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jdavidb (1361)

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J. David Blackstone has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering and nine years of experience at a wireless telecommunications company, where he learned Perl and never looked back. J. David has an advantage in that he works really hard, he has a passion for writing good software, and he knows many of the world's best Perl programmers.

Journal of jdavidb (1361)

Tuesday December 03, 2002
12:35 AM

Trial by fire

[ #9241 ]

I can't remember at what point I started, but I've finally repaired my home partition on my laptop after a multi-hour fsck session. I'm speculating I shocked the crap out of the machine; this house is full of static electricity when it gets cold, especially when I sit on my couches. This is my second winter in the house, and the first with the laptop (and with the couches, too, for that matter). There's so much static that usually whenever I get up I am shocked with the next item I touch -- fridge, thermostat, television antenna. The television shocks are particularly bad; hurt horribly and actually knock the TV out for a second or two. And, it seems when I get up if I am touching certain points on the bottom of my laptop I get shocks as well.

So, last week, suddenly my chat sessions all got hosed. It took me awhile to trace it down between a problem with my laptop and a problem with my DSL -- because it was both! My replacement DSL modem came today, but my laptop was still unusable. I finally found I was getting horrible IDE read errors on my home directory partition. I used a convenient Debian PPC install CD (had to look up Apple Open Firmware information on the net using my work laptop to discover the magic boot command I needed was boot cd:\yaboot). Once there, I switched to a console and started messing with fsck.

fsck was getting errors reading several blocks. Not to mention all kinds of inode consistency horrors caused by crashes caused by these read errors. Having to say yes to ignore and fix errors all the time got tiresome, so it wasn't long until I discovered the -p option (run noninteractively -- not what I wanted, it turns out, since an error just causes a halt) and the -y option, which says yes to everything. :-D After waiting through everything, I ran with -y again and still had 4-6 bad blocks. After repeating this a few times (along with the wait this required), I realized I needed to do something else.

Turns out what I wanted was the -c option, which ran a program called badblocks to mark off and elimate bad disk blocks. Apparently some had been fixed or marked off by my earlier fscks, though. This check took forever, but when it was done it ran a completely clean fsck, which I repeated (with -p, no less) for good measure, to assure myself that everything was now right.

All this started this afternoon. It's 11 now. :) Good grief.

I'll have you know most of my bad inodes were in my MINICPAN/ directory! Thanks, Randall! >:O (Undoubtedly not caused by the CPAN mirror program, but as long as my life's in shambles, maybe he could at least take the blame.)

This thing seems to be working now. Of course, after I finally got it up it took an eternity to get evolution to work again. One of those maddening cases where I punch the error message into google and find many archived mails where people ask about it, very few answers, and a handful of unanswered mails stating that the standard answers are not correct. Turned out the time on my system was reset when I pulled out the battery during one of those crashes. Evolution and all its happy components (Corba, orbs, oaf, bonobo, ... wombat??) don't like running in 1904.

At any rate, so much chaos lately; it's nice to finally get something working.

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  • One of the few drawbacks to moving to the Denver area has been the dry air. I have lots of static in my apartment as well and regularly get shocked. Hell, even the *water* has shocked me coming out of the faucet.

    I'm actually considering buying a humidifier to help with this issue after reading your story. I worry about shocking my laptop or desktop to death. I've noticed a bit of flicker in my computer now that I didn't used to see, so that has me wondering. I figure it will help the life of all of m

  • Thanks for your comment. Your subject line alone suddenly made me start thinking about a humidifier, too.

    We had a humidifier when I was young for my asthma. If I remember right, those things can cause mold, which certainly wouldn't extend the life of your computer components. ;) Don't overdo it.

    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
  • Maybe some cationic cocktail [] sprayed on the carpet might help?
  • I can't remember at what point I started, but I've finally repaired my home partition on my laptop after a multi-hour fsck session.

    When I was 19, I had a few multi-hour fsck sessions...but now that I'm 38, I can barely manage 15 minutes before I fall asleep.