Saturday, December 29, 2007

KDE4 upgrade and Debian = trouble

laptop:~$ sudo apt-get install kdelibs5 kdebase-runtime-bin kdebase-runtime-bin-kde4 libgif4
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
libgif4: Conflicts: libungif4g but 4.1.4-5 is to be installed
E: Broken packages

laptop:~$ sudo apt-get install kdelibs5 kdebase-runtime-bin kdebase-runtime-bin-kde4
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
or been moved out of Incoming.
The following information may help to resolve the situation:

The following packages have unmet dependencies:
kdebase-runtime-bin: Depends: libungif4g (>= 4.1.4) but it is not going to be installed
E: Broken packages

WTF?? It's worth noting that libungif and libgif are not allowed to be installed at the same time, so it's either one or the other. Libungif is no longer supported upstream, and for some god aweful reason the NEW KDE4 requires the farking package!? Ugh.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

3ware thinks RAID-6 minimum drive count is 5

This is simply a warning for others. I picked up a 3ware 9650SE-8ML RAID card two days ago, and 4 drives to go with it. I figured I'd go RAID-6, 2 drives worth of date and 2 drives worth of parity..... wrong! Apparently 3ware's algorithm requires a minium of 5 drives. Wowsers. RAID-6 should be a minimum of 4. Now in fairness, their USERGUIDE for the card states the minimum in the section on adding raid arrays, but their datasheet, nor their references RAID-6 tech brief document say this. In fact, their own RAID-6 tech brief says RAID-6's minimum requirement is 4 disks. Oh well.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Down the drain goes the dollar...

For those who plan on traveling, the Dollar to Euro is now 1.4924 .
And the dollar fell to ¥107.68 Japanese yen.

Yikes. This sucks. Read it all.

CPU power usage

Core 2 Extreme QX9650 - 3.78W @ idle / 72.98W @ load ( $1,149.99 )
Athlon 64 X2 6000+ - 11.79 watts @ idle / 119.47W @ load
Core 2 Duo E6300 B2 - 12.02/45.49
Core 2 Duo E6300 L2 - 8.62/37.36
Core 2 Duo E6700 - 15.78/66

Time for RAID-6

Areca ARC-1220 PCI-Express 8 Port SATA RAID Controller
$479 -
$519 -

$129 - Areca ARC-6120 Battery Backup Module SC-ARC-6120
$299 - Lian-Li PC-201B
$90 - CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) (plus $40 rebate)
240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X2048-6400C4

$109 - AMD Athlon X2 BE-2400 Brisbane 2.3GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2 Processor
$88 - SeaSonic S12 II SS-380GB ATX12V 380W Power Supply

Seems the WD Enterprise drives have 5-year warranty, like Seagate, and given my trouble with Seagate drives lately, I'll probably switch back to WD for the power savings (GreenPower line).

WD RE2-GP 750 GB - WD7500AYPS

Karting in SoCal


Sending SMS via email

Virgin Mobile:

where phonenumber = your 10 digit phone number

Building the ultimate Linux-based music server

Get some green back from Seagate

Lucky for me I still have all my receipts.

The Pursuit of Streaming Happiness

Streaming to iPod touch or iPhone


Streaming MythTV from MythWeb using Flash

These LCD enclosures look interesting..

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I seem to recall some similar symantics worked for Clinton...

Frankly, I couldn't care less what Clinton did, but I do find a lot of these patents to be a crock of sh**.

The USPTO is quite frankly not working for the people, and instead is working as a tax collection arm of the US Government.

Free radio from Sirius w/ 49.99 pre-paid subscription

Not bad. I like the Area 33 line up better on Sirius than XM, and it looks like the merge *should* go through, yielding hopefully the best of both worlds. With a free radio in this deal, it doesn't hurt to start out with Sirius.

Glofiish X800 and M800
109 x 55 x 16 mm
4.3 x 2.2 x 0.6 inches

eTen glofiish M800
4.5 x 2.3 x 0.7 inches (114 x 58 x 18.4 mm) nearly same size..
GSM Quad-band phone capable of global roaming ( 850/900/1800/1900 MHz)
UMTS tri-band 3G phone capable of global roaming ( 850/1900/2100 MHz)
*awesome, HSDPA
VGA screen -- w00t w00t
slide-out keyboard
6.3 oz (178 g) -- little hefty

Hrmmm... looks like I may have to switch back to (gasp) Windows Mobile OS again.

Damn it.

No Sony Ericsson W960i for me :-(

I currently own a W800i which all-in-all I have loved, and yes I paid a lot for it as I live in the US where no carrier released the phone to market. I like it better in some respects than the W810i that was released and carried by several US Cellular providers. So here I read about an upcoming model, the W960i, that looked like a perfect replacement for my phone:

Alas, the problems are the networks!?!
  • UMTS 2100
  • GSM 900
  • GSM 1800
  • GSM 1900
Doh! So what's the problem you ask? Well, here are my requirements:

1) Good interface. Check!
2) Usable Media Player. Check!
3) GSM (for Intl Travel). Check!
4) 3G or higher. Check....sorta. Here's where the problem is.

You see, in the US, we're more or less using a standard losely named 3.5 G, HSDPA. It's superior in some ways, but works in the 1800 and 1900 MHZ frequencies. This phone only does 3G (UMTS) at 2100. Argh!

So next someone might as, why not K850i ? One word: OS. The OS on the W960i is the vernerable Symbian OS, which means I get to use the Opera browser! K850i simply uses the SE developed OS which doesn't lend itself to developing any apps for it.

Oh well. Damn you Sony Ericsson for making me jealous for something I really can't use.

Alas, it doesn't seem to be gaining any traction in the US (networks maybe??):

Oh, and damn you Apple for releasing the iPhone with dull-EDGE. I won't consider buying until it has HSDPA. I just won't buy phones like George Lucas wants people to buy multiple versions of Star Wars.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SmartStor NS4300N is useless and aweful

And Promise tech support is worse. Why? Let's talk about this total piece of garbage.

I bought this thing around a month ago. I populated it with three 750 GB Seagate NS series drives. First thing I notice is this thing isn't quiet enough. At 30 feet, I can still hear the fan. Already I'm unhappy with it. Installed the software to access the unit (I hate installing software to gain access to a WEB gui!!). Also, I needed to change my IP address to a 192.168.0.x address (as expected) to reach the unit. Opened the web interface, reconfigured network, configured device as RAID-5, and rebooted the unit. First notice, web interface is fine, but lacks detailed information for the system status. That point would become more troublesome later. Setup shares for Windows and NFS, and start access the device. Initial thoughts on usage is that store rates are rather slow. After several attempts, speeds drastically increase, but then drop back down again. Why? I'll never know.

Next came the start of my real troubles: hard drive bad sectors.

One of the Seagate drives started exhibiting troubles, but yet the RAID never failed the drive. Not good. The unit stated everything was healthy and functional. Great. However, the so-called "eventlog" would *sometimes* be littered with the following:

Nov 5 11:58:39 WARNING BSL log disk 2 at LBA 0x0564f4fb1 cleared
Nov 5 11:58:39 WARNING BSL update on disk 2 at LBA 0564f4fb1
Nov 5 11:58:39 WARNING Task 20 disk error on disk 2 at LBA 0x0564f4fb1 (Length 0xa) with status 51
Nov 5 11:58:29 WARNING BSL log disk 2 at LBA 0x0564f4fad cleared Nov 5 11:58:29 WARNING BSL update on disk 2 at LBA 0564f4fad

Doesn't look very healthy to me. Neither did the sound of the drive during these attempted writes. R/W performance also halted basically during those events.

At this point, I'm already feeling completely unsafe with this product, but boy was I over-estimating this thing as you'll soon see.

I add another 750 GB that I thoroughly tested before hand for 48 hours using a linux tool called 'badblocks'. Next I pulled the bad one, and the RAID rebuilt fine after 11 hours, as shown below:

Nov 9 08:55:30 INFO RAID status: "FUNCTIONAL". The NS4300N (thegrid) volume "/VOLUME1" is functioning correctly.
Nov 9 08:55:29 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 completed
Nov 9 07:48:18 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 90%
Nov 9 06:41:02 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 80%
Nov 9 05:33:40 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 70%
Nov 9 04:26:24 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 60%
Nov 9 03:19:03 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 50%
Nov 9 02:11:42 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 40%
Nov 9 01:04:26 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 30%
Nov 8 23:42:21 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 20%
Nov 8 22:34:38 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 10%
Nov 8 21:27:00 WARNING Rebuild on array 1 started
Nov 8 21:27:00 WARNING Disk 2 unplugged
Nov 8 21:26:56 WARNING RAID status: "CRITICAL". The NS4300N (thegrid) volume "/VOLUME1" is not functioning correctly.

No more troubles right? Wrong. Several days go by, continuing to move data from older non-raided drives to this unit at a blazing speed of around 5 MB/sec (ha), when all of a sudden the filesystem goes read-only, and won't go back to read-write without a reboot. I could repeat this scenario several times throughout a day. What the heck is wrong with this thing? "Eventlog" say nothing:

Nov 17 19:31:14 INFO System is starting to work.
Nov 17 19:29:11 INFO System is rebooting.
Nov 17 19:04:57 INFO System is starting to work.
Nov 17 19:03:03 INFO System is rebooting.
Nov 17 18:53:39 INFO System is starting to work.
Nov 17 18:51:27 INFO System is rebooting.
Nov 17 18:10:45 INFO System is starting to work.
Nov 17 18:08:46 INFO System is rebooting.

Well, that's not good of the device to not report a problem. Darn it, this thing sucks. I want it fixed, this is a poor quality product. So next I log a case with Promise Support on the web. I get an email back with a case number from an automated system. The case details I put were as follows:

My NS4300N has been giving me trouble lately. I purchased it 16 days ago, running three Seagate 750 GB drives in RAID-5 configuration. One of the 3 drives had bad sectors and was not being failed by the NAS, but I replaced it with a known new good drive (tested with linux util badblocks for over 48 hours), replaced over a week ago. Now I am regularly having problems with the mounted filesystems going Read-Only, however the event log does not show anything. When this happens, my only solution is to reboot the unit, which appears to trigger on restart a filesystem check (longer boot time than a reboot when working fine). I suspect that there are filesystem troubles, but there is no way I can test that or see that. Event log only shows:
.... same as above.....
As you can see from the timestamps, I can pretty readily fail this device.
Please advise.

The next day, I call to check on the status. I am told an engineer will call me back. An hour later one does, I explain what's going on, and he tells me to backup my data and reformat this sucker. Well isn't that just great. I say no, I want to find the problem before I have to do that extreme measure. Frankly, if this can't be fixed any other way, I won't be using this product. He says he can't get into the linux kernel level, and I say find someone who can. The net result is that he closed the case on the me the next day with the following solution:

Case Solution:
Hi, Try moving all the data off the unit and deleting and recreating the array. It might be compromised because of the bad disk. The integrety of the array might be failing. Move the data and delete the array and recreate it so it creates the nfs filesystem over.

Completely unacceptable. Thanks Promise support for closing my case without my ok! Thanks Promise for not investigate my problem! Thanks Promise for providing a useless solution to a problem that may, and probably will, occur again taking my data with it!

With some deduction, and a little help from the web and an exploit, I can pull the "real" dmesg output from this device, something Promise support could not/would not do :

eth0: Link is up
eth0: Flow control is on
EXT3-fs error (device dm-0): ext3_new_block: Allocating block in system zone - block = 247889925
Aborting journal on device dm-0.
EXT3-fs error (device dm-0) in ext3_prepare_write: Journal has aborted
ext3_abort called.
EXT3-fs error (device dm-0): ext3_journal_start_sb: Detected aborted journal
Remounting filesystem read-only
EXT3-fs error (device dm-0) in start_transaction: Journal has aborted
__journal_remove_journal_head: freeing b_committed_data
__journal_remove_journal_head: freeing b_committed_data

This isn't good at all. Either the filesystem has corruption (maybe in the superblocks) or the kernel has bugs. For the former, shouldn't the RAID-5 have protected against this??? Yeah, one would think. Great product, real great product.

Needless-to-say, I'm tossing this lemon. Picking up a RocketRAID for a little more than this thing cost, and running RAID-6 on my own linux, where I'll get useful things like disk-scrubbing, real event logging, and S.M.A.R.T. data, you know, things to actually PROTECT your data.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

OpenWRT notes

Kamikaze issues :

ntpclient package has one minor fatal flaw in /etc/hotplug.d/iface/10-ntpclient :

find the following line :
/usr/sbin/ntpclient -h $hostname -p${port:-123} 2>&- >&-

change to :
/usr/sbin/ntpclient -s -h $hostname -p${port:-123} 2>&- >&-

Otherwise time won't set.

OpenWRT speed tests, TW Cable speeds

Linksys WRT54GS version 1.0

SCP from my laptop (TC4200, WinXP SP2) to two different test servers (Gentoo, 2.6.x kernel);
Transfer size (single file) : ~250 MB
Measured Speed: 2850 KB/sec = 2.78 MB/sec

SCP from server to server :
Transfer size (single file) : 175,088,811
11.1 MB/sec (~15 secs)

Obviously my laptop could use a better network stack somewhere...

Two cable connections, one to HD DVR box (DCT 6416), one to Cable Modem:
low 4.2 Mbps, high 5 Mbps (640.5 KBps), average 4.6 (599 KBps)
One cable connections, to Cable Modem :

Transfer speed on my Time Warner cable : low 5.9 Mbps, high 6.3 Mbps (803.1 KBps), average 6.1 (770 KBps)

3 way splitter 3V-G , cable modem only (3.5 db):
low 3.0
avg 5.0 (638 KB)
high 6.2 (790.7 KB)

3 way splitter Monster, cable modem only (-5.7 db)
low 4.0
avg 5.9 (750 KB)
high 6.2 (794 KB)

Added HD DVR:
avg 5.8 (740 KB)

Cable on :
avg 5.8(738 KB)

Added ReplayTV :
avg 4.2 (535.1 KB)
hi : 5.0
spuradic speeds now

Removed HD DVR :
avg 4.5 (574)

Unplugged ReplayTV cable :
avg 4.5

Disconnected AR cable : back to 6.1
Reconnect AR cable : still at 6.1

Connect AR cable to Cable Modem : 6.1 Mbps

Connect ReplayTV : drop to avg 5.6 (716 KB) - hi 6.0 - 6.4
Connect HD DVR : drop to avg 6.0 (768 KB) - hi 6.4 (813 KB)

ReplayTV record, HD DVR playing : avg 4.8 (611 KB), lo 4.1 (520 KB)

Changed AR Cable to Cable Modem to old standard white cable : avg 4.7 Mbps (598), low 4.5

3 ft AR to RPTV, 1.5 ft to Modem, 4 ft to DVR : 4491 / 465

New 3 splitter (3.5, 7, 7) : 4.5 Mbps
Monster 3 splitter (5.7, 5.7, 5.7) : 4.9

2 way splitter (3.5, 3.5), one to modem, one to 3 way splitter : 4.8, hi 5.0


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

WLTRAY.exe not playing nice..

So, in my infinite wisdom I recently upgraded the Broadcom Wireless Utility to v.6.10A , the latest listed on HP.COM for my TC4200. This little puppy is now a memory hungry beast... at least if you don't reboot frequently. It starts out benign, but gradually eats more and more memory, both "Mem Usage" and "VM Size" increase in 4K increments, for no apparent reason. The reason I noticed even though was Windows popped up a nice little error this afternoon about running short on Virtual Memory, which led me to notice the 196 MB VM usage that this process was using. Restarting the Broadcom Wireless service doesn't help either, as this particular process isn't tied to "stop", only to "start", so in the end I had to kill the process.

I wonder why no one else sees this problem. Why is it always my laptop to have the bizarre issues, such as Windows occasionally returning from Hibernation without the system remaining locked (so much for security!), or Internet Explorer forcing eventual lack of resources (seriously easy for me to repeat VERY quickly). Oh well.

Picture of absurd memory usage to come...

Why does texting cost so much?!?

On my latest bill:
Effective 7/22/07, AT&T will charge $0.25 for text messages sent
from the US to international mobile numbers. With AT&T's NEW
International Text Messaging Package, you can text for as low as
$0.10 per message. Sign up now & save at

Currently it costs me $0.20 to text my international friends. I guess I'm getting too cheap, but this is getting out of hand.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tokyo for Expats

Roppongi :

Hobgoblin (British pub, Formula One shown)
Legends Sports Bar (next to Hobgoblin)
Roppongi 3-16-33, Aoba Roppongi Bldg. 1F. Open 4pm-late (from noon weekends) daily

Belg Aube (Belgian Beer pub)
Roppongi 7-9-2. Open 6pm-2:30am (LO); 6pm-4:30am weekends. Closed Sundays.

Ex (German)

OpenWRT to the rescue

So I've moved to my new apartment in a cooler part of Los Angeles (no more 100+ in the summer), and Time Warner wasn't able to install cable yet due to bad wiring. In the meantime a very helpful neighbor has allowed me to leach off their wifi for some general net access. That's fine for my laptop, but posed a problem for my MythTV boxes which need to pull program guides for the OTA HD recording. The answer to this problem was to convert my Linksys WRT45GS from running the standard firmware to OpenWRT. Next, I wanted to keep my current wireless settings and use my Linksys as the entire entry point for my apartment. The solution can be found here :

OpenWRT seems great so far, I should have done this a long time ago.

Other useful links:

Friday, June 29, 2007

Found a new place...

Moving to Brentwood area next week. Yeah. Westside here I come.

I'll pick up my white Bronco on Monday.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Recent tunes I heard I liked...

Trentemøller: Moan



Music and production by Leonid Rudenko Remixes by Christian Hoff, Mischa Daniels Wendel Kos, Jussi Pollet,

Lyrics and Vocals by Vicky Fee

Mischa Daniels Refunk Mix found On Album CD Pool Club April
Leonid Rudenko Feat. Vicky Fee

Hooray, the water is gone...

Finally fixed. Nuff said.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Yep, more water...

Another bucket full ran into the A/C intake area. Fun. It appears now that we're leaking because our drain pipe is clogged, which everyone else ago feeds into. We had this problem many months ago, and it's back again. *Shrug*

No more water?

Well, my apartment complex service guy figures they have fixed the source of the water leak, and they ripped out our bad carpet today. Looks funny, but at least it's not wet !

Pigs on Parade

So, this actually occurred several weeks ago. While in Seattle, we ventured down to the Pike Place Market to find the following pigs on parade. This is a yearly occurance to raise money and celebrate the Market's centennial (this year).
Copyright 2007 ackster, All rights reserved

Monday, June 18, 2007

My first blog, hell must have frozen over...

I'm not a trend follower, but today I've finally done what I thought I might never do: create a blog. Why? Well, I just came back home from Tokyo today and, as anyone who has been to Japan can testify to, I did a lot of inner thinking due to the sheer lack of English use in the country and more importantly my lack of ability to speak Japanese short of "arigato". Due to the stated inner thinking most of the week, I relieved I needed some sort of outlet for these thoughts lest I become like the imbalanced homeless which inhabit Los Angeles around me (could it be possible they actually hear the rest of us speaking a foreign language? perplexing).

Anyway, and then I came home to be confront the ongoing issue of water leaking into my apartment. This led me to need to document this issue more thoroughly, if not for other potential residents. For now, I won't name this apartment building, at least until I leave at roughly the end of the month, but then its fair game. So, here's the story:

For a fair good time now (year +?) we have been having issues with random little wet spots at the entry-way of our apartment just inside the door. This became progressively worse a little over a month ago, so much so that we have remove everything from the floor in our hall closet, where the water is actually seeping from, via the apartment above. It seems their air conditioning unit is not draining properly and instead of going into the drain line, instead goes into our apartment. Great. We have called our property management many times about this, and while the service guy has looked at it many times, we still have a soaked carpet.... and now it stinks somewhat aweful. Mold must be having a hayday in the carpets there, and I'm sure the inner walls are now starting to form beautiful collections. For posterity, here's some pictures:

The above is the door entry. Now to the closet :

Notice in this picture, the carpet was pulled up by the maintenance guy. That was around 4 weeks ago now, and that carpet has been wet the entire time.

Today, I went up to the office (around 2:30pm PST) and briefly talked with the current office girl. She hurried me out saying she could contact me back. She currently was trying to show off an apartment to several groups of people, and obviously didn't want me airing my residence troubles around potential victims... er residents. It's 5:15pm PST now, and guess what, no call.

And of course, today is a rather warm day here, and all of these mold spores are just waiting for me to turn on MY air conditioner which sucks air right from where all the water is dripping into.

I have to empty this bucket 3 times a day if the neighbor has their A/C on. I'm so delighted.

And so the saga continues for another day. I'm glad I'm moving out of this place. Completely worthless management.