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* Posts by Nigel 11

2431 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

How to survive a UEFI BOOT-OF-DEATH on Samsung laptops

Nigel 11
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Re: "Garrett was able to demonstrate an application on Windows could wreck a machine."

Not designed to run Linux you say? If this is the metric people measure that criteria by, then it's clearly not designed to run Windows either.

And right now, somewhere in North Korea ....

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Nigel 11
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IT Angle

The really important question

What do Samsung do when someone returns a bricked laptop (a) in and (b) out of warranty?

You can tell the manufaturers you want to do business with from the ones you don't, by how they handle a problem such as this one. You don't want to be told to <go away>, and to have to sue your supplier for supplying goods that were not fit for purpose. Which defition this bug amply fulfills: the machine claimed to offer UEFUI boot, but broke the specification in a way that causes catastrophic failure.

I'm asking, not suggesting anything. I really don't know.

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Nvidia, Continuum team up to sling Python at GPU coprocessors

Nigel 11
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Faulty diagram

That diagram must be faulty. FORTRAN isn't there at all.

Yes, it's a minority language these days. However, for those who do serious scientific number-crunching, it's definitely very far from being a Norwegian Blue. FORTRAN-95 and successors allow a compiler to generate efficient parallel code (which C / C++ can't, because of pointers).

Python has a big foot in that camp as well. It's great for writing top-level code, with SciPy and NumPy and lesser-known friends at lower levels to do the heavy lifting.

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Nigel 11
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Re: hate python with a passion

I hated it (though with less passion) when I started learning Python. It took me about an hour to get used to it. It took me about a day to start wondering who was the idiot who thought curly brackets were a cool idea.

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NASA chief: Earth is DOOMED if we spot a big asteroid at short notice

Nigel 11
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Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....

A nuke would work, if it was placed correctly before detonation. To the side and well off-centre. You'd blast a small chunk of asteroid off at high velocity in one direction and impart an equivalent and opposite amount of momentum in the opposite direction. It would work if the delta-V was sufficient to cause the asteroid to miss earth (so the more warning we had, the better). Lots of variables, of course, and causing fragmentation of the asteroid would make things worse (if they could be any worse, that is).

Radioactivity - pah. Compared to the environmental effects of an extinction-level impact event, the radioactivity released by a single nuke would be totally insignificant. We tested hundreds of them in the atmosphere, didn't we?

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Drilling into 3D printing: Gimmick, revolution or spooks' nightmare?

Nigel 11
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Great for one-offs

I think this hits the nail on the head.

It may revolutionize prototyping. Design a complicated 3-D object on your computer, and print one. Handle it. Stress it. See what feels good or bad, what breaks or bends too easily. Revise your design. Print another prototype. No problem with going around this loop several times.

For manufacturing, you'll still bite off the large expense of having a mould manufactured, so you can knock out the item in thousands or millions for cents per unit.

It'll also mean that at the other end of the cycle, one-off spare parts for obsolete models will be similarly easy to manufacture. What is the state of the art in 3-D scanning? Take a broken part, reassemble it with superglue, 3D scan it and 3D print a replacement? Maybe not there today, but soon. Photo-copying for objects.

It may revolutionize lost-wax casting, because it'll be easier to make the wax originals. What makes sense for jewellers today (with hand-sculpted wax), may make sense for any smallish cast-metal object tomorow.

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Nigel 11
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Alert

Perhaps surprisingly, no.

There's a lot of law pertaining to exhaust pipes in particular. It was established that car manufacturers had no rights over the manufacture of functionally equivalent parts which, externally, were indistinguishable from copies of a registered design, because they HAD to be exactly the same shape, diameter, etc. in order to attach to the car and not impede the operation of its engine. The internals were a different matter - there is freedom inside to make changes, and the third-party manufacturers were indeed making the innards differently to the car manufacturer.

Further, if you are making your own parts rather than manufacturing them for profit, you have even greater license. For example, you are allowed to make an instance of a mechanism described in a patent for your own curiosity, enjoyment, maintenance of a broken purchased item, etc. even though you need a license to sell such parts for profit.

As with audio and video, watch out for attempts to take away the freedoms we currently enjoy!

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Software bug halts Curiosity: Nuke lab bot in safe mode

Nigel 11
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On error jump to human ...

I know what you mean, but I immediately thought of "Queen of Angels" by Greg Bear. The plot of that SF novel points out the difficulty of emulating any system whose software has to handle unpredictable realtime events.

Especially if it's one step away from full-human AI and 10s of light-years out.

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World's largest solar collection plant opened in Abu Dhabi

Nigel 11
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Re: Questions

I imagine that the problem with making the oil very hot is that losses to the surrounding air by convection increase rapidly with themperature.

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Ten pi-fect projects for your new Raspberry Pi

Nigel 11
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Re: Solar moitor

I must have missed something. If you want to heat water from solar PV electricity, don't you just put a 12V or 24V immersion heater in your tank and connect the raw DC solar panel output to the heater?

I would have thought that the rest involves a motorized switch to connect the panels to the inverter or to the water tank as desired. If inverters are allergic to being completely disconnected from their PV panels at short notice, you could switch between all the PV output going to the inverter, and the PV output going to the inverter and the water-heater in parallel.

And if you also want to be able to heat water from mains electricity, just put a second immersion heater in the tank. OK, it may be hard to source a tank with two bastard curcular cut-outs at the top for screwing your immersion heaters into. I find that struggling with one is quite enough!

Back to the original idea, surely there's such enormous thermal inertia in a water tank that you wouldn't have to switch the heater on and off more than once every few minutes. Flicker regulations?

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Nigel 11
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Re: Rural networking

Knock on the door of whoever is paying for the broadband, of course. I'd suggest that would be the "Borchester Village Internet Co-op" or suchlike. Obviously take appropriate software precautions so that only authorized users get access (such as end-to-end as an encrypted pipe, and some logging of who and when).

Not really any different to any other smallish not-for-profit's set-up, apart from the wireless pipe to the broadband connection location.

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Nigel 11
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Regime change, anyone?

Same idea as rural networking, but a different application, for brave people living under repressive regimes. Build your own hidden communications network.

This more or less happened in Libya, although the rebels "stole" the existing wireless network infrastructure rather than just installing their own.

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Nigel 11
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Re: Rural networking

It's not a new idea at all. Years ago I read about the installation of a working telephone booth at the Burning Man festival, using a chain of off-the-shelf routers strung across the Nevada desert. It's just that it's getting more affordable, and the RPi lets you integrate things like battery and power management to a greater degree. There are also quite a few routers that one can "jail-break" and convert into small fully programmable Linux boxes. (OpenWRT, etc.)

A related idea would be just to use a pair of solar-powered RPIs (or OpenWRT boxes) to wirelessly bridge a road. This is useful, because while you might persuade a few landowners to let you string a fibre across their land, just try getting permission to take a fibre over or even under a public highway. So, don't try. Just put a solar-powered fibre-to-wireless router on each side. You wouldn't even need directional antennae (which may not be entirely legal).

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Nigel 11
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Re: My project...

Victorian terrace should be easy! It has floorboards? You can push your low-voltage low-bandwidth wiring into the cracks between the boards in ine direction, and pull wires through the space between the joists under the floorboards in the other. Modern flat with a solid concrete floor is harder, though if you have carpet you can also easily put wiring under the carpet.

Very thin copper wire or tape attached to a wall, wallpaper-glued down with tissue paper and painted over would probably also work. I once attached a multi-element FM antenna to a ceiling that way (antenna made of aluminium foil, then papered over and painted). Worked a lot better than a dangly wire, and a lot cheaper than getting a man to attach a proper antenna to the chimney. The room needed painting anyway.

Or with RPi at £30 ... go wireless?

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Nigel 11
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Rural networking

Fairly challenging, but a case of open-source development once, fix hundreds of thousands of people's problem.

It ought to be possible to connect an Rpi, a solar panel, a battery, a weatherproof box, a USB hub, some USB wireless thingies and some directional antennae, to make a goes-anywhere wireless access point. Stick that on a pole in a field somewhere, with line of sight to another pole, and another, and another ... chain them together from a location that can get broadband, to a village or hamlet that can't.

Software that auto-assembles a network, so apart from configuring the broadband end the future problem abounts to errecting poles, screwing a box onto the top, and pointing the antennae in appropriate directions.

It's a cheap somewhat limited implementation of something that the military are playing with for battlefield communications, and disaster relief agencies for getting communications up again after a natural disaster.

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New nuke could POWER WORLD UNTIL 2083

Nigel 11
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Re: Thorium Breeder reactor

in particular, the Thorium cycle: breed U233 from Th232, and then fission the U233. Takes a lot more neutrons to get all the way up from U233 to Plutonium, so production of Plutonium will be minimal.

U235 production might be more of a worry, but it involves isotope separation to extract it rather than chemistry. Hard to build a Uranium isotope separation plant without being noticed.

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AdBlock Plus BLOCKED from Google Play

Nigel 11
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Meh

Re: More adverts, everywhere.

So, don't patronise us and tell us to grow up for lamenting the removal of the option to exercise choice.

But your freedom to choose to block adverts has not been removed. It's just that the Google store has stopped stocking that app, so you have to get it from somewhere else and learn an extra trick or two to install it. To me, it's a bit like your default supermarket deciding not to stock one of your favourite products. Annoying.

If they'd made it impossible to block adverts without voiding your phone's warranty, THAT would be interfering with your freedom of choice. If they'd used cryptographic techniques so it was impossible to install anything they didn't want you to, and so they could retroactively take away something that they didn't want you to have , that would qualify as evil. Nobody could be that nasty, could they?... Oh.

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Starlight-sifting boffins can now spot ALIEN LIFE LIGHT YEARS AWAY

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Cetaceans

We can't even work out how to communicate with cetaceans. What chance have we got with something with which we share no common ancestry at all?

(They sometimes save our lives by swimming us back to dry land. That shows a remarkable capacity for abstract reasoning by dolphins and orcas, and inter-species empathy in advance of our own. )

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Nigel 11
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Alert

Re: No such thing as degrees Kelvin.

Which has just made me think, why haven't I ever seen use of kK or MK? (temperatures appropriate for describing stars).

(Unlike the Yg, which isn't NEARLY big enough).

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Nigel 11
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Alien

Re: Anything we can do

Even if they happen to be within a few tens of light-years, even if they are currently watching Lucille Ball on Earth-TV and trying to work out what those strange techno-primitives are up to, they may still be thwarted by real-world physics. In other words, they've come to the same conclusion that our scientists have, that interstellar travel isn't ever going to happen outside of the movies. No wormholes, warp drives, ZPE drives, reactionless drives, or any of the other devices that SF authors use to get an interstellar plot going. Just rocketry and relativity and radiobiology, saying "can't be done".

My riposte to the (strong) Anthropic principle is that the universe is NOT optimised for Homo Sapiens. It's optimised for our silicon successors, who'll be able to slow their clock rates down so that a thousand light-years becomes a few years subjective. They'll prefer just about anywhere in the universe to those hot balls with moist oxidizing atmospheres, where some (mostly ridiculed) few amongst them think their ancestors must have developed, back before the Archives and the Memories.

In the worst-case scenario, they're here in our Oort clouds already, we're making far too much noise, and they're getting ready to drop a comet on us. (It worked last time, 65 Myears ago).

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Ten serious sci-fi films for the sentient fan

Nigel 11
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WTF?

The day the earth caught fire ...

Premise is utterly bonkers. A bad fantasy. No science at all. Newton would have discovering relativity as a consequemnce of how fast he'd be spinning in his grave. Even "The day after Tomorrow" made more sense.

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Nigel 11
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Re: +1 for Twelve Monkeys

It's a brilliant movie and has an SFnal framing device, but does it really count as an SF movie? If it does, what about the even more brilliant "Brazil"?

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Nigel 11
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Logan's run

At last. I was thinking I was the only person who thought it a worthy contender to replace Zardoz.

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Intel, Apple forging chip-baking deal?

Nigel 11
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Re: Shittel

They could move away, just as AMD managed a transparent shift from i686 to x86.

The easiest route might be something like a bigLITTLE architecture with ARM cores and x86 cores on the same die, sharing cache, memory controller and maybe other internals. Gradually shift the balance of core provision towards more ARM cores and less x86 ones, as software takes advantage of the new feature.

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Nigel 11
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Intel vs. Arm

The ARM architecture is intrinsically more efficient than x86. If one could compare an ARM CPU against an x86 CPU implemented using the exact same fab process, ARM would win. (OK, for flat-out number-crunching the design of the FPU also becomes a very significant factor and Intel may have a sufficient edge to win here - thought Nvidia does it even better if you can run on a GPGPU instead of a CPU).

At present you can get an intrinsically inefficient x86 CPU implemented on Intel's proprietary process, or an ARM CPU handicapped by an inferior process, and the result is something close to a tie.

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Safety authorities to hold hearings into Boeing 787's battery woes

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Re: A tenth of that?

it was a coding error from someone who thought "hey, she will only fly for a few hours however, so why bother".

Someone thought that way in safety-critical code? Please reassure me it was just the in-flight entertainment system.

Where's the scream icon?

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Nigel 11
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Re: Sacrifice some weight

Out of interest - how much weight does the Lithium battery save, compared to an NiMH stack of the same capacity?

Would lead-acid be allowed in an aircraft? Spilled acid in an airframe would be very undesirable, even if gelled. Even more so, the hydrogen gas that the things emit under failure / overcharge conditions or when spilled acid finds something metal to react with.

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Chinese officials wring hands over Google's Android dominance

Nigel 11
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Flame

Re: Slaves to convenience ( and Intellectual Property)

Indeed. What we have here is an very unsurprising demonstration that the ruling party in a post-communist but still centralist, controlling and repressive state doesn't understand open-source. It's a bit like expecting a mole to understand flying.

Walled garden versus open source is an old discussion. Evidence so far is that given enough time, open-source always wins. Recently Apple, with its massive first-mover advantage, is losing ground to Android. But that's just a recent skirmish in a war that's been going on since bacteria developed plasmids, and higher organisms developed sex - both means for spreading their source codes as far and as wide as possible, and for maximising the amount of development thereof. (Mutually synergistic, of course).

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First C compiler pops up on Github

Nigel 11
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Mushroom

Re: Engraving

I'm reminded of the USA experts laughing at the USSR's avionics in a defector's jet, that still used thermionic valves (tiny peanut-sized ones).

Until someone pointed out that valves are EMP-proof, and transistors aren't.

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IT'S HERE: Seagate ships 'affordable' desktop hybrid drive

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Not quite here yet

Seagate website says "no price or purchase options available". Sigh.

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Super-fast super-massive black hole spins at nearly light-speed

Nigel 11
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Naked singularity?

I'm surprised no-one has mentioned this possibility (or impossibility, depending on quantum gravity and other physics we don't know much of). Wonder if there's any hope of learning more by studying this beast from the very great distance we're at.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naked_singularity

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First, servers were DEEP-FRIED... now, boffins bring you WET ones

Nigel 11
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Boffin

Indeed, it's a great idea

For a long time it's offended me that most datacentres are busy throwing away heat to the air outside, while the same building is burning fuel to keep its inside warm for the people that work there.

In fact one can source airconditioning plant that pumps heat from the air in the server farm "uphill" into the building's central heating system. However such plant has a higher capital cost, and the IT people and the estates people and the finance people don't properly talk to each other and argue over "whose budget" rather than seeing the "interest" on the capital invested (arriving by way of a reduced fuel bill). So it's rare to find such a system. Personally I'd say legislation or tax breaks should make such airconditioning either compulsory or highly tax-advantaged.

CPUs are happy running at 80C so they could be "cooled" by water from a central heating system. Trouble is that water and electricity don't mix. The tiniest leak from the CPU cooling circuit can trash the motherboard. Cue a nonconductive inert liquid which could be pumped through heatsinks above the CPUs and then through a heat-exchanger plumbed into the central heating system, with no aircon (pumping of heat uphill) required.

Looking further ahead our CPUs could be happily running at 100C or even 120C if they were designed and tested to do so. Nothing in the physics says it can't be done. They'd slow down in proportion to the increase in absolute temperature: 60C to 120C is 333K to 393K, so that's about 20% slower. In most environments a couple of extra cores on the chip would be adequate compensation for the lost MHz.

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New social network is for DEAD PEOPLE

Nigel 11
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Re: Religious Use

In all seriousness, shouldn't the Mormons buy this site and run it forever free and advert-free? All they have to do is convert one of the still-living, and all those ancestors are instantly saved.

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Adobe squashes TWO critical Flash vulnerabilities with emergency patches

Nigel 11
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Flashblock?

Does anyone know for sure whether the Firefox Flashblock plug-in (which I use) is a generic fix for these problems in respect of any flash stuff that you don't actually choose to display? In other words does flashblock keep the flash data strictly away from the flash code until you click on the logo?

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Microsoft legal beagle calls for patent reform cooperation

Nigel 11
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Should be plaintiff pays all bills until he wins.

Short of scrapping patents or drastically modifying what is patentable, how about this?

The plaintiff should be obliged to pay for the defense as well, on a dollar-for-dollar basis. If he won, he would be awarded costs that cover all the money he paid for the defense as well.

This would mean that small companies would no longer fear being sued by a bigger outfit with deep pockets. They could never be forced to concede, because the cost of defending their patent would be even greater than the cost of paying for a license from a troll.

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Bees use 'electrical SIXTH SENSE' to nail nectar-stuffed flowers

Nigel 11
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Although...

I've found myself wondering about submillimeter (Terahertz) directional antennas, and moth antennae. Do moths get completely confused by artificial lights not because they emit light, but because they're a strong source of THz emission? Just a thought. Has anyone tested moths' response to a completely cold light source (ie one that's not also strongly emitting at THz? )

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Oklahoma cops rake ashes of 'spontaneous combustion' victim

Nigel 11
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Re: @P_O

Combustion of a "body" has been demonstrated, using a pig carcass dressed in clothes in place of a human body. No mystery.

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Wind-up bloke Baylis winds up broke, turns to UK gov for help

Nigel 11
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Better still to buy some hybrid rechargeable AAs and a charger, so you use the same batteries over and over again. (Hybrid NiMH are the ones that will stay charged for many months - ordinary NiMH go flat in about two).

My DAB radio needs new batteries every week. Progress? I think not , but it does let me listen to BBC World service in my bathroom. Thank heaven for rechargeables. Must be approaching their 200th recharge by now.

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Nigel 11
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Alert

I wouldn't even say tricky

Clockwork and dynamos are very old ideas. Putting them together to power a radio shouldn't be patentable. By all means register your design so that others can't copy it exactly. By all means patent any mechanical widget that makes the clockwork dynamo work better than it ever could without that widget - if there is such a widget involved.

But patenting a concept that amounts to connecting a radio to a power source ought to have been thrown out by the patent examiners! Even if there wasn't any prior art for clockwork radios, it STILL shouldn't be possible to patent the concept.

Whatever next - a patent on kiddies' play bricks with rounded corners? Oh, wait a moment ....

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HYPERSONIC METEOR smashes into Russia, injuring hundreds

Nigel 11
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Mushroom

Re: Not a meterorite

It's literally boiling the water in the atmosphere as it comes in.

A masterly understatement. It's literally boiling the iron or whatever that it's made of. It's probably going past that, all the way to plasma. Afterwards, the iron, silicon, whatever condenses (as oxide, mostly) and hence the thick trail.

If you watch the car footage you can actually see the trail appearing to burn for a few seconds. I expect that's a Nitrogen - Oxygen fire, or possibly or additionally an Oxygen - Iron fire if the meteor was iron.

One of the worries prior to testing the first nuclear bomb was that it would ignite an (exothermic) Oxygen - Nitrogen combustion, that some thought might propagate to consume the Earth's entire atmosphere and everything living therein. I wonder if someone else pointed out that were that possible, a meteor strike would have done it long ago? Or did they just chance it?

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Nigel 11
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Re: Russians - hard as nails, not fazed at all

My thought too. Are Russians completely unflappable, or is it a language where excitement is conveyed through choice of words rather than tone of voice?

It's even more noticeable in the other video, of people when the shockwave arrives and smashes loads of windows.

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Nigel 11
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Trollface

Re: Not a meterorite

"Should have been vertical". You must be a troll. No-one can be that thick around here, surely?

Almost horizontal means that its intersect with the Earth just clipped our atmosphere. Dumped most of its energy at a decent altitude. Bloody good thing too. If that had come in much closer to vertical it would have been far more destructive of whatever was underneath.

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ICO: How 'sensitive' is personal data? Depends what it's used for...

Nigel 11
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Thumb Down

Re: How 'sensitive'? Not very.

Much better if society can be persuaded to mount an "immune response" BEFORE the next outbreak of ethnic cleansing, rather than after.

A lesson from history. In the late 19th century the unified state of Germany was formed to great public acclaim. Its new citizens queued up to obtain their papers. The form they filled in was quite simple. One of the questions was "Religion" to which many happily replied "Jewish". After all, this new state had for the first time granted them constitutional protection against harassment and discrimination.

Scroll forwards to the late 1930s and their parents' replies stored in dusty filing cabinets doomed not just the parents, but children and grandchildren not even born at the time.

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Nigel 11
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Flame

about time!

For far too long councils and other quasi-governmental bodies have been recording our racial details for no good reason. What business is it of theirs whether someone applying for planning permission or a parking permit is black, white or green?

Anyway, perhaps now we can request all the data that they hold about us and the reason keeping it, point out that it was obtained coercively and that we do not consent to them storing or processing it.

Personally, I always tick the "Other" box and write "Human". It's only been rejected once.

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Microsoft exec: No 'Plan B' despite mobile stumbles

Nigel 11
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Happy

Re: There's the Kool-aid...

people like me will get sick of trying to retrain them and just go with linux instead.

There's also Linux-lite, aka OpenOffice / LibreOffice running on a Windows PC. It's probably easier to re-train someone off Office 2003 onto OpenOffice, than it is to re-train them onto Office 2007. And the OO folks seem mercifully free of the desire to inflict new interfaces on their users in order to look cool.

And of course the price of OO / LO is very competitive indeed.

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Forget wireless power for phones - Korea's doing it for BUSES

Nigel 11
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WTF?

Bus stops?

I'm surprised that the obvious seems to have been missed. Busses spend a lot of time stopped at predefined locations - bus stops. Put the induction chargers at the stops (only). Give the busses some sort of secure-ID so that the charging turns on only when there's a bus at the stop. Installation cost greatly reduced, freeloader problem greatly recuced. Add yellow lines and discharge monitoring and cameras for further defense against freeloaders.

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Ask Google this impossible question, get web filth as a reward

Nigel 11
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Coat

Ooh err missus

Blow? Hole? Continu??!!!!!!!!

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Higgs hunt halts as CERN prepares LHC upgrades

Nigel 11
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Joke

Re: We should be told...

No, the day after they turn it up to full, they should announce that they accidentally destroyed the universe last night, but nobody apart from a few particle physicists actually noticed.

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New cunning linguist computer has got ancient tongues licked

Nigel 11
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Holmes

Etruscan? Basque?

Many scholars have tried and failed to crack Etruscan. There's no Rosetta stone. If this program can crack it, then it's a major advance. If not ....

Have they tested it on Basque, absent any help from a speaker of that language? Again that would be an acid-test. Banque is one of the world's anomalous languages, not related to any other in any known way.

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Cache 'n' carry: What's the best config for your SSD?

Nigel 11
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Unhappy

Missing - hybrid drive?

I'd really have liked to see that review also compare a hybrid drive such as Seagate Momentus. Yes, it's a slow sleepy 2.5 inch laptop drive, but how much difference does that built-in flash cache make? And being out past the drive end of the SATA connector, it'll work with Linux or anything else you care to boot.

With Linux it is trivially easy to put the operating system and your own small / heavily accessed files onto a small SSD. One can configure a completely useful Linux system in 30Gb (about 15Gb of system files, 15Gb /home). Unfortunately 30Gb SSDs are slower than 256Gb ones, but they share the same near-zero seek time. Again it would be nice to see that benchmarked.

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