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Hardware

Manually Ejecting Stuck LTO Tape from an HP Drive

Sadly, the stuck tape for me was a symptom of a larger issue with the drive itself. But, we have an HP LTO4 autoloader displaying an odd error on the LCD

incomp. medium

I tried everything via the hardware interface, but we knew a tape was stuck in there. So, I removed the drive unit and saw the tape.

Stuck LTO4 tape

Rather than just cutting into the mechanism, I found this video on youtube to at least try and extract the stuck LTO4 tape through the proper process.

I was able to extract the tape and found the post-it note jammed in the slot, but that wasn’t the ultimate issue that doomed the drive.

post-it note stuck in LTO drive

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The drive mechanism that grabs and guides the cartridge broke and was not able to be easily repaired.

Broken LTO4 drive

So, the drive was a loss, but hey, I was able to get the tape out. The video was absolutely key. Good luck to you.

Fastrak not working? Maybe it’s a dead battery

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We’ve used Fastrak ever since it started when I commuted to Berkeley from San Francisco. I’ve never had problems until recently when we were not getting any recognition of the unit at the toll plaza. No ding sounds or anything. We thought nothing of it, but when the violations arrived in the mail we had to resolve it. Even though we rarely pass over bridges nowadays, Fastrak can come in handy at SFO for parking.

I called the Fastrak service number (877-229-8655) and let them know the problems. The service rep corrected the violations. She also noticed my license plate number was slightly off, so the violation pre-check/match didn’t happen. After that was settled, I told her the issue with the unit. She said it was probably the battery and they would send a replacement unit out.

I had no idea there was a battery in there. It is not field replaceable either. So, she’s sending a new unit and I will send back the old one. I bet I had that original one for around 9 years or so.

Hacking a $5.99 Meditation Fountain

I was at CVS getting something and saw a cheap meditation fountain for $5.99 at an endcap, so I thought I would give it a shot for a little background noise for my office. I took it home, put in a couple of batteries and was severely disappointed. The sound of the small motor was all you could hear. It was lame. I put it aside and swore I would make it better. This weekend, I decided to take a hacksaw to it to see if I could get the water sound to actually register or completely destroy it. To my surprise, I did make it better.

Here is what I did:

1. The problem with the fountain is that the space between the vertical cascade is too close. In order to get more water sound, I wanted to try and cut the intermediate horizontal surface out.

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2. I took a hacksaw to the support under the intermediate ledge and figured if it was hollow and left a hole in the basin, I would just glue the flat surface down on top of the smaller hole. When I cut the ledge off, I was happy to discover the mold was still solid underneath.

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3. I tried the water in there now, but still wasn’t happy with the sound. So, did  another cut to the former ledge base to get a little more drop. I cut as close as I could to the rim around the other base.

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4. After this, I put the rocks in and tested. It worked! Sure, no white water rapids, but not bad for the overall size.

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All and all, it was essentially two cuts of the hacksaw on this cheap fountain. But, it could have easily just been one if I would have known the base ledge was still solid underneath.

After all of this, you actually get a fountain that sounds like running water instead of the small engine hum.

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Video-Out to HDMI on HTC One (CyanogenMod 10.2)

HTC One Video-Out To HDMI

I bought a micro-USB to HDMI MHL cable on a lark down at Central Computers on Howard St. in San Francisco just to see if I could get video-out on my CM-modded HTC One. I hooked it up today to our Samsung TV just to see and it came up immediately! Pretty cool that it just pushed the video-out without a problem or additional configuration. My guess is any micro-USB to HDMI cable should work. Here are some pics of the $15.95 one I bought from Central that for sure works.

HTC One micro-USB to HDMI

HTC One Video-Out To HDMI

Here is the cable in the bag. It is a pretty generic model. I bought it because it was the only one that really didn’t make a reference to Samsung phones. My guess is though, it probably doesn’t matter as long as the cable is to the MHL standard.

micro-USB to HDMI cable from Central Computers

I was so shocked it all just worked, I have yet to test things like Netflix, and other Android audio/video apps.

Installing Ubuntu Server 13.04 on an HP DL320e Gen8

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I just had the experience of installing Ubuntu Server 13.04 on a new HP DL320e Gen8 server and it was not as easy as it should have been. It’s kind of pain because Ubuntu is not one of the officially supported operating systems from HP on this server model. So, their “Intelligent Provisioning” is worthless to you. For some crazy reason, Suse Linux is supported but Ubuntu is not. Weird. Anyway, here is what you have to do if you want to get Ubuntu Server going on it.

BIOS Settings

The SATA “fakeRAID” controller from HP that is integrated is not supported, so you will have to run software RAID which you can configure via the Ubuntu Server installer partitioning steps. But, even leaving the setting in the BIOS to have it use the B120i HP RAID controller will mess-up booting into Ubuntu. The Ubuntu OS installer (tried 12.04 and end-up installing 13.04 as it was officially released today) will see the physical drives in the server bays no matter what the BIOS is set to, but the BIOS will have trouble booting after what felt like a successful install. So, you need to go into the BIOS and change the SATA controller setting to “SATA AHCI Support” so you will be able to boot post-install.

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I believe the BIOS ships with the “Dynamic HP Smart Array B120i RAID Support” set as the default. It’s not that smart, so get it out of the way. You will be bombarded with warnings, but you have to do it. I did a bunch of test installs and this worked when all other options around leaving the “smart” setting going failed. You can get into the BIOS with F9.

Software RAID Configuration

I went with two terabyte drives and a simple RAID1 setup. If you set the BIOS SATA controller setting or not, the Ubuntu installer will see the individual physical drives in the bays. You need to not use guided partitioning and switch to manual. On each disk, create a partition map and give each drive the full free space you can without any partitions.

Once each drive has free space and partition maps through manual partitioning, you will get an option to do “Configure Software RAID.” Select it and create your RAID with the drives you have and right changes. Then, go into Configure the Logical Volume Manager” and create volumes on the RAID for root and swap.

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Yes, you can get fancy with more partitions and we all used to back in the day with various ones for /usr, /var, etc. but not really much of a benefit to do anymore. I match my swap size with the amount of RAM I have. In this case, I had a couple of 1TB drives sw mirrored and gave 8GB-ish to the swap space and the rest to root for Linux.

If you do these two major tweaks, you can get around the SATA problem with Ubuntu on the DL320e. If you get through an install and can reboot because it can’t find the volumes, check the BIOS setting and make sure it is on SATA AHCI or it will not find the installed Linux system and sw RAID.

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