Archive for the 'Other Hardware' Category

How to Fix Windows 7 Unable to Create or Find a System Partition on an SSD

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Windows LogoMy primary hard drive died, and I decided to replace it with an SSD to help speed up my system. When I tried to install Windows 7 on the new drive, however, I kept getting this error message: “Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the Setup log files for more information.” (<RANT>And just WHERE would these log files BE?!?</RANT>) Most of the “solutions” on the web dealt with correctly configuring the disk partition. I had used the Windows installer to set up the partition, but just to make sure, I booted into Linux and set the boot flag for the partition. Didn’t work. So I used DiskPart from the Windows recovery console. Didn’t work either.

Finally I came across an article that mentioned BIOS settings, and that did the trick. The SATA Mode (that’s what it’s called in my setup program but it varies) was set to IDE and needed to be AHCI. After making that change the install went smoothly. The article also said that you should not use Intel® Smart Response Technology, which is another BIOS option.

Wiping Solid-state Drives, Part 2

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Hard DriveHere at Chad’s News, we’ve previously discussed the issues involved in securely wiping files stored on a solid-state drive (SSD). The linked article summarizes another, more recent study on the topic that pretty much says the same thing: the only way to ensure that you’ve securely wiped an SSD is to physically destroy the hard drive. Other methods may work, but they are not universally reliable.


Initial Impressions of Google Glass are Negative

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

Google LogoBusiness Insider has an article listing the problems with Google Glass, based on reviews by others. Most of these issues can be fixed, but the author was unable to find anyone with a compelling reason to actually use Google Glass—which may be the primary factor in whether or not the technology is adopted by the general public.

(via Kim Komando)

Tips For Optimizing an SSD

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

Tip JarSolid-state hard drives (SSDs) are quite different from regular, platter-based hard drives. And many of the techniques that optimize normal drives, such as defragmentation, are either unnecessary on SSDs or can actually decrease performance or reduce the drive’s lifespan. The linked article has several tips on optimizing the performance of your SSD under Windows.

Thanks to John from Boulder for this link.


Buying Flash Drives and Memory Cards Online is Often a Bad Idea

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Flash DriveAccording to the linked article, there is a serious problem with counterfeit (and defective) flash drives and memory cards, and many times they’re indistinguishable from the real thing. Occasionally they are even sold unknowingly by reputable retailers! The best we can do is to avoid purchasing them online, especially from eBay. Of course, buying them online directly from the manufacturer is not an issue.


Memory Cards Explained

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Memory CardThe linked article explains the two main types of memory cards and their various speed ratings. The author also gives tips on which ones to use for your camera, based on the type of photography you’re doing


Building a Supercomputer From the Cloud

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

The CloudCancer researchers used the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud to create a virtual, 50,000-core supercomputer that ran a complicated simulation for the low, low price of $14,486. The neat thing is that they were able to perform a more detailed and realistic simulation on the cloud-based system than they would have on the supercomputer they actually own.


What is DPI Scaling and Why Should I Care?

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

MonitorMany modern computer monitors have such a high resolution that things like icons and text are getting too small to read without reducing the overall resolution. And what’s the point of having a high-resolution monitor if you can’t use it at its maximum resolution? The situation is further complicated by the fact that today’s LCD monitors have a native resolution at which they look the best, and if you lower the resolution to make things larger, you may degrade the quality of what you see. Microsoft is aware of this issue and has created the DPI Scaling tool to fix it. The tool allows you to tell Windows to increase the size of text and graphical elements. The linked article explains it in more detail and gives instructions on how to use it under Windows 7, but DPI scaling is available as far back as Windows XP (it’s part of the advanced display settings).


A Short History of Ethernet

Saturday, December 24th, 2011

Network CableThe linked article gives a (slightly) technical history of the Ethernet protocol, which these days is almost ubiquitous for wired LANs. It also explains how Ethernet works compared to other networking strategies. Somehow, fast transfer speeds arise out of seemingly total chaos. If you’re technically inclined, I think you’ll enjoy reading this article.


Wiping Solid-state Drives

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Hard DriveThere are well-defined procedures for permanently erasing data from a traditional hard drive. But for solid-state drives (SSDs), which use Flash memory instead of magnetic platters, things are quite different. The problem stems from two peculiarities of SSDs: “they can only erase data in larger chunks than they can write it, and their storage cells can only be written a certain number of times (10,000 is standard) before they start to fail.” Because of these, SSD firmware does a lot of behind-the-scenes manipulations when writing data to the drive.

Researchers at UCSD have determined the following:

  1. Built-in erase commands are effective, but are sometimes implemented incorrectly.
  2. Overwriting the entire visible address space of an SSD twice is usually, but not always, sufficient to sanitize the drive.
  3. None of the existing techniques for individual file sanitization are effective on SSDs.

That being said, law enforcement agencies are finding that it’s hard to do forensics on SSDs because the drive automatically wipes a significant percentage of deleted data without any intervention by the user. This may seem like a direct contradiction to what the UCSD team determined, but the difficulty there was with the purposeful sanitization of data as well as with the erasure of individual files. So while it’s difficult to wipe everything, it’s also hard to prevent some amount of deleted data from being wiped automatically.

The Ars Technica article (link #3 below) briefly discusses the article in link #1, and then goes on to mention other erasure techniques that are coming down the pipeline. For right now, however, they suggest encrypting the drive as a good way to keep private data secure.

Link #1:…
(via Slashdot)

Link #2:…
(via Slashdot)

Link #3:…

Introducing the Chromebook

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Google LogoThe Chromebook is a “nothing but the web” laptop that runs Google’s Chrome browser on top of Google Chrome OS. It has the capability to upload and download files to a thumb drive but has almost no local storage. Any programs you run on it must be web applications that can be executed within a browser. With the increasing popularity of the cloud, however, it’s not too difficult to work within these constraints. Note that Chromebooks are manufactured by several different companies, and that Google itself is not one of them.


Why Should I Be Concerned About SSD Garbage Collection

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Hard DriveThe linked article explains garbage collection in solid-state drives (SSDs), including what it is, why it’s needed, and and why you should consider it when purchasing an SSD. The author also discusses the SSD “trim” function: what it does, when it’s necessary, and which OS versions support it.