Yesterday (Friday) at about 13:00, my hard drive started to fail. I first noticed a grinding noise, and then my machine locked up pretty hard trying to swap stuff back to main memory as I attempted to shut down. Not even Ctrl + Alt + SysRq S U B could save me! (This means, for those of you who are not Linux geeks, that I was properly hosed.) I had to power my laptop off manually, then reboot onto a rescue CD (thank you, Gentoo Universal Installer CD!), and use dd to back up my most important partitions. Luckily, there was barely enough life left in the hard drive to scrape most of the important data off.
I spent the afternoon looking around Central Yokohama for a hard drive, before getting a email (on my keitai--ain't technology wonderful) from my friend Nikolay (strong in Japan the Bulgarian presence is, yes, mmm), telling me to check out the Softmap near Yokohama Station. So Lyani and I hurried over there, and found a used 30GB hard drive that was even the same model that was originally in the laptop! For ¥6000 (about $55 US)!
So I have been re-installing Gentoo (my Linux distribution of choice) and rebuilding my applications, slowly but surely. The box is still not at 100% health, application-wise, but I have the major pieces done: X.Org, fluxbox, Firefox, Skype, and XMMS.
Witness the power of Linux: yesterday, before getting Nikolay's email, when it looked like I would not be able to get a new hard drive until today, I took the broken hard drive out of my machine. I then powered it on, with the aforementioned Gentoo Universal Installer CD in the drive. This booted up a Linux kernel and left me at a command prompt. From there, I was able to bring up my network interface and download a KNOPPIX Live CD image to my portable USB hard drive. Had Nikolay's email not come, I would have taken my portable hard drive to one of the neighbours' apartments and asked them to burn the image onto a CD. Then, we would have been able to use my laptop, sans hard drive, to browse the web, etc. Can your Windows do that?
In completely unrelated news, Yatsu has started using the shower. He says it is more convenient that the traditional methods for cleaning that have been employed by bears these past millenia, namely, licking themselves.