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blog.tuckie » Computing


I was hoping to have a bit more free time now that I’m on my spring semester, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.  I’m currently taking a Unix class and a Database class, and the database class is consuming all of my free time.  Its a hybrid class, which means its part in-class, part online.  Somehow this translates for my teacher as 6 nights of homework in a row, starting tomorrow (so that includes homework due every night of Memorial Day break).

My current projects (that I’m not going to have time for):

  • Figure out what’s wrong with my Xbox (It can’t see the mod chip, but my spare modded xbox reduces motivation).
  • Figure out what’s wrong with my Carputer’s LCD display. The screen goes to standby half the time, I’m hoping its a software problem (hibernation bug maybe?).
  • Run cat5e (correctly, not through the air return) from the basement to upstairs.
  • Terminate previously mentioned cat5e at a patch panel on one end, and at some wall jacks on the other.
  • Clean, then try to fix an OLD oscilloscope that I got from a friend.
  • Continue my nixie clock pipe dream/vaporware.
  • Convince myself to spend money on a HTPC to replace my Xbox setup.

I’ve probably missed something in the list, but oh well.

I’ve made some progress on the clock front at least:DSC_3097

I bought a ethernet shield and have rigged a rtc chip up to it as well.  My plan is to pull information from a NTP server (the basic code for this is working) and set the timezone offset via a web service (that uses the WAN IP).  The user will then be able to tweak all the settings via a web interface.  I’m thinking about just having one button on the clock itself for snooze/dimming/misc functions.

General updates

I haven’t had as much free time as I would like, but the semester is now over, so that’s a good thing. My weekend has been stolen by my parent’s main computer system. It had been acting poorly for quite some time. Now that the semester was over, I decided it was time to do a clean install of windows. It turns out that it was running so poorly in fact, that the backup software wasn’t running–on top of that, the hard drive was dying. Long story short, I was missing only about two weeks of backups, and the files that were placed on the drive during those two weeks, I think I’ve recovered from the main hard drive. Now the computer has a new drive in it (had to go to Best Buy to purchase a SATA drive, as there was only one IDE connector that was taken up by cd drives), and windows is installed (on that note, I hate dealing with SATA chipsets and floppy drives) with all updates. I’m currently copying files off the the external backup drive, and then I have the fun process of figuring out which files are missing from the last two weeks. when dealing with this sort of thing, I recommend DriveImage XML, Acronis True Image*, DiskInternals NTFS Recovery*, and the Ultimate Boot CD. A combination of these tools will generally allow me to get files from point A to point B, and then back to point A. (note * = not free)

When that’s all sorted out, I would like to do a fresh install on my main computer, as it acts a little wonky from time to time. Even further (much further) down the road, a reinstall of windows on my laptop would be nice, as would getting a backup server up and running utilizing some old ide drives, and my 1tb sata drives, configured using LVM or the likes.

As far as nixie goes, I’ve spent some time on the code, and spent a bit more time messing around with Eagle PCB design software, its pretty slick. I’m not nearly as far as I would like to be, but hopefully I’ll have some more time later in the week.

Oh, and some pics from the last month or so of mine:


State of the tuckienet

For anyone who wants to look back to the older posts (or who may have read the older posts already), I’ve gone through quite a few changes in regards to my network setup. The plans on using the Netra fell through (although not hooked up, it is operational), as I ended up running pfsense as my main routing software on an old dell. It’s been going strong for some time now, and handles bit torrent traffic much better than the old wrt54g was able to (it now just serves as an access point). The emachine is, for the time being, out of commission, although it may come back as some form of backup solution. I’m now running Ubuntu on my main server/mythtv box. I had originally went with Knoppmyth for mythtv, as it offered much easier installation configuration process, but now, mythtv is a snap to install, and I actually was able to get it up and running more quickly than with knoppmyth. The server now has 3 main functions: mythtv server, file/media server via samba (aka windows file sharing protocol), and a bit torrent box through a variation of torrentflux. As far as hardware specs go, its a big jump from what I was running. I now have:

  • 80GB system drive
  • 5, 500GB WD RE2 drives in a software raid 5 (via linux’s mdadm), giving me roughly 2TB of storage edit: make that one more drive, so I’m now at 2.5 TB of storage.
  • An Athlon X2 3600+ running at 1.9Ghz
  • 1GB of memory (I’m tempted to upgrade, its so cheap these days)  edit: it’s so cheap, that I did upgrade (although its giving me some spuratic stability issues), currently at 2GB of memory.
  • pvr-150 from my emachine for mythtv

For those interested, the specs of my workstation are:

  • Core2duo, e6400, running at 3.3Ghz (2.1 is stock)
  • 400GB WD RE2 drive
  • 8800 GTS
  • 2GB of Crucial Ballistix
  • EVGA 680i motherboard

Oh, and there’s a gigabit router between server and workstation, as well as a 1500VA ups between the two, as I really don’t feel like parting with 2TB of data a second time (note to others: raid is no excuse for not having a true backup, I know that now).

No matter what your religion is…

…have a merry Christmas.

Its Christmas morning and I have yet to open all of my presents. I’m at my Grandpa’s house and we’re getting ready to leave. A few presents were brought to be opened, including a few books, more Family Guy, Serenity, and my free iPod Shuffle (I signed up for a credit card, they send you a shuffle). The shuffle is a pretty neat piece of hardware–minus the lack of a screen. I’ll probably just use it for podcasts and data, although I’m a bit turned-off at the lack of a plug and play podcast sync for the shuffle (it appears to only work on the regular iPod, although it would be nice if someone told me otherwise).

I’ve managed to keep myself busy here thanks to an access point that the neighbors were kind enough to leave open ;). I don’t even need my cantenna.

PVR Decisions

Well, I’ve decided to just go ahead and purchase a TV tuner (a pvr-150) to use with MythTV. Down the road I may rig it to a cable box as well, but for now just recording the main channels will be good enough.

I have installed MythTV on the Emachine, and it seems to be pretty slick, although for some reason Myth Weather isn’t working. The install itself was very painless, it was up and running in less than 10 minutes.

PVR Annoyances

‘ve been looking for a good use for the e-machine that I picked up on black Friday. My original intent was to use it as a firewall/router/etc running windows server 2003. That idea was shot down after it refused to boot after running windows update. I’ll probably just end up installing Smoothwall on my old dell.

My next idea was to use it as a cheap pvr running MythTV. It seems doable enough, except for the fact that I wouldn’t be able to record my digital channels. Looking more into just got me more aggravated, due to the fact that the only viable option seemed to be recording through the cable box (which happens to suck). Then, the idea of HDTV hit me, and I remembered that charter has it. When I had looked up HDTV a while back it was like eight dollars a month, and my parents didn’t think that it was worth it. Going to charter’s site, I noticed that it was now only $3 a month! This was definitely a much more interesting proposition. HD cable boxes have a firewire out that i could hook up to a computer to record to (in theory). I have to look more into it, but it sure looks tempting.

A Sunny day (I’ve got to stop using the word day…)

I got the two hard drives for the Netra in the mail today and have begun the process of installing Solaris 10. The initial attempt was a bit shaky, I had to figure out how do format and partition the disks. Now I’m just waiting for the final disk to finish downloading so that I can get the install wrapped up.

The server is a bit louder than I had initially anticipated, I’m not sure what my final plan will be. I’m debating either putting it in the basement, or just throwing it into a cabinet in my room and hoping for the best. Another (distant) thought would be the possibility of making some sort of sound baffle out of wood (AKA, a wooden enclosure). I’ll take some pictures of it and post them when I get a chance. In the meantime, does anyone have any suggestions for what I should run on the server?

Oh…and btw: SUN OF A–the download just errored due to lack of disk space, it has to start over at the beginning!@#$%

Sun Netra

I should be getting the new Power Supply for the Netra today. Hopefully that’s the only thing wrong with it. If so, I’ll hop on E-bay and pick up an SCA drive to slap in. I plan on using it as a router/fileserver/hotspot/something. I have never really messed with anything Sun before, so it should be a great learning experience ;).

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