Bad Halloween Car Karma?

KLS van being towed 11-02-2015Hey, I did my part. I bought a giant bag of candy. There was a plastic jack o’lantern on the planter by the front door. The porch light and pole light were on. I waited patiently for little ghosts and goblins to show up.

Nary a tap, ring, honk, hoot or holler all Halloween night. I was forced to diminish the bag of candy to assuage my disappointment.

Sunday night, needing to go to the store to restock the pantry. I crawled into the car and turned the key. The silence was deafening. It was as quiet as the doorbell on Halloween.

There was a guy dumping glass in a recycle dumpster at the fire station across the street. Somebody who recycles would surely be willing to give me a jump, right?

He agreed to help, but then he remembered that his battery lives under his rear seat. I’d never heard of that since VW days, but I wasn’t going to argue with him.

Neighbor tried to help

KLS van being towed 11-02-2015The neighbor down the hill from me was home, so he hooked his truck up to my battery. No joy. We changed the grip on the terminals several times, touched the ends of the cables together (which created an impressive arc), revved up his engine, scratched our heads, then gave up.

The headlights still burned brightly and the power doors and other toys all worked fine. That made it unlikely that my new battery was dead. Someone on the internet suggested disconnecting one of the battery leads for ten minutes, then hooking it up again as a way of rebooting the computer. While it was off, I used a terminal cleaner wire brush to make sure the terminal was clean. No go.

It was time to use my Hondacare extended warranty. Within an amazingly short time, a young man from Sperling’s Garage and Wrecker Service showed up. After doing all the things I had done, he tried tapping on the starter to get its attention. Still silence except for one tiny “click” from the starter when the key was turned.

He said it needed to be towed to the Mother Ship, Cape Honda. I told him to close out the ticket and that I’d arrange to have it towed in the morning rather than having it sit on their lot overnight.

Everybody was super nice

KLS van being towed 11-02-2015

After trying to start it Monday morning, I gave up and called Hondacare again. Another nice guy from Sperling’s showed up. After hearing everything we had tried, he said it was time to play Hook the Honda. There was a problem, though. The van was parked ass-end out, and it needed to be grabbed from the front. Wrecker One called Wrecker Two for assistance.

[An aside. One late night, I heard over the police radio, “Athens 1 to Headquarters.” “Headquarters, go ahead Athens 1.” “Headquarters, call me a wrecker.” “Headquarters to Athens 1, you’re a wrecker.”]

Before long, the two guys had me hooked up and headed to Honda. A couple hours later, the service department called to say my van’s starter was Dead on Arrival, and a transplant would have to come in from St. Louis on Tuesday. It should be ready by the end of the day. The good news was that I qualified for a loaner car and the warranty would cover the repair (roughly $358 to $657 based on Internet estimates).

I forgot to mention one other Only in Missouri thing: the neighbor from down the hill came up while the wrecker guys were working and offered me the use of her car for the day if I needed it. I’ve NEVER had that happen in Florida.

Computer had sympathy pains for the van

Oh, yeah, if that wasn’t enough. The first thing I saw Monday morning was a cry for help from my computer: one of my hard drives had gone critical and needed replacing. If you don’t hear from me, then the replacement didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped.

What do I do to chase this mechanical rain cloud away? Do I have to post a cute cat picture to reverse the bad car karma?

Rain Brings Rain Lilies

Rain Lillies 07-22-2014I’ve had my share of rain (computer problems) this week, but Matt called early in the morning to say that my computer had copied over essential files and that it had been running all night without crashing. I picked it up and started packing the van.

Just goes to show that if you can put up with a little rain, you’re liable to find your yard is packed with rain lilies when the sun comes out. (If you are a flower fan, click on the photo to make it larger.)

Headed back to Cape Wednesday

Rough draft of Smelterville book by Ken Steinhoff 07-17-2014I’m trying to make it back in town in time for Smelterville’s Vine Street Reunion. I had really hoped to have a video presentation containing the interviews I had done with folks over the past few years, but the hard drive crash cost me too many days.

I will have copies of the latest edition of Smelterville: Community of Love available. Any that are left over after the reunion will be available at Annie Laurie’s Antique Shop at Broadway and Frederick in Cape Girardeau. The price is $20.

Here’s a sneak peek at some of the new pages before some of the typos were fixed and some design elements changed.

Who Do You Call?

Matt Steinhoff FiremanWho do you call when your computer crashes and burns a couple of days before you are supposed to take off on a road trip? Kids Matt and Adam, of course.

After I had tried everything I knew how to do, I initiated Plan C, which was to haul the machine up to Kid Matt because, as Kid Adam, dodging the bullet, pointed out, Matt’s the guy who built it and is most familiar with all the pieces/parts.

Two flaky drives

Matt called this afternoon to say that my operating system RAID must have had TWO bad drives because he was seeing corruption on what I thought was the good drive. He replaced both of them and restored them from backup. (Hint: when the system reports that you have 17 seconds left to completion, go out to dinner. It lies.)

Hit some Kryptonite

Matt Steinhoff Halloween 1979About an hour later, he called to say that he had run into a big snag: Acronis, the backup program I use, won’t write a file to a partition bigger than two terabytes. My data RAID was made up of four two-terabyte drives. Acronis wouldn’t even see them.

I had never run into this problem because I had never tried to restore everything at once. The few times I needed to go to a backup, it was just one or two files.

Plan D was for him to copy just a couple of the critical directories, then I would restore about 90 percent of the remaining data from a portable external drive I keep around “just in case.”

Backblaze is Plan E

Buy From to Support Ken SteinhoffJust this week I got an email from Backblaze, my cloud backup provider, saying that they would now be able to write your backups to up to a 4 terabyte external drive and send it to you overnight. (What they DIDN’T say was that for large quantities of data, it might take up to five days for them to copy it all TO the drive. Still, downloading it, even with a fast internet connection, would have taken about three months.)

So, I sent them my credit card number for a 4-terabyte drive containing 599,771 files and 3.296,468 terabytes of data. It cost $189.

That’s the reason you need to click on that Amazon link at the top of the page (or here) to keep me from holding up a cardboard “Will Work For Hard Drives” sign at the intersection. Amazon purchases you make through that link give me about a 6% kickback without costing you anything extra.

Here are two earlier stories I did about Backblaze.

 Plan F

Adam GeekIf Plans A, B, C, D and E didn’t work, I was ready to call in Kid Adam. He LOOKS like he could solve a computer problem if the firefighter and Superman struck out.


Computer Is Still Oinked

Clouds over Cadiz KY 10-14-2012

We’re still fighting the computer issue. Since it was down, I took the opportunity to not set my alarm. I had to drain off some nitrogenous waste around 7:30, but I went back to bed and didn’t see daylight until 11:43 a.m. Except that it interferred with my mid-morning nap, I could get used to that.

Once I dug into the computer problem again, storm clouds started swirling. (Figurative storms clouds. These actual clouds were taken over Cadiz, Ky. in 2012).

Geeks were busy

Slaying my dragons would have been easy had I known what I was doing, but I was cautious because I didn’t want to mess up anything that wasn’t messed up in the process of solving Issue 1.

Kid Adam had been up all night doing a migration of his own, so he didn’t check in until he was groggily heading back home from the Miami data center. He suggested I put in two new 2-terabyte drives and do a restore from backyup, rather than rebuilding the mirror.

Kid Matt didn’t finish a 130-mile bike ride (actually 129.56 miles) until mid-afternoon, so he wasn’t in much of a mood to stop by, understandably.

I’m hoping Matt can swing by tomorrow, tell me that it’s OK to push this button and select this option without launching a palm tree or causing the shower to blow up.

Remember this big ball

Click Here Amazon 300x300 My RAID FailedClick on the big red Amazon button when you order stuff online. That helps me keep feeding hard drives into my computer and it doesn’t add anything to your cost.