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Comment This will be *good* for movies (Score 1) 335

The author is crazy. Streaming HD to the home is barely possible under the best of conditions right now. A 3x overall internet capacity increase would make this realistic and selling movies on the internet is going to make the movie companies billions. It's going to destroy some businesses but it won't be the movie companies. Personally, I think it's time for the old Qwest commercial to become reality.
Social Networks

Game Distribution Platforms Becoming Annoyingly Common 349

The Escapist's Shamus Young recently posted an article complaining about the proliferation of distribution platforms and social networks for video games. None of the companies who make these are "quite sure how games will be sold and played ten years from now," he writes, "but they all know they want to be the ones running the community or selling the titles." Young continues, "Remember how these systems usually work: The program sets itself up to run when Windows starts, and it must be running if you want to play the game. If you follow this scheme to its logical conclusion, you'll see that the system tray of every gaming PC would eventually end up clogged with loaders, patchers, helpers, and monitors. Every publisher would have a program for serving up content, connecting players, managing digital licenses, performing patches, and (most importantly) selling stuff. Some people don't mind having 'just one more' program running in the background. But what happens when you have programs from Valve, Stardock, Activision, 2k Games, Take-Two, Codemasters, Microsoft, Eidos, and Ubisoft? Sure, you could disable them. But then when you fire the thing up to play a game, it will want to spend fifteen minutes patching itself and the game before it will let you in. And imagine how fun it would be juggling accounts for all of them."

Comment Re:Good. (Score 4, Insightful) 284

This is not simply a company furthering it's own agenda and competing as companies do. They intentionally break the rules and systematically use anti-competitive, sneaky, underhanded and illegal activity to further their agenda. Most people have to work with Microsoft in some way to get our jobs done but that doesn't mean we have to pretend they aren't evil.

Comment Re:On board batteries fine, but 277 volt? (Score 1) 155

It's more than this though. 277 volt is 3 phase power. Unlike your standard home wiring which is 1/2 phase, 3 phase power always has voltage on it somewhere. 1 or 2 phase power has times where it has no voltage and computers need constant power. Because of this, three phase power supplies shouldn't have to go through as much work to smooth out the output power they should be more efficient. I'm not sure about this because I can't find anyone selling them.

Comment Re:Yeah, he wants big cheap pixels (Score 1) 549

I've told Windows XP it has a 120 dpi screen and it adjusts everything to be a bit bigger. Vista won't let me though.

Rather than lowering resolution we need more "zoom in on everything" options. Displaying things bigger on higher resolution screens allows for higher quality and legibility than dropping the resolution down. Processing power is high enough that high quality pixel expanding algorithms can take care of non-scalable features and more and more, things are scalable now. The ones that are look far better at high resolution, displayed big.

Also, glasses are for weenies. Real men have 30" 2560x1600 screens, hit Ctrl-+ and squint a lot.

Comment Re:Vampire (Score 1) 481

I haven't read the books but my wife explained the technicalities of the Twilight vampires and they are definitely overpowered as far as monsters go. They seem to only have strengths and no weaknesses other than the desire to eat people which they can overcome. They're more like superheroes than monsters. Choosing that seems too obvious. Of course.. if I were one of those, I'd totally be the type that eats people.

Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 564

The article smacks of false dichotomy. There are a number of solutions, not just Windows 7 or a hardware RAID controller.

Seriously? You have no idea why Windows 7 is the OS he decided to go with so you have no idea if his reasons are valid. Is it too hard a mental exercise for you to perform to take that requirement as a given?

Also.. no desktop OS has supported mirroring for the last 10 years. Vista doesn't, XP doesn't, I'm pretty sure 2000 didn't. Apparently Windows 7 will.

Comment Re:You are asking the wrong question. (Score 1) 564

I'll point out as I did somewhere else, backups that are not on a RAID array aren't backups. They're a percent chance of a backup.

I work with large scale storage systems and I have a good feel for the likelihood of disk failures. It's extremely hard to manage single disks in a way that isn't likely to result in some data loss. You need to constantly monitor and test them. There are tons of posts here calling RAID useless and hailing backups as the savior of everything. This mindset is naive.

The problem with disk failures is that many people who are new to the industry don't have much experience with them. Disk failures are sneaky little buggers. Disks tend to become unreadable quietly, invisibly underneath files you never use. You can have a drive in your system that contains unreadable blocks essentially indefinitely and you won't know until something tries to read those blocks back.

RAID is essential to have reliable spinning disks. What you do on top of that to preserve your data is important but without RAID you're basically dancing on corn starch and water. You're OK as long as you keep moving but if anything goes wrong, you're sunk.

Comment Re:Just remember the first rule of RAID 0 (Score 1) 564

For every idot who's lost data from a RAID array there are 10,000 people who've lost data from drive failures.

Despite everyone's constant loud claims to the contrary, there is a class of data that is important enough that you not lose it to want it on a RAID array but not important enough that you not lose it to want to back it up. For me.. the line between these is gray but a basic rule of thumb is anything on a machine that I didn't create myself (i.e. that can be recreated fairly easily from external sources) does not need to be backed up. This class of data is probably roughly 99% of the data on most people's desktops. For this class of data, losing data is an annoying and time consuming headache but it's not catastrophic. Also, in a lot of cases like installed OS's and programs, backups are of limited use unless you can restore from scratch (which most people can't) In my setup I have a RAID 6 array backed up to a RAID 5 array that holds my unique data. Both my and my wife's primary desktops have mirrors as well though to keep the machines running reliably.

So, to those people who say RAID does nothing to prevent data loss.. you're obviously wrong. Stop talking.

Comment Re:FAT??? (Score 1) 564

The problem of rebuilds failing because there are multiple disks with undetected errors is a huge problem with RAID 1-5 arrays. The good thing is you can usually copy nearly all the data off an array that won't rebuild, and, if you have a way to force a disk back into the array that failed you can usually recover the data that you couldn't get from the other disks. This requires the ability to re-insert a disk to an array that was removed from it without rebuilding which is a damaging event, more damaging the longer the disk has been out.. but! it is possible. This is one of the reasons I like Linux's software RAID.

This is also why I think RAID 6 is the minimum level RAID you should use in large arrays now. The odds of running into a read failure on rebuild are increasing dramatically as disk size increases. It's also why RAID 1-5 arrays need to be much more careful about decoupling "failed" drives. They usually spit them out at the first write failure which is a terrible idea given that the array becomes completely unprotected as soon as that happens. RAID 5 controllers need to be smarter about how they manage rebuilds, and should scan all areas of remaining disks before de-coupling a failed drive and rebuilding any unreadable sectors on the other disks if possible. The good thing is RAID 6 completely eliminates the issue. Delaying de-coupling is still a good idea but the odds of a rebuild failing are negligible.

Comment Go with software. (Score 1) 564

Having done RAID many times in different ways over the years I'd say that as long as the version of Windows 7 you plan on running supports it, I'd do it. But.. be warned! There may be issues.

For one, I ran into one copy of Comodo firewall that completely blew up the networking stack on XP if dynamic disks (required for Windows software RAID) were present. Also, any BSOD will be followed by a pointless RAID rebuild where it completely copies the contents of one of the drives to the other slowing disk IO for a long time. Also, the entire disks including partitions that aren't RAIDed will need to be configured as dynamic disks which can cause issues accessing them from DOS and Linux. Not usually an issue but it's worth pointing out. One of the things I liked to do was install an OS on each drive that was bootable and have the Stripe/Mirrored partitions accessible from both OSs. If you are going for this type of configuration there is something important in the order with which you create the partitions and convert the disks to dynamic disks. I think you have to convert each disk to dynamic from the OS that boots from that disk in order for it to remain bootable. If OS that boots from disk 1 converts disk 2 the OS on disk 2 will be rendered unbootable (if I remember correctly). If you are going for this type of config, install each OS and have it convert it's disk to dynamic, then create the mirror/stripe partition(s). Other than that, the ability to put the disks in any Windows machine and access the data makes software RAID the clear winner here.

In response to all the posts about how better to safeguard data by backing it up, he's not asking about that. He's asking about which way we'd recommend doing RAID. Your suggestions are off topic. Every time RAID is discussed the same arguments are made. Backups aren't RAID. RAID isn't a backup. Enough already.

I've done software RAID for a long time and I'm a firm believer that it's the right way to do RAID in a lot more cases than it's typically used. Hardware RAID has many proponents and is obviously a profitable industry so there is a lot of money being spent based on it's perceived advantages so I'm in the minority here but that doesn't mean I'm wrong. Expensive RAID array's advantages are getting harder to justify now that Serial ATA has brought dedicated per-drive bandwidth, fast cold (if not hot) swapabililty, and now that multi-core CPUs can handle the load of the software RAID work gracefully. The niche where software RAID makes sense is getting bigger every year. Many people argue that software RAID is too slow, that you need the hardware controller to offload the calculations. I'd like to throw out the fact that I use an 8 drive Linux based software RAID 6 array for my primary storage. Bonnie++ clocks it at 215.2 MB/s on block writes and 263.5 MB/s on block reads. CPU utilization is 45/31% on those respectively but with a quad core machine, using half of one core to do my IO processing when it's writing at that speed is perfectly acceptable. Remember, this is RAID 6 with 2 differently calculated parity chunks, not goofy simple RAID 5 and it's CPU is just a AMD Phenom 9600 Quad with 8 gigs of RAM, not something exotic. I run many virtual machines on top of this array simultaneously and they are nice and snappy. The configuration works quite well and I'd recommend it for a inexpensive, high speed virtual machine server configuration.

For my Windows desktop, I'm currently using my motherboard's Intel Matrix Raid capabilities and have configured half of my drive as a mirror and half as a stripe. The setup has worked seamlessly and I'd recommend it as a reasonable alternative to software RAID. It's slightly cleaner from Windows's point of view and the Intel Matrix controllers are fairly common and, from what I understand, I could put the disks into any machine with Intel matrix raid and access the data in a pinch. I honestly probably would have done software RAID had Vista supported mirroring.

Submission + - RAID trust issues: Windows or cheap controller? 1

NicApicella writes: My new system has two sparklin' SATA drives which I would like to mirror. After having been burned by a not-so-cheap, dedicated RAID controller, I have been pointed to software RAID solutions. I now stand in front of two choices two choices for setting up my RAID: A Windows 7 RC software RAID or a hardware RAID done by the cheap integrated RAID controller of my motherboard.
Based on past experiences I have decided that only my data is worth saving (setting up a system is easier on the soul than loosing years worth of basically everything) — that's why the RAID should mirror two disks (FAT32) that are not the boot disk (= do not contain an OS or any fancy stuff). Of course, such a setup should secure my data: Should a drive crash, I want the system up and running in no time. But that's not enough: Even more importantly, I want any drive and its data to be as safe and portable as possible (that's the reason for choosing FAT32), no matter whether the OS (it wouldn't be the first time Windows fiddled with some part of a hard disk it shouldn't have) or the controller (of the "cheap motherboard integrated"-type) screw up big time.
So, which should I choose? Who should I trust more? Microsoft's Windows 7 or the probably cheapest RAID controller on the market? Any other (decent) solution simply isn't in my budget...
Data Storage

Graphene Could Make Magnetic Memory 1000x Denser 123

KentuckyFC writes "The density of magnetic memory depends on the size of the magnetic domains used to store bits. The current state-of-the-art uses cobalt-based grains some 8nm across, each containing about 50,000 atoms. Materials scientists think they can shrink the grains to 15,000 atoms but any smaller than that and the crystal structure of the grains is lost. That's a problem because the cobalt has to be arranged in a hexagonal close packing structure to ensure the stability of its magnetic field. Otherwise the field can spontaneously reverse and the data is lost. Now a group of German physicists say they can trick a pair of cobalt atoms into thinking they are in a hexagonal close packing structure by bonding them to a hexagonal carbon ring such as graphene or benzene. That's handy because the magnetic field associated with cobalt dimers is calculated to be far more stable than the field in a cobalt grain. And graphene and benzene rings are only 0.5 nm across, a size that could allow an increase in memory density of three orders of magnitude."
Social Networks

Dot-Communism Is Already Here 554

thanosk sends in a story at Wired Magazine about how online culture is, in many ways, trending toward communal behavior. Sharing and collaboration have become staples of active participation on the Internet, while not necessarily incorporating a particular ideology or involving a government. "Most people in the West, including myself, were indoctrinated with the notion that extending the power of individuals necessarily diminishes the power of the state, and vice versa. In practice, though, most polities socialize some resources and individualize others. Most free-market economies have socialized education, and even extremely socialized societies allow some private property. Rather than viewing technological socialism as one side of a zero-sum trade-off between free-market individualism and centralized authority, it can be seen as a cultural OS that elevates both the individual and the group at once. The largely unarticulated but intuitively understood goal of communitarian technology is this: to maximize both individual autonomy and the power of people working together. Thus, digital socialism can be viewed as a third way that renders irrelevant the old debates."

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