The Haphazard Blog

Archive for April, 2010

Migrating From a Single Disk to New RAID 1 (Mirroring) Array

by on Apr.27, 2010, under Computer Hardware, Technology

It took some data loss for me to finally move to RAID. I was backing up my data to DVD every week or 2 and I was pretty comfortable doing that. My bigger problem with the hard drive failure was the amount of time I had to spend to reinstall the OS and all my applications to get back up and running. So I lost a little bit of data, but had to spend 2 days diagnosing the failure and rebuilding a machine to get back to work (since I work from home, I’m pretty much my own IT department).

My new machine came with a single 250 GB HD and my plan was to move to RAID by adding a second drive. That procedure would’ve been fairly simple. Install the new drive, launch the RAID software (in my case, Intel Matrix Storage Manager because my Precision T5500 has an Intel ICH10R southbridge) and create an array. Instead I got two 640 GB drives to replace my primary drive. This is where I was not sure what to do to migrate to RAID 1. It turned out to be pretty simple, but I thought I’d outline the steps here.

  1. Write down the serial numbers for the drives and keep track of which drive is which (this may be the only way you will know which drive is empty and which has data when you create a RAID array, for me my drives were the same model and capacity, so the only difference was the serial number)
  2. Install one of the new drives and use the software from the drive manufacturer to clone the drive (my new drives were made by Western Digital, so I used Acronis True Image WD Edition)
  3. After the cloning procedure is completed, remove the old drive and install the new drive as your new primary drive and verify that you can boot into Windows
  4. Install the second drive in your machine, boot up and launch the software that manges RAID (in my case, it is the Intel Matrix Storage Console)
  5. Follow the instructions for your software to create a new Array (in the Intel Matrix Storage Console, Actions->Create RAID Volume from Existing Hard Drive)
  6. Creating a RAID 1 (Mirroring) array should be straight forward (select the source drive, select the drive to mirror to and accept the risk that the data on the second drive will be destroyed)

All in all, it took just a couple hours to do everything (most of that time was spent letting the PC copy the data) and while I didn’t, with the Intel Matrix Storage Console, I could also keep using the PC as it created the array. Also, I still back up my data to DVD every week or 2 because it is still possible that both drives could fail. I’m only treating this as a time saver in the event of a hard drive failure.

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Final Day of the 2010 NFL Draft

by on Apr.25, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

After making six trades in the first 3 rounds, the Patriots made only one trade over the last 4 rounds. That meant they ended up making seven more selections (they had 8 picks and had to make 4 of them).

I’m not Todd McShay or Mike Mayock here, so I really know very little about how many of these guys will fare with the Patriots or in the NFL in general.

They took another TE (and another Florida Gator), Aaron Hernandez, with their 4th Rd pick. From what I gather this guy can line up anywhere (backfield, in-line or split out) so he seems more like a pass catching tight end but they said he should also be able to block. I think that is an expectation from all of New England’s TEs and RBs. So they couple him with Rob Gronkowski who is supposed to be a better blocker than receiver and Alge Crumpler who seems to be primarily a blocker at this stage of his career and there is a diverse group.

Next up was Zoltan Mesko, a punter. This is the first time the Patriots have drafted a punter under Bill Belichick. I also assume as long this guy is competent (he at least is pretty funny) he will be the Patriots punter, which means this will also be the first time under Belichick they have a young/rookie punter. One interesting fact is that Belichick seems to prefer left-footed punters.

Their next 2 picks were for offensive lineman (Ted Larsen and Thomas Welch) that the experts called projects followed by two more picks to take defensive lineman (Brandon Deaderick and Kade Weston). They closed out the draft with a QB, Zac Robinson who I can only assume is someone they believe they can develop. It’s good business, especially if you’re able to trade them later for a high draft pick or a good player.

Overall, it looks like a good draft for New England except for maybe addressing the right defensive end position long term. They traded Richard Seymour away before last season and lost Jarvis Green in the off season this year. My biggest hope is they got a really good CB in Rd 1 and they have finally stocked the LB position with enough depth to one day rival the 2001-2004 rotation. Almost 5 more months until the 2010 season begins…

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Four Sticks of RAM in Triple Channel Mode

by on Apr.24, 2010, under Computer Hardware, Technology

The machine I have has an Intel 5520 chipset (enterprise equivalent of the X58) and Intel Xeon 5500 series CPU (enterprise equivalent of the Core i7 series). It came with 4 GB or RAM installed as four, 1 GB sticks. The chipset is designed to run in triple-channel mode, so the ideal way to install RAM is with 3 matched sticks at a time.

I wondered what happens when you install 4 sticks in the machine with 3 sticks filling one set of channels and the other stick installed by itself. In my case, because I am running 32-bit Windows XP, I can only address 4 GB of memory. This is an important limitation for me because between my video card (512 MB of RAM) and other devices, it leaves me with 2.93 GB of addressable space for RAM. That means I can remove 1 GB and still have the same amount of RAM.

I ran benchmarks with SiSoftware Sandra Lite and Lavalys Everest Ultimate to run synthetic memory benchmarks. Here are the reults:

4 vs 3 Sticks of RAM

The maximum bandwidth went up significantly under Sandra by removing 1 stick. Under Everest, the numbers remained close with 3 sticks edging out 4 sticks in 2 tests and losing out in 1 test.

So in the end, I pulled 1 stick out of my machine. I had the flexibility because I can’t use the full 4 GB regardless so I might as well take the performance improvement. Things will get interesting later this year (hopefully) when I upgrade to 64-bit Windows 7. The simplest solution would be to buy 6 GB (2 x 3GB).

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The Picture Looks Better After Day 2 of the Draft

by on Apr.24, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

The Patriots headed into the draft with 4 picks on the first 2 days (one in the 1st Rd (22nd) and three in the 2nd Rd (44, 47 and 53)) and finished the first 2 days with five selections (one in the 1st Rd (27), three in the 2nd Rd (42, 53, 62) and one in the 3rd Rd (90)) and Carolina’s 2011 2nd Rd pick.

As usual they moved around and were able to get something for 2011. They now have 2 picks in the 1st and 2nd rounds in 2011. It was nice to see them trade up to go after Rob Gronkowski. Sounds like he is expected to be a player like Daniel Graham: great blocker, good hands. I think it’s hard to really figure out how a TE will fit into the passing game in New England because it has been so long since they had a tight end with big receiving numbers. Since no one has really left New England and turned into a star pass catching tight end, I don’t know if it’s the system or all the picks weren’t all that good.

They were able to pick up two more linebackers. The first was Jermaine Cunningham who should be an OLB and the second was Brandon Spikes who should be an ILB, both from Florida. OLB is a position that badly needs a 3 down player who can set the edge on the run and rush the passer. It seemed the analysts all had similar opinions on Brandon Spikes. Slow 40-yd dash time but good instincts. Belichick says he plays faster than the times say. It’s a tall order for a second rounder to become a starter, but the Patriots linebackers were at their best when they had a rotation of 3 OLBs and 3 ILBs. If these guys can become part of the rotation at some point, New England will have gone a long way toward rebuilding their LB corps.

The last player they selected was Taylor Price. Seems like a guy who was taken more for his potential than production. The Patriots have a murky situation at WR this year and long term. Wes Welker is rehabbing a knee injury that many expect to keep him out of the beginning of the season. Julian Edelman is most likely to take his place. Randy Moss returns for what he believes is his last season. The #3 WR is just as big a question mark as it was when the season ended last year. They will have David Patten, Torry Holt, Brandon Tate and now Taylor Price all competing for the job. They should be able to find a #3 WR for this year from the group, but I wonder what happens if Moss is gone in 2011? Can Tate or Price develop into a #1 WR?

The Patriots head into today with 8 more picks to make today. They have to use their 4 compensatory selections. I came into this draft expecting them not to use all of the 12 picks and now they could use 13. We’ll see how this pans out.

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At Least It Was a Defensive Pick

by on Apr.23, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

A lot of Patriots aren’t too happy this morning. Likely talking themselves into this being a good pick. I gave up a long time ago trying to determine if the pick is good or not. They have more information and insight than the rest of us, but I still feel like I wasted the whole night. Might as well read a recap of what happens because I’m never excited after they finally pick.

With that said, I had dreams of having Dez Bryant playing WR. To keep it in perspective, the Patriots have drafted Deion Branch and Chad Jackson, so even if they took him, they have made mistakes in the past. They had two chances to get him and passed. Denver did as well. I’d say he wasn’t seriously considered as a good fit.

Sergio Kindle was another guy that many expected New England to take and they had three chances to get him and he’s still available to start the second round. Today some people are now saying he has knee concerns.

So the Patriots took Devin McCourty, a defensive back with their pick. This is a position that was listed as an area with little need. They have been drafting young corners the last three years (Terrence Wheatley, 2nd Rd 2008; Jonathan Wilhite, 4th Rd 2008; Darius Butler, 2nd Rd 2009) and signed Leigh Bodden to a long term contract this offseason.

My thoughts are that last season, we saw game after game lost because of the defense when the Patriots had the lead. Any pick on defense for a better player than they had last year helps. Bill Belichick constantly emphasized that pass rush is two-fold: coverage and pressure. Hopefully he addressed the coverage aspect here with this guy. They are in search of a shut down corner. No one is saying McCourty is one, but the Patriots developed Asante Samuel into one. If they can do this with McCourty (it won’t be immediate) and take away the other team’s best WR, it helps the entire defense.

They have 12 more picks and I don’t see them using them all. I expect a lot of movement tomorrow, but not sure which way. I like to see them move up because it seems to indicate there is a specific player they really want. I don’t like to hear them move back to later say there were a few players they liked, simply wanted better value and were willing to take whoever was left. Real enthusiasm and desire there! They have 4 picks tonight. We’ll see if they get an OLB and RDE.

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Patriots Off Season Thoughts

by on Apr.19, 2010, under Football, Patriots, Sports

With the NFL draft coming up later this week I thought now would be a good time to share my thoughts on where they are at this point and throw out some wild guesses on what happens during the draft.

The Patriots made some small signings since the second day of free agency. They brought back old friend David Patten. He is certainly a guy Tom Brady can work with, but given his age (and he was out of the NFL last year) I don’t know how much production you can expect from him. I would be surprised if he made the roster. The Patriots could’ve picked him up last year when they badly needed a receiver but didn’t. I believe he was brought in to help teach the younger players good habits. Troy Brown is long gone, Wes Welker is rehabbing his knee and I don’t see Randy Moss as a workout warrior.

The Patriots worked out a deal for Kevin Faulk. Looks like he is now going to finish up his career similarly to Troy Brown, one year at a time until he retires as a Patriot. I’m hoping Faulk can teach Laurence Maroney how to better protect the ball. Long time Patriots fans will remember that Faulk had a fumbling problem earlier in his career and now he is counted on for his sure hands.

They also signed Alge Crumpler who was not nearly as good in Tennessee as he was in Atlanta. He reminds me of Kyle Brady now. Just a big guy who would likely be best suited (and used) as a blocking tight end. Seems fine to me though. The Patriots just don’t seem to use a tight end to catch passes. It’s like their last responsibility. The best group of tight ends that Bill Belichick has had in training camp are all gone. They cut Alex Smith, traded David Thomas, let Ben Watson walk and cut Chris Baker. Doesn’t speak to well about the quality they had last year. Not to mention that Thomas went on to catch more passes in New Orleans in one year than his first three years with the Patriots combined. I don’t think the main problem is the players.

So the early free agency didn’t really get them any new playmakers for the many holes they have. That leaves the draft, roster cut downs during training camp and trades. Since the draft is coming up, that’s a good place to start.

A lot of the talk has been centered around the Patriots having 4 of the first 53 picks in what is supposed to be a very deep draft. Just going by prior years, I would be shocked if they used all 4 as they have them right now.

I really have no guesses on who they will take. There are many needs (OLB, RDE, ILB, TE) plus many other positions they could use help/upgrades. I think the Patriots draft in a procedure like this:

  1. Determine all the players who potentially fit
  2. Assign a value to each player so they know when they are “overpaying” or have a “steal”
  3. Create a short list of the players they would like to have at the end of the draft
  4. Draft the best player available

I think part of the last two steps are the trading the Patriots do. If there is a player they covet and the value is there, they will trade up to get them. Conversely, if their pick is coming and they don’t have any players they want (or the best player available is “overpriced”) they will try and trade down to select a player that was assigned the same value. If someone wants to “overpay” (based on their assigned value), so be it.

I think with all the extra 7th round compensatory picks they will be able to draft players who may’ve had competition for their services if they went undrafted.

Overall, they had a lot of rookies make the team last year making up almost 20% of the roster. While they didn’t gain much from their 2007 draft, I don’t think there is much room on the roster. I am expecting the Patriots to select 8 or 9 players through a combination of trades (move up, move down, get 2011 picks and players).

Some wild guesses:

  • They get another 2011 1st Rd Pick
  • A starter is traded (Matt Light? James Sanders?)
  • Their first pick will be a defensive player
  • They will draft an offensive lineman in the second round
  • They will draft only 2 of the 3 (WR, TE, RB)

Whatever happens, no one will have predicted it, that much I know.

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Do Lost and FlashForward Have Similar Undertones?

by on Apr.18, 2010, under Entertainment, Life, TV

Lost seems to be heading down a path where there are two realities. I think to tie all this back to when the series started, you had the struggle between Jack (the man of science, choice/free will) and Locke (the man of faith, destiny). Were the survivors destined to end up there or was it just an accident? Now we are seeing certain common elements between the two realities in addition to some people seeing glimpses of what is/was/did happen on the island despite not being there. It seems as if some things are destined to happen, but there is also some freedom around those things. So Hurley wins the lottery and meets Libby regardless of the reality. In one he is a psychiatric patient, gets the lottery numbers from another patient, believes he is cursed and crashes on the island. In the other, he isn’t cursed or crazy.

FlashForward seems to have a similar element going with their show. It was recently revealed that Dyson Frost has had many FlashFowards and he said in most, Demetri dies. The FBI agent already showed that the FlashForward was not an absolute when he committed suicide, but now it appears that what it actually is is a possibility. Some have higher likelihoods than others. Then there are characters who absolutely believe what they saw will come to fruition and others who believe that anything can be changed (and a whole spectrum in between).

Another show has some similarities to both of these as well, Fringe. They established there is another universe where the majority of things are the same, but there are differences between the universes.  So it makes you wonder if again, some things are simply destined with some minor allowances for free will.

You can probably tell I have a fascination with the free will vs. destiny discussion (long before I knew what existentialism was). It seems to have intrigued me my entire life. So I end up enjoying all of these shows and movies like The Matrix.

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