Cult of the Turtle

Joe Tortuga's musing on life,tech and gaming

Device Meltdown

November 04, 2009

In one week, I had three devices fail on me.  One was somewhat expected, and one was no surprise, the third destroyed my confidence.

My Xbox 360 red ringed on me. Again.  This  is the third one Tam and I have had, and is one of the newer models, with the fancy heat sink.  That was the one that wasn’t surprising. I mean, it’s an Xbox 360, right? They die.

For years now (more than a decade) I’ve been running mail and websites out of my home. It’s cheap, and I’ve got enough technical no-how to manage it. There are problems when power flickers or cable screws up.  Goddess knows that Time Warner was down two or three times a month (our current cable provider is much much stabler. And faster.)  The machine, which I named Sarah Bellum after the Power Puff Girls character, has been through a lot.  A five year old sprayed cleaner in her, and she got an upgraded mother board, and some new hard drives.  But she was getting old, and going down two or three times a week.

A couple of days after the 360 red ringed, Sarah B. refused to boot at all. She powers on, and then off. Nothing.  I’d already moved mail off of it — but hadn’t moved a couple of mail accounts (mine and one other person) actual mail off of it.  The websites and their mySQL databases were on the three hard drives.  But I’d bought a new machine that ran Ubuntu nicely, so I had a plan for that. I just hadn’t quite gotten to it fast enough.

I didn’t try to fix it right away, of course, I let it sit while I researched.  In the interim, while at Joessam”s house, I put my iPod Touch on her sink, and it plopped right down into the cat’s water bowl.  And then the screen went really dark.  After the other failures, I didn’t know what to do.  Frankly, I’ve become dependent on the iPod Touch to keep and manage information flow and keep me productive at work.  Without it, I was overwhelmed and non-functional.

That was perhaps not the best state of mind to start working on fixing my linux server.

With the linux server, I started with an uncorrect assumption and ended with an improper action. If I’d been more rational, I’d have mounted each drive separately, found that one had a nice backup of everything up to August 26, 2007, and that the other two were part of a logical drive system, and depended on each other. I’d have realized I could mount two drives in the new system (if not 3 — there was only 1 pata port), and things would have been both hunky and dory.

Instead I freaked out and tried to fix one of the logical drives.  And broke it bad.  After that I crawled into bed with my wife Tam, and tried not to cry.   The mistakes I made? Trying to fix something you’re too emotional about it one. Not taking my time and researching is another. And lastly, poking about with something I only partly understood.

Joessam in the wisdom that wives seem to have, took me to the Apple store and they replaced my iPod Touch.  I was a much saner man that day, if only because my iPod Touch decided not to announce that it had water damage, and the Apple Store Genius ignored my water bowl confession. That same day we mailed the Xbox off to fellow game confabber Alex to be repaired.

Alex informed me in a few days that he’d be able to repair the 360, and it’s due back to me soon.  In the meantime, though, Tam and I decided to buy a PS3. I’m glad of the purchase, and will write about that more later, but the list of exclusive games is woefully short (and that’s an observation that goes both ways).

I calmed down and rationally tried to fix the drives, and while I got the drives functional, I didn’t get access to the data.  Now I need to find someone who can do that, and look at how much that’s going to cost. If you know someone out there that really understands Linux logical volume management, and is willing to work on them, I’d be interested in getting a price.  As it is, I lost all my mail for several years (that was not on the backed up drive) and all my blog posts, including the Prince of Persia ones that were my introduction to the “brainysphere”.

Most of my other writing was either 2 years old, or done in google docs, so the pieces that haven’t been published are still safe.  I know better than to trust the cloud, but I’m glad for that part of it today. I moved our websites here, to, which is where Man Bytes Blog is hosted, and it has weathered being BoingBoinged, a fate I wouldn’t mind, myself.

That largely brings us to today, and explains the current state of the site, and to a certain extent, my mind.  I need to rebuild my theme, get the wiki back up, and get my novel into GoogleDocs (it used DropBox as a backup, so it too was fine).  I need to write more about games.  I need to write a game.

I need to move forward, and now I can.