Mental Vacations (Meta #4)

Update-after-writing: this turned in to a bit more of a “stream of consciousness” than I had planned. But I kind of like it the way it is so I’m leaving it this way.

I wasn’t actually planning it but it seems I have taken the entire month of July off of both submitting to this blog and making my way through the PowerShell book (actually exercising too but that’s a separate thing).

I’m not sure what happened exactly. I know I was making very little progress in the book and it was kind of frustrating. And that I was trying to build out that R520 2U server – more on this later – and then I received my longer pre-ordered copy of Super Mario Maker 2 and…here I am a month later having barely even looked at the blog never mind contributing to it.

Now it could have been I spent the whole month of July not doing very much besides playing Super Mario Maker 2 as I am susceptible to going all OCD on new games on occasion. But this actually didn’t happen this time. And the game isn’t bad actually. I just managed to avoid getting obsessed with it.

I also purchased the PC game Factorio. Not sure why. It’s been sitting there mocking me for 2 or 3 years on my wishlist. And even though I have literally a thousand games I could finish before I buy a time consuming one like Factorio…I buy Factorio. And as the name implies you build a factory. Also there’s some “factoring” involved. And also some I/O. It’s actually really close to a visual programming environment. Pretty sure a “outside the box” high school teach could actually introduce programming concepts – like sorting or Boolean logic – via this game. But it’s not overtly educational. It just has a lot of concepts to throw at the player once piece at a time.

I could have also been putting hundreds of hours into Factorio over July but I didn’t actually. I was remarkably restrained if not directly disciplined on the PS book thing.

For some reason the very act of getting the PS book out my backpack and setting up to take a few more notes was just one step too far the one day in June and I ended up just leaving the book there. So I don’t think I’ve even got it back out of the bag for a whole month. And I kept telling myself I would go back to doing lots of writing in the blog after the 100 days of code was over. Which would have been next weekend e.g. early August.

Since I went so long without updating the posts that were scheduled auto-publish everyday I cancelled all those scheduled posts and just ended my 100 days of code thing. Which frees me up to go back to writing. And do what I was doing anyway which apparently involves relatively little PS and relatively lot work on my new server.

Speaking of which. In case you don’t want to find it in my many posts for 100 days of code: I got a hand-me-down 2U server from work in the form of a Dell R520. I eventually upgraded it to a total of 32 gigs of RAM and bought six hard drive sleds so I could eventually fill it up.

I actually spent at least three quarters of July running virtualized SpinRite so I could run it against 7 hard drives at once instead of one a time. I also ran a second PC with another 4 or 5 at a time in a similar virtualized fashion. I think I might have too many hard drives. Some of my drives took more 400 hours to complete their SpinRite scan. At least 3 or 4 of the drives took 400+ hours. That wasn’t annoying or anything. Luckily I with it being virtualized I can pause the process to remove and add drives during the 400 hours.

Anyway now that I’m finally done with that I can start building my actual server. I am planning on running lots of virtual machines for both Windows 7 and Windows 10 and eventually I think a domain controller.

In fact I managed to see a link at the /r/datahorder subreddit for a really good deal on 10 TB hard drives so I went ahead and purchased a bunch of them. Although now I realize I don’t know if the BIOS and/or integrated SAS card can recognize 10TB drives. Probably should have thought about that before spending that money. I’m sure it’ll be fine.

I’m actually learning some things about how the Windows drive pool functions work right now. Apparently there is some trickery that has to be done in order to be able to add physical drives to an existing drive pool to add capacity. I might have to do my own summary post for how that works at some point.

I could always use some third party solution for this like unRAID. That’s kind of getting ahead of the game though.

One thing I would like to do is see if I can connect my boot drive SSD to where the CD drive on the R520 currently is. This way hypothetically I could use all 8 slots for storage. Of course if I used the onboard RAID capability of the integrated SAS chipset I could span across all 8 drives, using them all that way. I think that’s how it was intended to be used. I think that would require adding the RAID card drivers into the OS install source though. Which is one of the reasons I wanted a server for virtual machines: to streamline how I slipstream and automate installation of Windows 7 and 10. I wanted to do the same for Server 2019. That’s sort of a conundrum. How do I learn how to integrate drivers into an install source for server I’m using to learn how to integrate drivers? Start over from scratch. Exactly.

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