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April 07, 2007

Hard drive price average

    I'm always keeping tabs on hard drive prices in terms of price per gigabyte.  A lot of times, I'll make a spreadsheet to compare costs.  One site I like to use for this is  The problem is, sometimes the advertisers aren't very honest on their prices.  To get a better feel for prices, I often just average several together, or pick a company I know I can trust.  Having done this averaging thing many times, I got the idea of creating a script to do this work for me.  I wanted all the prices in a single place, where I could check from time to time and see what I expect to pay for storage-- I kind of stock ticker for hard drive prices.  Today, I created that.
    It works by searching for the listings of SATA drives on pricewatcher, then averages the first 10 listings.  These results are stored in a database and time stamped.  By updating the database regularly, I should be able to get a nice chart of drive prices over time, and that will make me happy :)
    Pictured is the sound rig for the U-Rock theater.

April 06, 2007

SPAM bots attacking the Noose

    Logged into the Mother Noose web site today to check on comments and found a ton of spam.  None of the spam made it to the page as all comments need to be moderated, but still irritating.
    Pictured is a view of the stage from the lighting booth.

April 05, 2007

Deceptive advertising by well established groups



   The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) is a long-lived origination, formed in 1880.  According to Wikipedia, "ASME is one of the oldest and most respected standards-developing organizations in the world. It produces approximately 600 codes and standards, covering many technical areas, such as boiler components, elevators, measurement of fluid flow in closed conduits, cranes, hand tools, fasteners, and machine tools."  I received a letter today from ASME that stated quote:
   "We owe you an apology.  Recently we were comparing a list of mechanical engineers against our membership list and we discovered that you are not currently a member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).  Despite your demonstrated accomplishments in mechanical engineering, we somehow overlooked extending you the opportunity to become a member of ASME."
    I am not a mechanical engineer, nor do I have any experience in this field or any immediate interest exploring this field.  The reality is, I had a free subscription to some natural gas compressor magazines and my name and address were likely sold to countless companies.  I don't mind getting junk snail-mail as a result of a free subscription because it's easy to discard.  However, this letter was clearly being dishonest.  They were trying to adulate me in order to get me to pay for a membership-- and that's garbage.  I expect this type of advertising from shady, fly-by-night companies, but not by a group who claims a reputable position creating codes and standards.

1 comment has been made.

From Nathan L.


April 18, 2007 at 12:55 AM

natural gas compressor magazines??? There are several? So interesting...
    Spent a lot of the day in the U-Rock theater working through broken/disassembled lighting equipment.  I've discovered there really isn't much to most lighting instruments and their assembly is fairly intuitive.  I was quickly able to piece back together about 7 ERS and a couple other lights from parts laying around.
    A couple days ago I figured out one of the more powerful fetchers of the lighting board: sub-master mode.  This allows one to group channels (i.e. lights) together as specific levels and control them with a single slider.  That's really nice, since I use 12 channels just for lighting the stage green.  I setup all the colors (red, green and blue), overhead lighting, side lighting and house lighting as sub-masters.  This makes it easy to play with generating lighting effects to test.  I also figured out looping sequence effects.  This allows things such as light chase sequences or continuous rotating transitions.  I can say that I now have the basics down.
    When I left the theater, it was the calm before the storm.  I was surrounded by lighting.  Driving home, I pulled off on highway 51 to take some shots.

April 01, 2007

Wake On LAN backups

Rock Cut park

Rock Cut park

    Since the Black-Dragon is primarily a backup computer, I want it to actually do backups.  Since it now spends most of it's time off-line, I normally have to boot the system from time to time and run my backups manually.  But I never liked that.  
    The Black Dragon has had Wake-On-LAN ever since I installed the 1 Gbit/sec NIC.  It works, but I never tried a batch system because the previous OS couldn't be remotely shutdown.  (Actually, Cygwin did have a shutdown command.  But it wouldn't actually turn off the computer-- it will simply leave the system on with the message "it is now safe to turn off your computer"... lame).  Since the Black Dragon is a Linix box, remotely shutting down is no issue.
    The Red-Dragon has to do all the work when it comes to backups, since the Black Dragon is usually asleep.  Booting the system isn't a problem-- turning it off takes a little more work.  I created no pass phrase SSH key pair.  I then put the public key in the authorized users file on the Black-Dragon.  This way, I can use a batch file to log in and run a command.
    Ubuntu doesn't use the root user.  Instead, you log in as some user and "sudo" any root level commands.  This makes batches a little more complicated.  luckily, you can pipe in the password for sudo.  So here is my backup shell script:
#! /bin/sh

echo "Waking the Black-Dragon..."
/usr/local/bin/wol 00:09:5B:8F:62:8F

echo "Wating for the Black-Dragon to boot..."
/bin/sleep 90

echo "Archiving DSP projects..."
cmd /c

echo "Archiving PC projects..."
cmd /c

echo "Archiving photos..."
cmd /c

echo "Shutting down Black-Dragon"
ssh que@ 'echo ******|sudo shutdown -h now'
   The first command is the Wake-On-LAN.  Then, it script sleeps for a minute and a half to give the system time to boot up.  Then, three different archive scripts run.  Afterwards, the script SSHes in and tells the system to shutdown.  The "echo" pipes the password to "sudo".  And that's it... the system boots up, backs up and shuts back down.