Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Driving Hard

1001 words

Another section in the neverending book of computer experiences has been written for me. With the upcoming OS update in mind and my continuing stubborness of wanting to keep my old Powerbook despite its falling apart, I had a good excuse to get myself a new hard drive at least. This is actually the fifth hard drive in the Powerbook: 1. Original Toshiba 10GB, getting too small and replaced by 2. Quiet IBM 40GB which was ‘lost’ by Apple while repairing my Powerbook, 3. 10GB Toshiba which Apple replaced that drive with without telling my, 4. 48GB comparatively loud IBM replacement drive that Apple sent me after weeks of being hassled and now, 5. Quiet Western Digital 80GB drive.

That’s not a big difference in gigabytes but one that should make quite a difference. My current hard drive is very full at all times. Having quite a lot of music on there is one of the reasons for that. Just ‘managing’ the music in iTunes and the additional ‘managing’ of the iPod which contains a superset of what’s on the main hard drive is a painful experience. iTunes and the iPod may be nice and support for this situation may exist. But it sucks. You don’t get automatically synchronised playlists, you won’t automatically have your newest stuff added to the iPod, even smart playlists fail to update at most times. As I don’t expect Apple to make any effort for paying customers with these needs and rather suck up to the music industry a little more, having a hard drive that’s properly in sync with the iPod will ease that pain and take up half of the extra space I’ll get. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to fill up the other half as well.

My other decision was to get an external case for the old drive, so I have plenty of space to store all sorts of junk on. So that capacity won’t be lost. For this updating frenzy I placed an order together with Jan-Philipp who also got a new hard drive, more RAM and an Airport Express. And everything already arrived today. We played around with the Airport Express today. It seemed pretty nifty, particularly the music feature and the fact that we were able to to print on both a connected USB printer and a seriously old which is quite fussy about the network setting and is connected to the Ethernet within ten minutes or so.

It took us another twenty minutes of exploring the countless and seemingly powerful options to fuck things up so much that everything stopped working. That’s not bad. A lot of buttons can be senselessly pressed in that amount of time. And thanks to the savable settings, the good ones we had figured out before were restored quickly.

My comment on the device is that it’s pretty nifty and is definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a wireless networking solution. I was surprised at the great number of options that were offered by the Airport setup application. Which I considered slightly confusing – many options with more or less meaninglessly labelled radio buttons and checkboxes in the German version at least. It also has a few distinct (but not clearly distinguishable) ways to open and save settings I thought. Perhaps having a ‘simple’ mode for that application would be good.

After I got home and had dinner, I had to try out the new hard drive. Actually I didn’t want to exchange them right now but wait for that until after the X.4 upgrade. Copying everything over and then updating a few days later just doesn’t make sense. But I wanted to know that the drive works at least. So I decided to just put it into the external FireWire case and check it’s all right.

Unfortunately it wasn’t. After connecting it to the computer, it took more than a minute to work. And then the Disk Utility claimed it to have a capacity of 65GB. I tried again and that time the capacity was reported to be 144GB. Both numbers being far from the 80 ‘decimal’ gigabytes that I expected. Oh, and Disk Utility wouldn’t put a partition on the drive either. So I checked with an older drive whether the FireWire thing works properly and it did with that drive.

To be sure it isn’t the drive I then did what I wanted to avoid and opened the Powerbook to put the new drive in. While my flatmates had been a bit happy to see the Mac failing to work with the new drive the minutes before, this worked out well as the computer easily booted from the drive I had removed and now put into the FireWire case – despite me not having touched or seen any bios or such thing…

Now I suspect that it’s the FireWire case that is to blame for the problem. It still takes a minute or so before the computer boots properly from a drive that’s in there and the new drive works perfectly inside the Powerbook itself. I also discovered that the case also has a single FireWire port – thus rendering it quasi-useless in my setup with the iPod. Finally it also turned out that it’s just not suitable for my 48GB drive which seems to be around 3mm thicker than the new ones. So I can’t close it. Three reasons why the drive enclosure sucks. Three reasons I couldn’t see on the shop’s web page. And three reasons and why I’m going to send it back. Admittedly it was the cheapest drive enclosure I could find. But I thought all this might affect was the speed, which I don’t care too much about. Even a cheap hard drive case should be able to actually contain and run a drive…

If you can recommend a case for 2,5” hard drives that’s not too expensive, has FireWire ports and can contain a drive that’s 12mm high, please leave a note.

April 28, 2005, 0:52


Comment by Larry: User icon

I am trying to save my hard drive from my 15” Titanium Powerbook which is fried. I want to put it in an external firewire case. Where and what do I get for that? A case I now has does not have a connection that will work with my 60 or 80 gb powerbook hard drive. How do I connect the hard drive to the case?



July 15, 2006, 20:45

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