Journal Entry: March 5, 2009

When we were robbed last December, the most crushing loss by far was the information that was taken. I think T– would readily agree to that. We lost a bunch of electronics and some of T–‘s jewelry, but they also got all the movies T– had recorded on her camcorder and a year’s worth of family photos (more than that, even, but most of the pictures prior to 2008 were backed up on CDs). I also lost all the family papers that I’d scanned in over the course of the last year (a major project, which I talked about more than once on this blog).

So we’re pretty much recovered from the robbery now, settling back into our lives, but I’m more concerned than ever with data integrity. In support of that, I decided that I really wanted to make a dedicated fileserver and tuck it away in a back corner somewhere, so if we get hit again it’s much less likely they’ll take our information. They can take the HTPC and the laptop if they must, but I would hate to lose all my writing again.

I ordered the parts for the fileserver about a week ago, and they came in last night. And when I say “the parts,” I actually mean “about half of the parts,” but we hadn’t entirely thought through that at the time.

I got a CPU without a fan or heatsink which was the biggest problem. By sheer luck, D– had one tucked in the back of a closet that fit. I also forgot I would need a CD or DVD drive to load my OS, but I was able to find a working one in my closet. We were stuck for a while when it came to finding a hard drive for the OS (I could have used one of my big new media drives, but it makes everything MUCH easier if data and OS are on completely separate drives). I had said offhand that I would just use the drive from one of my XBoxen, but when it came time to get them I ran into a problem.

Cracking open an XBox requires a specific Torx bit, and I searched the house high and low for half an hour before I finally tracked down the screwdriver that could do it. Then I opened up the box I’d gotten at a garage sale and pulled out its hard drive, only to discover it was a stock hard drive in an unmodded XBox — meaning it was locked, and unusable unless I could get it installed in a modded XBox to unlock it. Problem is, neither box is working anymore. I finally cracked open my modded box, which I’d been half hoping to preserve, and scavenged the old 15 GB drive out of it. Mercifully that one had been left unlocked, so I was able to get my system up and running.

It took all night. Finally finished up around eleven, and it was after midnight before I completed the cleanup. Now I’ve got a fileserver in a closet, an HTPC in the entertainment center (with just the OS drive, which makes it quieter and cooler), and access to all my media on any machine in the house.

After eleven, as I said, I got to work cleaning up. As part of that I took a big box of XBox remnants out to the trash, and when I went to close the garage door afterward the button wouldn’t work. I walked over to the car to use the remote to close it, and as the door started rumbling down I got a rain of drywall dust on me, and stepped out of the way just as a half-inch bolt fell from the ceiling. It was the one bolt holding up the right-side brace for the opener, which immediately began sagging from the ceiling even as it was still closing the door.

I pushed it back up frantically, and held it in place until the door was safely down, then retrieved a stepladder and did what I could to screw the bolt back into place, but I was just reusing the hole it had already jiggled out of, so I don’t think that’s a long-term solution. Now I’m going to have to figure out how to secure my garage door opener (and figure out what’s wrong with the wiring, too). I’m just glad nothing catastrophic happened when it came loose.

Other than that, it’s just things and stuff.