Posts in Life

WD and Seagate RMA Experience Part 2

Ok, I’ve gotten the disks all shipped out and the RMA status finally was updated to show processing complete.

I’ve got a Seagate tracking number. Excellent. I know where my disks are. I’ve no idea what WD is doing with my disks.

We had a studio assignment outside so off we went and during the three hours, UPS arrived and was not able to deliver. They had the disks from Seagate. Whoops. No biggie. It was Thursday. UPS promised to deliver the next day. Awesome. We had lots to complete on Friday so we’d be mostly in.

2013-01-11 18.52.59

The weakest link

Friday morning came. UPS’ website showed an exception. No further updates were forthcoming from UPS.

At 11am, Citylink Courier (a local Malaysian courier company) rang the bell. Unexpectedly, I got the WD disks back. Wow. They website wasn’t updated, I had no notification of shipping or status. But they delivered. Awesome.

Buoyed by this positive development, I held up hopes that UPS would show up as well and it will really make our day as I could put the disks to tests over the weekend before committing them into one of our test or work-in-progress servers. We don’t use re-certified disks in any mission critical systems.

Unfortunately, it was not to be.

UPS never showed up.

I called them and they promised Saturday delivery.

Nope. Nada. Zip. Nothing.

Website kept showing delivery exception, re-deliver the next day which was Friday. Called them Saturday and they promised to call me back. Sunday came without a call from UPS.

Called UPS Monday morning. Said they’ll redeliver and call me back to confirm. No call. Nothing. Called them a couple of times and the call center didn’t seem to be authorized to change the delivery address. That week was bad for the studio so I need to have the delivery shifted to the design studio instead. Escalated via Twitter and social media go. Status now went back to Exception.

Tuesday came. Called again and finally managed to get the address changed. UPS said that the change requires one working day. Fine.

Wednesday still no changes to the tracking website.

Thursday finally saw the UPS guy at 4pm. One full week later from the original delivery date.

What a waste of effort and time on my part.

Score: Western Digital. No matter how good your entire process, the final link to the customer can break that experience.

Yeah, UPS screwed up. But Seagate chose them so, unfortunately, to a customer, it’s Seagate that screwed up. I will have to add here that I’ve never had good experience with UPS in Malaysia. They were decent in the US but over here, they were horrible. In fact, I’m more impressed with the local postage services’ courier options (Poslaju) than UPS. If I need something fast and reliable, I’ll go with FedEx. On a smaller budget, I’ll get DHL. UPS? Never on my own money.



The RMA Experience – WD and Seagate

RMAs. Return Material Authorization. Warranty. Whatever.

It’s like insurance. You rather not use it. When the time comes to use it, it can be a savior.

Recently, I have a bunch of disks with issues. I happen to have lots of hard disks. Lots means lots. Excluding office and client systems, there’s quite a few in NAS boxes (4-disks usually), servers, PCs, media players, etc.

I’ve had bad experience with Western Digital hard drives for a long time now. They somehow don’t work for me. Maybe it’s my workload, maybe it’s just me. WD disks may be fine for you but it never seems to work out for me reliably. I still risk them from time to time as I prefer to diversify my disk collection. That is supposed to reduce the risk of a manufacturer going through a bad patch. Here, you will see that I have two WD disks and four Seagate disks for RMA. I have more Seagate disk failings due to the fact that about 21 of my 28 disks are Seagate…

RMA Process:

Both WD and Seagate are quite clear on the process. Login via an online portal, give you a bunch of FAQs and stuff to do before you RMA the disk. Check warranty status. Both were clear on the entire process down to creating the RMA and printing shipping label.

Score: Tie.

Once you’ve sent the disk, you do want to make sure that the disks got to their destination. Sorry but this is Malaysia and the local postal service isn’t the best but they can be pretty good (see part 2).

Monitoring the RMA Status:

Both WD and Seagate have their portals where you can check the status of an RMA. Great. After three days, Seagate’s portal showed that the drives were received. Two days later, it indicated processing was completed and even indicated what replacement drives I would be getting. Awesome. They list shipping times as 7-10 days. Not great but hey, I have a timeline and know what to expect. WD’s portal was the same for the next five days. Concerned, I sent an email. To their credit, response was by 24 hours and confirmed the shipment was received. Interesting the next day, the WD website status was updated. It took them another three full days to update the status to say that processing was done and moved to shipping. A few days later, it was updated to mention that the RMA will be shipped status as TBA. The WD updates stopped there. Eight days after Seagate listed the status as to be shipped, I got an email from Seagate saying that the RMA has shipped and the tracking number. Awesome.

Score: Seagate. All the customer wants to know is what is going on. Give me an accurate and reliable status and I’d be simply happy.

The next thing is actually beyond Western Digital or Seagate’s control. The shipping part but as Part 2 will show, it’s equally or more crucial than actually the first part. So, part 1 winner is Seagate.


[to be continued…]


Disk Failures, Updated

As a follow on to this post here, the list below is what I have in all my current running systems (excluding client and other systems under maintenance contracts). It does include systems I maintain for friends & family though.

Currently running in “production” systems (exclude laptops), like my MBA which has a Samsung SSD…

  • Corsair
    • F60 – 60Gb SSD – 2 drives
    • F120 – 120Gb SSD – 1 drive
  • Intel
    • Intel 330 – 120Gb – 4 drives
    • Intel 330 – 180Gb – 1 drive
  • QNAP NAS (TS-439 Pro II)
    • Samsung F3, 7200rpm, 1TB – 1 drive (QNAP NAS)
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 2 drives
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 / DM003, 1TB – 1 drive
  • QNAP NAS (TS-439 Pro)
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 4 drives
  • Synology DS-212J NAS
    • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200rpm, 1TB – 2 drives
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 4 drives
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 DM001, 2TB – 7 drives
  • Western Digital WD5000AAKS , 7200rpm, 500Gb – 1 drive
  • Seagate Momentus XT 500GB Hybrid – 2 drives
Retired drives
  • Seagate Barracude 7200.9, 7200rpm, 500Gb – 3 drives
  • Western Digital WD5000AAKS , 7200rpm, 500Gb – 1 drive
  • Western Digital Raptor WD740, 10000rpm, 74Gb – 1 drive
  • Western Digital Raptor WD1500, 10000rpm, 150Gb – 1 drive
  • Seagate Momentus 5400.2, 100Gb, SATA (2.5″) – 1 drive

RMA’d or Failed:

  • Seagate Momentus XT 500GB Hybrid (RMA)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 7200rpm, 1TB – 1 drive (RMA)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200rpm, 1TB – 2 drives (RMA)
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.11, 7200rpm, 1TB – 1 drive
  • Western Digital WD2001FASS, 7200rpm 2TB Black – 1 drive (RMA)
  • Western Digital WD10EZEX , 7200rpm 1TB Blue – 1 drive (RMA)
  • Western Digital WD10EACS, 5400rpm, 1Tb – 1 drive
  • Western Digital WD10EARS, 5400rpm, 1Tb – 1 drive
  • Samsung EcoGreen F2 1.5TB, – 3 drives

Aquaponics Project

What’s aqua-what? Hydroponics?

Well, hydroponics is plants in water instead of soil medium. Aquaculture is usually the cultivation of aquatic creatures for food (i.e. fish, prawns, etc). Aquaponics is both together. I think wikipedia has a better description than what I can write (see Wiki entry).

In a nutshell, it’s combining the aquaculture (in my case, Fish) with the hydroponics part. If you’ve kept any fish before, you’d definitely realize that they do produce a fair bit of waste. Otherwise, pet shops won’t be trying to sell you that fancy filter and pump kit plus no matter what, you’d still end up cleaning and changing the water eventually.

Well, let nature do it for you is the name of the aquaculture game. The waste the fishes produce is actually pretty good for plants. So hence my project.

I’ve an outdoor man-made pond with about forty odd Tilapia fishes. They eat and shit a lot. That’s because most of them are edible size by now. Just so you know, these are the 4th generation in my pond (yes, life finds a way to breed) and edible size means over 1.1kg (approx 4.5 lbs). I put a pump in to push the water out into a poly tank what holds hydrokorrels – I can’t find the brand or type I use but this link is pretty close.

The water fills up and gets flushed down and back to the pond. The challenge was that most plants don’t like their roots drowned under water. The roots tend to rot quickly. The solution was inspired by the toilet bowl. Taking some physics lessons, a simple siphon can be created with off-the-shelf PVC pipe parts. This siphon works when the water reaches a certain level. Once the water reaches the right level, it will immediately begin the flush phase where it actually dumps all the water rapidly.

The challenge is to find a fill rate fast enough to trigger the siphon effect but yet slow enough to allow time for the roots to breathe between fill cycles. After some careful tuning, my Laguna 8,000l/hour pump fills my growbed tank in about 10 minutes but dumps the water in 70 seconds.

The diagram is below. Basically the outer 84mm cap is to prevent dirt, leaves and other stuff from clogging the siphon. It does also help you to adjust/tune the water level by creating a barrier to hold the grow bed medium (those hydrokorrels) away from the siphon proper. You won’t need to remove everything just to make adjustments. For the return pipe, the siphon effect is stronger with at least one bend (elbow joint) plus a pipe length of at least half a meter or twenty-odd inches.

Here are my growbed and pond photos.

Adjustment valves to tune the water going into my other filters/hydroponics troughs and the growbed. My 8000L/hr pump is too powerful for a single growbed at the moment.

The return valves/pipes into my pond.

Sweet basil, Thai basil, Mint, rosemary and spinach growing nicely.

The siphon assembly.

My basil and 3 day-old spinach plants. Spinach grows pretty well and fast. I get to harvest them every ten days.

My Tilapia fish. Hardy and dirty. Just what’s needed for the plants. They’re edible too and fast growing.


iPhone 4S + Camera + Life

The biggest improvement for me when upgrading to the new iPhone 4S is actually the camera. Yeah, I’ve a ton of apps but my core apps are frequently my communications and networking tools – messaging, email, social media, etc. The next most common app I use is the camera and Instagram.

One thing for sure is that it’s always with me so it’s always the best camera — even when I’m lugging a truck-load of photo equipment, it still allows me to document, capture and basically, photo-log my activities.

More importantly, it lets me capture events and people important to me. I’ve every photo taken since my iPhone 2G days and the count is in the five digits. Browsing through the photos is like stepping back in time.


One thing I’ve observed in many local churches is the minimal use of internet technologies available.

Websites and email aside as those are to be expected of any entity or organization today. I think it’s time they embrace more tools to enable better and greater reach.

Recently, our cell group scheduled a session with the esteemed Reverend Lim Kar Yong of STM to teach us on a series of Parables. Well, we decided to enlarge his audience by combining with Kinrara cell group via web-cast. Of course other members who could not make it could also attend the webcast session. Slides, audio and video were broadcast at standard definition. It was evident however that our regular Malaysian home ADSL service (Streamyx) would not cut it even though the webcast only required a downlink of about 350kbps. On a 1mbps line, the video would be choppy and occasionally drop out.

It was an interesting experiment though and one we would continue for the next three weeks. For those who couldn’t attend the webcast, we have audio recordings and if you want to watch, we have a HD video recording of the session as well!

I’ll blog about the tools we used in a separate post later this week.