lostcarpark: (Lego Spaceman)
There was a time when those words would strike fear into the heart of every computer user: lost files, hours of work down the drain, when did I last back up?

But not today. Today PC World have announced that they are going to stop stocking floppies when current supplies run out (which may take quite some time). They probably didn't need to bother, as most PC users haven't bought a disk in years, and there probably quite a few who wonder what that rather odd slot in the front of their PC is for.

But still, I will miss the contrary old buggers. Even now, there are plenty of times when they get you out of a hole. It can still be quite useful to boot up DOS from floppy to run some low-level diagnostics.

But I guess we must move with the times.
lostcarpark: (Lego Spaceman)
According to this BBC story, a new magnetic memory chip could revolutionise the way we store data. It uses a magnetic charge to keep data reliably, even when the computer is powered down.

So what? I hear you say. We've had Flash memory for years, so what's new here?

Well, Flash has two problems. It is relatively slow, and it can only be rewritten a finite number of times. As a result, it has never really challenged the humble hard disk for long term high capacity storage

MRAM, as it is called, gets around both of these problems, so it could represent a viable alternative to the hard disk.

Now I've been predicting that solid-state device would replace hard disks since my late teens. However, I have never ceased to be amazed by the inginuity of hard drive designers. Although they still work on much the same principles as the first units IBM built over 50 years ago, they are a fraction of the size and cost, yet store thousands of times more, and are far faster and more reliable.

And given the current chips store half a megabyte (by an amusing coincidence, the same amount as the first IBM drives). So I don't think the hard disk has anything to worry about just yet.

Of course, if you had enough money, you could p[robably string a few thousand of these together to make a usable solid state drive, and it probably wouldn't cost you too much more than the original IBM drive.

The current chips will be very useful in mobile devices, but we really need to scale capacity into the Gigabytes range before it's likely to make an impact into PCs. Then, loading the OS and essential files onto one to save time. This could prove useful for installing the OS on for faster booting.

People won't abandon their hard drives for devices which store less and cost an armand a leg. But the writing is on the wall for the hard drive, and the writing says "your days are numbered!"
lostcarpark: (Calvin)
I emailed our tech support to find out the address of a network share I need to map. Just got a reply back, "If you just reboot your machine now you will get those drive mappings that you were looking for." They use a system called ScriptLogic to make the settings on our PCs the way they want them when we log in.

Rebooting my machine means shutting down my email, browser, text editor, unix windows, call logging system, two database management tools, three software development tools, and a word processor with the spec I'm working from. Then the PC has to copy my profile over our slow network. After the reboot, I have to log on, wait for the profile to copy and reopen all of the applications and try to remember where I was before the whole pointless process started. I've already done this once today, and I'm not doing it again before quitting time.

Of course it probably wouldn't take much longer than writing this entry...
lostcarpark: (Lego Spaceman)
I get my broadband over the airwaves via a little box on my roof. When it's working it's great, but it seems to have a tendancy to mysteriously stop, which is not fun at all. On Saturday it seemed to be slow all day, and on Sunday it wasn't working at all. This morning I put in a support call, then found out from [livejournal.com profile] madangie that it was working again. I meant to call to tell them, but the repair guy arrived before I got around to it. Apparently I was on an older system (I wasn't talking to the guy, but he wrote down the technical details, so I'll have a look later), which may be the reason it wasn't working as well as it should.

Hopefully things will work as they should from now on, but they shouldn't wait until people are having problems to tell them they need to be transferred to a new system, and they should have some level of customer service on Sundays, since a lot of their customers would be home users.

When my current service runs out (I paid for a year, but then they lowered their prices, so I'll get a few extra months), I'll be seriously thinking of switching, probably to DSL, as most people seem to have less trouble with that.

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