Friday, May 19, 2006

Hard Drive Surgery Successful

My new hard drive came today and I successfully replaced the dead one in my 12" Powerbook. Probably the most difficult computer repair I've ever done. I've built many PCs from scratch but there weren't many tiny little screws to worry about. I would have been lost without this really helpful guide from

After this expirence, I can say I'm glad on not a surgeon. This disassembling a laptop was hard enough for me.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Collector, another word for Jackass

I really hate the word "collector". If people who collect rare works of art are collectors. People who collect random junk expensive or not should be called jackasses.

MacBook Pro Whine

While my personal 12" Powerbook is dead, waiting for a new disk to arrive, I'm fortunate be able to use my work MacBook Pro. I've had the MacBook for about 2 weeks. While there's a lot to like about the machine, the whining noise that's been widely doucmented is really irratating. For me, it goes away when I load the cpu so for me it's definately from the processor frequency reduction.

Hoepfully Apple will do something about this soon. At a minimum, a config should be added to "Power Settings" in "System Preferences" When I'm plugged in, I'd like to disable the feature. Saving power is good but not at the cost of my sanity.

Personally, I think this problem is siginifacnt enough that buyers should hold off on discretionary purchases until Apple gets it resolved.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

S.M.A.R.T. Status: Drive Failing

In the process of copying all the data off my drive, thank you Carbon Copy Cloner, my S.M.A.R.T status went to failing. This was near of the end of the almost 24hrs it took for me to copy 65GB off the drive and I feel fortunate to have saved all my files. I shut the machine off once the copy completed so I don't know if the drive still works or not. The moral of the story may be that once your S.M.A.R.T status goes to failing, you probably really have very little time left to save your data.

A new Samsung 120GB laptop harddrive is on its way from NewEgg so I know I how I'll be spending my Saturday. From reading instructions about how to replace the drive, I'm sure I'll have a rant about how Apple should think about making their products more easily servicable. I thought about upgrading to a Superdrive while I was in there but you basically have to dissemble the enitre machine to do that so a Superdrive will have to wait till my next machine purchase.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Powerbook Hard Drive Failure

Turns out that yesterdays rant about memory bloat was misdirected. While memory bloat with Firefox and Safari is a really annoying issue and should be fixed by the respective development teams, the reason it was causing me so much trouble is that the hard drive in my Powerbook is dying. My machine has one of the Toshiba 80GB POS put in Powerbooks. MacTouch has documented how lousy Toshiba laptop drives are.

While it's true that disks can fail at any time, most of the disk failures I've had are all from models that had a massively elevated number of failures. Last drive failure I've had on a home machine was from an IBM Deskstar which was such a POS that IBM settled a class action suit over the Deskstars.

My backups of important stuff are pretty recent and I'm in the process of copying everything off the drive. It's going really slowly as I'm about 10 hours into the process and I've only got 19GB. SMART reporter still shows the drive as green so perhaps its got enough life left it to complete the remaining 40 GB on the drive.

Considering that Apple products are priced as premium products, using crap for hard drives is really irrating. Lying about it is even worse (see MacInTocuh link above). If used Windows machines, I'd certainly switch vendors on the next purchase.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Wanted: Mac OS X browser without memory bloat

I'm sick and tired of the spinning rainbow beach ball on Powerbook because it's swapping due to my web browser turning into a memory pig. Here's what Safari got up today for me (ps output, edited for column length):

0.0 17.2 841404 135104

That's a 821MB vmsize and I've often seen it over a 1GB. And while the resident size appears to be small, the working set is not evidenced by the constant beach ball from paging.

I use lots of tabs and this causes huge memory bloat on Safari and it's not just space for the tabs because Safari gets bigger as I use it even if I hold the number of tabs constant. Firefox does the same damn thing. There was a Slashdot thread about the Firefox behavior a while back. It gets better in Firefox with browser.sessionhistory.max_total_viewers config change detailed in the thread comments but it really just bloats slower.

Browser developers, I don't want ANY memory caching of ANYTHING in the history. I pay $45/month to my cable company for a 6Mbps connection. So if I need to go back to something in the history (which I rarely do because if I wanted to go back to something I probably left it in a tab), get from disk cache or the origin server.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Angelides vs Westly Debate

Caught the tail end of the Angelides vs Westly debate tonight. While I was already planning on voting for Angelides, I was surprised by how much I disliked Westly in the debate. With the all the talk about tax increases and small business, Westly sounded like a Republican and a petulant one at that. CBS 5 has a fact check up and it looks like Westly is a serial exaggerator. Reminds me that I used to work with some who went to Stanford with Westly and asked him what he thought of Westly and my co-worker replied "He's a personable guy but I wouldn't trust him with my wallet.