Hardware failures

If you forgive the overly long title, Cycles, Cells and Platters: An Empirical Analysis of Hardware Failures on a Million Consumer PCs from 2011 is an interesting read for correlating crash data with hardware failures.

Things I knew:

  • Brand name computers have lower failure rates than white box computers.
  • Overclocking processors will increase the failure rate. This is why they call it a rated frequency.
  • Memory failures have a high likelihood of failing again at the same memory address. I have seen this dozens of times.

Things I didn't know:

  • Memory failures and disk failures are independent.  
  • Computers with more memory have less disk failures. In retrospect this makes sense, as more memory translates to more caching and less disk I/O.
  • Laptop hardware is more reliable than desktop hardware. This is counter-intuitive of the theory of  reducing reliability through miniaturization, but advances in technologies such as hard drive platter parking and passive cooling could easily offset this. 
  • A hard drive failure will happen again. Okay this I knew, but I didn't know the statistical likelihood was so high as 1 in 3.4 for a second failure within 5 days or 1 in 1.9 for a third failure in an additional 5 days. If it fails once, replace it right away or you can guarantee a loss of data.


Free Disk Space

I was reading a story about the History of Storage Cost, incredible how accurate it is from about 1985 to 2010 for the cost per GB. If it wasn't for flood impact in late 2011 disk would be free by 2019. I'd be curious to see how the cost per TB calculates from 2012 forward.


1985 $112,979.59
1986 $63,503.84
1987 $35,694.39
1988 $20,063.19
1989 $11,277.17
1990 $6,338.70
1991 $3,562.87
1992 $2,002.63
1993 $1,125.64
1994 $632.70
1995 $355.63
1996 $199.89
1997 $112.36
1998 $63.15
1999 $35.50
2000 $19.95
2001 $11.22
2002 $6.30
2003 $3.54
2004 $1.99
2005 $1.12
2006 $0.63
2007 $0.35
2008 $0.20
2009 $0.11
2010 $0.06
2011 $0.04
2012 $0.02
2013 $0.011
2014 $0.006
2015 $0.004
2016 $0.002
2017 $0.001
2018 $0.001
2019 $0.000


Windows 8 on an ultrabook

After trying the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on an Acer Iconia tablet, I had mixed impressions. As an OS Windows 8 was good though schizophrenic - a lack of Metro apps had me in the desktop most of the time. This is where it falls flat, as a tablet it was marginally better than Windows 7 which I had already abandoned on the Iconia.

Apps aside, I have found that for business use, I need a keyboard. My productivity takes a dive from typing over 100+ WPM on a keyboard to under 20 WPM on-screen (I can barely get by with my Blackberry Torch at about 40 WPM). There's no point in adding a Bluetooth keyboard, that must makes it a clumsy laptop.

Next up - an ultrabook... something that has the weight and size of a tablet but the functionality of a laptop. Once it was available I ordered a Dell XPS 13.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview installation was not an issue, expanded the ISO to a USB key, booted, installed. Most of the drivers were found, only a few were missing but using the Windows 7 x64 drivers did the trick.

Connecting to the corporate network had a minor hiccup - I can't to work wireless until I'm on the domain, and I can't join the domain until I'm on the network. Usually this is easy enough, but the XPS 13 has no network port. This was easily worked around borrowing a USB network adapter.

Productivity is still primarily in desktop, but overall it works great. Office 2010 installs and operates perfectly, Chrome as my browser for anything needing Flash or other plug-ins (Internet Explorer 10 in Metro does not use plug-ins).

I have now been using it for the past few weeks, and I am on my way to Tech-Ed in Orlando. Because I'll need it extensively this week I'm holding off on moving to the Windows 8 Release Preview until I am back at the office.


Windows 8 fail

Tried the Windows 8 consumer preview on Virtual PC on a Windows 7 machine. I get funky fish, then sad face. Strange that it works on other non-Microsoft virtual platforms.



135 Missions

A nice tribute to 135 missions of the NASA Space Shuttles, the last of which was in July 2011.


Twitter RSS feed

The new Twitter doesn't present an RSS feed any more but it's still there. It's now a 2 step process to subscribe to a feed.

1. Find the user account number by using the user name at http://www.idfromuser.com

2. Use the feed URL http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/USERID.rss where USERID is the account number from step 1

So far it's hit and miss for feeds, some work, some do not.