Okay, so a story for everyone, and a bit of a plea for help ;)
I was using Vista, explorer.exe was freezing at a tremendous rate, to the point that the OS wasn’t usable. So I hit the power button and rebooted into Ubuntu. Vista (or Windows in general) has this thing where it “locks” the hard drives, and if it isn’t shut down properly, these locks remain. So in Ubuntu I tried to force mount my external hard drive. The mount process seemed to just hang. I gave up and tried rebooting Vista in order to remove the locks. Vista randomly tells me that all three of the partitions on that drive need to be formatted. I shut down (properly this time) and booted Ubuntu again. Ubuntu will not acknowledge the drive’s existence. There is no /dev/sdb as far as Linux is concerned.
I’ve been told that the drive firmware might be shot, but from what I can see, it looks like an issue of conflicting locks on the drive.
Anyone have any ideas?