FUBAR

For the past two years, I have been running a small personal server out of my house. Well, I guess “small” is a relative term. To be more specific, it was a Fedora 8 server with 2 terabytes of storage for my backups, music, and Subversion repositories. Along with my desktop, it was my pride and joy; everything was custom-built, the distro was actively maintained, and all of the configuration was done by a two-factor encrypted console.

Notice the use of the past tense. Was. On Monday I noticed that I was getting read errors on my drives, although I wasn’t sure which one (I had 4 drives). Although I went to bed with a (mostly) working server, I woke up to a system that wouldn’t boot up because the partition information. After fumbling with different recovery methods to try and get my data off, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to get the data off; it was gone, possibly because of my recovery actions.

Needless to say, I was more than a little devastated. Although I can rerip my music, I can’t get back the Subversion repositories; those are all gone, along with all of the revisions I’ve made on projects.

Despite my demotivation, I took this as one huge learning experience. Although I had made backups of some of my work, it was still on the same drive and partition, and I should have considered them just as vulnerable as the originals. When you can’t make consistent backups on a different system, RAID your drives.

I’ve since reinstalled my server as a 1TB RAID10. Alrhough this means I have half the space to work with, it also means that I have 100% redundancy. So, if one of my drives fails like what happened to me, all I have to do is pull out the drive, put a replacement in, and the system will copy all of the data over to the new drive. The best part about all of this is that this all happens on-the-fly; no downtime, no rebooting, and no manual work except for adding the drive to the RAID configuration.

In short, if you take one thing away from this, remember to back up your stuff frequently, even if it’s just on a flash drive or external hard drive. When your original fails, you’ll thank yourself for that backup.

The Schedule

When I started this blog up a short while ago, I was presented with a number of pieces of advice to ensure the so-called “success” of my blog. For a site such as mine, I’m not sure how one might measure success. Monetarily, the site can’t be a success since there is no form of income (aside: I sincerely hope that, one day, I will be able to eat those words and the site may provide me with a source of income). I suppose that, for a non-profit, one-man-show style website, one can only hope to be known well enough to be publically recognised. I don’t expect that to happen, so I’ll settle for being a well-visited blog. I’ll consider my first milestone to be 500 unique visitors in a single day, at which point I will not only be happy, but I will set myself a loftier goal which will seem just as unlikely for me to reach.

But I digress. Advice, right? One of the most logical pieces of advice I received was to have a regular schedule that I would regularly update to. Although I toyed around with the idea of updating three times a week, I came to the conclusion that is probably infeasible in the long run. Unfortunately, I don’t have the intension of updating frequently enough so that my university marks suffer. So, after much deliberation, I have decided that an update schedule of every Monday and Friday is a reasonable goal to uphold.

This is obviously all dependent on whether I feel like I have something to say, though. Although I don’t think it will be much of an issue, there always is the potential of hitting a bit of writer’s block. There always is the possibility, though. Because my classes this semester are not computer science courses, I will find it hard to refer to those courses without straying too far off topic (unless one of my professors makes another bone-headed comment again). The fall won’t present me with much more inspiration: at least, not directly. If everything goes according to plan, I will have an intern job with a firm involved in computer science, one of which, if I get the job, will not legally allow me to discuss what I do.

That being said, my development work, addiction to music, and everyday experiences I’m sure will provide me with ample fodder for you to stuff your brains with. Plus a little feedback here and there from you guys might give me some incentives to post a little more.

Of course, I might be a little more inclined to post three times a week if I hit 1000 visitors a day…