Paw Prints: Writings of the maddog

Aug 31, 2010 GMT
Jon maddog Hall

The late George Carlin once did a comedy routine about “stuff” and I sympathize with him entirely, but while his concept was that he had all his “stuff” in houses, in suitcases and in bureau drawers, I have most of my interesting “stuff” on disk drives.....

Over six years ago I purchased a new IBM Thinkpad X31 laptop notebook. I intended on having it a long time, so I outfitted it with the maximum amount of memory that I could get (2 Gbytes), along with the largest disk, which at that time was 80 Gigabytes, and an extended warranty covering five years.

About three years ago I started feeling a bit pinched for disk space, so I upgraded to a 160 Gbyte disk and thought that would hold me for a while. About the same time I bought a new still camera that took 10 Mpixel images, which with jpeg compression averaged out to 4.5 Mbytes each. I take a lot of pictures and tend to keep the last year's worth of pictures on my notebook to use in articles, etc.

Last year the notebook finally needed servicing, so I took advantage of my five-year warranty and had it fixed. Not only did IBM fix it in less than three days (including shipping in both directions), but they upgraded all the firmware and give me a new keyboard, since the old key caps had become so worn that they could not be read. Note that worn key caps can be viewed as a security feature against thieves who are not touch typists, but it was nice to have a pristine keyboard again. At the same time I upgraded to a 320 Gbyte disk.

Last year I started making videos. Most of my videos are only two or three minutes long, but video being fairly “storage intensive”, the spare disk space started “shrinking” again, and adding a renewed interest in comparing distributions (therefore needing VM space and iso space), the disk space shrank even faster.

Over the past couple of days the 14 Gbytes that I left in my working pool of space was reduced to less than 1 Gbyte by some short-term storage needs, and I started getting messages from the system that I “only” had 1 Gbyte or less disk space left.

I paused to reflect on this fact, and thought about how the first disk I ever had in my workstation was 5 megabytes that held my entire OS, while a 10 Mbyte disk that I obtained later held not only all the OS but all my user files too.

I hoard things....I know that. I have every email message sent to me in the past five years on my notebook (minus some pretty bad SPAM....I sometimes keep the more interesting SPAM), and lots of other “stuff” that I probably should go through and eliminate some day. On the other hand, sometimes the “stuff” comes in handy and sometimes I enjoy coming across those by-gone pieces of data when I am looking for other things.

But it does sometimes create sad amusement to realize that just my portable notebook has many, many times more disk storage than the entire data center of Aetna Life and Casualty had in 1978 which held all of the records of the company and their customers, and I still keep running out of room for just my “stuff”.


  • Where I put *my* stuff?

    when I bought my latest box, it had internal sata and scsi drives; 300G and 160G respectively. since then, after discovering the internet, those two filled up, the latter with new installed packages and the former with my archive of the internet. After that I bought a ~500G external usb drive and began using that for archiving the web.

    I've got about 1.1Tb of space total attached to that puter and several hundred gig free. My archiving has slowed a bit too. However and in the mean time, i've had to change filesystems from ext3 to xfs because booting and fsck time was too long with ext3. Only the boot partition is ext3 now but that'll change at the next Slackware install.
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