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Comment: Re:Put the SMART stats to the test (Score 3, Informative) 142

Disclaimer: I work at Backblaze. Essentially this is what we did. We don't care at all if one drive dies, so we left it in an environment where we can read and write them all day (the storage pods with live customer data) and when they failed we calmly replaced them with zero customer data loss and produced this blog post. :-)

Comment: Re:My useless(?) WD anecdotes (Score 2) 142

> power-cycling the drive can have an effect on its lifetime and/or reliability

Yes, exactly, why are you calling this stupid? It is interesting because it might affect your behavior - if you power cycle the drives every day, maybe you should consider leaving them powered up, if electricity is cheaper than replacing the drive. It's just an observation, leaving it out seems.... irresponsible? Disclaimer: I work at Backblaze.

Comment: Re:Cool data but... (Score 0) 142

Neither Apple nor Microsoft have popup warnings built into the OS you get from the factory telling you anything of value that the drive in your laptop has actually lost data, or might lose data. Heck, without a bunch of configuration I don't think Linux does either?

I just cannot imagine how Apple and Microsoft can justify not warning users when they are about to lose a drive, or when data was ACTUALLY LOST but they just keep pretending the disk was fixed up and don't tell you what was lost. Meanwhile they provide silly rewrites making the GUI more flat, a purely cosmetic change. How about providing real value and more data integrity at a file system level?

Comment: Re: Seagate OEM? (Score 4, Insightful) 142

> TL;DR: Buy whatever is cheapest, the odds are always the same.

Disclaimer: I work at Backblaze. I'm going to completely agree with you wholeheartedly, and say in addition you must have a backup. You don't have to use us, I'm just saying if a drive has a 1 percent chance or a 30 percent chance of failing, the actionable item is the same - keep a backup and buy the cheaper drive and restore from backup when it happens.

> over the past 10 years, I've never had a hard drive die in any of my computers while in use.

Professionally we lose something like 10 (?) drives every single day at Backblaze, but *PERSONALLY* I had a LOT of luck for a number of years, but about 3 years ago I finally lost one drive. I'm more backed up than most people, so it was a completely relaxed event. Not a bit of stress. Replace the drive, re-install the OS, and restore the data. Yet something like 95 percent of people never backup their data. IT professionals backup up their family computers, but once you are out there in "normal computer user" land, it's a horror show.

Comment: Re:I thought they loved it! (Score 1) 406

by brianwski (#48143873) Attached to: Flight Attendants Want Stricter Gadget Rules Reinstated
> an entire plane of people yakking on the phone

What old world do you live in? Everybody text messages now (or uses Snapchat or Whatsapp or whatever), very few people ever "talk" on a phone. Watch what happens today as the plane lands and the announcement goes out that it is ok to use phones. Of 100 people, maybe 50 quietly text their friends to come pick them up at baggage claim, and one old guy makes a fast, quiet actual call saying in an embarrassed tone "Yeah, it's me, I just landed." Then he hangs up.

Comment: Re:Anthropometrics (Score 1) 819

> dimensions of space aren't listed

Always available now at

But personally (as a tall wide guy) I think a few "size bumps" for extra fees would be very welcome. For example, an extra $10 for an extra inch of legroom, and another $10 for an additional inch of width. The fact is space is money, and small children and petite woman fit JUST FINE in the smallest seats and should get a price break for it.

Comment: Re:Already commented on this elsewhere (Score 4, Insightful) 200

by brianwski (#47821855) Attached to: Hitachi Developing Reactor That Burns Nuclear Waste
> Fukushima's error was they didn't raise the sea wall

Also, the backup generators to operate pumps were in the basement that flooded. If the generators had been on the roof, it would have been fine.

I know hindsight is always easy, but it does seem like important stuff in a flood plain should be inspected and thought through once per year by smart people to find glaring problems like this.

Comment: Re:Ineffective advertising (Score 1) 149

by brianwski (#47791153) Attached to: Dell's New Alienware Case Goes to Extremes To Prevent Overheating
Our graphics designer who does a lot of video work got a Mac Pro here at work, they are pretty expensive, but it seems fast and reliable so far. Time will tell for sure.

> you can't put a mechanical drive inside, which limits performance for video editing

I think the designers made the correct decisions for video editing. SSDs are faster than mechanical drives and go inside. Most video editors also need large repositories in addition to their working set (the working set goes on internal SSD) and basically always use external mechanical disk arrays - and the Mac Pro comes with nice fast Thunderbolt for the external arrays.

I dislike the humongous cases of a few years ago, I welcome smaller, more practical, more desk friendly designs just as long as they are every bit as fast.

Comment: Re:Not worth it. (Score 1) 49

My toothbrush has charged wirelessly for 15 years. My MacBook Air has a magnetic recharging cable, which is really nice (SOOOO much better than the micro USB on my phone). I previously had a phone that had both magnetic connector charging AND inductive charging in a tiny phone (HP Veer) proving it is possible and practical. I'm utterly baffled by why these two options aren't preferred everywhere. We have existence proofs, everybody that uses them loves them, what is the hold up?

Comment: Re:Lies and statistics... (Score 1) 570

by brianwski (#47565305) Attached to: 35% of American Adults Have Debt 'In Collections'
> after the $6,500 max, all expenses are paid

In practice, the insurance companies find ways to increase your out of pocket, or just outright not pay. Let me give my personal example.

I have a medical issue where I will be on a certain drug for the rest of my life. The issue is completely taken care of by this drug, and all medical literature that I can find (and my doctor) says this is the correct treatment. After a year of insurance paying for the drug smoothly, I arrive at the pharmacy and insurance is no longer paying. The insurance company says my "pre approval" has expired and that process takes a week Ok, since I could die without my medication, I pay cash out of pocket. Meanwhile, my doctor calls them for "pre approval", and supposedly it is cleared up. A month goes by, I show up in the pharmacy, the insurance company will only pay for half the dosage. So I pay cash for half, and call my doctor, who says they applied correctly, the insurance company made a mistake, and they will reapply for "pre approval". Boom, I've exceeded my "supposedly" out of pocket max. Welcome to my world of the insurance company refuses to pay by being difficult and sleazy and slow.

So in practice, there is this new part of the system nobody is warning us about. Everybody thinks if the treatment is well understood and your doctor prescribes the treatment then the insurance company MUST PAY, but this is not true. The insurance company can (and regularly does) simply refuse to pay AT THE LAST MINUTE WITH NO WARNING because . Side note: sometimes the reason is there is a cheaper, yet less effective treatment, I ran into that for a DIFFERENT medication once. But my doctor cannot possibly seem to check this in advance? I always find out at the pharmacy at the final moment as I attempt to leave with the drug?

Don't misunderstand me, I do not have a solution for health care, I don't know if single payer would be better or worse, I don't know how to lower costs, and there may not exist a better system than what we have now. But I do know I dislike the current system, it feels antiquated and inefficient. My pharmacy, doctor, and insurance company use FAX to communicate. FAX?! There is no ticketing system where I can keep the pre approval moving along, or where I can double check the final outcome. And it seems clear to me the insurance company is overstepping their bounds. When you get a correct, legitimate prescription, they should pay, but that is not the current system.

Comment: Re:Incoming international flights (Score 2) 702

by brianwski (#47400561) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes
You are absolutely correct for DIRECT NON-STOP flights. But many or most international flights have connections and layovers. I live on the west coast, usually I fly to New York or Chicago and catch my connection overseas there - often with a dead laptop battery.

Luckily more and more it is possible to find recharging plugs in airports. But if the TSA weren't being complete jerks, they would provide a completely (USA) standard 110 V power plug on an extension cord right at security. I don't know anybody who flies internationally without their device chargers. But this is the same TSA that refuses to sell you $1 stamped envelopes to put your pocket knife into so you can US mail it to yourself. Or simply "hold" your pocket knife for 48 hours since you will be back in this exact same airport when you return tomorrow. Nope, it is really, REALLY important to run TSA badly and punish innocent people - so they will NOT be providing an electrical plug to allow you to save your $700 phone or $1,500 laptop.

Comment: Re:simple (Score 1) 113

by brianwski (#47272849) Attached to: US Wants To Build 'Internet of Postal Things'
Several people have brought up the cost and barrier to entry of email. Email service is essentially free (gmail, hotmail, yahoo mail) and free WiFi is not that hard to come by. Maybe I'm jaded living in Silicon Valley but all of Mountain View has free WiFi, most libraries and coffee shops provide it, etc. I suppose the main cost is renting $2 worth of computer time at a Kinkos if you are homeless and want to send an email.

But I'm definitely a believer in social safety nets. Currently, I believe there is a tax on every land line phone that goes to supplying "universal lifeline access" to poor people. I would personally vote for a system that as of age 18, every man or woman who was at or below poverty level would be provided a low end SmartPhone for free every 3 years and a basic data plan enough to send and receive email. Coupled with decommissioning 9/10ths of the US post office it probably would save money.

Comment: Re:simple (Score 1) 113

by brianwski (#47266791) Attached to: US Wants To Build 'Internet of Postal Things'
I agree quick communication is the mark of an advanced society, but refusing to upgrade when better options are available is the mark of a doomed society.

When daily physical mail was first invented, it was great. But now that we have cell phones, email, faxes, SMS messages, Slashdot discussions, surely you can see daily physical mail is now SLOWER and less advanced for most messages.

When the first person put a horse shoe on a horse it was an advancement. But when we have cars, subways, trains, etc you have to finally admit horse shoes WERE a good idea, but now you should be using rubber tires on cars.

In order to get a loan you must first prove you don't need it.