Silly analogies

While I do love the quote, this is a bit silly:

if the read/write head were a Boeing 747, and the hard-disk platter were the surface of the Earth:

  • The head would fly at Mach 800
  • At less than one centimeter from the ground
  • And count every blade of grass

And if the earth was a perfect sphere. That’s kind of important, too.

(And there was no atmosphere. And each blade of grass was evenly spaced. You just can’t scale dynamics between these sorts of scales.)


Erasing a hard drive

Odd experience. Bought a new 1 TB external drive for backing up my machine (Western Digital, $189 from MSY — laugh uproariously at their website, but love their prices).

Plug into my machine, and it appears as an antiquated FAT disk. That’s normal, as it’s the baseline type of file system that all platforms will be able to read from and write to. But not optimal; much better on a Mac to use HFS+.

Reformating the disk is a job for Disk Utility. Selected ‘Mac OS Extended (Journaled)’; chose the disk name (‘Mervyn’); hit ‘Erase’…and no good.

‘File system formatter failed’

WHADDYA MEAN?! That’s not supposed to happen.

A few minutes of panicking before I thought to, duh, Google the problem. Easy fix:

  • Go to the Partition tab;
  • Select 1 Partition (or more, if you like);
  • Click Options: select ‘GUID Partition Table’;
  • Click Apply.

This has the same result as erasing the volume with the side-effect of , you know, actually working.

In the course of doing all this, I saw a dialog box in Mac OS X that took me back: ‘Disk not recognised; would you like to initialise it?’ Cue memories of being a kid using System 6, not knowing what that word meant; luckily, no data was harmed before I learned it just meant Erase.

You sure don’t see ‘initialise’ used much these days…probably for good reason!


Tables vs. CSS

Jack Shedd says

CSS makes certain things remarkably easy. But there is a class of design problems that are nearly insurmountably hard due to poor design decisions within CSS.

Which may be true. But I’d posit to say that tables (catch his link) are not the answer.

In many cases, a more versatile system is going to be slower for the particular case that a simple system is built for. That doesn’t mean the versatile system is broken.

Having said this, I would like to read some good criticism of CSS. I haven’t kept up with it for several years and I think it makes an excellent model for sorting out a successor to LaTeX.



Um, go the mo?


You can blame the drunken look on the blurriness of the photo. Or vice versa, perhaps.