Video of Your Hard Drive In Action

Here is a really cool video that shows a hard drive running with its top cover removed.  (Of course, that particular drive is now worthless, since the tiniest bit of dust can cause the heads to damage themselves or the platters.  But it was surely worth sacrificing one hard drive for the purposes of making a cool demo video.)

One note of clarification: people sometimes use the term "hard drive" to refer to their entire computer (sans peripherals like monitor, keyboard, and mouse).  That usage is incorrect, though.  The big ol’ tower that you plug all the cables into is not the hard drive, it’s the computer.  The hard drive is an individual device -- the size of a small book -- that is found inside the computer.  And it’s the device shown in the video above.

Update: the first time I watched this video, I missed the first ~5 seconds of audio (I had my volume muted previously).  During that time the guy mentions that the hard drive has a transparent cover.  So they didn’t remove the cover from a disk, killing it in the process, as I originally stated.

But don’t let that dissuade you -- there are other benefits to killing your hard drive by removing its cover.  For example, the magnets that control the servo for the read/write heads are extremely strong and fun to play with.

Posted by Anthony on 2 replies

Nalgene

You know how all the cool people you know always have one of those hard-plastic "Nalgene" bottles to drink out of?  I recently learned why they are so cool: they are made of special plastic that doesn’t retain odors, which means they don’t get smelly and nasty over time like every other plastic drinking bottle you’ve ever had.  It also means they’re much easier to clean.

So if, like me, you are fed up with drinking water out of stinky old water bottles, you’ll want to get one of these babies soon.

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply

Fightin' Aussies

Kim’s aunt and uncle are nature photographers, and they have some really amazing photos on their website from their recent trip to Australia.

There are quite a few photos, but be sure not to miss the kangaroo fight.  That set contains some of the most freakish and funny and awesome photos ever, like this one:

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They are even better if you imagine the captions being read in a super-calm National Geographic commentator voice.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Hits

Late Tuesday night, I created a post on digg.com about my AJAX File-Upload Progress Script.  It became extremely popular: in about 24 hours, it received 500 "diggs," and it spent most of Wednesday as #2 on the the del.icio.us "popular" page.  (It’s still #1 on the AJAX page.)

Encodable.com received 5800 unique visitors who were checking out the script on Wednesday.  At the height of the traffic, there were about 130 visitors online simultaneously at any given moment.  And since the demo version is here on nodivisions.com, there were 1800 unique visitors here yesterday, too.

(If you’re wondering why there are so few files in the file-list for the demo, it’s because the uploads were quickly filling my server to its full capacity.  I had to implement a cron-job that automatically deletes uploads older than 30 minutes twice an hour.)

Now at 11am on Thursday, there have already been 350 visitors on encodable.com, and 250 on nodivisions.com.  Much less than yesterday, but still going fairly strong.

Posted by Anthony on 7 replies

Million Dollar Homepage

This is unbelievable.

MillionDollarHomepage is a website started by a kid in the UK to make some money for college (or "Uni" as they say over there).  His idea: sell 1,000,000 pixels for US$1 each, in blocks of 100 (10x10 pixels).  Each buyer would send him a small image file, and he would put it on the front page of milliondollarhomepage.com, as a link back to the buyer’s website.

He started this two months ago, at the end of August 2005, and has made over half a million dollars in those two months.

I need to come up with a way to make my business do so well!

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies

Oh, Hello

Over the past couple weeks, Kim and I have been a little busy, what with getting married and going honeymooning and all that  : )

We have a lot of wedding photos to sort through, and we’ll be posting some of them on AnthonyAndKim.com soon.

Back here at the NoDivisions ranch, posting will be sporadically unavailable over the next week or so, as I’m doing some pretty serious code refactoring to make way for a couple new features.

In the meantime, my mom got her picture taken with Emeril Lagasse in Florida last week!!  She also has a few movie clips of him in the kitchen of one of his restaurants.  Go see!

Posted by Anthony on 3 replies

NerdTV

PBS has a new series called NerdTV where the shows are released online, for free.

NerdTV is a new weekly online TV show from PBS.org technology columnist Robert X. Cringely. NerdTV is essentially Charlie Rose for geeks - a one-hour interview show with a single guest from the world of technology. Guests like Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy or Apple computer inventor Steve Wozniak are household names if your household is nerdy enough, but as historical figures and geniuses in their own right, they have plenty to say to ALL of us. NerdTV is distributed under a Creative Commons license so viewers can legally share the shows with their friends and even edit their own versions. If not THE future of television, NerdTV represents A future of television for niche audiences that have deep interest in certain topics.

They just started 2 weeks ago and have released two shows.  They are about an hour long each and I’ve watched part of both of them, both of which were very interesting.  But if you don’t have an hour to spare (which I don’t really right now), you’ll see on each show’s page there are two links called "The Juicy Bit" and "The Nerdy Bit," which are short clips of some of the best parts of each interview.

The second episode (the current one) features PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, and it’s extremely interesting because he shares lots of business insight, and also insight into some habits of engineer-types, such as why we tend to pull all-nighters often.

Aside from the content being awesome, this distribution model totally rocks.  I’d so love for Fox News to distribute The Factor this way, so I could watch it during the day at my leisure, instead of having to be at home and in front of the TV at 8PM or 11PM.

Posted by Anthony on reply

The Value of a Picture Never Taken

On the way home tonight as I drove across the Liberty Bridge, I saw a coal barge in the river.  They carry what look like open-topped railroad car containers full of coal, and they sit really low in the water.  The engine is in the back -- if it’s even attached at all, that is; I think the little boat just pushes the huge raft of coal-cars from behind.

It’s fairly common to see one of these barges during the day, but I’ve never seen one moving at night before.  It was really cool to see, because it was coming towards the bridge I was on, and it had two very bright spotlights on the top of the boat (at the rear of the whole operation) and they were shooting light forward, but not straight forward, rather off to the sides a little.  I guess the combination of its extremely slow speed and massive capacity and the lights beaming through the fog made it seem really neat.

I then saw two teenage girls walking down the dark street, and this is around 1 AM.  I thought that that doesn’t seem like a very good idea, but it’s actually fairly common around here.  I wondered about where Pittsburgh stands in those "safest cities" surveys that you hear about every once in a while.  And then I thought, releasing those surveys is actually pretty dumb, because what better way for a criminal to decide where to set up his operations than the cities whose citizens aren’t careful because their city is ranked very safe?

As I typed that last line, one of those freakish zillion-leggers zipped through my peripheral vision.  I smashed him to bits though, don’t worry.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Rollover

On Saturday, Maria got a cute new kitten which she named Milo.  Sadly, Louie was just taken to the SPCA because he couldn’t stop going to the bathroom on the carpets  : (

Yesterday on the drive home, I took some sunset photos which I rather like.  And during that photo session I snapped my camera’s 10,000th photo.

And today, NoDivisions.com had its 100,000th visitor.  It was a Windows XP / IE6 user from the ISP gwi.net, who found my site by searching for netgear wg111 linux on Google.  He only stayed for one minute though, so it’s unlikely he’ll see this message to claim his prize  : )

Posted by Anthony on 7 replies

Good Times

I spent a bunch of today playing Mario Kart on the Gamecube with Maria and Sam.  Me and my friends used to play the original Super Nintendo version all the time, and the Gamecube version is just as fun.  (Actually, I think it was Mario Kart for the SNES that me and John Paul bought with $40 in change at KayBee toy store in the Coventry Mall back in high school.)

It seems unfair that Maria beat me every time, considering that I’m much bigger than her and twice as old.  At least I was able to beat Samantha once.

Posted by Anthony on reply

Riddle

When asked this riddle 80% of kindergarten kids got the answer, compared to 17% of Stanford University seniors.

What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, the poor have it, the rich need it and if you eat it you will die ???

Posted by Maria on 2 replies

Grab Bag, Part Deux

SBC is now offering high-speed DSL internet service for just $15 per month.  That’s merely a third (or a half in some cases) of the cost of most broadband internet service, and less than most dial-up internet service for that matter.  Unfortunately it looks like it isn’t yet available in PA, but hopefully this drastic move by SBC will force the hand of other ISPs and cause similar price cuts.

I’m now living without the Fox News Channel, which means I can’t watch the O’Reilly Factor.  But one of the best parts of the show is the Talking Points Memo, and it turns out that you can watch that segment (and only that one) online for free.  Just visit this page, click any episode, and on the resulting page you’ll see a "video" link under the T-Points section.

Is it me, or has Crest discontinued the Icy Mint Striped flavor of their toothpaste?  It’s still listed on their website but I haven’t been able to find it in 5 different stores for the past month.  Fearing the worst, I’ve tried some other flavors -- Cool Peppermint, Fresh Mint, and Minty Fresh Striped -- but they all might as well be called SuckyMint compared to Icy Mint Striped.

In more better news, I saw one of these guys the other week:

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It’s a Hitachi EX1800 Large Excavator.  I think it’s the biggest construction vehicle I’ve ever seen.  The photo doesn’t even come close to conveying the gigantic size of this machine.  Here’s one with a man in it for scale:

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That’s a little better but still doesn’t really let you appreciate how huge it is.  But the brochure for the current version of that model gives some numbers: it’s nearly three stories tall (not counting the arm); the bottom of the thing is over six and a half feet tall, i.e. you could walk upright underneath it no problem; and the scoop holds between 300 and 400 cubic feet of material, depending on whether it’s the backhoe or the loading-shovel version.

(show full-size image viewer)

Posted by Anthony on reply

date fun

: )  Happy 050505  ( :

lvu, as always,

Posted by mom on reply

cheap hi fi?

Hey,

Have you seen the little Sonic Impact T-Amp yet?  It’s only 30 bucks and it’s really pretty good.  Dang good for a computer system or other job that doesn’t need a huge amount of power.  I can run my normal rig at reasonable levels with 6 watts.

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/sonicimpact/t.html

Cheers

Posted by Nate on 4 replies

Flac!

For the past 4 or 5 years, every time I’ve bought a CD, the first thing I’ve done is put it in my computer and make MP3s from it.

At first it was just for convenience -- double-clicking on a folder to play an album is much easier than going through a few hundred CD cases, finding the one you want, taking it out, putting it in a CD player, etc.  Not to mention that you can tell a computer to do cool things like "play a random album" that you can’t really tell a stack of physical CDs to do.

Once I created my musicbox to play MP3s in my car, that was another reason to have all my music in MP3 format.  No more fumbling with CD wallets looking for something to listen to while driving, and no more only having 40 or 80 albums with you at any given time, never having the one you want to listen to.

For about 2 years now, I’ve also been keeping the WAV files (uncompressed CD tracks) on my computer, instead of deleting them after creating the MP3s from them.  Since WAV is uncompressed, each song is about 40MB compared to about 4MB per MP3, so it takes up tons of space on my hard drive.  But I realized that my huge CD collection would be lost forever in the event of a fire or theft, so I wanted to have them backed up this way.

Now I have about 200 albums (about half my collection) taking up about 71GB on my hard drive.  And my hard drive is filling up.  Last night, Andy pointed out that tools like Flac, which do lossless compression of WAV files, can compress the files to about 70% of their original size.  I had heard of such lossless WAV compressors in the past, but never considered 30% to be impressive enough savings to make it worthwhile.  But now, with my hard drive filling up, and the realization that I have 71GB of WAV files, having 30%*71GB=21GB of free space sounds amazing.

So I’m happily flac-ing all my WAVs as we speak.  And thankfully on Linux this is accomplished with just one simple command:

find /music/cds/ -type f -iname ’*.wav’ -exec flac --best --replay-gain --delete-input-file "{}" \;

When you consider that a nice 250GB hard drive can be had for only $136 nowadays, and that 1GB holds 3 albums in flac format, and that most computer audio players can play flac files directly... having your entire CD collection on the computer is more economical and sensible than ever.

Posted by Anthony on 8 replies

Speed

I saw a Segway in person for the first time in my life today.  A guy was riding it and he was flying.  He went from the sidewalk down the little ramp to the street and across an intersection without slowing down at all.  It was pretty funny but also looked really fun and cool.

And it looks like Adelphia has relented a little on their upload cap.  As long as I’ve been a customer of their cable internet service, it’s been capped at 256 kilobits/sec (32 kiloBytes/sec), which is pretty pitiful.  But for the past few weeks I’ve noticed (in disbelief) that my tx-meter showed I was transmitting at around 100KB/s.  Today I transferred a 350MB file and sure enough, it took 57 minutes for an average of 102KB/s.

This is good news since I tend to transfer files a lot, and whenever I’m at work I have a VNC window viewing my home desktop, and I’m also often streaming music from my home system to listen at work.  At the old 32KB/s the music skipped a lot and the remote desktop window was really slow.

Update 20050517: either there’s a problem with my connection, or they changed their minds about this.  My connection is now limited to 50KB/s upload -- still better than the old 32, but only by about 50%, whereas the old new speed of 100KB/s was a 200% improvement.  Hrmph.

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies

Eh?

I am on Canadian soil as I post this message!

Kim and I are on a little road trip to visit Niagara Falls, and it is amazing.  And I’ve never been outside the USA before so this is extra cool for me.  I know, I know... the Canadian side of Niagara is about as close as you can get to the USA without actually being in the USA (er no, wait, that’s California...) but still, I am on foreign soil for the first time in my life.

I took about 200 photos today, so they’ll show up here soon, along with a more full report of the coolness of this adventure.

Posted by Anthony on 1 reply

Felicitations

I just got an email from someone named Phil in France, who found my Linux notes helpful and offered me "felicitations."  That’s fun :)

Posted by Anthony on 4 replies

Isolated Sleep Paralysis

Read some crazy stuff around the blogosphere today.  Stuff that turned out to be entirely fabricated, though.  I’m glad that I’m a hermit so that I basically stayed inside all day (well, and because I had an 8pm exam to study for), and therefore wasn’t the target of any of this April Fool’s nonsense.

The other week I learned that my friend Ben has isolated sleep paralysis.  That was really exciting; I’d never met anyone else besides me who has this... condition, or whatever it is.  When people go to sleep, certain stages of sleep (REM stages, iirc) tend to be violent, so the brain paralyzes the body to prevent you from hurting yourself.  You’d never know this, because you’re asleep while it happens.  But people who have this ISP condition are conscious while this happens.  Not all the time, though; for me, sometimes it happens 5 times in a week, and other times I’ll go 6 months without a single occurence of it.

It is impossible to convey this experience in words, but it is simultaneously mysterious, intriguing and terrifying.  It always happens right around the time when I’m falling asleep or waking up.  I try to move, and I realize that I can’t, so I know it’s happening again.  There is almost always an echoing sound that starts quiet and gets very loud, and it’s repetitive, almost like a record skipping but faster.  As I struggle to move I feel my heart start to beat really fast.

At the time, I believe that my eyes are open.  I believe I am seeing the room around me.  But from some things I’ve read, I’ve come to doubt whether they actually are open.  It may be that I only think they are open, and my brain is actually seeing an image of the room from before I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

There is always the distinct feeling of something evil around me.  But that’s something which by its very nature is impossible to quantify.  And it could be that simply being paralyzed causes me to be very afraid; that’s certainly logical.  The article I linked above talks about this, and how it could be the body/brain’s survival mechanisms reacting to what it perceives as the presence of a threat.

The thing is, it’s terrifying, but as soon as I break free from it, I want it to happen again.  I want to understand it.  I want to somehow experience it but without being terrified by the dark presence and that thrashing sound growing louder.  I never even knew that other people experienced this until I found that article one day, and that was after about 2 years of it.

So anyway, it was exciting to actually talk to another person who’s gone through it.

Posted by Anthony on 3 replies
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