Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
howeird

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of BIOS Upgrades, RAID Array crashes and Wondercon

Friday at work I had signed up online to go to WonderCon when I saw that (a) Kevin Smith was speaking and (b) _oy_ and scendan and probably seamoose and iamradar would be there too. I printed my tickets at work (one for Sat one for Sun).

I'm entering this on my "old" PC, the one I thought I has retired last week. I was going to do it on my laptop, but the laptop has decided to intermittently ignore the h, i and 9 keys on the keyboard. Makes sense if you look at there those keys are located - probably share the same ribbon cable line. It has been Hell Week for my computers.

Computer Hell: Enter Here
When all looked well and stable on the new PC, a 4th hard drive arrived, and I thought I would be able to simply add it to the RAID 5 array, since that's what Intel's RAID manager software claimed.

They lied.

Turns out you can't add a drive to a RAID 5 array. If you already have 3 drives, the best you can do is label the added one as a spare, so it sits unused until one of the other drives fails. So I did this, since the alternative was to wipe the machine all over again, and restore from the old PC (for those of you who are playing at home, this would have been my 3rd time doing this).

  • So, with things being stable, I decided it was time to flash the latest BIOS on the new machine. The new BIOS would solve some serious problems:
  • An intermittent LAN connection - sometimes the machine would boot up not recognizing it had a LAN adapter
  • Total machine hang when a CD is opened
  • Bogus "SM Bus Driver not installed" error
    • Don't ask me why my PC wanted to take the bus to San Mateo.

After the BIOS upgrade, the LAN problem went away, but not SM Bus issue. And my RAID array showed as having a failure on Drive 1, which made the Intel software start initializing the spare. Which is when I put a CD in the drive to try to install the SM Bus thingie and that's when I discovered the CD hang had not been fixed, either.

When I rebooted the system, BOTH Drive 1 and the spare were marked as failed, and the RAID array, which should have continued with two out of three drives healthy, failed as well. I could not even boot the system. I tried many maneuvers with the RAID BIOS to resurrect it, but could not clear the flag which the Intel software had set marking the array as failed.

So it looks like ASUS has a problem with its new BIOS not working correctly with an existing RAID array. Boo Hiss.

But there is some small silver lining - I wanted to rebuild the array with all 4 drives, and now I would have to. I knew the drives themselves were not bad, they passed two different BIOS diagnostics.

Saturday morning I started the Windows XP install again, after building a 4-drive RAID 5 array. Formatting this array in XP was going to take several hours (we're talking 1600 GB of disk space here), so once I had theat going I drove to CalTrain and went to SF. I got to the convention center at 10:30, but the line to get in to register was two blocks long, and hardly moving. And these idiots did not have a separate line for pre-registration. I needed cash, anyway, so I headed for what on any other day would be the nearest B of A ATM - Montgomery Street. It's about a mile from the convention center.

When I got there, a work crew was busily making it into a US Bank Branch. Feh!

Next nearest is Chinatown. So I walked the half mile or so to Grant Avenue and Bush, and was reminded by the street fair that this is Chinese New Year. Actually it was last weekend, but they had the street blocked off to traffic, and it was a major undertaking to get the six blocks from the China Gate to B of A.

<Rant>
Bank of America was born in San Francisco, and its HQ is here. But while there is a B of A ATM every three blocks in Silicon Valley, they have NOTHING downtown. I must have passed 20 other brands of ATM/Bank branches before finding the B of A one.
</rant>

Back to the con at about 11:30, Now the line was only one block long, and moving quickly. I'm inside at noon, and the nice man at the door is asking who had registered online. I show my printed ticket, and he waves me past the millions of walk-ins, to a line which only has three other people in it. They really could have done this better!!!! It took maybe 3 minutes to get my badge. The upshot of the delay is I missed the costuming panel, where I was hoping to connect with my LJ friends.

Since my two PCs are now mating over the network, I won't risk copying the WonderCon photos from the camera right now. Besides, I'm several photos behind already for previous posts. But I'll have them here Real Soon Now.

A quick glimpse of what I saw at the con:
  • Fox Films' preview of their remake of The Omen.
    • It opens June 6. Do the math - 6/6/6/. Total rip-off of the original. If you liked the original, you'll love this. Otherwise stay away.
  • Mission Impossible III preview
    • Still not as good as the TV series, but I got a free hat
  • Kevin Smith
    • hilarious and entertaining as always. Maybe even moreso. Loved his "Sell-Out" warm-up jacket with "Total Whore" embroidered as his name tag.
  • Pixar 20th anniversary promo
    • too short. Preview if their upcoming movie "Cars"
    • it's going to be their first box office loser. You read it here first. I walked out on this.
  • Sacto & SF Browncoats Meetup
    • Almost nobody there. Boring Joss Whedon interview playing
  • Memory Lane with Noel Neill
    • The original TV Lois Lane - I always love seeing her, she is a warm, charming, witty woman who is still attractive at age 85
  • Masquerade
    • Much smaller than it should have been. Only 27 entries. There were more people in good costumes in the audience than there were onstage!
    • I hated the MC's screaching voice
    • The half-time entertainment was horrible - amateur, boring
    • All my LJ friends won!
    • _oy_ and scendan were in the group which won best performance
    • seamoose and imaradar and probably a couple of other LJers I know of were in a group which won something, I forgot what they called it.
I wanted to stay for the Star Wars fan films, but that would have meant not getting home till 1:30 am, so I ducked out right after thepost-masquerade photo shoot.

It's noon, I've done what I needed to do at home, it's going to take another 3 hours for the files to transfer to the new PC, so I think I'll head for Wondercon. Maybe I'll catch the Trailer Park.
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