Eric D. Schabell: October 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ubuntu default acpi-support values shorten laptop disk lifespan

The bug is listed on and should get your attention:

"When switching to battery power, /etc/acpi/ issues the command hdparm -B 1 to all block devices. This leads to extremely frequent load cycles. For example, my new thinkpad has already done well over 7000 load cycles -- in only 100 hours. That's at least one unloading per minute. Googling for "load unload cycles notebook OR laptop" shows that most laptop drives handle up to 600,000 such cycles. As these values clearly show, this issue is of high importance and should be fixed sooner rather than later.

Please see for yourself how often your drive is load cycling:
smartctl -d ata -a /dev/sda

(This command is for an SATA drive; you'll need to install the smartmontools package first.)

See also for a rather dramatic account of the effects the current default values may have."

I have seen this happen to several Toshiba laptops I had under my wings, so I am always checking my installations to ensure this is not being activated on my laptops.

A pretty good fix is:
  • create a file ""
  • put in the following two lines:
    • #!/bin/bash
    • hdparm -B 255 /dev/sda
  • place file in following directories:
    • /etc/acpi/suspend.d/
    • /etc/acpi/resume.d/
    • /etc/acpi/start.d/

Spread the word!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Last cycling trip for the year

My buddy and I took our postponed summer trip to Limburg last weekend. It was cold and sunny but nothing was going to prevent our climbing the Cauberg one last time. I also stopped at the cemetary in Margraten to visit PFC H. Hooper. We stayed in a small house over night and the photos show that the leaves are falling heavily.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Recruitment: Hello from Google!

I have been waiting to post this for some time now as I wanted to get settled into my new job that I started in August. I am far enough along there that I can pass on this bit of news to anyone out there interested in how Google approaches people and what I personally thought of it.

On May 19th of this year I got an email with the above title (posted below with names X'ed out for privacy reasons). I was really flattered that Google found me interesting enough to approach for a position within their Engineering Team! I must admit my first reaction was that someone was messing with me. My friends would do that...

I responded rather carefully and turns out that it was for real. We arranged an evening phone call (my time) as they were calling from Google HQ in California. When they called we discussed a bit about me, my background and some of the work I have done including my Free Open Source Software work. They then began to explain what the work was they did, what I might find interesting there, and some of the finer points of working at Google. I had to break in at this point and ask where I would be working, here close to home or did I need to come to California? They said I did not need to come to California, I could move to any of the following locations:
  • Mountain View, CA
  • Santa Monica, CA
  • New York, NY
  • Kirkland/Seattle, WA
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Sydney, Australia
I am not planning to uproot my family for a job so at this point I had to do the unthinkable... I said 'no' to Google, can you believe it?

They were rather nice about it and stated that they still were interested in me. Would I be interested in a few years when Google plans to open offices for the Engineering Team here in the Netherlands? I of course said I would always be interested in discussing the opportunities that Google has to offer!

Letter from Google:

Hi Eric-

My name is XXXXXXXX; I'm a talent scout for the engineering team here at Google. I came across some of your work on the Web and was impressed with your development experience - particularly the breadth of your background in Linux and your contributions to the open-source community.

I actually recruit for the engineering team here, which is the group of engineers that's essentially the mission control of Google. They're responsible for the design and development of the infrastructure for all our web applications and internal services. You'd be able to tackle some of the most unique scalability problems in the world and work on the newest products we have. It's a mission-critical role that involves a lot of coding and requires a high degree of creativity and troubleshooting expertise, so we're looking for Unix experts and great coders with broad skill sets (like yourself)! We have several positions within the department that I feel would be a good match for your skills and qualifications.

I'm not asking you to quit what you're doing now - just seeing if you might be interested in exploring opportunities with
Google. If you're at all interested in the department or in Google in general, I'd love to speak with you about the opportunities we have here.

Thanks for your time, and I hope to hear
from you soon!

Best regards,
Engineering Staffing Team

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

News report from Iraq (Halarious)

My inner D&D character

After taking the online test I got these results:

"After analyzing your answers with state-of-the-art medieval fantastic psychology profiling tools, Dungeon Mastering is confident that your inner D&D character is a Chaotic Evil Dwarf Fighter!"

Hmmm, wanna give it a try? Take the test here at the Dungeon Mastering site (takes about 2 minutes). ;-)

Monday, October 1, 2007

I love Halloween

Carved the first pumpkin of the year!