Tuesday, February 14, 2012

We Interrupt This Blog Post to Bring You This Important Blog Post

I've been back in Texas since October, getting acclimated to all things uniquely Texan, like great BBQ and killer margaritas. I’m also working on my Texas-speak (y’all).  While I’m back in the live music capital of the world, I’m still not sure I’m ready to go out two-stepping, but I knew it was time to start blogging again.

I was in the middle of putting together by my first blog post in over 4 months (the topic was tracking operator display access – stay tuned) when I ran into a hiccup.  The good news is the problem was resolved within a day, but there were some “sinking feeling” moments that brought into question any decision to work in a high tech industry.

So on my laptop I’ve got a couple of virtual DeltaV machines.  One is a V11.3 build using Microsoft’s VirtualPC.  The other is a VMware image of a prerelease of V12.3.  I’ve got one of those speedy Dell Latitude laptops, but it was recommended to me to put my virtual images on a solid state drive (SSD) to improve performance.

Since DeltaV Standalone Simulate will be releasing soon on a SSD, and since my laptop has an Express Card slot, I decided to go out and get a SSD card.  Now I didn’t do an exhaustive search on the internet, but there weren't many choices of manufacturers (I found one).  And since size matters, I bought the biggest one I could find, a 96 GB model.

The first issue was less than stellar installation instructions.  I know you’re thinking “Bruce, just plug it in, how hard could that be?” but in reality, it was a little more complicated.  See that USB connection on the stick?  Well, turns out to get all the right drivers to load, you need to first connect the SSD to the computer via the USB cable.  Then plug the puppy into the EC slot.  Note in the following close up that when fully inserted, the drive sticks out just a bit – this is an issue.

Anyway, now I had a new H: drive with 96 GB (actually, 86 GB available) and I get my Server 2008, V12.3 image transferred to it.  I fire it up with VMware Player and I’m rocking and rolling.

In preparing for my post, I needed to load Word and Excel onto my virtual machine.  I got out my MS Office install CD, pressed the button on the CDROM drive to open it, and (can you guess where this is going) the top of the tray caught the bottom of the slightly extended SSD card and popped it out.

Removing a USB stick without using the “Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media” typically isn’t a problem.  But that’s not what’s going on here.  Basically what I’ve done is yank out the virtual machine’s hard drive under power.  Getting messages of a “serious I/O error” from the VMware Player had me wandering just how far back I was going to have to go to recover.

Luckily, dismounting and remounting the drive from Computer Management was all that I ended up having to do, but I had several tense hours before getting the problem resolved.  I won’t go as far as to say there’s a design flaw with the EC card slot or the SSD drive itself, but having to hold the SDD in place with one hand while pressing the eject button with the other hand is hokey.  I’m perfecting this new Texas two-handed two step technique to avoid future issues.  Just saying, y’all.