The story of three hard drive failures in a row... and of going back to the well

Asymetric pose

I'd also like to remind folks to keep backups. See, I'm in the midst of data hell and I only lost one night of sleep over it.

I have 2 drives that store my photos. P and Q. P was the first photo drive, a 300 gig Western Digital. Q is the other photo drive, a newer 500 gig Seagate that I got when P was full.

Now, I had purchased two drives... a 300 and a 500 gig, both from Western Digital. And so I started out rebuilding another machine and I discovered that the 300 gig drive failed a day or so after I had gotten it working. So I had to start over with that machine with a replacement drive. Then a few days ago, the SMART warning on P went off. This is where I freaked out, even though I've got backups. Because I don't want to have to rely on them, see? So I try to grab a copy of everything from P over onto Q (Since Q's not that full at the moment). And I had my wife do it after a bit because I needed to go to work the next day.

Now I take the 500 gig Western Digital I purchased and try to get that drive working again. Except now it doesn't even get past the formatting stage before it throws up SMART errors and stops working.


So now I have three failed drives. I'm thinking somebody manhandled my drives on the way to me or Western Digital had a very very bad day. Not sure. Either way, I'm not happy about P dying after only 1.5 months. Either way, this is a lot easier to deal with given that I've got backups of just about everything. Plus, a lot of stuff's on film, so I can just re-scan the film. But I am going to Central Computer tomorrow to pick up some Seagate drives just to be safe. Don't want to mess around, no?

I kinda reached a point a bit ago where I realized that I'd forgotten about some of the stuff I wanted to accomplish. I had spent too much time doing normal shooting and not enough time doing crazy lighting. And I wasn't using my light toys.

I realized that part of this was a programming problem. See, I discovered that the sort of logic that I wanted to program in was just getting too obnoxious when written in assembler language. So I sat down and rewrote the firmware in C one day. I had targeted it for the scheduled session with one particular model, who turned out to be a drama-queen flake... so it was not until a bit later that I actually got a chance to use it.

Mandy and her necklace

I also wanted to take a break from working with models for a bit to make sure that I could approach things from a fresh perspective. I took a break from scenery and spent enough time looking through my old pics to realize that I wasn't concentrating nearly enough on composition and that I needed to slow down some.

I also realized that how I was approaching lightpaintings needed to change. I took some really great outdoor lightpaintings, but I wanted to get back to where I used a darkened room with no backdrop so that you'd really be able to appreciate the presence of a model. I've changed some techniques. I used to light-paint for all light in the scene, now I'm using my strobist lighting to generate the base and then add more light with the light toys.

It looks like I can get one or maybe two shoots with one set of color patterns before I need to make a new set of patterns. It seems to work best to program in a pattern before a set of sessions and just expend the possibilities of that pattern instead of trying to set up a whole list of patterns to cycle through. That makes the software simpler and means that I can have everything well understood beforehand. I'm only scratching the surface of what I can do with these boards. The first generation was just some simple triangle-waves. Now I'm going to have multi-step repeating sequences.



SMART has been shown to have only so much predictive power. The key thing, of course, is that by the time the SMART warning went off on my drive... at bootup... I was starting to see read errors. Often times, a few tries at copying would give me back the files. Ideally, it would let me know BEFORE I needed to freak out. Although, I don't generally reboot my computer very often, so I should probably start using one of the active monitoring tools.

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