I am absorbed by two different real-life projects these days, both with due dates in close succession, so I’ll apologize for the gaps over the past few days, and the gaps that are sure to follow over the coming week.
But just because I haven’t updated doesn’t mean things haven’t changed around the house.
Probably most significant is the departure of my treasured Thinkpad, which you might remember had burst free of its earthly bonds and went from pristine antique to worthless junk in the space of about 15 seconds.
I made a few obligatory attempts to recover the damage, but the plastic bezel and frame were literally crumbling every time I touched it. Releasing pressure on the lid caused the opposite hinge to twist and make matters worse.
It was a little bit sad because I had a very strong affection for that machine, but after a while it became clear I was doing more damage than good. The power bracket was coming free of the motherboard and the bezel was shredding into pieces, and I called it quits.
I scavenged the memory and the hard drive, and put the shell and the remainder out for recycling.
So the king is dead, long live the king. Of course that does mean that three major tasks around the house now have to be delegated to other machines: Download slave, in-house server and music playback.
The first two are easy enough to foist onto another computer, which I immediately did. I was whining the other day about how there didn’t seem to be any work for the 133Mhz Pentium I brought home for salvage, but now suddenly it is a ship-of-the-line.
So it takes over two major tasks — file hosting and downloading — and because it can handle CardBus PCMCIA cards, it is living in the closet, using the erstwhile quirky ath5k-based network card to download 24/7 over wireless. Much like the old 600m did.
Those two chores require almost no effort, even from a Pentium. At peak upload and download, processor strain is a meager 68 percent, with only 10Mb of its 32Mb of memory used, plus scattered swap use. No problem.
So that is solved. As far as music playback, that has fallen to the X60s recently, which I don’t like doing but I’m willing to sacrifice.
Why? No reason. It’s just a very minor chore that can be handled with something far less powerful, so it seems a tiny bit of a waste to use a rather powerful machine to handle it.
After about a week of use, I went ahead and mirrored the system and set it to work thrashing away at the card. I looked into several different “drive testing” suites, but few would run on such a lowly machine.
In the end I used dban with the most outrageous settings I could find — kernel entropy with Mersenne Twister for DoD 5220.22 M and verify on all passes over 99 rounds, if you want to know — and set it loose.
It’s been running for a day or two now, and if my primitive math skills are correct, it is promising to keep writing and reading and writing and reading for the next month or so, if I let it.
Which I probably won’t. The idea is to try to degrade the card, if that’s possible … not consume my entire life waiting for it to finish, and mounds of electricity at the same time. Science, yes. Science fiction, no.
Finally, the side effect of all these machines dying, and hard drives being replaced with CF cards, and machines getting upgrades, is that I actually have three or four conventional hard drives lying around, all blank and needing attention.
I keep a 120Gb IDE drive in a USB enclosure as a matter of course, and most of my files and Clonezilla’d systems are on that. Now I have a second one: the original SATA drive out of the X60s, which also has an enclosure.
But three more are now just lying around, preventing dust from crashing into the floor. I’ll have to write a post entitled, “Things to do with an old hard drive” … 🙄