A few days ago, of course right before the “Money Back Guarantee” expired on our G-RAID 8TB Time Machine drive at work both my S3 and I were battling with a rather nasty pernicious bug that was plaguing this device on our new fancy Mac Pro Server running OSX Mountain Lion.
The problem was this, you plug the drive in, using Firewire 800 and Time Machine sees it and starts backing up files. That works just fine. After say 1TB of files get backed up Time Machine works gamely for about three or four hours and then the drive suddenly goes deaf. What I mean is that the drive is still connected, the icon is on the Desktop, but you can’t do anything with it. It gives you a fusillade of meaningless errors, vague ones like “Unspecified error with file system” and the like and Time Machine is stuck and can’t do anything at all with the drive. It’s not really a headache for us currently because the server is brand-spanking-new, but still, it’s a concern for us. You have to eject the drive, and not a plain eject either, but a Force Eject. When you move it to another computer and plug it in and do a fsck on the drive everything pans out fine. Everything is hunky-dory, journal is fine, structures are peachy, the works. So annoying.
So off to Google we go. Turns out there MIGHT be a bug in the “Turn off Hard Drives when possible” in the Energy Saver preference pane in System Preferences. This strikes me as a wee bit of bullshit, the drive should go to sleep and wake up elegantly like anything connected to a Mac should (and almost always does!) so, fine, turn that off. Testing. Ah, failed. So next stop was to try to irritate the drive with constant actions. To that end I created a script:
So what this script does is touch, which is a Unix command in the Mac that just runs out and accesses a file, it’s size is zero, it just runs the most basic of file operation on a drive. If you touch a file on a sleeping drive, it should wake it up. If the drive is counting down until it goes to sleep, this operation will reset that counter. Then the entire thing takes a nap for a minute and does it again, and it does it over and over forever.
We tried that, and still ended up with a failed Time Machine backup and a drive that’s gone deaf. The exact error you get in Time Machine is “com.apple.backupd: Error: (22) setxattr for key:com.apple.backupd.HostUUID … ” So, still no solution to our problems. We finally figured out what the silver bullet was, and it came from an unexpected source. We added the G-RAID drive to the Privacy pane of Spotlight in the System Preferences on the server and voilà! Magical solution!
Since I did that, the drive has been working happily since I made the change, it’s been about a week. My working theory is that mds (which runs the Spotlight service) either locks a file or does something sneaky with this extended attribute on the HostUUID object and that, somehow, ruins access for the entire file system on that drive. It’s not that the file system is damaged, it’s just not working.
So, where’s the bug? Is it in mdsworker, mds itself, backupd (Time Machine), Firewire 800, the Firewire 800 cable, or the G-RAID drive? The answer is a definitive YES. Somewhere. Something is causing it and the only solution seems to keep mds’s muddy hands to itself and pester the drive every minute with a meaningless file operation via touch.
The upside is the damn thing works, so we’ll keep going with it until it stops working. I wish there was something clearer than this Error 22 from backupd to go on, but alas, this seems to be a valid workaround and frankly I don’t really need Spotlight to go futzing about on the drive anyways. There won’t be any searching done on it anyhow, just the indexing that Time Machine needs and that’s it.
I guess in the end, all’s well that ends well.
Several days ago, on May 24th I left work and headed home, on my usual path which takes me right through the center of Kalamazoo. I drive down East Michigan Ave headed east towards Eastwood, towards Kalamazoo Township where my home is. I’ve taken this path countless times and on a lark I had the roof of my car wide open and I was stopped at the light where East Michigan and Edwards Streets meet, waiting for the signal to turn. While I was waiting in traffic I idly looked up through the roof and I noticed a building, 275 East Michigan Ave. It was a plain building, tan with red highlights and I didn’t think anything of it until I noticed something unusual about it:
Wha? Hugh J. McHugh 1885. He was someone important as his name was etched into the façade, on a nameplate of all things. This started me thinking. I knew that there were several notable McHugh’s, they had migrated to Chicago and I had a hunch that that family started MCHUGH construction which has been a part of several roadway projects in the city of Chicago. Just the idea that there might be someone with my last name in Kalamazoo isn’t really a huge surprise. Is he a relation of mine, other than his last name? I don’t know. But I did some research on him anyways and added him to my MCHUGH tree on Ancestry.com just for shits and giggles. He’s just an island at the moment as I can’t connect him to anyone in my family tree at all, at least not yet.
This is what I know of Hugh. He was 45 years old in 1880, he was in the US Federal Census in 1880 in Kalamazoo Michigan. He worked as a stone mason and later on he was appointed or elected to “Alderman” in Kalamazoo. I don’t know if the aldermen were elected or appointed. He was also the subject of a Michigan Supreme Court decision, thanks to some documents I found at UMICH online. Something about a law in 1885 and a bond for mechanical something or other. He was married to Ann McHugh (Willson), she was 53 and was a Housekeeper. Rosa, their eldest child and daughter was 17 and worked as a “Servant”, Thomas was 15 and a Painter, Joseph was 11 and listed as “At Home” and they all lived with their maternal grandmother Sarah Willson who was 84 and stayed at home.
One curious little extra bit which I found remarkable was that in the Michigan Supreme Court case, a name shows up, Oscar T. Tuthill. I saw the name and just giggled. Tuthill is a name on my maternal grandfathers side of my family. So, we’ve got McHugh’s and Tuthill’s in Kalamazoo (or Lansing probably for Tuthill), something interesting to knock around at least.
It’s a surprise to see your family name carved in stone and on a building that has been there for 128 years.
I’ve gone as far as I can with Ancestry as I don’t have a paid account. It’s interesting and when I have some spare time maybe I can find the archivist at WMU and make some inquiries there. They’ve got stuff dating back to this period and more.
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland.
What are the six impossible things you believe in? (If you can only manage one or two, that’s also okay.)
I have lived too long and witnessed too much inexplicability to not believe in astrology, Tarot cartomancy, and the subtle presence of magic in our world. It’s always a soft arrival too, if you try to force it or put it under a spotlight it evaporates as if it was never there. I don’t think that any of it will ever be in any way “explainable” by science. These things really can only be apprehended by faith. When I write of faith, I don’t really mean religion. I’ve always found religion to be stultifying and so I try to live without it as much as I can. The faith for these impossible things has been borne out by event after event where upon reflection the accuracy of all of it, any of it, is utterly remarkable.
I even run into it in my workplace. I have lost count of the number of times I have received notices from my coworkers that the systems that I support have failed them. When I walk in, even just walking by, the problems appear to evaporate. It’s just my presence that seems to do it and after a while you start to notice this remarkable phenomena and after a while I got to thinking that one possible explanation is that my office is beset by gremlins, brownies, manitou, or domovoi, or they are all there and acting in collusion with each other. I fancy that my presence scares them off and so the technical systems that I support, when I use them, work perfectly fine for me pretty much all the time, but when my coworkers try to use them, it’s a crapshoot for them. Until I appear, and then it’s back to being perfectly fine. I suppose there might be a more rational explanation about why this is, perhaps something to do with my bioelectric field or something subtle and clever and measurable like that – but I prefer to live in a world where everything is slightly tinted by the mayhap of the hidden world of magic. I select to live with a world that is enriched by tiny mysteries, because living in a world where everything is a field, particle, or wave is just too banal and bankrupt for my ability to endure such a stark emptiness. I think, for me, it comes down to the hidden pleasure that comes from the doubt that we may all live in a world more complicated and wonderful than we can ever possibly know and more complicated and wonderful than we will *ever* be able to know. I find value in that little layer of maybe that hides right underneath the surface of our mundane world. Skeptics and debunkers would claim that all of this is so much fantasy and magical thinking and that it doesn’t serve any purpose other than to encourage ignorance and the folly of a false make-believe world. In response to them, I embrace the bunkum. If you can’t prove it really isn’t there, then what is the harm of belief? Wouldn’t it be a right hilarity that the world is exactly the way I think it is, a mechanical universe with a touch of mystery overlaid on top of it. You could swap out magic with God and then Voltaires comment that there is no proof for God doesn’t mean you shouldn’t believe in him, on the off chance that he does really exist. Perhaps magic really does exist.
Impossible things are important.
While working I wrote a little bit of SQL, trash really because it was just a one-shot query, real short too, and I wanted to show off the SQL code for making the iModules degree info pretty. Instead of clicking open, I clicked the save button. I found the file I thought I was opening and double-clicked. The computer asked me “Are you sure you want me to save using this file, overwriting the old file?” and I absent-mindedly clicked Yes.
The little useless fragment of SQL code replaced my huge SQL script. Boom. All gone. So sorry.
So then I was thinking about how I could recover the file, that it was on my laptop at home and so if I could turn off the Wifi at home and start my laptop I could copy the file before the Dropbox sync app replaced what I needed with my mistake.
But then I thought there should be something in Dropbox that helps address my stupidity. Turns out there is. Right click on your oops file, click on “View Previous Versions” and it opens a website and shows you all the previous times you saved your file on the service. Oh look, there’s all my hard work, right there. Click. Whew!
So, how much do I love Dropbox? Even more.
Yesterday was a lost day. Absolutely no traction. I got stuck in the quagmire of web development. The project was quite straightforward, I wanted to create a form that could hold information, text, checkboxes, dates, lists you could check. Then I wanted to cast these forms as blog posts that could be commented on, tracked, just like I do on SupportPress. I naively thought this would be easy. Hah. WordPress ate hours wallowing in custom post type hell, then template hell. I gave up on that. Then I turned to Drupal, what a mess that is! It’s worse than Perl! Thousands of crisscrossed resources, some only work with older versions, some only with newer versions. What a headache. I thought I could force a bug-tracking system to bend to my will and so tried Mantis. That pretty much killed the last dregs of my day. What a mess.
So since there was no easy path, my investment was zero dollars and I really don’t care to slog around with struggling with web development I just abandoned the entire thing. There was a system called Gravity Forms for WordPress but it was $$$ and I couldn’t be sure that it would have worked and didn’t want to sink money into a solution that would probably not be adopted anyways.
But at least now I know. That area of web development is a mess. Bleh.
I sent three old iPhone 4’s to e-Cycle for recycling, they had a relatively good buy-back rate for the old devices. Of the three that I sent, only one was accepted. The other two were shredded and I got nothing for them, other than the vague satisfaction that the hazardous materials in them were recycled, probably.
I can’t really blame the company, it’s all there in black and white. Don’t send phones with active lines on them. Oops, that was my fault, but after hearing that they had this problem I thought I could just go into Verizon’s site and mark the lines as suspended. That didn’t do the trick. So the phones were summarily destroyed and recycled. I think that’s the part I don’t get, the rush to obliteration. Then again, I do get it, it’s a company trying to maximize all their angles and this is a rather convenient angle. It strikes me that they could have simply shipped the phones back to me or perhaps told me that my attempt at suspend didn’t work. Instead, they took the silent and cheap way out – shred the phones and mark the Unit Price as $0.00.
So, do I do business with e-Cycle in the future? I don’t know. I have learned my lesson at least, a phone you haven’t used in six months may still have a line on it. I don’t think I’ll be doing any further business with e-Cycle. It’s not because of anything overtly naughty, but just the sense that they didn’t care to even get back to me after I tried to disconnect the lines – that haste to simply shred and zero-balance fills me with doubt as to whether I got a fair shake on that deal, or not. I’m thinking not. While it wasn’t against any of the fine print, it did leave a rather bitter taste in my mouth, and I did learn a lot dealing with them, so perhaps in the end, it was good for everyone. I got a lesson, they lost a customer, and I’m wiser next time.
Now, to see if e-Cycle has any competitors.
UPDATE: They do have competitors, so at least there is a wide field available. Also turns out that the reports of the devices shredding were perhaps premature. They were found in a box, waiting for Verizon to disconnect them, since I sent that little nugget to Verizon today, it may take a bit for those devices to register as disconnected. I’ll update more as events unfold.
Since Sage dropped the hot potatoes it was juggling, this yearly pilgrimage is now utterly laughable and irrelevant. Not only will I not go to Washington, DC in the pit of Summer but I will definitely not be going to another Gaylord property. Those “resorts”, especially the abomination in Nashville Tennessee is a crime against humanity and an insult against nature.
My “most favored thing” today that I will do is to click the Unsubscribe button to all Sage communications. My interest drops like wet trousers around the ankles of my professional disgust. Tootles!
Mondays are always the same. Doubly this way after my week long vacation in Rock Hill, SC to see family. Work just piles up because I ignore it. This was the first vacation in a rather long while when I went for almost all of it without having to think about work, so it ended up being a true vacation. I so rarely get them, I hardly know what to do when they happen this way. There was something wonderful about coming back from a long time away into a weekend as well. It let me get a grip on the daily flow much easier than if we got back late on Sunday and then dived headlong into the week after that. Those sorts of times feel too rushed.
That being said, I can’t really get rah-rah about traveling again for a while. Going places and doing things is fun of course, but there is a distinct part of me that values some time to just not do anything. A day reading, or catching up on my news, or something like that. Puttering about the house – not having to drive somewhere, buy something, do stuff, sometimes that just bothers me.
These next few weeks will be rough and tumble, at least financially. But I can make it, one step at a time if I’m careful.