News


Tape vs Hard Disk

posted 3 Sep 2013 04:18 by Kevin Phair

Reading this post (http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2013/07/18/data-tape-dying-a-slow-death-or-already-dead) got me thinking again about the economies of tape vs HDD storage. For a long time now, I've been of the opinion that tape is on the losing side.

At the moment the largest capacity tape system seems to be LTO, currently up to version 6 with a native capacity of 2.5TB. Sounds good, except new drives cost a little over €2,000, so even with tapes costing about €100 (and 3TB HDDs costing about €120), you'd need to be using at least 20 tapes to make match the costs. Bear in mind that's the cheapest I've seen a drive, they can cost up to twice that. You're still limited to using one tape at a time though, so if you needed to transfer data from one tape to another or make a copy, you'd have to use intermediate storage or buy another drive. Even a second-hand drive on ebay is only likely to be about half the price and you have no idea what condition it's in.

With a sensible amount of care, HDDs are pretty durable and I've powered up drives that are at least 20 years old which still work fine and have no read errors. The might not be as hardy as tapes, but to my mind there are too many downsides to using tape to even consider them as a viable option any more. I guess if you've already invested in a tape system it makes sense to stick with it, but as time progresses and the storage demands of data continue to increase, I honestly can't see tape lasting much longer.

The other advantage to hard disks is also that the drive and the media are a single unit which means that if you needed to access the data off-site or in a DR location with no compatible tape drives, you can still plug a HDD into virtually any computer and have it work. What happens if your tape drive goes faulty? Even if it's an old IDE drive you can still get add-in cards if your motherboard doesn't support that anymore. I find it hard to imagine a tape library that couldn't be replaced by an equivalent system using HDDs instead and I guess the only reason people don't go for it is market inertia.

Easing back into things after a long delay

posted 11 Jun 2012 14:10 by Kevin Phair

Apologies to anyone who was following the Cobra disassembly (amongst other things) but at the end of July last year life took a bit of nosedive into the toilet. Things are not that much better but currently I have a bit more energy, my wife is still making gradual improvements after a major stroke and I'm trying to get back into this stuff to keep my mind busy. I'm going to attempt and get some kind of weekly update up on this site or my other one.

I would also like to use this opportunity to tell everyone that nurses are some of the most under-appreciated people in the world and you should treat the places where they work like you would your own home.

Joffa Smifff appreciation and tribute

posted 11 Jun 2012 14:09 by Kevin Phair

This should have been headline news (but with respect to Jof, he wouldn't have wanted it to be). The world has lost one of the great coders of the home computer age. At a time when game coders did the graphics and music as well as the code, Jonathan "Joffa" Smith stood out as a phenomenal talent. Although a terribly shy individual, his work spoke volumes and is a legacy that generations of coders should be able to look back on and study as an example of thinking outside the box.

In fairness to the other talented programmers at the time like Mike Richardson, Steve Turner, Steven Crow, Dominic Robinson et al, Joffa wasn't the only great coder out there, but there was something special about his work that made it click with so many people. Let us not forget either that no matter whether Joffa was unhappy with the work or not, he did his damnedest to make it playable.

Even though I was never lucky enough to meet or chat with him and as happy as I am with my life, I still feel like I lost something very important that Saturday. So in an effort to deal with it, I've set up a tribute page to keep a record of his humour, talent and inventiveness, and most of all how much he was respected by others.

Click here to see the pages...


TAWS - The Amiga Workbench Simulator

posted 15 Aug 2011 15:38 by Kevin Phair

Written compeltely in Javascript this is a nice piece of work which gives you a WB 3.1 environment in your browser. I would love to see something like this as a Linux window manager instead of some of the rubbish (Unity) that's around now.

http://home.datacomm.ch/mrupp/TAWS.html

PowerShell - Interesting...

posted 26 Jul 2011 03:41 by Kevin Phair

I've been keeping an eye on PowerShell over the last few years and it's been developing into something quite interesting.

It looks like Windows will finally catch up on where the Amiga was 20 years ago with AREXX. In theory, vbScripting should have made the advent of PowerShell unnecessary but I'm not sure whether it was snobbery, mismanagement on the part of Microsoft or just a poor security model that never let it reach full potential.

Anyway, it looks like PowerShell can support asynchronous event-driven execution and there is also a GUI and script editor/debugger which should make it a bit easier to use the multitude of APIs. Maybe it's time to have another look at it, I just need to find a project that it would apply to.

Building Fuse on Win32

posted 20 Jul 2011 17:26 by Kevin Phair

It seems nobody likes to make things easy. I think the whole build process on Linux needs to be nuked and something rational put in place. It should be so difficult to build something from source. Surely all you need are the base source files, extra support code to cater for different target platforms and then you just compile and link, right?

Doesn't look like it, at least not in this case. It all looks so easy in the README - Just configure and make and there you go. Yeah, right, if only! I don't want to have to become an expert in makefiles, autoconfig, aclocal, m4 (don't forget to make sure you have all the right versions with bugs fixed!) and all that crap just to contribute to an open source project.

It's enough to make you want to fork the thing and clean it all up so that the makefile isn't as big as the source! As it is I'll probably just have to install Linux on something that will be fast enough to run the build process within a decent timeframe. That just annoys me.

Visual6502.org featured in "Archaeology" magazine

posted 20 Jul 2011 01:57 by Kevin Phair

This month's "Archaeology" magazine has a fascinating feature detailing the work of the Visual6502 team in decapsulating, documenting and archiving our recent technological history.

Well worth a read and if you can, visit the Visual6502 site and wiki to learn more. Don't forget to donate if you think what they're doing is worthwhile.

Things that I am just so sick of. #1

posted 15 Jul 2011 17:32 by Kevin Phair   [ updated 15 Jul 2011 17:34 ]

Zombies and vampires. I think we've had enough of them now. Doesn't anyone have any imagination?

I just needed to say that.

Blender 2.58 released

posted 11 Jul 2011 14:01 by Kevin Phair

I've looked at Blender on a regular basis since the very early days and had a lot of trouble getting to grips with it, having had an opportunity to use Lightwave for a while years ago (which in my opinion had a superior UI). Happy to say it looks like they've done a lot of work on their user interface recently and I've downloaded it to give it another shot. Results may be forthcoming in a few months?

Who killed the (Linux) netbook?

posted 11 Jul 2011 13:52 by Kevin Phair

That's the question posed by this article on IT World. Apologies to the writer but I didn't bother reading much of once I saw he'd managed to spread it over 4 pages. I think it can all be said in two paragraphs:

1. Netbook makers are trying to make them all things to all people, increasing price and blurring the distinction between them and laptops. Faced with a choice of spending a little extra and getting an adult-sized keyboard, decent screen, RAM and CPU most people will plump for what they know. I read recently that ASUS is about to dump its laptop inventory over the summer and I speculate that this is to counter their dilution of those two platforms - In this case they are betting on the netbook being the platform for people who want a sit-down, "serious" computer and the tablet being suited to the more mobile demographic. It will be interesting to see how the dockable and phone-linked models[1] pan out as this year progresses.

2. To a lesser extent, in the early day a number of tablet brands sold the Linux option at the same price as the Windows version, but with lower specs! Most people know they're being ripped off when they see it. If Linux on netbooks had been given a level playing field something might have happened with it but the early momentum was squandered and projects like intel's Moblin[2] (which looked like it would deliver a consistent, on-demand experience to counter the fragmenting distro nightmare) imploded. In short, the netbook makers completely failed to capitalise on the strengths of Linux and seemed to be more inclined to use it as a bargaining tool to get better licencing terms with Microsoft. That shows you where they're coming from in terms of delivering a consumer product.

[1] Toshiba Thrive, Asus PadFone
[2] Which then became Meego. 2012 RIP?

1-10 of 12