Print Story The hard drive reeks of death
By coryking (Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:07:06 AM EST) netgear, linksys, ide, raid, crash, death (all tags)
But the SMART controller just doesn't know it yet....

Device Model:     WDC WD300BB-00AUA1
Serial Number:    WD-WMA6R2915514
Firmware Version: 18.20D18
User Capacity:    30,020,272,128 bytes
Device is:        In smartctl database [for details use: -P show]
ATA Version is:   5
ATA Standard is:  Exact ATA specification draft version not indicated
Local Time is:    Mon Jun 12 06:35:46 2006 PDT
SMART support is: Available - device has SMART capability.
SMART support is: Enabled

SMART overall-health self-assessment test result: PASSED


       The hardward from HELL: When good drives go bad....
       Fry's: Life in the junkfood business...
  • WIN!
       Free Bonus Material: Name the access point and WIN!

SMART Attributes Data Structure revision number: 16
Vendor Specific SMART Attributes with Thresholds:
  1 Raw_Read_Error_Rate     0x000b   200   200   051    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  3 Spin_Up_Time            0x0007   106   103   021    Pre-fail  Always       -       3541
  4 Start_Stop_Count        0x0032   099   099   040    Old_age   Always       -       1119
  5 Reallocated_Sector_Ct   0x0032   200   200   112    Old_age   Always       -       0
  7 Seek_Error_Rate         0x000b   200   200   051    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
  9 Power_On_Hours          0x0032   066   066   000    Old_age   Always       -       25086
 10 Spin_Retry_Count        0x0013   100   100   051    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 11 Calibration_Retry_Count 0x0013   100   100   051    Pre-fail  Always       -       0
 12 Power_Cycle_Count       0x0032   100   100   000    Old_age   Always       -       764
196 Reallocated_Event_Count 0x0032   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
197 Current_Pending_Sector  0x0012   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
198 Offline_Uncorrectable   0x0012   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
199 UDMA_CRC_Error_Count    0x000a   200   200   000    Old_age   Always       -       0
200 Multi_Zone_Error_Rate   0x0009   200   200   051    Pre-fail  Offline      -       0

SMART Error Log Version: 1
No Errors Logged

SMART Self-test log structure revision number 1
Num  Test_Description    Status                  Remaining  LifeTime(hours)  LBA_of_first_error
# 1  Extended offline    Completed without error       00%      1056         -

So yeah.  This weeks theme is dying. 

Sometime late Friday night, the power supply on my development server internally burnt to a crisp and stopped working.  I hate getting new power supplies; I've found that even the cheapest replacement ones cost at least $35 where as a brand new case is $40.  In the past, I've always just bought the new case figuring "power is power, who cares."  I suspect that assumption is false - they must put some really shitty power supplies in those $40 cases. 

Off on a tangent...
So, off to the Renton Fry's I went... ... god What a joke that place is.  The store is always mess.  Their point-of-sale system is a million years old.  The staff are a bunch idiots.  Their inventory is always a mess.  The checkout process is incredibly strange.  The item you need has a 50/50 chance of being in stock, which makes them very hard to count on. 

I really, truly don't understand how Fry's remains in business.  They try be everything to everybody and offer a deep selection of every type of product.  But really, I can't imagine going there to buy a dishwasher, air conditioning unit, computer books, or even a TV.  I'd probably get the dishwasher from a hardware store, the AC unit from either Costco or the hardware store, the computer book from my local bookstore, and the TV from Video Only.  For AV equipment like cabling, they compete with Radio Shack.  For non-emergency computer equipment, the Internet is a HUGE competitor.  For "normal people" computer equipment, the have to compete with Dell, Circuit Shitty, Best Buy and every other "big box" tech store.

Don't think I'm whining by the way or I'm somehow deeply hurt.  I'm not, trust me.  To me, Fry's makes for a fascinating business study that is full of many useful lessons.  By trying to be everything to everybody, Fry's has no clear niche in which they can easily dominate--no place where a consumer would say "Fry's would be the 1st place I'd go to purchase this item".  Being everything to everybody means having to stock books, resistors, food-products, cell phones, refrigerators, kitchen appliances, TV's and more.  That adds up to a hell of a lot of vendor relationships to manage.  Unless you are Walmart and have a billion dollar inventory management system to handle all the details, you've created a huge burden for yoursel. No wonder they are always out of stock!

Trying to be everything to everybody also dictates a very, very complex backend system that must handle a lot of weird cases.  Clearly they haven't perfected this; go to their cafeteria to see why.  Ordering a simple item like a double, vanilla 16oz requires the poor cashier to leaf through a 40 page book of barcodes and scan in the SKU's - one for the latte, one for the flavor, and one for the extra shot; all three are found in different sections of the book.  It takes a minute for the guy to ring up your order; heaven forbid you dared to add a bagel with cream cheese to that order - now it's 5 SKU's.  What an inefficient use of paid labor - an inventory management system created to handle the purchase of a $5000 dishwasher on a line of credit does not scale down to a $2.50 latte purchased with cash!

Having numerious inefficient processes and no clear market leadership spells trouble.  It keeps them from hiring quality sales staff.  They lack the funds to invest in new computer systems.  They can't afford to improve their supply chain management.  Hell, they can't afford to hire a guy who cleans the fucking shelves up so the place looks like shit all the time.  And once a place looks like shit, the broken window theory kicks, and both employee and management alike begin to think on a very subconscious level "gee, it looks like nobody cares about this place and so I shouldn't either".  Bad moral sets in.  The business falls apart. 

So I ask you, dear reader, how does Fry's stay in business.  Maybe they are like like a movie theatre or a gas station.  A movie theatre shows movies, which is why you go there, but they dont make any money from your tickets.  They make money on selling you high margin things like $2.00 popcorn and $3 drinks; they are really in the junk-food business.  You go to a gas station to fill up the tank, but the station doesn't make money when you buy gas.  No sir, they are lucky to see a few pennies profit on a full tank of gas.  A gas station hopes you'll stroll on inside and buy yourself pack of smokes, some chips and a three day old hot-dog; gas stations are in the junk-food business. 

Maybe, just maybe, Fry's isn't in really in the "computers ,blenders, and books" business after all.  Maybe they dont make a dime off that new dishwasher you bought.  Could they really be hoping you'll walk down that isle to pay for your fancy new HDTV and buy yourself a pack of Red Vines and some cheap batteries?  Perhaps, just like the movie theatre or your local gas station, Fry's is really just another place hoping you'll help yourself to some overpriced junk-food...

... Back on track
So where was I? Friday, I found out one of the RAID'ed disks on ansel, Photographica's server, is is dead.  One mis-matched IDE disk down, one to go...  better back all those pics up!  Hopefully I can afford to replace the thing with a couple "real" 1U Dell's and turn it into a mere reverse-proxy server.  That poor old thing just can't handle the load anymore.

But the fun doesn't just stop there kids!  The %&$# POS Linksys router is dying too.  Goddamn thing has been dropping its wireless AND WIRED connections all the damn time now.  Not a day goes by where I have to hard-reset the router, thus killing all my SSH sessions. 

With one exception,  I have YET to purchase a reliable broadband router.  For nine months, I had that "cute" netgear router.  Its wireless connections were poor; the laptop would take forever to connect.  Towards the end of it's life, it stopped routing packets at random times until I hard-rebooted it.  Now this linksys is doing the same thing.

Regardless of the hardware, I can't help but to wonder if the poor wireless connection is a function of my laptop or the surrounding environment.

Both routers have lived at dense area inside an old-sk00l brick apartment building.  It seems as though around here, everybody has a wireless router.  At any given time, netstumbler will find at least 20 access points1.  Thus, in my mind, there is a lot of RF-"noise" around here.

What happens is upon startup/wake-up, the laptop will act like it has connected to my access point.  Windows will pop up it's little "connected to JOEBLOW" and assign the correct IP info.  However, the card doesn't receive any packets from the access point.  Windows then drops the connection by itself, sits around for a few seconds, then acts like it reconnects; popping up the "connect to...".  Still no packets received.  It drops, and then repeats this cycle until it either connects, I disable and re-enable the wireless card on the laptop, or I hard-reset the router.  I've used netsumbler to find the least used wireless channel, and that doesn't make a difference.

More interesting is the laptop does not have this problem in less RF-noisy areas such as a friends house.  When there is only one visible access point, the laptop will boot up and connect right away with no problem.  Better still, I never had this problem when I'd bring the laptop to school.  The university had quite a few different wireless networks and was very RF-noisy, but the damn thing always had a solid, stable connection.

So my question is, who is at fault?  Does the laptop have a shitty wireless card?  Do I have bad luck with 802.11b broadband routers?  Is it the brick buildings?  Is it the 20 other access points around me?

1 Of which 90% are locked down and have non-default settings

< I was out for a bit | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
The hard drive reeks of death | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden)
Why I go to Fry's by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #1 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:15:41 AM EST
Because when I go to BestBuy, I get harassed about extended warantees and when I go to CompUSA, I can never find a cashier to take my money.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
And at Fry's by coryking (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:42:18 AM EST
I can trade all that in for a 50/50 shot at getting what I drove 20 miles for.  Say, for example, a 25-foot chunk of generic, non-monster-"OMG-HYPER-DIGITAL-NITROGEN-COOLED-URANIUM-DIPPED-JITTER-PROOF"-AV cable.  Maybe that and those cute little RCA male-2-male extenders.

You can fool me once...

Dog food. Snack for some. Feast for others.

[ Parent ]
Honestly by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #7 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:47:02 AM EST
They all suck, which is why I tend to use mail order.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
yup by coryking (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:53:16 AM EST
My thoughts as well.  Unless it's a dead power supply that can't wait, why take the chance?

... Thus the impetus for my rant.  If us computer nerds aren't using 'em, who is?

Dog food. Snack for some. Feast for others.

[ Parent ]
Fry's by The Fool (4.00 / 1) #2 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:20:28 AM EST
They stay in business by being Disneyland for geeks.

I should know--I go there all the time.

I know by coryking (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:43:07 AM EST
There is indeed a mysterious alure about the whole place, isn't there?

Dog food. Snack for some. Feast for others.

[ Parent ]
Look, this isn't funny any more by Rogerborg (4.00 / 1) #3 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:29:03 AM EST
First the Lunix hippies start shrugging their shoulders and admitting "Meh, it sucks", and now you're asking "I went to Fry's... how do they stay in business?"  If you're going to put the bat in my hand and then bobble your giant novelty toy sized head in front of it, it really does take all the sport out of it.

Extended warranties, to answer your rhetorical question.  I wonder what their plans are for putting independent local repairers out of business.  That's got to be the wet dream.

Metus amatores matrum compescit, non clementia.

Oh shit, by coryking (2.00 / 0) #4 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 07:31:02 AM EST
You are right!  It is the extended warranties!

... I forgot about those.

Dog food. Snack for some. Feast for others.

[ Parent ]
Power supplies by Gedvondur (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Jun 12, 2006 at 09:25:22 AM EST
Ding! We have a winner.

Any power supply that costs less than 75 bucks is a piece of shit!

I would reccomend Antec and Enermax, Coolermaster or Vantec.  I'm told that Thermaltake is good as well, but the first two are the best.

"I love my brain. It's the only organ I can afford to lose." --frijolito

The hard drive reeks of death | 9 comments (9 topical, 0 hidden)