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August 15, 2008

Box construction, day 2

   Major construction finished up this evening.  I started at noon and was still working at midnight.  The first large task was moving the book shelves.  Currently, they rest on the north wall of the house, and the top of the box.  I don't know the weight of these shelves, but they are loaded.  I did not want to take everything down, so I devised a change.  I've been using heavy duty brackets on shelves from some time that are rated for 500 lbs.  I like to overbuild things quite a bit and none of our shelves are even close to supporting that weight.  However, most of us have noticed you can hang off a fully loaded shelve (leave it to Garage style living to discover things like this).  So I've decided to assign these brackets to the bookshelves.  Again, because I didn't want to move everything.  To get around this, I employed one of the best car purchases I've made: my two ton hydraulic jack.  A stool, a few cinder blocks and some scrap 2x4 and the shelve moved up easily.  I attached the shelve bracket using some monster screws (the same I used on attaching the loft).  Then slowly lower the shelves onto the new bracket.  Naturally, it held just fine.  Once up, I finished the last of the removal, taking everything still attached to the box and placing it on the other side of the room.
   After opening the box, I decided to replace the flooring completely.  The old floor was warped from moisture and probably too thin.  I added more floor joists and upped the thickness to 1/2".  I also vented the exhaust system out the side rather then under the box.  This should provide a better air path and move air more efficiently.
   The new cuts and even assembly was fairly easy once the box was finally apart.  Then the details: painting, wiring, cleaning and moving everything back.  It took all day, but the Blue Dragon was finally back up by midnight.
   Pictured is the box midway though disassembly.  Picture taken by Sean.
   For those who don't know, the American flag that hangs behind the box (visible in this picture to the right of me) is from Gerry's Hamburger.  It was donated to the Garage by Crystal and hangs in memory our friend Jerry Shea.

August 14, 2008

Box updates begin

    For some time (over a year) I've wanted to widen the box so it can fit a twin mattress.  For the last couple weeks, I have been preparing the house so that this project can begin.  Updating the box is no small undertaking.  Everything in my setup is somehow linked to the box.  All the computers of the Dragon array sit on the top.  The bookshelves rest on it.  The benches are connected to it.  The box IS the center piece.  And it sits tightly against a two walls, lots of weight holding it there and everything dependent on it.
    In order to widen the box, it has to be moved away from the wall to provide access to the left side.  The top, front, rear and left side have to be removed.  This will expose the frame work.  The ceiling joists have to be replaced along with the floor, front and back sides.  Once done, the new pieces need paint and caulk.  So it begins...
    Pictured is the box with everything off of it.  Most of older computer have been placed in storage.  The rest of the equipment has been moved to an open area in the living room. 

August 13, 2008

The future of the Red Dragon

Sean and Kitten

Sean and Kitten

    The Red Dragon will now migrate to a new location and serve as a community computer for the house. It still contains a terabyte of RAID-5 storage and is fully functional. I may end up removing the RAID-5 drives in favor of a single large drive (I have the 750 GB drive that isn't being utilized) to reduce power draw. But at this point, I'm not planning any changes. The system has served us very well and isn't retiring any time soon. It is still one of the most powerful machines in the house and there is a lot it can still do.

Current specs:
   Athlon MP 2000+
   1024 MB 266 MHz DDR-SDRAM
   Gigabyte GA-7DPXDW+ motherboard
   WD 37 GB 10,000 RPM SATA
   6x WD 250 GB 7,200 RPM SATA (RAID-5)
   431 watt Enermax power supply


    One drawback to the new system is 32 vs 64 bit software.  I really don't like closed source anything and here's a good reason why.  Some of the software I use is quite old.  But when something works and works well, why change?  The problem is, some of this old software no longer works at all.  one example is my Aopen mouse driver.  My mouse has 5 buttons and two wheels.  I set it up so that it uses the side buttons as copy and paste, the wheel button as double clock and the 2nd wheel scrolls in the opposite direction.  The old driver doesn't work with the worthless 64-bit OS running.  Since the driver is closed, there is no way to simply recompile the driver or make updates to it.  The company won't release it and I'm stuck not having the fetchers I use to have.  Each of these issues I have to work around, but I'd rather just have stuff work!

1 comment has been made.

From ERica

January 02, 2009 at 4:05 PM

I know that guy. I saw him one time. Actually I dont know him, i just saw him one time.

August 11, 2008

3.0 TB RAID array goes online

The Blue Dragon

The Blue Dragon

   On Saturday the package with my drive cable splitters came and today I plugged in all the drives of the 3.0 TB RAID-5 array for the Blue Dragon--all 7 drives.  Currently, the system has 9 total drives: 7x500 GB for the 3.0 TB RAID-5 array, 750 GB overflow drive from the Red Dragon, and a 500 GB boot/program drive for a grand total of 4,000 GB of storage. 
   Initialization of the new array took awhile.  The first attempt started to build the array in the background and was going to take eight hours.  But I ended up having to reboot the system.  When I did, I lost power to 6 of the 7 drives.  I had placed all the drives off the same power cable.  Clearly, the power supply most have multiple regulators and by placing all the drives on one power cable, I overloaded the regulator.  So, I split the drives up and everything was fine.  I restarted the RAID configuration, this time in the foreground, for a two and a half hour build.  I have a grand total of 3,000,033,603,584 bytes of storage on this drive--and I'm promptly working on filling that up.  The terabyte RAID array from the Red Dragon will move onto this drive first, followed by all the data from the 500 and 750 GB overflow drives.  Since the 500 GB overflow drive became part of the RAID array the only odd ball it the 750 GB drive.  This drive will probably sit empty for awhile until I figure out what I want to do with it.  But having more storage then needed is always preferable to not having enough.  I'm sure in time I will need this space.  My photo collection isn't getting any smaller and my plans on digitizing old video footage won't be nice on storage either.
   Last day of the play.  Like the ones before it, everything was over so quickly.  Seems like I was just watching auditions and suddenly we're striking the set.  This will be the 5th play I've worked on as a tech and the first play I've ever stage managed.  I have a lot of respect for the actors in the cast--all those lines, the movement and cues to memorize--and just a few weeks to learn it and make it seem natural.  Well done people.
   Night three of the performance.  Pictured is my area during the play.  I sat back stage rather then the sound booth for this production.  I did this because I was stage manager and had to be present to make sure everything was setup correctly and people were in place before giving cues.  I spend the production reading along as the actors perform, waiting for light and sound cues.  My position does not give me much of a view, but I can't really look up anyway.  I'll actually get to see the play when I get a copy of the recording.