The things that suck when you are a blind computer tech.

I haven’t posted on the blog for awhile as nothing has really moved me to posting anything for public consumption. The last week has involved getting over a fairly minor cold and not too much to report there.

A week before christmas eve and we had a power outage. We have these from time to time and usually they aren’t that critical, the standby power supplies usually insure that nothing crashes too spectacularly.

Well I powered everything down as I usually do, powering off the bepeing standby supplies and waited for power restoration. Once the juce came back I turned everything on again to find that gotss1 would not boot up.

I’m probably going to get someone with eyes to take a look but below is some pontificating.

There are genuinly people in this world that claim that there is no such thing as a disability and that anyone with a disability is just differently abled.
Now after having a server fail to boot i’m inclined to think that the above centiment is just sugar coating a shit.

If I were not totally blind, i’d power on the server, look at what showed up on the monitor and take appropriate action given the BIOS messages or in an extreme case a lack of these.

BIOS messages show up on a monitor before a screen reader can be active and aren’t accessible unless you have either a pc-wiesel card or one of those funky servers with remote admin stuff.

well you guessed it this box is one of the ones that I didn’t put a PCI serial card into as it was working so well I didn’t see the need. Now i’m left with a number of ways to proceed.

Convincing a modern box to boot from alternative media involves pressing a function key at boot then selecting the boot device from a list using the keyboard.
This works just fine provided you can remember what key you need to hit and what order the menu shows up in.

Back in the good old days (TM) all the boxes I built had floppy drives in them. they were set to check the floppy for boot media and in this circumstance I could just put a modified kernel on a floppy and force it to boot another Linux distribution.

I don’t have a CD drive in this box at the moment so i’m left to plug in an External USB one or go dig up a SATA burner and put that in the top of the case.

This box has a RAID5 array consisting of 4×1.5TB drives, and either one of these (or more if i’m really unlucky) has failed, or something else has toasted the boot loder.
Ironically /boot is a 4-way mirrored raid-1 array so I’ll be extremely surprised if I can’t get a kernel and initrd loaded.
I guess I could unhook all the hard drives and boot the box either off CD via SATA or USB, then run diagnostics with GRML.
Whilst all of this is doable, it’s beginning to look like a large investment in time. convince the box to boot GRML once I find out where SATA1 is or unplug all the drives and add them in one by one.

So i’m torn between waiting for someone with usable vision to come over or spend an hour or 3 messing around with hardware and cables.
I guess life priorities change as you get older, 20 years ago I had nothing better to do and would have puzzled this out.
10 years ago I had a set of workable eyes that could have squinted at a monitor for me.

Today? Well I might take a look with GRML tomorrow but if I can’t make it fly i’ll pay someone to take a look.
What will I do to mitigate this problem in future? I’ll probably put a floppy drive in the box if I have one, and i’ll probably put a PCI serial card in so I can get a serial console.

I guess that the whole point of this post was to highlight that I just can’t be bothered spending 5-6 hours working on hardware as I once could.

Well thanks for reading and back to your regularly scheduled programming.

3 Replies to “The things that suck when you are a blind computer tech.”

  1. I can relate. I had to boot the odroid with an ubuntu image. I think I have written the incorrect version of ubuntu on to it so had to wait for a pair of working eyes to see what lights were glowing. Light probes work but they need batteries which I did not have.
    Oh yeh, the mobile OCR trick does work on computer screens but it is iffy.

    1. If you have an iOS device, you might try Talking Goggles. It has worked surprisingly well for me in the past as a diagnostic tool. It’s nowhere near perfect, but it may very well read things accurately enough to give you a clue as to what is going on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.