Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hard drive failure and log processing tools

I didn't mention in last night's blog that I was experiencing some technical difficulties. The hard drive in my trusty 17-inch PowerBook crashed hard yesterday afternoon. I was up until about 4AM this morning attempting to Resuscitate it without success. So, I formatted the drive and tried to reinstall everything. At that point, the disk diagnostics program indicated it was a hardware fault reported by the drive (or its driver) and refused to budge.
I do have good backups of nearly everything. I've lost some mail, of course, and probably a few other odds-and-ends, but for the most part I'm in good shape. The computer is still covered by AppleCare so the repair will be free. I drove down to the Burlington (MA) store this morning and dropped it off. The service guy said it should be back in my hands soon, possibly by the end of the week.
While I was doing all this diagnostic work last night, there was a great deal of waiting and more waiting. I used TechTool, a diagnostic utility that came bundled with the AppleCare agreement to attempt to scan the disk and rebuild all the pointers. Scanning a large disk, especially one with problems, takes a long time. So, I would take a glance at the screen every half-hour or so, but otherwise left it to work. Waiting. Waiting.
While I was waiting I got a start on the log processing tools I hope to use while on Montserrat. The idea is this: each operator has their own call sign. We'll keep computer logs for each operator in a separate file. Once a day, I will collect all those logs and produce an ADIF file with all the QSO information for each operator. My tools will then read in all those ADIF files and create a large set of HTML pages that can be uploaded to the DXpedition web site.
The programs are being written in C and will be likely be portable to other platforms when I'm finished. Perhaps I'll bundle them up and make them available at the end of this adventure.
In the mean time, I'm now using HamMac as my main computer. Except that the screen is a bit small (I'm really spoiled by the 17-inch screen on the other laptop), this is a very fine machine! I believe it will serve us well down on Montserrat.


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