Tag Archives: SCSI

When will SSDs be cheaper than hard drives?

When will SSDs be cheaper than hard drives? Based on history, it’s possible to make an educated guess, and I’m going to do it.

Back in 2011, I noticed that historical hard drive pricing fell in line pretty nicely with Moore’s Law, and predicted that SSDs would do the same. I predicted that SSDs would reach 25 cents per gigabyte sometime in 2016, and was wrong. If you shop around right now, you can find lower-end SSDs for that price or a bit less. So I was late by a few months.

But I’m still willing to try to predict when SSDs will cost less than hard drives. I”ll predict when they’ll hit parity too.

Continue reading When will SSDs be cheaper than hard drives?

Not your father’s Celeron

I picked up a Celeron G1610 CPU last week and I’m using it to build a Linux box. Yeah, it’s a Celeron. But it performs like a 2011-vintage Core i3 or a 2010-vintage Core i5, consumes less power than either, and costs less than $50. It’s hard to go wrong with that. Continue reading Not your father’s Celeron

Remember Plextor? Now they’re making SSDs.

Those of you who’ve been around as long as I have–which is probably most of you–will remember Plextor as the maker of the very best SCSI CD-ROM drives back when there was a market for SCSI CD-ROM drives. I had one, and I haven’t used it in years, but I relied on it, especially when I was doing A/V work. And it never, ever let me down. Continue reading Remember Plextor? Now they’re making SSDs.

The mainstream places a bet on SSDs

I just saw that LSI Corporation bought Sandforce, maker of high-performance SSD controllers, earlier this week for $400 million.

LSI makes a lot of things. I’ve owned a couple of SCSI controllers over the years with their chips on them. I’ve administered servers with their RAID controllers in them. They also make system-on-a-chip solutions.

Continue reading The mainstream places a bet on SSDs

Confessions and rememberances of an Amigaholic

My name is Dave. I am an Amigaholic.

I thought I was recovered. But I don’t think you ever recover. Not really.

You see, this week I was trolling Craigslist for garage sales. I look for trains, toys for my boys, and other things that strike my fancy. I spotted a sale that advertised an Amiga computer. I shouldn’t have put it on my list, but I did. I didn’t want to buy it, but I had to see it. I had to. Like I said, you don’t recover.

Continue reading Confessions and rememberances of an Amigaholic

More on the new Intel 320 SSD

A few weeks ago, my security go-to guy, Rich P., bought a new Intel 320 SSD for his netbook.  With my encouragement, of course. It finally arrived this weekend, and he installed it. Rich reports not only faster speed, but also a 30-minute improvement in battery life over the WD Scorpio Black it replaced.

He told me the secure erase function, to enable AES, had a snag. But he solved it. I’m documenting it here in case you ran into the same thing he did.
Continue reading More on the new Intel 320 SSD

What happens when you put a dipstick, a screwdriver, and a SAN in the same room

It was 2007, give or take a year. I was working a shop that had a WAN connecting four data centers around the world. A couple of hard drives in a SAN at one of the remote data centers had either failed or were in the process of failing.

No problem, we said. We’ll send some drives, and we’ll send along some extras so the next time it happens, you can just grab a spare off the shelf, slam it in, and not miss a beat.

Simple, right? Well, you should never underestimate a human being’s ability to make the simple difficult.
Continue reading What happens when you put a dipstick, a screwdriver, and a SAN in the same room

Spinrite 6: An overdue review

Spinrite 5 is an old friend. It got me out of some jams in the late ’90s, but as new versions of Windows that defaulted to NTFS came into my life, Spinrite 5 ceased being an option, since it only worked on FAT-formatted drives.

I’ve had occasion now to use Spinrite 6, its successor, which still runs under old-fashioned MS-DOS but now understands a multitude of filesystems. Other than that, it hasn’t changed much: It’s an obsessively thorough repair and maintenance tool for hard drives.

SSDs will eventually make Spinrite unnecessary, but there are still a lot more conventional hard drives being shipped each year than SSDs. Continue reading Spinrite 6: An overdue review

Barfy.

I started my professional career doing network administration at the University of Missouri. (I generally don’t count my stint selling low-quality PCs at the last surviving national consumer electronics chain towards my professional experience anymore.)

The University had its own IT department, but some of the larger departments, particularly Journalism, had their own IT departments as well. I worked for the School of Journalism.The School of Journalism had one of the oldest Token Ring networks in the world. It was also home to the oldest OS/2 network outside of IBM itself, dating to the late 1980s, running on pre-release versions of OS/2. Some of the pre-production IBM PS/2 Model 80s survived in production until 1998 when I decommissioned them. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

Windows NT began life as OS/2 3.0. Although IBM and Microsoft soon stopped collaborating on OS/2 and went their separate ways, from a networking standpoint, OS/2 and Windows NT were highly compatible. By 1997, it was clear that OS/2 wasn’t going to meet the school’s needs for much longer, so we made the decision to replace the OS/2 servers one by one with Windows NT servers, eventually ending up with a Windows NT network. I was in charge of the project.

One day, all of us were summoned to a meeting. The campus had several Windows NT gurus who, while knowledgeable, were also extremely anal retentive. The meeting was to enforce new naming policies. All networks had to be named UMC-something.

“Some student set up a Windows NT domain in his dorm room named Barfy,” said the loudest, most annoying and most anal-retentive university administrator.

We didn’t like this policy. Our Windows NT network was named MUJournalism and consisted of hundreds of PCs. What’s worse was the network was extended out to the university-owned television station on the edge of town, several miles away. Renaming our domain to fit these guys’ whims was going to be a lot of work for no benefit whatsoever. Also, as I recall, there was some technical reason why the name UMC-Journalism wouldn’t work. Perhaps the name was too long for our remaining OS/2 clients and servers to handle.

And besides that, our network had been named MUJournalism, or some variant of it, since the last days of the Reagan administration.

We didn’t change the name of our domain.

We did, however, take a handful of test servers and set them up in their own domain. Our Lotus Domino administrator/programmer chose the name: UMC-Barfy.

A year or so later, I was working at my second employer. We had pockets of departments running Macintoshes, some of which were nearly as old as those old PS/2 Model 80s and roughly as dependable. To reduce acquisition and support costs, we were replacing as many of those as possible with Windows PCs made by Micron.

The Windows NT administrators at this place were less than accommodating. I needed some way to get the data from these Macintoshes onto the new PCs. Popping the drives from one machine into the other wasn’t an option–Windows NT wouldn’t read the Macintoshes’ HFS and HFS+ file systems, and the Macintoshes wouldn’t handle NTFS, the mandated standard. But besides that, the drives in the Macs were SCSI, while the PCs were all IDE.

Easily the fastest and best way to move the data would be to bounce it off a file server. Windows NT’s Services for Macintosh wasn’t the most reliable thing in the world, but it was adequate for a job like this. So we requested that Services for Macintosh be added to one of the Windows NT servers in the building.

Our request was denied.

We explained that this was necessary for a migration that was happening with great encouragement from upper management.

The request was still denied.

My boss happened to have an unused copy of Windows NT Server in his cubicle. Needing to get this done, we took an old consumer-grade HP Pavilion PC that was too old and slow to be good for much else and proceeded to install NT Server on it. As we were doing this, I related my story of the rogue Barfy networks.

I guess he liked the story, because when it came time to name the server, he seized the keyboard and typed BARFY for the name.

Windows NT finished installing, so we tucked Barfy into a corner and I proceeded to finally migrate my first Macintosh.

The next Monday, the crankiest of our unhelpful Windows NT administrators tapped on my boss’ cubicle wall. “Do you know anything about a server named… Barfy?”

He waved his hand. “This is not the server you are looking for.”

Unfortunately, Jedi mind tricks don’t work on Lutherans of German descent from Wisconsin. Or at least they didn’t work on this one.

So the two of us got our hands slapped–something which became a yearly tradition, at least for me, until this guy left for greener pastures a few years later–and he made us unplug Barfy from the network.

So I commandeered a cart, a couple of power strips, an old 3Com 10-megabit hub, and some network cables. Migrating a Macintosh became a matter of wheeling Barfy into the cubicle, unplugging the Mac from the building network, plugging the Mac into the hub along with Barfy, logging in, and copying all the user data up. While that was going, I would plug the PC into the same hub, log into Barfy, and then copy all the data back down. Then I would unplug the PC, plug the PC into the office network and reconfigure it, and haul off all of the old Macintosh equipment and put it in a pile.

It wasn’t very efficient, but it kept the uptight Windows NT administrators happy and it kept their servers clean.

And I guess it gave me a chance to act a little like MacGyver.