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Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan - Mac Portable

Word to the wise: Don't put your PowerBook through a US security scanner at the airport while it is asleep. I just went to a conference in the US. The machine was asleep when I went through airport security in the UK, and came out none the worse for wear. I used it while I was at the conference, and all seemed well. On the way back, did the same again. Machine was asleep, through the scanner it went. This was on Sunday. On Tuesday, I woke the machine up again. Every single application that had been running crashed (although ...

  1. #1

    Default Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    Word to the wise:

    Don't put your PowerBook through a US security scanner at the airport
    while it is asleep.

    I just went to a conference in the US. The machine was asleep when I
    went through airport security in the UK, and came out none the worse for
    wear. I used it while I was at the conference, and all seemed well.

    On the way back, did the same again. Machine was asleep, through the
    scanner it went. This was on Sunday.

    On Tuesday, I woke the machine up again. Every single application that
    had been running crashed (although the OS seemed to survive).

    The machine remained usable for the rest of the day, so I thought
    nothing of the crashes at wake-up.

    However, last night and this morning I ripped a couple of CDs. Half way
    through ripping a song, the machine suddenly reverted to the login
    window. I logeed in, tried to rip the song again, and the same thing
    happened. On the third attempt it worked.

    Suddenly, several applications stopped working. I tried to log out. I
    couldn't. I tried to shut down. I couldn't. Eventually had to power
    cycle the machine. It now boots, as far as starting the window server,
    but never produces a login window. Logging in over ssh, the system was
    logging some interesting errors; crashdump was running dozens of times a
    minute, and being killed with SIGTRAP.

    I switched it on in FireWire target mode, attached it to a friend's Mac,
    and ran Repair Permissions. This took *hours*; thousands of files had
    incorrect permissions.

    The machine still wouldn't boot. fsck in single user mode reported many
    overlapping extents (find / -inum identified them as mostly being in the
    recently ripped CD tracks).

    cron was reporting that it couldn't p my crontab - I looked at the
    crontab file, and discovered it was now just binary data.

    I tried to switch off journalling on the root filesystem, but diskutil
    refuses to run, as do many other applications.

    My hypothesis is that the following happened:

    The sleeping machine's RAM was basically trashed by the US X-ray machine
    (which is much more powerful than those used in the UK). On waking up,
    most applications fell over, but more insidiously the OS's metadata
    about the filesystem was corrupted. As I used the machine yesterday and
    this morning; this successively corrupted more and more of the
    filesystem, until eventually system libraries and frameworks were
    affected and the whole thing fell over.

    This has also happened to another Mac user here who went on a business
    trip to the US, so this isn't a lone case, although in his case the
    corruption was much less severe, and DiskWarrior was able to fix it.
    However, it looks like a full format and restore for me.

    My latest backup on my iPod is from yesterday, so is probably buggered
    as well, but I have a slightly older one on another system, fortunately.

    Anyway, be warned. Shut down your PowerBook completely before letting
    it go anywhere near a US security scanner. This may sound obvious with
    20-20 hindsight, but I've got rather used to thinking of my Mac as being
    "off" when it's asleep...

    Tim
    Tim Cutts Guest

  2. #2

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    Tom Harrington <tphpcisys.no.spam.dammit.net> wrote:
    > Tim Cutts <timcchiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
    >
    >> Word to the wise:
    >>
    >> Don't put your PowerBook through a US security scanner at the airport
    >> while it is asleep.
    >
    > Barring more reports of the same kind of thing, I have to consider the
    > timing of your troubles to be coincidental, or perhaps related to
    > shaking of the hard drive that may have occurred in transit.
    I also suggest that it is coincidental. I've taken my iBook and
    now my TiBook on numerous US trips (usually via O'Hare) with no problems.
    I always have it in sleep mode so that I can fire it up quickly
    if requested to do so. Given the huge number of people who take
    laptops with them every day, a true cause and effect would cause
    hourly posts.
    anonymous@mac.com Guest

  3. #3

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    In article <9xk*5lmWpnews.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
    Tim Cutts <timcchiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
    >The machine still wouldn't boot. fsck in single user mode reported many
    >overlapping extents
    Ah well... I've got those. I went nowhere near a security check; just did
    the combo update to 10.2.6.

    I copied my user directory to my OS9 partition (using the OS9 finder copy)
    and it all came across without complaint, so I'm hoping that my saved copy
    is straight... Waiting to get DiskWarrior, but anticipating an intitialise
    and reinstall.

    --
    Peter
    Peter Ceresole Guest

  4. #4

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    In article <bdv4hs$iaa$1mozo.cc.purdue.edu>, [email]anonymousmac.com[/email] wrote:
    > Tom Harrington <tphpcisys.no.spam.dammit.net> wrote:
    > > Tim Cutts <timcchiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
    > >
    > >> Word to the wise:
    > >>
    > >> Don't put your PowerBook through a US security scanner at the airport
    > >> while it is asleep.
    > >
    > > Barring more reports of the same kind of thing, I have to consider the
    > > timing of your troubles to be coincidental, or perhaps related to
    > > shaking of the hard drive that may have occurred in transit.
    >
    > I also suggest that it is coincidental. I've taken my iBook and
    > now my TiBook on numerous US trips (usually via O'Hare) with no problems.
    > I always have it in sleep mode so that I can fire it up quickly
    > if requested to do so. Given the huge number of people who take
    > laptops with them every day, a true cause and effect would cause
    > hourly posts.
    Another point to be aware of is that your laptop is supposed to be OFF
    for take off and landing according to most airlines. Asleep is NOT the
    same as off so you should not be travelling with your laptop in the
    sleep state.

    Dare I say this but windows has an extra state called hibernate in which
    the contents of memory are dumped to disk and the machine is then truly
    switched off. However on power up the memory is restored from disk with
    all active applications restored to their previous running state. This
    is a much faster start than a true boot although a little slower than a
    wake from sleep and still preserves work in progress.
    The second advantages of hibernate over sleep is that, being truly off,
    it consumers absolutely no battery and is therefore can be held for as
    long as you wish, even through the complete removal/replacement of the
    batteries.

    Alan
    ====
    ACHTUNG!!!
    Das machine is nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy
    schnappen der springenwerk, enfusen und corkenpoppen mit
    spitzensparken. Ist nicht fur gewerken by das dummkopfen. Das
    rubbernecken sightseeren keepen hands in das pockets. Relaxen und vatch
    das blinkenlights!!!
    Alan Goodman Guest

  5. #5

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    In article <bdv4hs$iaa$1mozo.cc.purdue.edu>, <anonymousmac.com> wrote:
    >
    >I also suggest that it is coincidental. I've taken my iBook and
    >now my TiBook on numerous US trips (usually via O'Hare) with no problems.
    >I always have it in sleep mode so that I can fire it up quickly
    >if requested to do so. Given the huge number of people who take
    >laptops with them every day, a true cause and effect would cause
    >hourly posts.
    Hmm, well this has only happened to one other person I know, and it was
    in exactly the same cirstances; returning from a business trip to the
    US.

    You may be right, of course.

    Following a full reinstall, my machine is happy again though, so I don't
    think it was a hardware problem.

    Tim

    Tim Cutts Guest

  6. #6

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    Tom Harrington <tphpcisys.no.spam.dammit.net> wrote:
    > In article <9xk*5lmWpnews.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
    > Tim Cutts <timcchiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
    >
    > > Word to the wise:
    > >
    > > Don't put your PowerBook through a US security scanner at the airport
    > > while it is asleep.
    <snip>
    > Barring more reports of the same kind of thing, I have to consider the
    > timing of your troubles to be coincidental, or perhaps related to
    > shaking of the hard drive that may have occurred in transit.
    <snip>

    While I would normally agree with you I had the oddest experience with
    my Powerbook while travelling recently - going to the US was fine, the
    PB was asleep, and was fine in many, many Starbucks in San Francisco
    (the wireless access there, unlike the coffee, is really rather good,
    though not free, but T-Mobile offers a free trial)

    The problems started when I left SF for Fiji - we had to go via SF
    airport to LAX, which involved at least three X-Rays. When I got to Fiji
    the Powerbook's date was reset an entire month ahead (which will explain
    an post about Internet Explorer's demise that will pitch up here any day
    now). Resetting the date worked fine, and I reset the PRAM just in case.

    That fixed the problems, and it stayed fine until I went through Fiji's
    international airport at Nadi. On checking the machine while in flight
    once again the date had been set ahead.

    Flying from Sydney to Brisbane, however, caused no problems. So, to sum
    up, the problems with the pram *seemed* to have been caused by the x-ray
    machines at some airports. My better judgement says that they didn't,
    but I'm erring on the side of caution and will be checking the PB very
    carefully next time I travel to the US...

    ck

    --
    __________________________________________________ ________
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    Charles Kooy Guest

  7. #7

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    In article <1fxjhda.1egod7wiuebd8N%charles_kooydespammed.com >,
    [email]charles_kooydespammed.com[/email] (Charles Kooy) wrote:
    > The problems started when I left SF for Fiji - we had to go via SF
    > airport to LAX, which involved at least three X-Rays. When I got to Fiji
    > the Powerbook's date was reset an entire month ahead (which will explain
    > an post about Internet Explorer's demise that will pitch up here any day
    > now). Resetting the date worked fine, and I reset the PRAM just in case.
    Hmm, maybe your powerbook is unusually sensitive to crossing the
    dateline? ;-)

    Peter

    --
    Peter Ashby
    School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Scotland
    To assume that I speak for the University of Dundee is to be deluded.
    Reverse the Spam and remove to email me.
    Peter Ashby Guest

  8. #8

    Default UPDATE Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    OK, so it seems you guys might be right; there may be a hardware or
    software problem here.

    I have now reformatted and reinstalled my PowerBook from scratch.

    However, the machine hangs after a few minutes. Any program which tries
    to access the disk hangs for ever. I can't even force it to quit.

    I booted the machine with the hardware test CD, and all the hardware
    checks out fine in that.

    I then checked the power saving settings. They were set to spin the
    hard disk down when possible. I switched that feature off, and now the
    machine seems fine.

    It would appear that the machine can no longer spin the hard disk up
    once it has spun it down. Has anyone heard of this problem before? Is
    it a known issue?

    I'll go and check the machine has the latest firmware installed, but it
    sounds to me like the hard disk may be on the way out. Thoughts?

    Tim

    Tim Cutts Guest

  9. #9

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    Tim Cutts <timcchiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
    > I have to agree that this full form of hibernation that PCs do is a very
    > useful feature, and one of the few things I miss from my PC laptop.
    > Apple would be well advised to add this feature to OS X.
    <AOL> me too </AOL>

    -z-

    --
    "I'm not sure how useful this is, but it's bloody clever."
    - Jonathon Sanderson in uk.comp.sys.mac
    Are you posting responses that are easy for others to follow?
    [url]http://www.greenend.org.uk/rjk/2000/06/14/quoting[/url]
    zoara Guest

  10. #10

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    In article <5JNNa.393528$Vi5.10146570news1.calgary.shaw.ca >,
    Steven Fisher <sdfisherspamcop.net> wrote:
    >Tim Cutts wrote:
    >
    >> I have to agree that this full form of hibernation that PCs do is a very
    >> useful feature, and one of the few things I miss from my PC laptop.
    >> Apple would be well advised to add this feature to OS X.
    >
    >I used to think so, too, but I've since noticed that it's faster for me
    >to shut down and restart (including all apps) than hibernate.
    I suppose that depends on what you're doing. For me, I agree with you -
    I tend to close down everything that I'm doing at the end of each day;
    I'm not one of these people who leaves bazillions of windows open all
    the time (largely because most of them are Terminal sessions logged into
    other machines, so they don't usually survive sleep anyway).

    However, it does give your machine an emergency behaviour mode if its
    battery runs down completely while it's running lots of things. That
    has happened to me in the past, although not on my Mac yet, thank
    goodness...

    Tim

    Tim Cutts Guest

  11. #11

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    Tim Cutts wrote:
    > However, it does give your machine an emergency behaviour mode if its
    > battery runs down completely while it's running lots of things. That
    > has happened to me in the past, although not on my Mac yet, thank
    > goodness...
    I dunno. If you ever get that low on power, you're never going to be
    able to write (for instance) 512 MB of data to disk before turning off
    power. I'd prefer a sleep that doesn't take much power.

    Steven Fisher Guest

  12. #12

    Default Re: UPDATE Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport securityscan

    Tim Cutts wrote:
    > In article <C+i*WTvWpnews.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
    > Tim Cutts <timcchiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
    >
    >>It would appear that the machine can no longer spin the hard disk up
    >>once it has spun it down. Has anyone heard of this problem before? Is
    >>it a known issue?
    >
    >
    > Known issue or not, resetting the PMU seems to have fixed the problem.
    Glad you got it.

    Steven Fisher Guest

  13. #13

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

    Charles Kooy wrote:
    >
    > Tom Harrington <tphpcisys.no.spam.dammit.net> wrote:
    >
    > > In article <9xk*5lmWpnews.chiark.greenend.org.uk>,
    > > Tim Cutts <timcchiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
    > >
    > > > Word to the wise:
    > > >
    > > > Don't put your PowerBook through a US security scanner at the airport
    > > > while it is asleep.
    >
    > <snip>
    >
    > > Barring more reports of the same kind of thing, I have to consider the
    > > timing of your troubles to be coincidental, or perhaps related to
    > > shaking of the hard drive that may have occurred in transit.
    >
    > <snip>
    I recently took a sleeping PowerBook 17" through X-ray scans at Gatwick,
    Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland, Los Angeles, Chicago and Tampa,
    and had not a single problem after any of those.

    Of course, this might have something to do with different casing
    materials on the laptop, but I suspect not.

    My experience suggests that PowerBooks are more at risk from the big AC
    magnetic fields around escalators and moving walkways than they are from
    X-ray scanners. As a pointer to their strength, I have certainly had
    more than one VHS videocassette effectively trashed, while in a bag that
    was set down on one or other of those 'conveniences' at airports.

    --
    From Gareth John - please cut the Twaddle
    if you want to reply by email.
    Gareth John Guest

  14. #14

    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan


    As to airport security, I cannot speak to the corruption but
    I can speak to something else: Do not put it through while asleep
    because if your latch were to come open, say, while the machine
    is bouncing down those freaking warehouse rollers at the discharge
    end of the Xray device why you'd be trying to spin up your disk
    drive while it was getting its teeth rattled. If you did that,
    you might lose the drive altogether.

    Ask me how I know.

    --dan

    Dan Geer Guest

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    Default Re: Massive filesystem corruption from airport security scan

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