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New Year, New Drive

My first solid state drive was a Samsung 850 Pro 1TB purchased in 2015. Originally I installed it in my T430s. The following year it migrated to my new X260, where it has served admirably ever since. It still seems healthy, as best as I can tell. Sometime ago I found a script for measuring the health of Samsung SSDs. It reports:

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 SSD Status:   /dev/sda
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 On time:      17,277 hr
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 Data written:
           MB: 47,420,539.560
           GB: 46,309.120
           TB: 45.223
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 Mean write rate:
        MB/hr: 2,744.720
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 Drive health: 98 %
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The 1 terabyte of storage has begun to feel tight over the past couple of years. I’m not sure where it all goes, but I regularly only have about 100GB free, which is not much of a buffer. I’ve had my eye on a Samsung 860 Evo 2TB as a replacement. Last November my price monitoring tool notified me of a significant price drop for this new drive, so I snatched one up. This weekend I finally got around to installing it.

The health script reports that my new drive is, in fact, both new and healthy:

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 SSD Status:   /dev/sda
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 On time:      17 hr
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 Data written:
           MB: 872,835.635
           GB: 852.378
           TB: .832
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 Mean write rate:
        MB/hr: 51,343.272
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 Drive health: 100 %
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When migrating to a new drive, the simple solution is to just copy the complete contents of the old drive. I usually do not take this approach. Instead I prefer to imagine that the old drive is lost, and use the migration as an exercise to ensure that my excessive backup strategies and OS provisioning system are both fully operational. Successfully rebuilding my laptop like this, with a minimum expenditure of time and effort – and no data loss – makes me feel good about my backup and recovery tooling.

This post was published on . It was tagged with backups, hardware.

The Kindle is a terrible device for reading comics.

It’s the wrong size. The E Ink display is greyscale. Zooming and panning are disruptive. A tablet probably works great, but I don’t know – I’ve never owned one. I solved the problem a while back when I discovered that I could simply rotate my laptop’s display via xrandr.

$ xrandr --output eDP-1 --rotate right --pos 0x0

Adding an autorandr profile for this makes it easy to jump to portrait mode. This is useful for reading any long-form content on the X260. Typing (or mousing) on the rotated device is difficult, so I’ll sometimes plug in my external keyboard if I want to do more than just page through a document.

X260 Portrait Mode

Elevating My Balls

Last October I bought an Elecom HUGE trackball for use at home. I liked it enough that a month later I bought a second one to replace my CST LaserTRAC at work. Elecom is a Japanese company which has a reputation for making nice trackballs that tend to be a little too small for typical Western-sized hands. The HUGE is their answer to that. It’s a well-sized trackball with a smooth operation and a nice selection of buttons, all of which are supported by the Linux kernel.

The HUGE can be made even more comfortable by tilting it. This elevates the ball, leaves the wrist in a slightly more natural position, and also helps to address the position of the scroll wheel, which is otherwise slightly too far back. Some people have printed stands to hold the trackball at an angle. About a month ago I saw someone tilt the HUGE using aluminum keyboard feet. I thought that looked like a great idea and easier than trying to get something printed, so I went to AliExpress and ordered a pair of black feet from one seller and a pair of red feet from another.

When the feet arrived I attached them with hook and loop squares so that I could expriment with different positions and take them off if I didn’t like them. The position that I’ve settled on provides a comfortable angle, and the trackball still remains stable during use. I think it’s a great improvement. If you own a HUGE, it’s worth picking up a couple feet to elevate your ball.

Battle Station

  • Feet Placement
  • Tilted HUGE

This post was published on . It was tagged with hardware.

I treat myself to a new laptop every three or four years.

A few weeks ago I bought a Lenovo Thinkpad X260, replacing the T430s that has been my daily driver since 2012. I’m a big fan of the simplicity, ruggedness and modularity of Thinkpads. It used to be that one of the only downsides to Thinkpads were the terrible screens, but that has been addressed by the X260’s FHD display. The high resolution let me move from the 14” display of the T430s to the 12.5” display of the X260 without feeling like I’ve lost anything, but with an obvious gain in portability. The X260 is a great machine to put Linux on, which Spark helps me to do with no effort and a minimum expenditure of time.

Thinkpad X260