So, near the end of July, I started investigating (once again) on replacing my HP Photosmart 8450xi (which was now over 8 years old....bought it on June 30th, 2005 - Back from Vacation Tech Buying Spree?...setup on July 9th, 2005 - link
I had started looking some time before this, but was put off for a bit due to my experiences with the Brother DCP-7065DN -- link, since it seemed most of the choices out there were GDI and I'm moving to more and more heavily FreeBSD as my primary operating system.
Especially since it appears that 'box' finally called it quits on December 2nd, before I had started my journey home from Chicago TARDIS that day....and orac is inching close to its end, as the pair of ST2000DL003's which evidently only had 1 year warranties from June/September 2012 started going shortly into the new year. I was trying to use ddrescue to force sector remapping on the first drive, when the other drive has decided to vanish permanently. I had thought it was was DM's that had 1 year and DL's that had 5 years, perhaps I had it backwards....or its a question of when I purchased them, or how they were packaged.
Checking my order history, I purchased one drive on June as a bare drive and later in September as a retail kit. I haven't yet pulled the drives, so I can't look up the serial number for the vanished one, but Seagate's website says the one that is responding is out of warranty. Even if the other drive is still under warranty, not sure I want to deal with getting it exchanged for a refurb to create a solo 2TB drive. Can't think of not wanting raid given what I'll likely use it for. And, not sure I'd buy a different 2TB drive to be its mate (and it won't work with my other 2TB arrays, since its an advanced format 2TB drive...while the lraidz2 pool on zen used legacy format 2TB drives (which limits options of growing it non-destructively.)
Fortunately, I had copied one of the big volumes from it over to zen (along they way it got corrupted, so had been trying to copy it back from zen when the other drive died). And, files of the other volume (my pyTiVo store) should all be in backup, where I don't have space on zen to restore them yet.... I have pyTiVo on zen, but the content under it is different...and larger, so much that it is currently not being backed up. I haven't gotten made much progress on building the second backup server....guess I'll need to look at this sooner than later.
And, now it seems the other 2TB RAID-1 array on orac is dying. I just went ahead and failed the drive that was giving it issues. Not sure what to do with it...suppose I could try ddrescue on it and see what happens. The big volume on it had also been copied over to zen, so guess I'll update my HSTi's to point to zen instead of orac for their content. Another used to be for Time Machine backups, but I had moved that over to zen when I set up the new work laptop to do Time Machine backups on my home network. I was using that space as overflow from pyTiVo. And, another was for backups of various things, which I had stopped adding to as new backups are going to zen now. Its things like regular backups of my websites at dreamhost and 1and1, my router configs, serial console servers, and some other backups. I was also replicating some directories on zen to orac as backup (left over from when zen was a Windows 7 PC....which saved me from losing everything when it scrambled itself.)
But, back to my printer quest.
Like I do every year, I bought TurboTax Premier Federal + E-File + State 2012 as a PC Download from Amazon.com back on Jan 18th, in part due to sale email from TurboTax. But, probably should've waited, because its cheaper now. Not sure why PC download is so similar in price to buying PC/Mac package. And, wasn't sure if I would still be on a PC.
In fact, I haven't had a physical Windows machine for almost 10 months now. Last year I did my taxes in a Windows XP VirtualBox VM on orac, since I had evolved to running Quicken in different XP VirtualBox VMs and using Dropbox to house my Quicken datafile. My first XP VM was on my laptop....and I spent part of Gallifrey One 2011 getting Quicken up and running in that VM and recovering my Quicken data. Where it seemed the best place to put the file was in my Dropbox. Have since adjusted things to make that work better to mostly cope with the locking issues between Quicken and Dropbox. I set up the one on orac which is where I did 'Windows' for about 9 months, and still use on occasion due to the lack of USB 2.0 support for VirtualBox on FreeBSD.
Though on zen, I have a Windows 7 VM (and still own another Windows 7 copy that I don't know where I'm going to put to use, just as I have a couple copies of XP still...been planning to put the 64-bit XP one into a VM on zen...but it hasn't happened yet.) Perhaps when I finally do get my Mac, I'll use some copies there.
Anyways...I would fire up TurboTax now and then, to see it get updates. Always thought it strange that after it said it was done that it would say that it was restarting TurboTax, but not. So, I never did more than see what updates it was getting.
But, I had intended to start my taxes last weekend...where DST began, though that turned out to be a bit of a weird weekend so I didn't get to it. I had actually intended the weekend before DST, but that also didn't pan out. But, seems tradition has been 2nd or 3rd weekend of March lately.... It is also for some reason the weekend that they always bring down HRIS for upgrades. As it happened this year, I did want to go on there and check something....
So, Friday night at 10pm I fired up TurboTax to see what updates, there were a lot. Been kind of unsettling lately...especially after the IRS Notice I got last year, which I dealt with using the services of Tax Resources...but it might have been a variation of a TurboTax bugs -- "Federal 2010: Customers with certain 1099-R retirement distribution codes" or "Federal 2010: Qualified Pension Conversion and Rollover" -- so I probably should've gotten TurboTax to take the heat for it.
Of course, TurboTax has had other issues in the past, and yet I stay with it year after year....
So, lately in the mornings it has been kind of nippy in front of my main computer out in the living room. Probably because of 3 exterior walls, and the computer against the wall with no heat registers. And, the thermostat is in the warmest spot in my home...under the cold air return.
I had been bumping the thermostat in the morning when I go by it, but that's not what I really want to do long term. I had looked at getting a low wattage radiant (people) heater to use by the computer in the mornings. Needs to be low wattage, because the living room only has one circuit...and well, there's lots and lots of stuff on it.
Last Monday I had reached my limit....burr. I already had an order with Amazon.com pending that I had placed over the weekend. So, using Amazon Prime and one-day option, I could have another box to arrive the same day as the rest....
I had originally identified some possible choices in heaters last winter, they were of the radiant heat, orange glow kind...either single low wattage or dual setting where the low was under 500W. Lower the better.... I checked my wishlist, and found that one of the choices was still available under Amazon Prime and could be one-day shipped to arrive the same time as my other stuff.
But, I checked other similar heaters to see what else is there. Partly because I wasn't totally sure that the model that remained was the one that I wanted. Though it was cheap (<$20) and 300W. But, it was a table top unit, and I didn't have a table top to put it on.
So, I settled on the Soleus Air HR1-08R-21...because it had a bit of stand to it and a remote control. It had two settings, 400W and 800W. I think I used to have a quartz heater that was like this at my old apartment...seemed to go away after that, probably one of the many things that didn't survive the move. Though it had two elements, and 400W was to only use one of them...to it was kind of weird to never use the other element. IIRC, only the one that I used got broke in the move too... Anyways, it was a consideration this time around, that if I got a radiant heater with multiple settings, that it didn't do it by having less uniform output.
I also decided that I would give the new option of using my American Express Membership Reward points to purchase something from Amazon.com.
Since I discovered the Causes application in Facebook, I've been doing the bulk of my regular monthly charity donations using it. Where each month a different cause. The list of 10-11 charities that I support using the app has varied over time. December is the exception, because I donate to a number of special causes through more direct (such as EFF, ASAA, Narcolepsy Network) And, there are also others that I support over the year, either through planned regular or other special one time (such as a monthly donation to Amnesty International, the quarterly to PlanUSA for my sponsored child [in Nepal], Shay's walk for March of Dimes, recently Toby's ride for MS).
But, before there was facebook and the Causes application, there was iGive.com. Originally, I had been invited to join the service by a friend with MS to support an organization that provides assistance to people with MS. iGive is like other online shopping sites that give percentage 'discount' on purchases...before iGive, I was using Stockback...where the percentage was invested in the S&P500. I even got the card, but shortly after that the bank became Chase and the program switched to another card provider (the program also went away and then came back...I didn't though). There are others that are more direct about cash back, etc. But, iGive is the one I stick with. Meanwhile, I now donate to MS related causes in a more direct way (even though it appears that some years I do quite a lot of online shopping through iGive.com, that results in much larger donations than I would make going the direct route).
I made the first switch while I was living in Columbus, Ohio....I switched my supported cause to "Adventures for Wish Kids" (now known as "A Kid Again"). And, then when I moved to Manhattan, KS...I looked for a more local like cause to support using iGive. iGive allows you to add causes to support if they don't already have it listed, so I created a listing for Make a Wish Kansas. Apparently over the my time here so far, I've raised over $300 through shopping for them (possibly more and all, because Amazon.com iGive purchases are reported anonymously...and I do a significant portion of my online shopping using Amazon.com now, due to Prime.) However, iGive does require that the charity be contactable before they'll release the funds to them, etc. And, apparently they have been ignoring emails for some time. So, the pending checks haven't been sent.
Now back to Facebook...the causes application seems to be ending its run. (Guess I'll have to find some other way to donate soon, apparently its not a sustainable Internet resource... [they aren't getting rich off of it] and, probably the fact that the causes application prompts for [and requires you to make an election, not assume a default of none...] for adding a percentage TIP to the application for you donating to your favorite causes.... this is one case where I never TIP).
So, to support Sunflower CASA by doing more than just play net control for the annual CASA Bike challenge, my September cause is/was Sunflower CASA. But, word is that they will be shutting down their Causes application page at the end of this September. So, I made my one last donation yesterday using the Causes application, and switched iGive to (try to) support this cause now.
Soon after owning the Surround Air XJ-3800, I found I didn't like it and had plans to eventually replace it with something else.
That's because it uses a metal grid that require periodic cleaning, and that cleaning requires significant dis-assembly, cleaning, thorough drying and a difficult reassembly process. It is the difficulty in reassembly that reminds me each time that I hate it.
Well, as I blogged here, "I bought another air cleaner", I did.
But, it was still a working air purifier...so I couldn't just toss it (plus there are others sitting around not yet tossed out). So, I moved it to another spot where I someday would like to have an air purifier...but can't yet afford the specific want that I want for that location. Figured I'd at least use it until such time that it needed a consumable replaced.... plus the location is by the entrance.
Well, last month it finally started flashing replace filter. So, it seemed that the end was near for it. Some time later it started flashing the clean metal grid. Seems that the end should be even sooner now.
Though I did recently pick up a few cans of Oreck AirCell cleaner, which is what I use to help clean the metal grid of the Surround Air XJ-3800. And, I think I would miss having an air purifier at this location now...but it is still far off in the future that I would actually get the desired air purifier....especially since new air purifier is >10x more expensive that a new filter for the XJ-3800.
And, I was on amazon.com recently looking to buy a bunch of things...to shoot for what will hopefully be the last time I need to get a shot on Wednesday before work (have an appointment next week, that might decide that there'll be another 3 months or something)... and I felt that there was one more item that I toss into my cart for Prime Delivery. Actually, after I had placed the order, I remembered that there was something else that I had been thinking of getting....and while getting that, I threw in the filter.
That one extra item was a CFL Bug Light. Starting to get dark again...and been wanting to get a bug light for some time, though I'm sure it'll be many years before the CFL that I currently have outside burns out. OTOH, it was part of the first order to replace the CFL in the kitchen. Of course, that CFL has been in service longer than the 4+ years that I've been living here. It was among the ones that I had brought with me from Dublin, OH. Occurs to me that I should've gotten more...there's one bedroom that I still haven't switched from incandescent to CFL. And, the one in my bedroom is starting to show its age. All my inside CFLs are full spectrum.
Anyways...this part of the Amazon.com/Prime shipment arrived one day early....so this morning before going to the doctor's office...I took the Surround Air XJ-3800 apart for cleaning and the replacement of its filter. Now back...I struggled for a while to get the silly grid to go back on to its frame, and then went to install new filter.
It wasn't coming out of the plastic easily for some reason...then I noticed that there's a chunk missing from the gasket and the bag is stuck to the spot of exposed adhesive....hopefully it'll still be sufficient. But, after this...it'll probably be the definite end for this air purifier (whether I have a new one lined up by then or not...)
Wonder how to tell if the UV bulb in it is still working and effective?
Ever since I learned about 5-bay port multiplier SATA enclosures, I've been wanting to get one to play with. And, when I acquired 'orac'...I sought out a port multiplier eSATA adapter to include in the build of the system. And, then waited for support of the adapter in ubuntu. Stopped on 8.04LTS and waited for inclusion in a kernel.
I took a step closer when I finally got the 2-bay enclosure to mirror a pair of drives I had impulsively purchased. Since it worked, I then then bought a 5-bay enclosure (it came up as a NewEgg ShellShocker).
But, after some thought, I decided that what I wanted to do was build a 5 disk RAID5 using 1.5TB drives....so it would get me at least 5TB of real storage. And, set that I would wait until 1.5TB drives were under $100.
In the meantime, I collected a bunch of old SATA drives to see what I trouble I could get into....it didn't last long, as one was definitely dead and two quickly failed. Of course, two of the had been kicked out of RAID1 setups previously, and the other was a failing drive that I replaced/upgraded. So, it was back to waiting.
Eventually, I got 3 Samsung 1.5TB drives through NewEgg ShellShocker. And, I set up a 3 disk RAID5. Sadly, it didn't last very long....one of the drives failed while I was building the array. I exchanged it for a new drive with NewEgg, and waited for it before trying again. While I was waiting, I formatted it a bunch of times and learning about smartctl and various things of drive repair. One of the remaining two original drives, was showing signs of slow death and one unrecoverable sector. When, the new drive arrived...I did a long self test and a quick, but full, format....taking a couple days before I created the 3 disk RAID 5.
Once, that was done, I created a new big filesystem that is /var/lib/backuppc to have backuppc on 'orac'. Initially a 1TB filesystem.
Then one day, the bad happened. A drive on 'gumby' failed. It was time to stop putting off figuring out how to setup backuppc and start putting stuff into it. It turned out to be a lot easier than it thought to get started, though I did have to rebuild smbclient to have a longer timeout to get it successfully complete a full backup of a given partition. I then learned some other stuff and fine tuned the configs.... One big change was I broke out the windows hosts into individual partitions (ie, gumby_c, gumby_e, gumby_f), and came up with a 'semaphore' solution so that it wouldn't backup more than one partition at a time from a windows host. Eventually, I had all my systems in it (it fully backs up everything except itself, where it backs up only key parts....) I even got it backing up my work Mac Book Pro.
I later grew the filesystem out to 2TB.
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The other day, as I was rebuilding my 5 disk RAID array (which I mean to blog about someday)...for the umpteenth time. A storm came in one morning....this made me concerned about losing power and breaking my RAID in some bad state (it had happened once before). Now I did have the computer and its two disk arrays (and as it turned out monitor) on a Geeksquad 1285VA UPS. And, more serious now that I have quite a lot of data backed up onto this array using backuppc. Had gone through some scary periods where I thought I'd have to start over from scratch.
But, decided that may it was time to put it on a PowerSource 400, like my other two Linux servers. So, I went to my usual source....not available from there, but it listed 3 other sellers; two selling for substantially more than it used to sell for and one selling refurbished units. I went looking around online for other sources, including one other that I had considered as an alternative option (because they shipped using FedEx ground). Found that pretty much everybody that had listings for it, showed it as discontinued and not in stock. I check eBay, there were a few listings...but they were mostly of the store demo variety....seemed too risky for me, given past experiences.
So, I put it in my cart for the next time I was going to place a home bound Amazon Prime order (a PowerSource 400 is a heavy item, so even if I don't know when it'll arrive...I wouldn't want to be lugging it back from the UPS Store).
As it happened, the seller shipped it by UPS Basic, and the mail man showed up with it on the day that I stayed home sick....ran the bell twice and then left it on my door step (took me a while to unmask, get out of bed and find some pants). I didn't immediately set it up....but found somewhere to plug it in to at least charge. I was fully discharged, so it would take a while.
Later that evening a big storm came into the area, alert said golf ball sized hail....it sounded pretty intense out there. Just had to happen as I was trying to do the UPS swap. Discovered some oddities about how I have things run for power around my desk that I had forgotten about. But, I think it is all sorted out now. Though I may opt to move the monitor to another UPS at some later point.
Currently, monitor, server (orac) and the two raid boxes (2 drive - RAID1, 5 drive - RAID6) are on this 'new' PowerSource 400 and its reading 250-260W.
Annoyingly the literature doesn't give an estimate for loads >100W on the PowerSource 400....so I'm not really sure how much time I'll get at this...but hope its something. For comparison. 'lhaven' on its PowerSource 400 is reading 100-110W, and 'box' and the network gear (5 port gigabit switch and g access point) on its PowerSource 400 is reading 150-160W. I may pull the access point off the UPS at some later point in the future, since it is deprecated as I mainly use my Airport Extreme now...which is in another location and on a PowerSource 400.
That other PowerSource 400 is reading ~130W...it has 2 TiVo HDs, both with DVR Expanders, router, 16 port 10/100 switch, and the Airport Extreme. I was originally planning to add a RAID USB storage device to the Airport Extreme...though not sure now...that I have my work Mac Book Pro set up as a client to backuppc. (it also rarely comes how now.)
I don't think I have the courage to test how long any of my PowerSource 400s will actually last....but so far I've been happy with the ones that have endured the few extended outages I experienced last year.
I wonder what will be the successor to the PowerSource 400....and whether there'll be more PowerSource 400s, or what, in the future for me.
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This is the second last weekend that I can make the switch to Quicken Premier 2010, before my copy of Microsoft Money Plus Deluxe expires.
It had been kind of annoying the last couple of weeks, with Microsoft Money warning of impending expiration and asking if I want to renew....where the renew doesn't do anything because Microsoft has discontinued the product, etc.
I'm sad, I've been using Microsoft Money since 98 (the version, I started using the software in 1997) to manage my finances.
I had originally intended to learn about Quicken and purchase it in December and start using it in the new year. In parallel to Microsoft Money and slowly migrate to it. Because I had heard horror stories about the conversion process (import/export and lose lots of info/detail)....but then I heard that there was going to be a direct conversion process available. Though the intent of the timing was still there....but other things came along and I got busy, so it got put off...and put off.
But, I had envisioned that I would finally purchase the software and make the conversion after I did my taxes (and hopefully before Microsoft Money Plus expires.)
I had never actually seen the expiration message before, usually upgrading to the latest version of Microsoft Money before well before then. Though I usually skipped a version here and there. Namely the progression was like 98, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, Plus...I'm pretty sure that's right, vaguely recall having 2001 and making the switch from even years to odd years. There was something that was a bug in Microsoft Money, that was finally fixed in the 2001 version. Or it was some online download data format change, or both.
At the time it was one of the main reasons I was resisting the abandonment of Windows and switching to a Mac. Unfortunately, I've acquired a bunch of other things since then that are Windows only. Though VMware or VirtualBox was a consideration...there is a new wrinkle in why I'll likely go with a Windows box as my next host. That's CUDA projects in BOINC are mainly for Windows systems. There are a few Linux ones, but then only 64-bit Linux.
Anyhoo....I decided that this was the weekend to make the start. I had been moving the software in and out of my Amazon.com cart trying to decide on when I would finally get it. But, then I decided that I would opt to getting via Amazon Download. Part of me wanted the warm fuzzy of having a physical CD, that I can then lose when it comes time to reinstall...not sure what I'm going to do with all my apps when I finally get around to buying that new computer to replace my old circa 2003 computer.
I bought it and downloaded it yesterday, and figured I'd get to doing it today (Sunday).
Well, so far it hasn't gone so well. Everytime I start, and select conversion....it goes for a very long time, and then crashes. I worry about whether things are right and don't really want to go through the 12+ years of records to see what's missing. The initial screen doesn't look right to me, so that doesn't help....though who knows.
I then tried running file repair, still crashed. Removed my password (even though it did seem to have an issue), still crashed. Repair again....
Not sure what I'm going to do now. Wonder if I can take a couple weeks off from work to go through everything and see if things are right, etc.
Or maybe I'll just accept no more online services and stay with Microsoft Money Plus. Though its going to have a big impact on my daily routine, and not sure what it'll do to my account tracking. There are accounts where the only updates I get are through online services, missing statements every now and then, etc. Plus the online service downloads have helped me catch fraudulent activity on my cards much sooner than if I had to remember to check the card sites manually or review statements.
Plus there's still that whole, what do I do when I finally upgrade to a new computer....
Supposed to be a deep fryer without all that oil....which is what drew me to it.
Over the years, I have played around with deep frying.
When I first moved out, I lived in this neat apartment with a gas stove. And, I tried the open pan of oil and a basket method. And, I had reasonable success at deep frying stuff like shrimp chips and making fries. But, the fridge in the apartment wasn't so great....and dropping a pile of frosty frozen fries into a pot of hot oil isn't something one should do often....
And, being a gas stove....is made for quite the fireball. Good thing the place had high ceilings....
So, I decided that I might buy a deep fryer appliance at some point in the future, but it wasn't going to be in that apartment...since things were challenging enough running everything on the single 20 amp circuit that powered the entire 1 bedroom apartment. Would be impossible with the number of computers and home theatre components I have now.....not to mention all the appliances. Like no way would I go with turning off the TV, so I can microwave some popcorn...etc., now.
I forget why...but I think there was this craze of home buying around that time....but I eventually bought a home of my own....while the apartment was WWI era, the house I bought was a WWII build. It was better, but not much. Like only one 15amp kitchen counter plug circuit, which included the dishwasher...for some reason the washing machine, bathroom outlet and the side entrance outside light. That was fun when I got the high power motion activated spot light.... But, I got eventually got a deepfryer, I can't remember if it was from Eaton departure from Medicine Hat, or the demise of Woolworths (one of the locations that Walmart didn't convert).
It was nice, not as messy as open pot of oil and safer when using the second half of a bag of fries. But, it was this big awkward appliance that wasn't used often, and it was a pain filtering the oil and changing filters and replacing the oil. Plus it started getting hard to track down filters and stuff for it. This was before the Internet was what it is like today. I was doing online shopping by this point, but it was through Compuserve.
Wonder if the people at Xantrex or Amazon.com are wondering what's with all the PowerSource 400s I've been buying?
The latest acquisition brings the total to 5. With the latest being the 3rd unit in one room.
Somewhere in a past shuffle/outage...I had lost a UPS (CPS700AVR), and lost a computer (box). I had rebuilt box, and as interim....put it on the PowerSource 400 that was backing up 'lhaven'. I also put the 8-port [end] switch and my wireless access point onto this PowerSource 400.
This cuts into the available runtime, and its important to me that 'lhaven' never go down. Though its also important from the operation of my home network that 'box' never goes down. And, of course, the switch...and maybe the wireless access point. Though other parts of my home network are on different PowerSource 400's. The stack of equipment at the DSL point is on one, and the stack of equipment at the Cablemodem point on another (though it also includes extra things like 2 TiVo HD's and Expanders and other HT equipment)
So, I have moved 'box' and the network equipment here to the new PowerSource 400....leaving 'lhaven' on its own.
Now the question is whether or not there'll be another 1 in the future....for 'orac'.
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