Broken-ish iPhone

Well, that’s a whole lot of fun. I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket today and discovered that it’d been rebooting silently in my pocket for at least an hour. It just kept cycling through a boot cycle every 30 seconds or so, showing an Apple logo then turning off, then showing the logo again, then turning off. I plugged it into my laptop and it booted up just fine, but it immediately asked me if I wanted to power the iPhone off. It seems to work as long as it stays plugged in, but it’ll start rebooting again as soon as I unplug it.

Digging around a bit, I think the lock button on the top of the phone is broken. While it’s plugged in, it’s almost impossible to get it to work, and I end up getting the ‘Do you want to power off’ screen more often then a locked iPhone. Trying to get back to the home screen from inside of apps by pressing the big round button doesn’t always work; I end up with a screen shot instead, which is a sign that the lock button is being pressed.

Wonderful, what I really wanted to do today was to run to the Apple store and try to get a non-existent replacement phone.

Update: An Apple store 20 minutes away had a Genius Bar opening in 30 minutes, so I signed up for it online and jumped in the car. It took them about 3 minutes to decide that I needed a new phone, so they grabbed out out of the back and sent me on my way. Total time to repair, including travel time: about 50 minutes. Not too shabby.

Posted by Scott Laird Wed, 16 Jul 2008 21:08:00 GMT

Gigabyte GC-RAMDISK / i-RAM Review(-ish)

I mentioned that I bought a Gigabyte GC-RAMDISK (a.k.a. i-RAM) to go in my new home file server, largely to see if using it as a solid-state log device would improve ZFS performance.

Unfortunately, I’ve been completely and totally unable to get the card to do anything at all. I’m not sure if I have a defective card or if Gigabyte’s SATA implementation is just really buggy. When I plugged it into the motherboard’s ICH9R SATA ports, the BIOS didn’t even show it on the boot-up scan and Solaris reported it as failing to initialize correctly. When I plugged it into the Supermicro AOC-SAT2-MV8 8-port SATA card, the BIOS could see it but Solaris gave a similar error. Connecting it to the motherboard’s Marvell eSATA ports made the Marvell hang at bootup and made Solaris really unhappy, spewing drive failure messages all over the console.

I can’t find a single review that suggests that anyone has got this to work with a recent motherboard. Digging through the Linux kernel mailing list suggests that it has a really spotty SATA implementation. Apparently they developed it using a couple Windows drivers as a comparison, instead of actually paying attention to the SATA spec.

So, it’s going back to Amazon today. It was a nice idea, but it just doesn’t appear to work. I don’t know if it’s broken or just poorly designed, but either way it’s not useful to me.

Posted by Scott Laird Mon, 22 Oct 2007 21:39:47 GMT

What's worse then the sound of one hard drive going "click, click?"

What’s worse then the sound of one hard drive going “click, click?” Why, two drives going “click, click, click” in the same RAID 5 array, of course.

I’m not very happy with my little Infrant NAS box right now. I think I’ve had it with RAID 5–if I’m going to pile my life onto a disk array, then I really want something that can survive a 2-drive failure without croaking, and that’s basically impossible in a 4-drive enclosure.

I’m seriously considering replacing the Infrant with an OpenSolaris box running ZFS over RAID-Z2 with 6–10 drives; that should live through 2-drive failures, right? Anyone feel the need to talk me out of it?

Posted by Scott Laird Sun, 14 Oct 2007 12:47:00 GMT

Charging the Nokia E61

I’m mostly happy with my new Nokia E61, but there are 2 or 3 things about it that have been annoying the heck out of me. The most serious one is power-related: it’s been a royal pain in the neck to charge the phone. When I plug the phone into the charger, it’ll charge for a little while–30 seconds to 10 minutes–and then beep and say “Not charging.” If I unplug and replug the charger, then it’ll charge for a little while longer, but I have to keep doing it over and over again to get a full charge. This isn’t exactly an enjoyable and productive way to spend my days.

Obviously, it isn’t supposed to work this way. From doing a bit of digging online, it looks like I’m not alone with this problem. The general issue seems to be the charger–some third-party chargers (or even older Nokia chargers) don’t put out enough voltage to charge the phone. The phone sees the voltage as too low, so it aborts with the “not charging” message. I can see why this happens with the cheap third-party car charger that came with my phone, but it’s not at all clear why Nokia’s own wall charger does it. Admittedly, the one that came in the box with the phone is a UK model, but it’s supposed to take 100-240V. I just doesn’t quite manage to work right. There’s a slim chance that the vendor that sold me the E61 swapped out an older charger, but that’s kind of weird.

In an effort to avoid having to return the phone, I picked up a Nokia AC-3U charger from CompUSA on the way home today. The AC-3U is the travel charger that Nokia lists on their website for the E61. It uses the right connector for the phone (unlike the charger that came with the phone–it needs an adapter), and it’s quite a bit smaller then the original charger, too.

I plugged it in and the phone charged for about a half hour before “not charging” showed up. That’s a new record, but more importantly, it claimed to be fully charged at that point. So, most likely, the AC-3U does the trick. I’ll give it another shot tomorrow once it’s drained down a bit, but I think it’ll be okay.

Posted by Scott Laird Thu, 22 Jun 2006 03:41:31 GMT

Have you seen my shutter?

This was one of those weekends where I practically lived with a camera in my hand; I took around 500 halloween pictures yesterday and then moved on to Christmas-card pictures of the kids today. Everything was going well enough until late in the day, when I was trying to get a nice black and white shot of my son. In the middle of shooting I took a quick peek at my camera’s LCD display and noticed that the last shot had been completely underexposed. So I scrolled back a few shots and discovered that I’d been shooting nothing but black frames for about 30 seconds. One second it worked, the next it didn’t. All of the camera settings were the same–same aperture, ISO, and shutter speed. Same light. But no picture.

I double-checked things, but I was still getting nothing but black. With a sinking feeling, I popped the lens off and took a multi-second exposure while staring into the camera. I could see the mirror flip up, but instead of seeing the sensor, I was left staring at a closed shutter, which strongly suggests that my shutter has died. The shutter on my D60 is rated for 30,000 exposures, and I think I’m around 25,000 right now, so it’s a bit earlier then normal, but not utterly unexpected.

So, I guess I’ll be packing it up and shipping it off to Canon for service this week. I’m not sure how long it’ll take to get back, but I was hoping to use it at Mind Camp next weekend. It looks like I’m going to have to make alternate plans.

Posted by Scott Laird Mon, 31 Oct 2005 03:49:49 GMT

Bad tech day

So pretty much nothing worked yesterday.

It started with an 8:00 phone call over VoIP that only had one-way audio. Then my 11:00 phone call gave a potential client an “all circuits busy” instead of ringing through to my VoIP phone. I’ve been using Asterisk for almost 18 months, and this is the first time that I’ve ever seen either of these, so I spent a while trying to reproduce the problems and sending support email off to two different VoIP providers.

After that, I finally started in on The Evil Thing–I bought a copy of XP and I was planning on installing it on a spare PC so I could test Typo with IE 6. How hard could it be, right?

I gave up on it at 8:00 PM.

Here’s a short list of things that went wrong:

  • I couldn’t find an old Windows CD to use to make the upgrade test on my XP CD happy. I should have CDs for ‘98 and 2000 sitting here somewhere, but I couldn’t find either. I had to borrow one to make XP’s installer happy. It would have been easier to download a cracked copy then to use the legitimate version and fight with its copy and licensing protection.

  • Once I got past the upgrade test, the installer refused to format my hard drive. No matter which options I picked (full disk or small partition, NTFS or FAT, quick format or full format), it would always die out within 5 seconds with a “Setup was unable to format the partition” error. The error suggests that I check the power on my external SCSI drive. Since I’m installing onto a completely standard 80 GB internal IDE drive, the error isn’t very helpful. Digging around a bit, bad IDE cables and bad CD drives seem to be the most common causes for this error. Since this is an old box that I put together from spare parts, the system is using old 40-pin IDE cables; I need to swing by a store and pick up a couple 80-pin IDE cables. Maybe that will help.

  • For the fun of it, I tried booting my borrowed XP disk (the one that I was using to pass the upgrade test), and *it* partitioned the drive without any problems. Unfortunately, it refused to take my license key. The nice hologrammed one that came directly from Microsoft. Apparently my key is just good for XP Pro Upgrade CDs that come with SP2 pre-installed or something. Rebooting with my CD put me right back into formatting limbo.

I swear, I should have just downloaded and installed a cracked version–I would have been done early yesterday afternoon.

Posted by Scott Laird Tue, 13 Sep 2005 17:31:16 GMT

Dead PowerBook AC Adapter

The AC adapter for my PowerBook died this morning. It was weird–it was working fine at home this morning, but it completely failed to work at the office. I changed power plugs and wiggled all of the connectors, all without success.

Fortunately, my office is only 20 minutes from one of the local Apple stores, so I was able to dash out and get a replacement. After 40 months, I guess I’m not really surprised when pieces die on my laptop anymore.

Posted by Scott Laird Wed, 06 Jul 2005 04:22:55 GMT

More laptop problems

For some reason, the trackpad on my PowerBook started acting up this morning. Once or twice per minute, the mouse pointer just stops moving. Picking my finger up and waiting for a couple seconds usually fixes it; tapping hard on the trackpad seems to work, too. I rebooted, and it didn’t seem to happen while I was sitting at the login screen, but it restarted as soon as I logged in. So, it could be a software issue. Ugh. As it is, it’s really awkward to use the trackpad. I have a USB mouse that I bought to use with the laptop years ago, but I gave up on it after I got used to the trackpad. Now it looks like I might have to drag the mouse out of retirement, unless I can find a simple solution to the problem.

I think this is my Mac’s way of telling me to order a new PowerBook, but I’m not going to take the hint until the PowerBook G5 shows up.

Posted by Scott Laird Fri, 18 Mar 2005 20:16:19 GMT


Today’s weather for Seattle, WA:

60°F, mostly cloudy

Today’s weather for my office:

72°F, light rain.

For the fourth time in the last two years, the air conditioner hiding above my office’s suspended ceiling is dripping, sending a stream of water onto the floor of my office. Fortunately, my current office layout doesn’t have any critical hardware setting underneath the leak.

The really annoying thing is that the leak seems to follow me–my previous office had the same problem, and it was in a completely different building.

Posted by Scott Laird Tue, 08 Mar 2005 00:31:13 GMT

More Google Wrongness

I’ve never really figured out why, but Google really likes me. Or, rather, it likes this blog. I keep showing up amazingly highly-ranked in common Google searches. Today’s example is treo wifi. In order, here are the top 10 results, out of 2.2 million possible matches:

  1. TreoCentral: No Treo WiFi
  2. TreoCentral: Treo 600 and WiFi?
  3. .:UNEASYsilence: Treo 650 WiFi
  4. PDA News: Treo 650 WiFi, Verizon announces XV6600, PalmOne…
  5. scottstuff: another WiFi solution for the Treo 650
  6. Slashdot: Enthusiast Hacks WiFi Into Treo 650
  7. CNet: Treo 650 Update WiFi-less
  8. Engadget: Add WiFi to your Treo 650! SD WiFi card drivers hacked
  9. Engadget: some random search page
  10. PalmInfocenter: HOWTO: Make that palmOne Treo 650 Even Better!

So, as I see this, Google sees me as a better source of information then Slashdot, CNet, Engadget, and PalmInfocenter? It can’t just be PageRank–from what I can see, I’m just a lowly PR5 this month, while Slashdot and CNet are PR9s, and Engadget is a PR6. It can’t be the number of links in Google’s database, because no one links to my Treo WiFi page. Can anyone explain how this works?

Posted by Scott Laird Wed, 16 Feb 2005 22:28:37 GMT