Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Month: October, 2009

How to replace the internal hard-drive in an Imation Apollo 500GB 2.5″ portable hard-drive

A few months ago I got an Apollo 500GB 2.5″ portable hard-drive from Imation. It’s nice and compact and I used it to store movies, music and other random crap. About a month ago I was trying to copy a few files onto the device when I noticed that operation was extremely slow. It was so slow that it was pretty much unusable. I wanted to test it out and see what the problem was, but I got busy with work and also my parents were visiting and so I was flying to California almost every weekend. When I finally got around to testing it out, I found that I couldn’t even mount the drive properly now. I could neither do it in Windows 7 nor in Ubuntu 9.04. Ubuntu would recognize the drive and it also saw that there was a partition on there, but other than that it wouldn’t do anything. I tried to use gparted to format it, but it wouldn’t even show up there. In Windows 7, I used Computer Management and when to Drive Manager. Intially the drive wouldn’t show up, but after unmounting and remounting it a few times, it finally showed up. I deleted the existing partition, made a new one, and then tried to format it. The format never finished; it was taking far too long. I then tried to format it in Ubuntu and this time gparted saw the drive, but it was unable to format it as well. I suspected that it might have some hardware issues (which is strange, because it’s not like I used it in a rough manner. Imation should probably make their drives tougher!) and so I tried to run some SMART tests on it. Ubuntu’s smartmontools doesn’t support USB drives. But on Windows, I used a trial version of ArgusMonitor to test the drive. As I suspected, there were a whole bunch of errors. Many sectors were unreadable and Argus suggested that I back-up all data immediately. I didn’t have much data on there anyway and so I figured the drive was pretty much toast. Then for kicks I wondered if I could replace the internal hard-drive. It’s basically a 2.5″ SATA hard-drive and I had an extra one lying around, and so I decided to see if I could replace the hard-drive.
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Flu shot and bizarre network issues

This last weekend I had drill and the medics gave us the seasonal-flu mist-vaccine. It’s the one where they squirt gooey, inactive virus up your nose. I’ve had the vaccine before without any adverse side-effects. Yeah, not this time. I got the shot on Saturday and I was fine on Sunday. Not so on Monday. I woke up a few times in the middle of the night with a bit of a fever, but I figured that it would just go away. Yeah, didn’t happen. On Monday morning I felt like I had been run over by a semi. My throat felt like I had swallowed bits of broken glass. Needless to say, I didn’t go to work. I was bedridden most of the day, but towards the end I felt a little better. I tried to get a little work done but I wasn’t too successful since I had a hard time concentrating.
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Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) and Windows 7 dual-boot

In my previous post I talked about the problems I had while installing Ubuntu and Windows 7 on my Alienware m7700 laptop. It took me about three days of hair-pulling before I was finally able to get it to work. First, I burnt a new copy of the ISO for Ubuntu 9.04. Then, I enabled RAID on my system. I put the disks into stripe mode (the FastTrak Promise 378 does not support JBOD). This time, I got past the COMRESET error (ata3: COMRESET failed (errno=-16)) and was able to boot into the LiveCD. However, my joy was short-lived. The install would terminate (around the 40% mark) with the following message:

[Errno 5] Input/output error

This is often due to a faulty CD/DVD disk or drive, or a faulty hard disk. It may help to clean the CD/DVD, to burn the CD/DVD at a lower speed, to clean the CD/DVD drive lens (cleaning kits are often available from electronics suppliers), to check whether the hard disk is old and in need of replacement, or to move the system to a cooler environment.

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Ubuntu and Win7 problems

Yesterday I decided to reformat my Alienware m7700 Area-51 machine. It’s supposedly a laptop, but it’s actually a beast and it has a power supply that emits as much power as a small nuclear plant. Anyway, I put in a 500Gb and a 120Gb drive, with the 120Gb as a slave. The machine comes with a RAID controller (Promise SATA 378 TX2), but I have it turned off and in ATA mode. Win7 installed fine; the only problem I have is with the sound. My front speakers in my quadraphonic setup refuse to work. It’s strange. I even have the latest drivers from Creative for my Audigy2 ZS Notebook. It used to work fine before.

I figured I’d solve that problem later and decided to install Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) on the 500Gb drive. The LiveCD boots up fine, but when I try to actually try out the LiveCD or even try to install Ubuntu, it fails. Everything hangs after this message:

ata3: COMRESET failed (errno=-16)

After searching on the internets, it seems to be a RAID controller issue and a fix exists in the kernel. So I don’t know why I still have the problem. If anyone knows of a solution, please let me know! I’m going to keep working on the problem and see if I can solve it.

Qwest charges a “setup fee” for static IP’s

Two weeks ago, I finally got my DSL upgrade from a measly 3Mbps to a whopping (for me) 12Mbps. I have been on 3Mbps since 2004, and the difference is amazing. I’m able to stream HD quality stuff from Netflix all the time! Qwest set me up with an Actiontec Q1000 router/modem, which as far as routers go, is not that great. But it does the job… somewhat. My previous modem (also from Qwest) would let me grab multiple IP’s from Qwest if I had it plugged into a switch (every machine that was plugged into that switch got an IP from Qwest’s pool). However, the Actiontec is different. Since it’s a router, it basically just enables DHCP and gives you an address. This was a problem for me because I have three machines that face the outside world and I use DynDNS so that I can access them. The router does some port-mapping, but that wasn’t an option. Since my website was my top priority, I set it up in a DMZ and figured that I could access the other two machines through my webserver, so no big deal. But yeah, didn’t work completely. DynDNS uses the modem’s IP for my webserver. I can access my website without any problem, from the outside world. But if I try to get to it from within my network, I end up at the Actiontec’s configuration page. Stupid. So eventually I just decided to get some static IP’s. The price was pretty reasonable: a block of 8 for $14.99 a month. Then I saw the setup fee: $50. Seriously? FIFTY dollars to set up a block of IP addresses? Read the rest of this entry »

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