Mar 12 2008
I had a really interesting post about last weekend about halfway done and ready to post when the worst of all possible things happened: My workstation at work flamed out in a serious way. It's still in pieces all over the office and not operating because the RAID array - the disk mirror set up to prevent data loss in the event of a failure - blew up along with everything else. Systemware all over the place is corrupt, and I can't do much else other than log in as the root user and try to track down everything that's been damaged and replace it. I'll get to that in a minute, though. First things first, and this time in that order.
Alphonse (Lyssa's workstation at home) blew up this weekend, also. Lyssa had been complaining that the mouse would work sporadically and that USB storage devices (including the USB drive I bought for her to back stuff up), which were symptoms that Windbringer's old shell had been having late last year after a number of crashes due to overheating while in the field.
I kept telling myself that Alphonse hadn't been rebuilt in several years, running Windows XP and all that, and suggested that a reinstallation might fix the problem because a driver might have gone bad.
Off to Microcenter to pick up some RAM and a new hard drive. Later on, back to Microcenter to pick up a new motherboard because the brand-new install of XP kept having the same problems. The rebuild didn't work, and when a computer's USB ports start acting up, it can mean only one thing: The motherboard's going, and can only be replaced. Even later on, back to Microcenter to pick up a network card because the drivers Asus included for the on-board ethernet interface on the P5K don't work. Neither do the ones from their website. Windows XP SP2 doesn't have them on the install disk, either. At some point in the past year someone bought out the company that manufactured the ethernet chipset for that particular model, switched the guts of the chips themselves, and didn't bother telling anyone. Thus, Asus' drivers didn't work, they didn't bother releasing drivers that did work, and judging from what people are saying about this particular mainboard on Asus' forums and elsewhere, there are a lot of angry people calling for the LARTing of executives. Disabling the on-board ethernet interface from the BIOS and throwing in a Linksys 10/100baseT NIC did the trick last night - Alphonse is back online and Lyssa's transferring her data over to the new drive with the help of a (now operational) ATA-to-USB interface. The hell of it is, once we got Al on the lab network and ran Windows Update, the first hardware fix that came down was drivers for the on-board NIC. Surprise surprise.
Then, my box at work blew up yesterday when I was right in the middle of working on something reasonably important. I could boot it back up and get the drives to mount, but waiting for the drive mirror itself to finish synching takes hours, something that I didn't have many of. Also, and this is very important, if a mirror is resynching and the box crashes in the middle of the process (which happened twice yesterday), you can pretty much take it to the bank that the file system inside of the mirror will be corrupted.
I've spent most of this morning trying to repair my workstation, and the best I can manage is logging into the console. So much of the systemware's corrupted that I'm probably going to have to rebuild everything. As if that weren't enough, it's a fight to get anything accomplished because systemware randomly crashes, and the entire machine won't power down unless I pull the power cable (it's ignoring the power switch, too, did I mention that?) I've thrown in the towel. Time to put in a purchase request for a new box at work and hope that I can salvage something of the data on the drives.