Sep 23 2010

Things went better than expected

I sat down today to start checking in a new box of hard drives when I realized I’d not yet managed to finish the auto-fill functions on my new asset tracking database application. I checked some stuff in by hand, but it took forever, so I decided to sit down and beat on the damn application until I could get it working properly.

To my complete amazement, it only took five minutes, if that. It’s nice that I can still surprise myself every so often.

Aug 18 2010

Those old PHP skills still have their use

I freely admit I haven’t been paid to develop in PHP for many, many years.

Sure, I’ve done plenty of work privately, for my own amusement, but I’ve never really been compensated for any of it.

However, faced with a huge amount of accumulated data generated by the Big Fix clients running on MovieStop’s POS machines, I decided it was time to start examining hard drive error records to see if I could determine if there were any trends.

I dusted off the old installation of XAMPP and gave it a shot.  Of course, while the Big Fix systems management suite could tell me anything I wanted to know about our computers, the Web Reports section of the Big Fix management suite is dumber than a bag of hammers.  As it turned out, while that system could technically create comma-separated-value files of my reports, the CSVs produced were actually delimited using alternately semicolons and quotes, if the rows were delimited at all.

So out came PHP for a little data massage.  And after about four hours of head-scratching spread over two weeks, what was I able to determine from that data?  Well, beyond any additional information I’ve yet to gather, there’s no pattern to any of our hard drive failures at all.  They’ll develop bad clusters during heavy use or in the middle of the night, when they’re sitting idle.  In fact, the only trend I was able to identify is that all the hard drives we’ve lost are Western Digital SATA drives we installed in the machines over a year ago.

Well anyway, it’s nice to remind myself that I can still program something when the chips are down.