19 August 2006

Disk Defrag

Most Microsoft Windows users know that from time to time, they have to "defrag" their hard drives. But most users probably don't know why the y have to defrag, and just what defrag means.

Geek Girls has a pretty good explanation of the what ("Sometimes when you install a program or create a data file, the file ends up chopped up into chunks and stored in multiple locations on the disk. This is called fragmentation"), and a partial expanation of the why:

Why should you bother with the housework? A couple of reasons. First, disks are hard working, mechanical devices and, like all mechanical devices, prone to failure. A little preventative maintenance can warn you of potential problems and fix minor glitches before they can do damage to your data.

Second, the way files are organised on your drive has a perceptible impact on the performance of your computer. If your files are stored neatly, end-to-end, without fragmentation, reading and writing to the disk is speedier.

But there's one site that goes more in-depth, and explains the processes behind it all. It explains why Windows disks tend to be fragmented much more often, and more quickly, and why Linux doesn't have quite so many problems. It's a great write-up, concise, clean, and even has a few illustrations thrown in to make it easier for those who are more visually attuned to learning.

The site explains the main difference between how Linux and Windows palce files on their disks, and why Linux suffers much less than Windows from fragmentation:

Windows tries to put all files as close to the start of the hard drive as it can, thus it constantly fragments files when they grow larger and there's no free space available.

Linux scatters files all over the disk so there's plenty of free space if the file's size changes. It also re-arranges files on-the-fly, since it has plenty of empty space to shuffle around. Defragging a Windows filesystem is a more intensive process and not really practical to run during normal use.

OneAndOneIs2 - Why doesn't Linux need defragmenting?

15 August 2006

Central Park

I was in NYC's Central Park a few weekends ago, up near the reservoir. I took a picture of this tree on my mobile camera phone, because I thought it was interesting, and beautiful, in a non-traditional sort of way. It was so peaceful and beautiful up there. Nature is a beautiful thing, but it can be pretty darned dangerous (how's that for some funky alliteration?).

Then, I had to be whisked back to the cold, drab realities of what life really is like.

Test from my mobile.

14 August 2006

Google going the Oprah route?

OK, this is kind of scarey, given the non-traditional, do no evil, corporate culture/philosophy that they usually portray. But guess what? Google is pulling an Oprah:
Search engine giant Google, known for its mantra "don't be evil", has fired off a series of legal letters to media organizations, warning them against using its name as a verb.
Rather than focus on the use of their trademarked name (which they have every right to protect), perhaps they should focus on ensuring that the definition of "Googling" retains its current meaning, and that this definition spreads throughout popular culture:
The verb to Google, or to google (depending on the dictionary) means "to use the Google search engine to obtain information on the Internet."
That way, Google is protecting its trademark, but allowing its name to become a part of culture. To me, I think it would help a company, not harm it, when the name of something that the company has invented (whether it be a product or a service) becomes a part of our every day vocabulary, especially when the name of the product is the same as the name of the company.

I just don't get it when companies object to their names becoming something more than what they are. Take, for example, Xerox and Kleenex, which have objected to the conversion of their trademarked names into generalized terms.

So, instead of objecting to various media organizations' use of the verb "to Google" (and variations thereof), perhaps Google should just be making sure that the journalists who use the verb are, in fact, using the Google search engine to conduct their web queries. What do you think?

Independent Online Edition > Business News

My poor, poor car

OK, so I was driving home tonight, and the battery light came on in the car (I have a 1995 Buick Park Avenue Ultra, which needs a paint job). This means that the car is now running off the battery. I saw the voltmeter begin to go down, and I knew I had to make it home, fast. I stopped at my friend's work place and hung out there, where I let the battery "re-charge" for a few hours. Then I went for the gold and made it the rest of the way "home" (you know, the place where I'm sleeping on the living room floor of a friend's Section 8 apartment that I'm not really supposed to be staying in).

So, there's now something wrong with the electrical system. I don't know much about the inner workings of cars. All I do know is that I just replaced the alternator about four months ago, and it appears that this is the same -- or a similar -- problem. Oh, and did I mention that it's also a new battery -- less than six months old? So this means I'm probably going to have to get a new alternator. Plus, I still have to get the crankshaft pulley (after a lot of on-line research, I've found out that this is also called the 'harmonic balancer'), the seal, and possibly the crankshaft itself replaced. Not to mention, the A/C compressor, and an external temperature sensor that prevents the ventilation system from working properly.

Do I have the money for this? Of course not. I have exactly one penny in my pocket. All of my money is going into this car. Is it worth it to keep pumping money into the car? Probably not. But the thing is, I can't really get around all too well without a car, so I don't really see having much of a choice in the matter. If I can just fix everything at once, then things like this probably wouldn't be happening. But by leaving one or two things unfixed, it starts breaking down other systems, which is why I've been having so many problems.

The problem, of course, with fixing everything at once, is that I don't have the money for it. And not having the money to get my car fixed all at once (and not having money, period) just fuels the fires of my depression.

Maybe there are some really kind folk out there -- my fairy godparents -- who will help me pay to get my car fixed, once and for all, all at once.

10 August 2006

Don't Ping My Cheese With Your Bandwidth

I really love today's Daily Dilbert. It pretty much reflects are large portion of my outlook on life. Click on the image below to go to the Daily Dilbert site and be taken (hopefully) to the right strip. Post a comment and let me know if you can figure out this large portion of my outlooik on life.

OK, still haven't figured it out yet? I'll give you a hint: the mildly retarted consultant, or a certain aspect of what he represents, or a certain aspect of what he says, to me, at least, represents life, itself (have I used enough commans in this sentence?).

Pain & Depression, QOTD

OK, so on a scale from 1 to 10, today's pain factor is about a 7. And that's after I've already taken about 8 Aleve pills. And it's only 11:22 am. This is really getting to be a bit ridiculous. Not to mention, painful. And, of course, the pain affects my depression. Scientists have just begun looking into the effects that physical pain has on the effectiveness of various drug therapies and other treatments for depression:
"In particular, the odds of a poor depression treatment response were twice as high in patients with moderate pain at baseline and three to four times as high in those with severe pain," Bair says.
In another study, researchers have linked chronic pain to depression. So it's kind of like this vicious cycle, wherein pain causes depression to worsen, which in turn causes more pain:
Among the participants, 17 percent had chronic pain and 4 percent had symptoms of major depression; however, 43 percent of those with major depression also had chronic pain. Of the symptoms, headaches and backaches were most commonly found in depressed people. People who had pain for 24 hours were also more likely to have major depression, indicating that continuous pain increases the likelihood of having a major depressive disorder diagnosis.
When the pain gets to around this level, I really start concentrating on whether it's all worth it to carry on. So to take my mind off things, ponder this:
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.
~ Douglas Adams (1952-2001), U.K. Author
(famous for his novel, A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

08 August 2006

Techdirt: Who Needs Harvard When You Can Blog?

Well, it's taken a little more than fifteen years, but the original purpose of the Internet has finally come to fruition:
But as the internet and other communication technologies have made it easier for academics to share information with others in their field (not just at one's own university), the relationship between one's output, and that of others at the same university has been eliminated.
Techdirt: Who Needs Harvard When You Can Blog?