon.


The iPhone, she is brokeThe phone, she is broke :-(

We joined friends for a matinee of The Producers in Issaquah. I was getting into the car on our way to the theatre when I bobbled the phone in my left hand and it clattered to the driveway for the fourth time I can remember, and this time it gave the unmistakable psht! sound of the glass giving up the fight.

Yay AppleCare+ — we’re waiting now at the Apple Store, University Village for warranty service. Should be all good in the next hour or so.

Rather an unproductive first day

I walked into my bedroom just now with the sole intent of taking my shoes off.

When I walked out of my bedroom, I had opened the blinds and bedroom window, and turned on a fan. I still had my shoes on, which did not register on me until I walked into the kitchen and did not feel Purina Cat Chow gouging my toes.

This little vignette rather well describes my day at work, wherein I accomplished nothing beyond rebuilding a single Dell XPS M1530 laptop four times despite its repeated need to shut down without warning, I believe due to overheating. I would just get to a point where I could do useful work BAM shutdown, leaving the OS installation in a state of chaos it charmingly deems “improper shutdown”—really this is their code phrase for “gaslight the hapless user by making him run the recovery and diagnostics tools repeatedly”—off I’d go again, restore point in place and just get things set up BAM shutdown.

Somewhere in the middle of all that I managed to contribute peripherally to a couple of problem solutions, entirely by overhearing the conversations in our group work area. Though one of those solutions was really just a few ideas toward a solution—no idea if that one panned out, I gave up and left at 14:45 because I needed to call Dell technical support and my cell-phone battery was nearly dead, its charger lying 7 miles away (as the crow flies) on my desk at home.

The actually helpful (!) Dell technical support representative, who gave her name as Rachel in an attempt to induce in me a belief that she was from the upper midwest (most likely somewhere near Indianapolis) despite her obviously exotic accent, took over control my laptop from God knows how many thousands of miles away and rapidly determined that the problem was an old BIOS, along with two general drivers. But then she noticed I was using Windows 7, and the machine I have is supported only for Windows Vista, because her scripts don’t cover Windows 7. She could offer me further fee-based support, she’d be most pleased to do so!, but I opted to end the call and muddle through various BIOS and driver updates myself.

So far it seems maybe it worked. Laptop has been running for three hours now without a single heat-related sudden shutdown. No sudden shutdowns at all, in fact, only the 12 separate restarts required to install all of the OS and driver updates I found. And they don’t count because the installers warned me about ’em each time.

So yeah. Here’s hoping the remainder of the week is a bit more productive and a bit less technical-support-requiring.

Also I plan to wear no shoes.

The new* computer, she is a bit unhappy

Fired up the laptop to configure it for my own use. It went immediately into Startup Repair mode, which included warning me about the battery health and prompting me to initiate a system restore.

Now it’s in the 6th minute of Windows 7’s Startup Repair impersonation of a Cylon:

Unhappy laptop

* Where by “new” I mean “refurbished hand-me-down” but I’m not at all bitter

Backblaze’s storage infrastructure

Yesterday Backblaze posted a blog entry on their custom-designed storage solution, necessary to store petabytes of customer data while charging just $5 per month per customer:

At Backblaze, we provide unlimited storage to our customers for only $5 per month, so we had to figure out how to store hundreds of petabytes of customer data in a reliable, scalable way—and keep our costs low. After looking at several overpriced commercial solutions, we decided to build our own custom Backblaze Storage Pods: 67-terabyte 4U servers for $7,867.

In this post, we’ll share how to make one of these storage pods, and you’re welcome to use this design. Our hope is that by sharing, others can benefit and, ultimately, refine this concept and send improvements back to us. Evolving and lowering costs is critical to our continuing success at Backblaze.

Backblaze saved my ass just within the last few months, when I stupidly securely erased my main media drive. 110 GB of music, movie, and photo files blasted into magnetic oblivion because I chose the wrong drive in Disk Utility and initiated a secure wipe, then didn’t look at it again until the next morning. This happened on a weekend, so when I requested a hard-drive restore, they shipped my data backup overnight on the next business day, and I was back to normal a mere four days after my goofed clicking of the Erase button.

Fascinated to see how they’ve balanced their storage needs with the scalability required to support a growing customer base and their existing customers’ growing backup requirements.

Check ’em out, for a modestly priced service you get priceless peace of mind.

A couple missing options here

Flickr photo sharing: A couple missing options here
A couple missing options here
Flickr: Don Nunn

Nice that iCal offers an option to hide completed task items after so many days, but no option to show uncompleted tasks only so many days before their due dates?

I have some tasks set for as far out as May 2009, but iCal’s options allow only an all-or-nothing approach. I get to see every uncompleted task or only tasks whose due dates fall outside the current calendar view. I rarely use month view because my calendar has enough items in it to make month view nearly useless, so I’d rather be able to set an option to see all uncompleted tasks due within 14 days, for example, no matter what view I’m using.

2007 in IM status messages

After the jump, lists of the custom “available” and “away” status messages I used in iChat in 2007.

They made it easier to extract this info from iChat in Leopard. You can now choose “Edit Status Menu” from iChat’s buddy-list window, select the item(s) you want from the list(s), and use the Copy command to get a comma-separated text list. Only problem for me is I use commas in some of my statuses, so it’s not a simple search-and-replace function to get the list into a usable format, but it sure beats having to fire up Property List Editor and extract the list that way. Minor trade-offs, I suppose.


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2006 in IM status messages

On the bandwagon of the “year in review” posts everyone seems to adore this time of year, I hereby present the full listing of status messages I used in iChat in 2006, in the order I originally entered them.

I like this time of year specifically because it’s so easy to fill dead air. :-)

Without further delay. . . .

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