Blog entries from January, 2008

Fixing a whine by replacing a drive

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 10:47pm

For the past few months the primary 120GB drive in Preston has been making a whining sound. It was gradually getting louder and even getting really annoying for short periods.

Back when I last refreshed the storage drives in Preston I was left with a pair of 160GB drives. One went into my windows box while the other went into an external case that I intended to use for backups. Even though I did find an external case with an internal power supply, I have yet to get one. Which means the the 160GB in the external case has had very little use in the past 15 months.

At the end of last year I refreshed the drives in Shaun, my windows box. From this I ended up with a 250GB drive that I put into the external case, freeing up the 160GB again.

Tonight I finally got fed up with the whine and I decided to swap out the whining 120GB drive by following one of many sets of instructions that I found after a search. Specifically the second response to this question, modified as appropriate.

For my future reference I entered the following after adding the new drive (as /dev/hdb) and booting into single user via one of the ‘Recovery’ boot options:

(three data partitions: /, /home, /backup)

$ fdisk -l
$ cfdisk /dev/hdb
$ mke2fs -j /dev/hdb1
$ mke2fs -j /dev/hdb3
$ mke2fs -j /dev/hdb4
$ mkswap /dev/hdb2
$ cd /
$ mount /dev/hdb1 /mnt
$ find . -xdev | cpio -padm /mnt
$ mount /dev/hdb3 /mnt/home
$ cd /home
$ find . -xdev | cpio -padm /mnt/home
$ cp -a /dev/* /mnt/dev/
$ cd /
$ chroot /mnt
$ mount -t proc none /proc

At this point I followed the instructions for installing GRUB on the new drive. Once I pulled out the old drive I found that the new one wouldn’t boot. Putting the old drive back in (now as /dev/hdb) I told the BIOS to boot from it which got me back into single user mode (boot loader from old drive, but new drive for partitions). I then found another set of instructions which told me to use the following which worked:

$ grub-install /dev/hda

I purposely didn’t copy the 60GB of backups from other computers in the house (mostly photos) between drives as their regular processes will copy it back if I leave them on overnight.

Despite warnings to the contrary, I didn’t have an issue with GRUB and the UUID of the drive as I am still running Ubuntu 6.06 LTS, If I was running 6.10 or later I believe I would have had an extra step to perform.

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The other choice is also superceded

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 07:13pm

Following on from Canon releasing the 450D a few days ago, Nikon has released the D60 as a replacement for the D40x. So, even if I had chosen the Nikon, it too would now be superceded.

It was hard choosing between the Canon 400D and the Nikon D40x. In the end it was only the lack of an AF motor in the body of the D40x, severely limiting the lens choices, that made my choice.

What about chosing between the 450D and the D60? Based on what I have seen in the feature listings, the 450D is now the easy choice.

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Photos of Lego and Dinky

Monday, January 28th, 2008 at 07:25pm

Yesterday, two weeks after assembling them, I got around to taking photographs of the Lego sets that had been stored in the roof. They are available for all to see in a Flickr set.

Legoland Tanker Truck (6695)

The technique I used for the photos was near a window with sheer curtains drawn and on top of some off-white paper. I ended up using the flash as there wasn’t quite enough light. I’m thinking about getting (probably make one) a lightbox to make it a lot easier to take photos like this. And a tripod. I tried to take all of the photos from the same angle and a tripod would really have been appreciated.

What I have photographed so far is only the discrete sets that we had. There is a lot of older mixed bricks that could be used for anything, and don’t forget my Technic sets that have been (most of them) on display (of sorts) since I last played with them.

While I was taking photos continued on and photographed all of my father’s die-case Dinky Toys that had been brought down from the roof. They are also available in a Flickr set with (usually) three shots per toy.

Dinky Supertoys 972 - 20-ton Lorry-mounted Crane (1)

The challenge with these ones was identifying what each one was. was a huge help with most of the toys. For others a google image search with various keywords eventually turned up a reasonably confident answer.

As these will all be packed back up and returned to the roof (for the time being at least), the photos will help us know what is actually up there. And by making them available it should help others identify their own toys, in addition to existing resources of course.

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Thursday, January 24th, 2008 at 11:11pm

I have just seen the news that, just one month after getting it, my 400D has been superceded. By the 450D.

While some of the features such as live view might be cool, the only difference I can see in my brief look through the changes that would matter would be the change from compact flash to SD cards for storage. I could have gotten another card with built in USB connector instead of getting a small CF card reader.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the price of the 400D. Some places currently have it on special. But still for more than I got it for.

As for those who would say I should have waited: There was talk that a new model would be released soon, but if you keep waiting for the new model, you will be waiting forever.

(And despite it being announced today, the 450D will not be available until April, at least two and a bit months away.)

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Javascript is good, but…

Monday, January 21st, 2008 at 09:58pm

The interactivity that javascript allows in “Web 2.0” sites is great. But it comes at a cost.

In yesterday’s post about my bicycle ride with Damien I initially included three Bikely maps using the “on-my-site code” that loads up the map, and all of its associated javascript, inside an inframe.

This really screws up the page load times.

What I have now done (and will be doing to the Bikely maps I have included in the past) is to take a screenshot of the included map and then link it via an image. There is no need to navigate the map on my site, and now the page loads signifigantly faster.

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First decent ride in a while, to Belgrave and Ringwood

Sunday, January 20th, 2008 at 03:11pm

Yesterday Damien and I went on our first ride since last May, what was planned as a nice big loop that included Belgrave and Croydon.

First we went via Scoresby and Upper Ferntree Gully to Belgrave:

Glen Waverley to Belgrave (via Rowville and Upper Ferntree Gully) @

The new bridge for the Eastlink Trail is well underway at the south end of Jells Park:

New bridge at south end of Jells Park (1)

And, despite the website saying otherwise, the upgraded trail south of Ferntree Gully Road is open:

Goat track to wide concrete

all the way to where Eastlink crosses the Dandenong Creek in Mulgrave:

No more detour up the hill

But some landscaping and cleanup is still to be done.

Since it drizzled for much of the ride to Belgrave we decided to catch the train to Ringwood and continue riding from there:

Ringwood to Glen Waverley (inc looking at Eastlink) @

Paths near the Ringwood Bypass are done, but not yet open:

New path under EastLink in Ringwood

And the upgraded path through Koomba Park has been open for six months now:

Upgraded path through Koomba Park (1)

Apart from the drizzle it was an enjoyable ride and once Eastlink is complete there will be a decent network with many combinations to enjoy.

Part of what we skipped was a loop from Bayswater to Croydon (via the Tarralla Creek Trail), Ringwood (via the Upper Mullum Mullum Creek Trail) and back to Bayswater:

Bayswater, Croydon, Ringwood loop @

Some more photos are available in my Bike paths and Eastlink (January 2008) Flickr set.

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Playing with LEGO

Sunday, January 13th, 2008 at 10:57pm

As part of a larger cleanup, many of my old toys have been brought down from the roof where they have sat untouched for many years. (Except for the Transformers that is…)

In order to sort out the LEGO (excluding the Technic sets that were never packed away) it was decided that the best way would be to assemble as many sets as possible. So that was what I spent some of last night, this afternoon and much of this evening doing.

One big problem that I found early on was that the instructions for the castle was not with the other instructions. Fortunately the internet comes to the rescue and the first site I found was Brickset, a guide to all of the LEGO sets.

By browsing through the Castle themed sets I found the Knight’s Castle set. From that page I was able to get the instructions which enabled me to assemble the set. With only two pieces missing! While browsing through Brickset I came across the King’s Castle, a bigger more elaborate castle, that I remember wishing I had.

I was also able to assemble the Blacksmith Shop, Black Knight’s Treasure, and Prisoner Convoy sets. However, I couldn’t find enough pieces for the Supply Wagon. Specifically the horse hitch piece.

I also had a number of small Town sets and managed to assemble Highway Patrol, Tactical Patrol Truck, Road Repair, Road Rebel, RV with Speedboat, Tanker Truck, Fire Copter, and Snack Bar sets.

I still have more to sort through. Not to mention all of my Technic. Which I think I will reassemble some of them into their alternate designs.

Something else of mine that was brought down is all my old computer magazines. Nine boxes worth. Paper boxes, the ones that hold 5×500 sheets. All of which are worthless and will be going out in the recycling.

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Peopleware re-read

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 at 09:02pm

As planned, four years after first reading it, I have finished re-reading Peopleware.

I actually finished reading it last night, and tonight I went through it writing down my notes along with relevant quotes. Since Hamish also wants to read the book (for the first time) I am not going to say any more. Instead I will wait and compare my notes with his.

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Filling in tags

Thursday, January 3rd, 2008 at 08:05pm

I have just finished sorting through the 400 odd links that I had bookmarked on Delicious, but for some reason had not tagged.

It was interesting looking back at articles and other pages that I had deemed it worthwhile to bookmark. About half my time was spend re-reading these, and not just to determine the appropriate tags.

However, one frustrating thing was that around half of them were for pages that no longer exist. This is a real shame as it has only been three years since I started using Delicious. I wonder how many of my other bookmarked links are still valid. I hope it is a lot more than 50%.

Now I need to properly tag the bookmarks that are just tagged with to-read. Reading them at the same time of course.

I also need to finish tagging many of these posts. Some of which are not tagged and others not very well.

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