SSD Goodness

My personal computer’s operating system hard drive died recently. The hard drive was a Western Digital less than two years old. I have previously had excellent luck with Western Digital products and this was my first failure. I contacted them and since I purchased the drive with a computer they provided no warranty for it.

I decided to replace my operating system drive with a lightning fast solid state-drive (SSD). I researched SSDs and found that the OCZ Technology 60 GB Agility 2 Series SATA II (OCZSSD2-2AGTE60G) was the best value for the features I wanted. The most important feature is to get a SSD that supports TRIM to avoid performance degradation over time.

I determined it was time to move up to 64 bit Windows 7 and retire 32 bit Windows XP. I purchased Windows 7 Home Premium as it offered all the features I needed. I tried to install Windows 7 and it failed quickly with the following error:

Setup was unable to create a new system partition or locate an existing system partition. See the setup log files for more information.

The solution was to disconnect all hard drives except the SSD and reboot. Then I installed Windows 7 on the raw drive without any partitions. It wouldn’t work if I created a partition via the setup process.

I made the mistake of installing Windows 7 in SATA IDE mode in the BIOS. I changed the SATA mode to RAID to get ACHI support. I re-installed Windows 7 a second time after I updated the BIOS. I could not believe how fast the install was and afterward how quick reboots completed.

Everything was going well until I decided to plug in my other SATA drive. The SATA mode setting change in the BIOS caused my other SATA drive to be converted from being a basic disk to a dynamic disk. Windows doesn’t recognize dynamic disks and Microsoft’s recommended solution would have resulted in total data loss.

Luckily I found a slick way to convert the dynamic disk back to a basic disk. I put the drive in an external enclosure and used Mandy’s XP machine to run the raw disk editor described in the instructions (as it didn’t work on a 64 bit platform). The approach I linked is simple and used freeware to quickly performed the change without any data loss.

I am installing my applications now and enjoying the speed of SSD!

First Apple Product

I just purchased my first Apple product, an iPod. I purchased the 2002, 10Gb (dock less) model since I am cheap. I am very impressed with its compact engineering and sleekness. It was bundled with Music Match which contained a plug-in for mp3 synchronization between windows PC and iPod. Music Match is a bloated behemoth with a clumsy UI. Jacob Nielson could spend the next decade working out the UI issues. The only thing I learned installing Music Match was the limits of my patience and I couldn’t get it to download mp3s to my iPod. I remembered that Bryce told me iTunes was ported and released for the windows platform. I uninstalled Music Match, downloaded iTunes, and installed it. iTunes is a breeze to use and I am currently synchronizing my mp3s. I can’t wait for the transfer to complete and it won’t be long since I am utilizing one of the fire wire ports I recently installed.

Is it possible to make the iPod appear as a removable drive in the windows file explorer? Then, I could just drag and drop files. It would be similar to my digital camera which doesn’t require any drivers, just plug it in and the drive is automatically mapped. This is true plug-and-play functionality in my book: simply, it just works!

Digital Camcorder

I am contemplating getting a digital camcorder, specifically the Sony DCR-TRV22 MiniDV Handycam. I want a camcorder with an ADC (analog-to-digital converter) so I can convert old VHS videos to DVD. The digital camcorder will receive VHS video via S-Video, it will convert the analog video into a digital DV format in real-time and passes the feed through to my computer via Firewire (which incorporates both the audio and video signals). I can then apply filters to tweak the video and audio quality, organize the video clips, and burn to DVD.

I also plan to use the digital camcorder to record new video. Being able to review my waterski course passes is an invaluable training tool. :-)