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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   solid state day
Monday, October 11 2010
About a month ago I'd read an article at by Farhad Manjoo about how he'd gone nuts and bought a pimped-out cutting-edge computer and how it had absolutely changed his computational experience. After he was done, windows snapped open instantly and he found himself in something he implied was computational Nirvana. While normally there is little to be gained by aspiring to the bleeding edge of technology, according to Manjoo, that technology has arrived at the point where it is much better than the technology a few generations back. Traditionally, this just hasn't been the case. For example, computer technology in 2005 was better than computer technology in 2001, but it wasn't a quantum leap better. The same can be said about, say, the technology in 2001 vs. the technology in 1996 (although back then technology seemed to be improving faster than in the middle '00s). The key point I took from Manjoo's article was that, while processors are experiencing a renewed acceleration of power, the best computer-experience gains are to be had from installing solid state hard drives, which have recently fallen to prices affordable by the like of me. So I decided to splurge and order a 120 Gigabyte solid state hard drive for Woodchuck, my main computer. I normally try not to blow more than $100 at a time on computer equipment, but I spend the majority of my conscious life in front of Woodchuck, and a good fraction of that is me yelling "Really?" as it takes forever to do something trivial. The solid state hard drive only cost me $240, which is about a hundred dollars less than the first floppy drive I bought back in 1985, when dollars were worth a lot more and I had little income aside from lunch money.
The new solid state hard drive arrived from NewEgg today and at some point, in among various web development tasks (sometimes done on other computers), I began installing it. To use a solid state hard drive effectively, you have to install your operating system on it. This meant migrating my existing C: partition to it. The problem, though, was that my existing C: partition was 122 Gigabytes in size, and it turns out that it is very hard to migrate a larger partition to a smaller partition (remember, the solid state hard drive is 120 Gigabytes in size). And it's not a common problem to encounter; normally when you are migrating to new partitions, technology has advanced and it's to a much larger hard drive, and there's never a need to migrate to smaller partitions. But solid state memory is expensive and, in terms of afforability, today's solid state hard drives are about where conventional hard drives were about eight years ago. I tried various migration schemes, including backing up with various Acronis tools with the hope restoring to the smaller partition. But no, Acronis wouldn't let me restore to a smaller partition. I can't tell you how many different backup and restore attempts I made (each lasting over an hour) before I gave up and used Acronis to shrink the size of my existing C: partition down to a size somewhat smaller than the new solid state hard drive. This seemed to work, and it didn't destroy any data in the process. At that point it was fairly easy to make the migration. By then it was nearing midnight; I'd been doing this shit all day!

The new Woodchuck, booting as it did from a solid state hard drive, didn't seem amazingly faster than the way it had always been. But certain things were definitely faster. I was particularly struck by the performance improvements I saw once I moved Adobe Photoshop to the solid state drive. It went from opening in twenty seconds to opening in three seconds. Those are the kinds of improvements I like. Also, the computer seems to boot and shutdown much faster.

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