Backup now!

I’ve read several blog posts recently about people having major harddrive failures or other hardware problems and losing data. Loads of data. Metric asstons of personal, important, completely unreplaceable data. So I’m taking these stories as fair warning, and not waiting for a crash of my own. I started building a backup server.

Just happened to be at Fry’s last weekend (surprise, eh?) and they had 200 GB harddrives for what seemed like a good price, roughly the same as online (before shipping). So I bought two. Not planning ahead cost me another trip back to geekmart for a pair of fans and couple round ATA cables. I could have used some extra mounting brackets too, but I still wasn’t thinking too hard I guess .. brain sometimes shuts off for the weekend, you know.

I made room in the case for the two new drives and crammed ’em in. Buttercup (the fastest Linux server in the house .. Natalie named it 😉 ) now has four harddrives and a DVD burner. I had to buy a PCI ATA133 controller last time I bought a drive, since it was bigger than the motherboard could handle. This time I had to reenable the onboard IDE controller to get all that working at the same time.

Once the thing was physically configured, I booted back into Debian and setup the new drives as a single 200GB RAID1 volume. Easier than I was expecting .. @apt-get install [email protected] and a few @[email protected] commands, plus some config files to make it show up after a reboot.

Next step is to get some backup scripts running on the other machines living in the house. Probably some combination of @[email protected] and @[email protected], depending on which files I’m backing up.
Speaking of CVS, this “@[email protected] plugin for Vim”: is quite nice .. makes it nice and easy to commit to CVS as you’re editing a file.

I’m also in the process of dumping (and reorganizing) all the pictures and music I have onto the RAID drive. A while ago, I made a DVD backup of all the digital (and digitzed analog) photos we have, but burning discs is annoying enough that I don’t do it as often as I should. Hopefully the RAID1 will help fill in the gaps.

(later): Continuing with the nerdery, I got some new RAM today also. First, some background: buttercup’s mainboard is the (unrecommendable) K7S5A Pro from ECS. My main reason for purchasing it was the two sets of RAM slots – it accepts PC100 or DDR memory. This allowed me to upgrade to a faster chip (Athlon) while not having to spend money on new RAM. Unfortunately, the slow old stuff limits the speed at which I can (safely) run the chip, effectively forcing me to underclock the thing. This was still more powerful than whatever system I was replacing at the time, so I was happy. But now that I have the PC2700 RAM I can finally unlock this Athlon’s true potential.

* Old BogoMIPS count: 2605.05.
* New BogoMIPS count: 3465.21

Is this what you would call fast? Maybe. Definitely faster .. feels speedy anyway.

That’s probably enough geeking for one weekend .. time to go do something productive 😉

Radio Free Spoon lives!

it’s teh podcast!

The words “Radio Free Spoon” first popped into my head in my freshman year at TAMU. I wanted to set up a tiny “pirate” radio station and broadcast music to my dorm. I settled for using shoutcast and streaming mp3s to anyone on campus who wanted to listen (about 3 people, I think).

Now, I actually have an FM transmitter in the house, broadcasting music and other random audio from a Linux-and-mpd-powered jukebox to all the radios in our house (and probably some of our neighbors’ houses .. but don’t tell them that 😉 ).
I call this little setup Radio Free Spoon.

Now with all this “podcasting” going on, I might as well re-use the name again.
So here’s a Radio Free Spoon podcast. I’ve been recording “stuff” for a long time .. I played with tape recorders as a kid. For the last year or so, I’ve been capturing lots of sounds with a minidisc recorder. My new iAudio mp3 player can record straight to its harddrive. Maybe someone else out there wants to hear some of these sounds.

For now, I’m using to post stuff to the podcast
I’m tagging them as radiofreespoon
You get only the mp3s by adding another tag: radiofreespoon+system:media:audio
Or there’s the actual RSS feed for radiofreespoon+system:media:audio, suitable for podcasting. or “podcatching” .. whatever.
You can also find RFS here on Odeo.

I posted two mp3’s to start. One is The Texas A&M Singing Cadets doing the national anthem before an Aggie baseball game. The second is the Bruce Campbell recording I posted earlier.
Who knows what else I’ll post. I’m open to suggestions …

fun (yet productive) weekend

Having done most of our summer travelling last month, we’ve been staying in town the past few weekends. This does not mean we haven’t been busy. We finally bought some patio furniture on Saturday morning .. although, with all the (much needed and anticipated) rain we haven’t had much chance to use it. Also made a trip down to Waterloo Records .. picked up some CDs as presents and some for us (ok, me 🙂 ).

  • The Album Leaf – In a Safe Place : came highly recommended from many sources. This was the one new CD I bought this time. Sounds really great, well worth it .. kind of mixture of Sigur Ros and Dntel
  • Ana Egge – Mile Marker : saw her open for Dar Williams when were in Maryland, which is funny because she was living in Austin at the time. I was suspecting she might be one of those performers who just sounds so great when you see them live, but once you go buy the CD you just can’t figure out what was so cool. (Howie Day was like this for me .. he was great at Austin City Limits last year, so I bought the CD the same day .. and it just didn’t feel like the same sound … so I downloaded a recording of the same show off 🙂 closer, but still not the same as the live show ) Anyway .. from what I’ve listened to so far, I was wrong about Ms. Egge – she still sounds good when recorded ..
  • Badly Drawn Boy – Hour of Bewilderbeast : I’d heard and enjoyed the first track, Shining, but nothing else .. Natalie spotted this one in the used bin, so why not 🙂 not bad so far

ok, enough music talk for now 😉

We also snagged a copy of the new HP book .. I managed to read the first four chapters before Natalie got to it. Which, I think, was Sunday evening. And she’s finished now. It’ll take me at least another week once I get back to it .. I read slow 🙂

The rain was a good excuse to avoid yardwork. Also, it much improved the conditions for crawling around in the usually insanely hot attic. So up I went. The house rewiring has begun! I strung an ethernet cable (yes, just one for now) between the loft (where the cable modem is plugged in along with the hacked wrt54g) and the front bedroom (where all the computers are), thus eliminating the need for a wireless link between mythbox and router. Also, enabling the relocation of the elderly mailserver from the loft back to the front room. And the vonage voip box is in a better location too.

Next step is stringing more coax for video distribution-y goodness. Next time it rains maybe .. or in December 😉

Much movie watching activity over the weekend also: Bewitched and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (finally) .. and also Bruce Almighty on Monday. All very entertaining movies on very different levels.

Natalie blogs!

Natalie (the lovely wife) has a blog now … scary nifty, eh? She’s outposting me at this rate .. 5 in the last 2 weeks (I think the date on the first post is wrong). Her’s will probably be more interesting, too .. unless you like hearing me complain about the inaccuracy of my cell phone clock or bragging about how old my email backups are .. 😉

Also, you may’ve noticed Natalie mention that she has the iPod now … more on that later, as well as other recent acquisitions and planned acquisitions.


Last Tuesday I met Bruce Campbell. woo! Quite nifty, indeed. 🙂 He has a new movie out, Man with the Screaming Brain, which he directed. (You should be able to catch it on the SciFi channel soon, but for now it’s in theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse.) Also, he has a new book out, Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way. So he was there, at the Alamo last Tuesday, signing books and introducing his movie, and a friend was cool enough to know about it way in advance and get some tickets. So we went to see Bruce and his book and his movie. (click through for audio and picture(s))
Continue reading “Bruce(s)!”