Hardware

Quick Hack: Smartctl tests in a nutshell

by on Nov.19, 2019, under Hardware, Miscellaneous, Quick Hacks

This quick hack is a quick “need to know” list of Linux’s smartctl commands for hard drive diagnosis. I highly recommend using a USB drive dock for analyzing suspect drives. These commands are OS agnostic provided you’re running the vendor provided smartctl for either Linux or BSD.

For the purposes of this article, /dev/sdb is the drive under test. Make sure you know which /dev entry corresponds with the desired drive.

smartctl -a /dev/sdb Shows all smart attributes of /dev/sdb including test results, and drive make, model, and serial number.

smartctl -t short /dev/sdb Performs a “short” online test of /dev/sdb. Does not print test results. Does not test disk surface readability.

smartctl -t long /dev/sdb Performs a “long” offline test of /dev/sdb. Does not print test results. Tests the entire disk surface for readability and reallocates bad sectors. If your system is under a lot of disk I/O to the disk under test, this will cause the test to take longer to complete (hence running it in a USB dock or other non-system location)

smartctl -c /dev/sdb Estimates how long the disk check will take in minutes (Usually is wrong though, I wouldn’t set my watch by it.)

smartctl -l selftest /dev/sdb Shows the SMART test results table (instead of smartctl -a which shows EVERYTHING).

smartctl -X /dev/sdb Cancels a test in progress.

NOTES: Re-running smartctl -t against a drive already testing will show an error message which includes how long the test will take to complete (unlike smartctl -l, this time is actually more closer to reality).

In some installations that support it, hdparm -S 0 /dev/sdb will prevent a disk from going to sleep, however in theory, the disk should never sleep if it’s under an active test. This will not stop an ACPI sleep or hibernate event from shutting down the disk.

Happy hacking!
FIRESTORM_v1

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Cruising with WiFi – Is that a travel router in your pocket?

by on Jan.10, 2019, under Embedded devices, Hardware, Networking

Carnival Vista

Carnival Vista

Internet access on cruise ships is now a common occurrence and more commonly, I get frequent questions on how to “game” the system and get Internet access without paying for it.  The short of it is, you’re going to have to purchase at least one account to get anything online.  The long of it lies in the rest of this article and it’ll be up to you to decide if it’s worth the effort.  Quick spoiler alert:  For me it wasn’t, and I ended up buying another access to get myself and my wife online at the same time.  While it was a punch in the pocketbook, it was a lot cheaper to pay money to resolve than the costs incurred in other areas (time, frustration, etc.).

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Networking on the Go – Creating a trusted wireless network in a sea of untrusted wireless

by on Aug.18, 2018, under Hardware, Networking, Security

Camping while connectedIn this article, I’ll be going over my setup for being able to join my camper’s wireless network to a host wireless network (RV park wifi, state park wifi, etc..) with the purpose of maintaining security and convenience between switching wireless networks.  Even though you’re on-the-go, you shouldn’t sacrifice security for convenience of park wifi, and at the same time, changing the wireless configuration on a slew of devices is inconvenient at best and maddening at worst.  First I’ll cover why you want to consider this method versus other methods, then I’ll itemize a product list, then finally we’ll jump right into configuration.  When we’re done, you’ll have your trusted wireless network all set up and ready for your devices.

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Overhauling the Battery Backup in an HP DL380

by on Jun.20, 2017, under Hardware, How-To's

Amazon's recommendation for a replacement battery pack.

Ain’t no one got that kind of cash!

Everyone knows that in most if not all devices, batteries are considered a wear item, an item that’s designed to be replaced at certain intervals of a machine’s lifetime. (Ok, unless you’re Samsung… or Apple… or any one of a bunch of stupid laptop vendors)  Enterprise level servers are no exception.  What is outrageous though is these consumables are usually stupidly expensive and can be repaired for much less than the replacement part.  In this case (and this post), I saved myself about $63 by building my own replacement battery pack for my HP SmartArray P400 raid card.

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Home Automation – Making a dumb switch for smart lights.

by on Feb.23, 2016, under Embedded devices, Hardware, How-To's, IoT

Sometimes you need a smart switch for a stupid job, othertimes you need a stupid switch for a smart job.It might not look like much, but the switch used as this feature image has more to offer than one would think judging by appearances.  In this article, we will be converting a “stupid” switch into a “smart” switch for the purposes of controlling a connected GE Light Bulb over Z-wave and discuss why you’d want to look for a stupid switch for smart devices in the first place. (continue reading…)

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Cisco WiFi – Disconnect from the hive mind

by on Jul.16, 2015, under Embedded devices, Hardware, How-To's, Linux, Networking

Cisco AIR-AP1131AG-A-K9

Cisco AIR-AP1131AG-A-K9

Everyone knows that I love a bargain. That love for bargains is intensified any time networking gear is involved.  Imagine my excitement when I found a bunch of the above pictured Cisco access points on Ebay for around $8 a pop because the lid won’t stay on.  Unfortunately, my excitement was tempered a bit when I found out that these were designed to work with a controller and weren’t stand alone units.  Undeterred by this disappointment, I researched and found a way to get these things to operate on their own as standalone units and freed them from the hive mind!  In this article, we will cover converting the Cisco AIR-AP1131AG-A-K9 from “Lightweight”(controller-based) to “Autonomous”(standalone) and will even cover how to put them back in “Lightweight” mode if you want later on.

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Raspberry Pi tastes better with RPi B+ edition

by on Jul.23, 2014, under Embedded devices, Hardware, Hardware Pr0n, Linux

Raspberry Pi B+

Raspberry Pi B+

The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new arrival to their existing line of awesome little credit-card sized computers.  I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one and give it a go.  In the article (with pics!) below, I’ll cover what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what you can expect from everyone’s favorite mini machine.

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Giving a PIX firewall a new lease on life

by on Jan.24, 2014, under Embedded devices, Hardware, Networking

PSU Spaghetti

Buying networking equipment off of Ebay can be one of the most rewarding and frustrating challenges you may ever face. Of course, being able to identify and fix issues with newly purchased hardware may mean the difference between having purchased a $500 firewall for $11 and some parts versus buying another piece of crap for $11 that will live out its life in the back of the parts closet.   In this article, I’ll cover how to replace the power supply to a Cisco PIX 506E firewall with a standard computer power supply.

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IBM RS/6000 display repurposed for Arduino

by on Jul.23, 2012, under Embedded devices, Hardware, Microcontrollers

I couldn't find a picture of an IBM server with the LCD so here are some squirrels.

I couldn’t find a picture of an IBM server with the LCD so here are some squirrels.

We managed to unearth an old IBM RS/6000 server at work and decided that since the machine didn’t work, it was time for it to go away.  Right off the bat, one of the things I noticed about this machine was that it had a diagnostic LCD panel in the bezel presumably for showing POST error codes and warnings.  Since the machine was going to the scrap heap, I decided to relieve it of the LCD and managed to get it to work on an Arduino with minimal effort.  Read on for pictures and a wiring pinout.

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Hardware: Remote Control your Arduino

by on Jul.10, 2012, under Hardware, How-To's, Microcontrollers

Arduino Uno - Image courtesy of www.arduino.cc

Have a giant Arduino powered killbot, but can’t fancy being right next to it when you unleash it on the unsuspecting populace?  Want to change the mood-lights in your dorm without having to get up off the couch?  Why not use IR remote controls to do the walking for you?  In this article, I will be covering how to use the IRremote Library written by Ken Shirriff for the Arduino to control a seven segment display as a proof of concept.  Killbot not included.

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