Saturday, January 31, 2009

get in touch with yumi

Hi Yumi,

If you are reading this, please send me an email at "iborco at gmail dot com".

And Happy Birtday to Nami.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

boycott seagate, ep. 2

What's very sad (but also enraging) is that for Seagate's employees all the trouble they have caused is simply a job, but for the unlucky Seagate customer with failed drives it can be a nightmare.

I have lost a lot a nights trying to find a way to recover my data, vented my frustration on my girlfriend, ruined my Christmas, etc. I might even have to pay some sensible amounts of money if I want to recover my data (and I dearly do that).

But what Seagate does?

They first denied there was a problem. Then they released a firmware that bricked in certain conditions a drive that was still working. They still deny the problem is a real and widespread one (on the other hand, some data recovery specialist consider that these drives have a 30% failure chance).

They offer to flash the firmware, but only in USA. What about the rest of the world?

After almost 2 weeks I have yet to receive some answer to the trouble ticket I have logged on Seagate site. I have emailed yesterday Seagate EMEA and I am curious how long will it take (if ever) for them to respond.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

boycott seagate

Last year I have bought a 1T Seagate HDD (model ST31000340AS). At the beginning, all was fine and, after 1 month, I even bought a second Seagate drive, the 1.5 T version.

The 1.5T was really a let down: I tried to put it in a RAID configuration, but it was expunged from it every now and then. Searching the net for an explanation, I've discovered there are major problems with 7200.11 Seagate series, especially with the 1.5T models.

The Seagate site assured customers that the problems were minor and no data loss will come to us. I have checked my firmware on both the 1T and the 1.5T and, according to Seagate, none of them were having problems.

Oh, boy, I was really stupid!

After another month or so (so, after around 2 month after buying it), the 1T wasn't recognized by the BIOS any longer. Moving the HDD in another PC didn't help. I can hear the drive spinning, but the BIOS will just hang for a couple of seconds trying to detect it, fail to do so and continue.

Now I am waiting for a solution that might never come. I have some important data on the 1T drive and still hope that, some day, I will be able to recover them.

The 1.5T is used now as a second backup solution and I keep on it only data that I already store on DVD's. I would not trust sensitive data to it.

Even when I copy the DVD's to it, I often have to copy some files twice or thrice, as they get corrupted during the copy process. Lucky me, all my DVD's are now having MD5 on them and I can easily detect such a problem from the beginning. Usually, the second copy of the file gets fine on the drive, but copying correctly a whole DVD to HDD is, unfortunately, very rare with this 1.5T Seagate HDD.

I have registered a ticket with Seagate, but, after 1 week I still have not received any human answer. If you live in USA, the solution is simple: just send the bricked HDD to Seagate and they will update its firmware, with no data loss. Nice and simple. But because I live in Romania, this is not possible - at least, for now, the only answer I have received is to RMA the drive and get a new one instead. But I want my data back, for free, as other Seagate customers do.

I have learned my lessons:
  • never buy another drive from Seagate,
  • always use RAID and,
  • for really-really important data, do regular back-ups.

Friday, January 23, 2009

git cheat sheat

Found some nice cheat-sheets for git:
To set the user and e-mail used when making a commit to your git repo, use:

git config 'John Doe'
git config

If you are using gitorious, you might find handy to use an alternate ssh key made specifically for gitorious upload. You could make such a key with:

ssh-keygen -b 4096 -C

Save the key under ~/.ssh/id_rsa_johndoe_example_com and modify ~/.ssh/config to:

Host gitorious

Upload the public key to gitorious. After that, you'll be able to use the new key to push your changes to gitorious using the id_rsa_johndoe_example_com key.

Another very useful setting for using git with CMake is to add the build/ dir into your .git/info/exclude file so that git status ignores all build files.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I have published my free-time work from the past couple of months on gitorious. The code should evolve in time into a new and better isohexengine, but, for now, it consists only in some samples and benchmarks. The code is release under AGPLv3 license and it can be accessed here.

Have fun ;)

Friday, January 16, 2009

in romania, buy retail components

I have discovered the hard-way that in Romania it is a lottery to buy bulk components.

Last month one my bulk Seagate 1T HDD died just days after moving all my photos and other important docs on it, without making any backup. My mistake and now I'm paying the consequences.

My other Seagate 1.5T HDD, also bulk, reports periodically smartctl errors and copying files from a DVD to the HDD often produces corrupted files. Lucky me, all my recent DVDs have MD5s on them, so I just make a new copy of the corrupted file until it is ok.

My other two bulk Samsung's also report smartctl errors (these are now in RAID, so if one of them fails I will not loose my data again - hopefully they will not both die at the same time).

I suspect all this is because:
  • Romania is still considered a second rate European country and we receive all the bad lots that can't be dumped somewhere else (nice conspiracy theory, right? :-) )
  • Romanian resellers don't give a s*t about how they handle the bulk compos, so these components get damaged during handling
What's more unerving is that recently I wanted to buy a Pioneer DVD 216 writer from MarioSoft.

Lucky me, I've looked carefuly at the unit when I wanted to pay it and discovered it had a bent corner. That could only mean it had been hit really hard (you can imagine what must have happened inside to the fragile compos that are there).

Of course, I refused to buy it and, as a precaution, I've written down the serial number of the unit: HFDP005942WL.

After a couple of days, I've ordered again the Pioneer DVD 216 to MarioSoft. They told me I can come and pick it up the next day.

The "new" unit looked ok (no bent corners this time), but, to my surprise, the serial number was the same!!! So somebody simply replaced the back-cover that had no serial number on it and straightened the front-cover.

When I've asked about this, the MarioSoft guy told me he sent back the defective unit to the Pioneer supplier and they received the current unit as a new one.

Just figure!

Of course I haven't bought the "new" unit either and searched at other shops for some other DVD writer. I've ended with a writer in a retail package. Hopefuly this will work ok despite of how Romanian sellers and suppliers are handling their merchandise.

I've tried to get some comments from Pioneer and MarioSoft about this, but without much success:
  • Pioneer Europe said they are sory and they hope the matter will be solved;
  • Sun Audio Electronics SRL aka Pioneer Romania told me they are not the suppliers for these components;
  • the importers Asbis Romania and RHS Company didn't reply in any way (I might have received a bad e-mail address for Asbis - I will update this article if they will reply in any way);
  • no comments from MarioSoft
My recommendations:
  • buy a retail component if you can
  • if you want to buy a Pioneer DVD 216, check it's serial number is not HFDP005942WL

qt4.5 to be released as lgpl! yay!

As you already know from other better news places, QT4.5 will be released under LGPL 2.1 (scheduled to be released in March 2009).

Last year, when I was pondering if I should use QT or GTKmm, I sent an e-mail to QT and asked how much a commercial license costs. The reply put me off (the commercial license costs around 4K EUR/year) and for some time I didn't know what to do: use QT4 and release my code under GPL3 or go with GTKmm.

Spending some time with both QT4 and GTKmm made me decide go with QT4 (mostly because of the docs, but also because QT apparently has all the widgets that I need and, from what I understand, can integrate nicely OpenGL into a QT app), even though I wasn't completely happy with being forced to use GPL3 (I like GPL3, but I didn't like being forced to choose my license).

So you can't imagine my joy when I've read that QT4.5 will be released under LGPL. Now I can use QT and decide on my own on what license to use. For my projects, it will probably be Affero :-D

moved to ubuntu 8.10

After almost 10 years of using only Debian/Unstable, yesterday I have converted my last laptop still running Debian to Ubuntu 8.10.

Now I have 2 laptops and 2 PCs and keeping them updated was becoming a chore.

Ubuntu looks acceptable and even though I will not have the cutting edge any more, having a stable distro that is not older than 6 months at any time outweights this.

In addition, in the past couple of months I've discovered that I have to compile by hand, from sources, some of the libs I use, even on Debian/Unstable. The same as on Ubuntu.