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Sunday, July 24, 2005

July 24, 2005

Stormy Weekend

Well, we definitely got a little shot of rain -- according to my gauge, just over 1.5 inches...although with the wind, it's very difficult to actually estimate what really fell.

Saturday morning (around 8AM), we got pummeled by a really quite nasty-looking storm. What a way to wake up. smile

It's one of the few times that I've noticed absolutely zero-visibility due to rain. Also, one of the few times I've actually seen the 'wall of water' literally arrive. Many times, heavy rainfall kinda arrives in a slow buildup (or even fast buildup). In this case, it was literally not here now, and here now.

Anyway, accompanied by this rainfall were some quite stiff winds. While we only had the usual few [small] branches down in the yard, other places in the area weren't so fortunate. As I found out this morning, a neighbor (about 1.75 miles away) had his largest grain bin (empty at the time) ripped from five of its anchor bolts (and caved in a section of the roof). It's still on the ground (the other anchors are still in place), but still... Another person (this is more like 4-5 miles from here) lost his machine shed. It's quite a sight right at the moment, actually -- all the machinery is in the same place, but the shed is upside-down in what used to be the yard right next to the shed. It's almost as if the northwestern wall was peeled away from the ground and opened up like a can top (the roof is touching the ground).

There were also several trees affected by this storm in the vicinity (5-10 miles). We were quite fortunate to not be affected by this, and as of this morning things seem to be mostly cleaned up around the area (at least the large trees and whatnot on people's yards, etc.).

More Bathroom...

Well, I've applied the first coat of mud to the remaining joints in the bathroom (namely the larger gaps where the new sheetrock meets the old plaster walls at the ceiling) on Saturday, but due to the high humidity and whatnot, as of this evening most of it's finally dry. It looks like I will be making small attempts to sand and finish these joints so the walls can be finished sometime during this week and into next weekend. Progress nonetheless, but not as much as I'd hoped. Ah well.

Server Issues

As it turns out, something I've long been knowing is blantantly in need of correction. You see, in our office here at home, we've got four (4) battery back up units (UPS's). Well, three of them for some time have been in need of a replacement battery unit...and I've known this (but been a little too frugal/cheap to buy replacements). Two of the units are models where the actual battery can be replaced; the other is an older unit where the entire thing must be replaced.

In all actuality, only two (of the three) are still in use as UPS's, so I could get away with just replacing two. But that's another discussion for another day.

So, Saturday morning we were having several power fluctuations (see storm information above). While the power never completely went out, earlier in the morning (I believe it was on the order of 4-5AM), the UPS unit on which my servers run must have tried to kick over to battery to relieve a sag. In doing so, the unit temporarily shut down and killed the power to one of my server boxen (namely the important one -- the router).

At first, when Beth brought this to my attention mere minutes before the storm hit, it appeared as though the power supply of the aging system had gone awry. I made initial frantic attempts to bring the network back up (we had Internet service at that time (the clouds weren't yet bad enough)) so we could check weather radar online, but it became clear that the scanner/weather radio, local radio, and an eye to the sky were going to be the best options in the short term (especially if a power supply were out -- since I don't have a replacement for the old AT form-factor case).

So anyway, after the storm passed, I did some investigative work. I initially ruled out the possibility of a bad or failing UPS unit, since all the other items using its power were functioning properly. When I unplugged the troubled server unit for a few minutes (to investigate) and then plugged it back in to start (with the same UPS unit), all was well -- it was online again (as were we before I temporarily re-routed the Satellite Modem to the network hub instead of directly to the router box). So, I did some more investigative work and things seemed to be working fine.

I put everything back in its place and went about my day.

Until an hour or so later.

I was sitting at my computer doing something or other, when I heard the unit in question 'click' over to battery power. It got a lot quieter at the same time. Here again, the server box in question had lost power (although the other unit was still chugging along). Same as before, the symptom of pressing the power button (which is a solid-state switch in an older AT case) did nothing until I unplugged the unit and plugged it back in again.

At this time, I decided it best to use the other old UPS unit (the unused one) as a temporary measure until a replacement battery can arrive for the regular unit. Since then, I have had no further power issues with the server in question.

Now, it's possible that it could be a combination of things, not just the battery capacity of the UPS unit. It could be the older server's power supply doing strange things (causing a chain reaction); it could also be the UPS unit itself. More work will need to be done in the future, but for now at least things are relatively normal.

But, here again, it's always a good idea to have a backup! In my case, this is the option to bypass the router/firewall (which I would not normally recommend) in times of system failure. At least this provides us the communication medium without wholly depending on an older set of hardware.

I will wrap this up with another sidebar about power protection -- USE UPS EQUIPMENT!

I cannot stress enough how much this is likely to save you in the event of power fluctuations (sags, surges, outages). Now, I've let mine go a little long, but they've always had enough capacity (until just recently -- the last week or so) to kick in during sags (which is what we encounter the most frequently where we live)...which is invariably why (I believe) we have had no major hardware failures on any of this equipment in the last five or more years.

They may be expensive (don't be cheap like me... smile ), but they can certainly save time and effort down the road.

Aside from that...

...I've babbled enough about random things. Until next time...

This post was upgraded to the MZ Online Blog on 8/29/07

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