back to article Everyday doings of a metropolitan techie: Stob's software diary

I have started testing techie podcasts at getting up time, as Brexitless alternatives to radio. Monday morning The ones I have surveyed are: CppCast: the show that proves beyond all doubt that C++ is not a spoken language. Plot: each episode, the two anchors interview an expert guest. Resulting conversation has a curiously …

  1. Robert E A Harvey


    1. I agree about Leo Laporte

    2. The remark about the samdung disk cloning software is incredible. How many of these have they shipped? I don't disbelieve it, I just can't believe they are still in business. Good tip

    3. But Kudos must go to you for "special drawer reserved for disappointing surprise presents for the children of people you don't like" - the best thing on el-reg so far in 2019

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Kudos

      Samsung's software is diabolical. I Can recomend the Paragon SSD OS moving stuff.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre

      Re: Kudos

      Disk cloning software ? dd works rather well, for those of us who don't edit our config files with Adobe's InDesign either.

    3. Trixr

      Re: Kudos

      I must have been lucky with mine. Cloned a Dell XPS of 7 years vintage running Win 7 using the Samsung tool a year or two ago, and didn't have a problem.

      1. Pen-y-gors

        Re: Kudos

        Ditto. 9 year old Acer, used the samsung software to clone the drive (took a few hours) swapped drives, it worked.

        The big problem was then working out what was making the upgrade from Win 7 to Win 10 freeze at 81% (turned out to be something to do with AVG) - now have nippy laptop again.

        1. dajames

          Re: Kudos

          ... what was making the upgrade from Win 7 to Win 10 freeze at 81% (turned out to be something to do with AVG) ...

          Ah! So AVG does do something to improve security. Who knew?

    4. Oblivion62

      Re: Kudos

      The Samsung software also doesn't clone any partition other than the first, leading to needing to copy one's D partition by Other Means. Which, if you've followed the Approved Process, means mounting the old drive somewhere else, unattached to the original machine (because some drive identifier or other has been illegally copied, meaning you can't stick it in an external thingy and connect it via usb3) and copying it across the network. Or starting again and using Acronis or Paragon or that thing with too many vowels and a single M or anything else that your search engine of choice tells you to use.

  2. gcla72

    Not from the Midlands...

    but the "among my relatives, back in the old days, the preferred method of acceptance of, say, a slice of delicious chocolate cake was to mumble "I don't mind" in a barely audible monotone. I am still not really comfortable giving an acknowledgement any warmer than this." rings true. When asked if I want a cup of tea (or a beer) I reply, "if you like".

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Not from the Midlands...


      Here you can have the wrapper. You can make something pretty with it. Or a little boat for drain in the garden you dug up.

    2. BigSLitleP

      Re: Not from the Midlands...

      I am definitely from the midlands originally and i would say his statement is 100% accurate. My wife gets very annoyed at how often she asks a question and gets the reply "If you want."

      1. keith_w

        Re: Not from the Midlands...

        Having read Verity over the years, for some reason I had the impression that she was a person of the female persuasion. It I am in error, I apologize.

        1. Trixr

          Re: Not from the Midlands...

          She is most definitely a she.

        2. Hollerithevo

          Re: Not from the Midlands...

          Why has doubt crept in, @keith_w? Where do you feel misled by Ms Stobb?

        3. Ragarath

          Re: Not from the Midlands... @keith_w

          From the horses mouth at the bottom of the piece you will find this enlightening information. Use it wisely and well.

          Verity Stob is the pseudonym of a software developer based in London. Since 1988, she has written her "Verity Stob" column for .EXE magazine, Dr. Dobb's Journal and, since 2002, The Register.

      2. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Not from the Midlands...

        I'm from Yorkshire originally, with one parent from North-East Derbyshire. There isn't much overt enthusiasm in most responses in my family as a result. Many years ago, there used to be an advert for something (probably tea) with the catch-line "If a Yorkshireman says 'It'll do', you know there's nowt better" - members of my regarded this as wrong, because no one would ever be so effusive!

        Many years later, I still have trouble being as enthusiastic as others think I should be. My wife regularly grumpily says " 'It's alright' is exactly what I was aiming for", when she has produced something wonderful from the kitchen*...

        *She enjoys cooking, I don't, hence why she is the kitchen expert - no sexism involved.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Not from the Midlands...

          "Many years later, I still have trouble being as enthusiastic as others think I should be. My wife regularly grumpily says " 'It's alright' is exactly what I was aiming for", when she has produced something wonderful from the kitchen*..."

          My wife was born in Hampshire but grew up in Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire. When I produce a culinary delight, I know I got it spot on when she says "s'alright".

          (She hates cooking, I enjoy it. No sexism involved :-))

        2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

          Re: Not from the Midlands...

          One of my former lives I had spent in Swabia. Swabians being known as rather frugal, of the few local phrases I learnt there was this gem: "nix gschwätzt, isch gnuag globt."* Which translates roughly as silence is praise enough.

          I quite liked it there...

          *Yep, had to look it up again to get it right.

        3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

          Re: Not from the Midlands...

          Here in Groningen in the North of the Netherlands, the highest praise you might get is "Het kon minder", which translates to "It could be worse"

          Different language, same idea

      3. Nigel Titley


        My wife is French and for many years rendered her native "Si tu veux" as "If you want" until I managed to convince her that this was borderline rude in those of us who use Home Counties English. In French it's a genuine literal question. We now have the disambiguating question "French or English?" to be used when clarifying the meaning.

    3. James Anderson

      Re: Not from the Midlands...

      I hail from the Kingdom Of Fife where it is considered really bad form to utter any phrase that does not contain a negative. So when offered a beer you reply "A Widne mind" or "No a bad idea". A sincere "Yes Please" would result in you wearing said beer.

  3. iron Silver badge

    Yay new Verity! It must be my birthday this week! :D

    (actually it is)

    1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

      Re: Birthday

      Me too! How about Reg also gets us a BOFH on Friday?

      1. W.S.Gosset

        Re: Birthday

        And a packet of Worstalls

  4. dunbankin

    Still useless...?

    Thoroughly agree with the Verity's report on the quality of the Samsung disk cloning s/w. I stuck a Samsung SSD in my PC a couple of years ago, and, forewarned by on-line comments about the utility's uselessness, installed a copy of Macrium Reflect as back-up. I tried Samsung's s/w first - it spent 45 mins saying "Cloning...", before eventually saying " Oh. Actually it appears I wasn't cloning after all..." (or something like that). Reflect took 75 minutes not saying anything, until finally saying "Finished", leaving a perfectly cloned SSD. Aghast that Samsung haven't fixed such a fundamental bug after 2 years. The Samsung SSD hardware, however, is brilliant.

    1. Kubla Cant

      Re: Still useless...?

      I definitely don't want to be the guy who always says "should be using Linux", but I've found it quite easy to boot from a pen drive and use dd to clone disks of any operating system. Are there, maybe, disks that dd can't clone?

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Still useless...?

        You may not wish to start writing to sector 1 in a number of cases, and to align to a suitable boundary for the SSD. I'd agree that it's easy to use Linux in this case, but that should be to boot a Unix based cloning tool.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: Still useless...?

          You young'uns....

          Back in the day, you could not clone IDE drives using dd (bit-copying the whole drive) because the IDE firmware kept the bad-block map on an accessable, but unused part of the initial few tracks. If you did, the destination drive ran really slowly until it repaired the map - if it ever did!

          1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: Still useless...?

            I'm definitely not young (unfortunately). My first hard drive was RLL..

            I tried bit imaging the drive in a Thinkpad 701 years ago, which worked, but only restored to the same drive. That was using an OS/2 equivalent to dd.

      2. Martin Gregorie

        Re: Still useless...?

        Are there, maybe, disks that dd can't clone?

        ...haven't seen one, and its MUCH faster than Clonezilla and easier to use, too.

        Couple of years back I put a 128GB Sandisk SSD in an old Lenovo R61i when its 120GB hard drive died, installed Fedora from a CD. Booted up, pulled in my stuff from a backup. No problem. Still going like a train.

        Bootnote: I'd wanted to install another hard drive, but R61i electronics can't handle a disk bigger than 250GB and it was already impossible to buy a replacement HDD that small, hence the 128GB SSD.

        1. L'Ecossais

          Re: Still useless...?

          I have to disagree about clonezilla vs dd - I've always found it to be faster than dd as it only copies used space and is much easier to use to clone disks of different sizes. It's worth noting that if none of Clonezilla's more sophistacted techniques works, it uses dd as lowest common denominator!

          As far as R61i is concerned, I fitted the good lady wife's R61i (type 7650) with a 500Gb spinnning rust disk back in the day, and had no problem getting it recognised. The BIOS (v1.03) is set to use AHCI as its SATA setting - maybe that would help. It is now her reserve machine as she has something newer but it still works well.

          1. W.S.Gosset

            Re: Still useless...?

            I'll second the note re max=250gb being incorrect. I have the T61 which is the Thin/light version of the R61. It has 350gb of spinning rust.

            Having said that, SSD is exponentially dominating HDD in the last 2yrs if you use a web browser. Reason: a combination of poor javascript handling (appalling multitasking/threading/ability to handle more than 75million modern lazy webdevs now using js vs html because magic code-generator du-jour means they can get a shinyshiny with some quick mouseclicks), plus Win7+'s poor swappiness. Do NOT "up"grade Firefox when prompted!! Performance has utterly tanked -- often have the machine effectively frozen as various javascript idiocies fight it out. And if you Sleep it or Hibernate it, you then get the OS swappiness failure: budget an extra 10-15mins or more for Win7+ to reshuffle into RAM what it's unexplainably shuffled out. I was locked out for nearly 30mins yesterday, for example.

            My SSD machine is coping, my HDD machine is not.

  5. CT

    Super write-up on the Mac Mini - when I did mine, I looked inside, cross-referred to the ifixit page, then ran away and installed the SSD externally via a FireWire case. Worked a treat. Super-fast now.

  6. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Cracker screwdrivers!

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who uses these for delicate PC surgery - there always seem to be a few knocking around when you need one.

  7. Roger Greenwood

    "hostage-grade cable ties"

    Love the article, but shirley those are merely apprentice grade cable ties?

    (or reserved for children of people you don't like).

  8. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Nice to see you here again

    Brightened up a grey (cold) day here .

  9. schafdog

    She is back!

    But changing the disk in a Mac mini isn’t that difficult. Fist time is daunting, but I belive I can do it in 10-15 minutes. Never broke anything, but sometime having a screw “too much”

  10. Anonymous IV
    Thumb Up

    "hostage-grade cable ties"

    Worthy of a computing Oscar!

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

      Re: "hostage-grade cable ties"

      The soon to be gone Ex-Mrs Scorn, who at the time had yet to be upgraded to that title, managed to cable-tie her fingers together because she was bored & started looking in my toolbox. (While I was working on the flat roof of an airport building on the Isles of Scilly), resulting in me having to shin down the drainpipe I was using as a means of accessing the roof.

      No euphemisms here.

      1. Hollerithevo

        Re: "hostage-grade cable ties"


  11. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge


    I still grin at how Joss Whedon managed to sneak the "C "word into The Avengers by using the "Q" word instead.

    The only other person that I heard utter an amused snort in the entire movie theatre, was my youngest sons godmother who was visiting us at the time.

    Great to see I'm not the only one who likes to caper about room congratulating self on own ingenuity.

  12. Gnoitall

    They're GREAT!

    "They changed the caption on all the software's acknowledgement buttons from the stolidly neutral "OK" to the inappropriately Tiggerish "GREAT!". It is not GREAT! when I am forced to admit to yet another rout. Nor is it GREAT! that I have completed the challenge to get a Bronze Mystery Box and special badge, or the other ridiculous trinkets now annoyingly added to the game."

    I heard every single one of those "GREAT!"s in the voice of Thurl Ravenscroft, AKA Tony the Tiger.

    Cool fact: Thurl Ravenscroft was from the US "Midlands": Norfolk, Nebraska.

  13. cutterman

    Think I used Carbon Copy Cloner with the SDD attached to some doodad usb connector.

    Used the stuff that came with the conversion kit

    Don't remember it as difficult. Just be careful removing and replacing memory modules.

    SSD1 for System, /Volumes/Mac HDD1 for Data

    Don't remember it as being a major hassle.

    1. Pen-y-gors

      The ddodad usb connector was vey useful for me!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laporte? Really?

    Leo Laporte is difficult to listen to. Not because of his voice, but, because of the idiotic recommendations he makes. Can't tell you how many times I've had to fix something because the owner followed Leo's "advice" and f-ed up his PC. When I hear his name announced on the radio, I change the station.

  15. John Brown (no body) Silver badge


    I can't agree more with the comments on so many computer language/technical podcasts. They are usually either monotonously boring, or incredibly "bouncy" so that you get superlative overload!.

    1. Geoffrey W

      Re: PodCasts

      They are "Exactly" like the video casts made by Moss from "The IT Crowd". That episode of the IT Crowd was where satire failed miserably and descended into dreary reality. There is absolutely no way to be satirical about something that in reality is so...whatever the heck it is.

    2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: PodCasts

      I listen to a lot of podcasts... or rather, I listen to the first two minutes or so of a lot of podcasts (I wrote a podcast app), and it amazes me what people can stretch out to an hour of dull conversation. And there's definitely a textbook out there in the deep pit of hell where marketing people are trained that says "to promote your idiotic product, do a podcast", because there's a hell of a lot of those "this is my BUY MY BOOK podcast about BUY MY BOOK and I'm joined by BUY MY BOOK..."

      My personal favourite is the misplaced optimism of the "only one episode ever made" podcast: "Hey, welcome to the VERY FIRST super-duper-cast. Every week we'll be talking about stuff and it'll be AWE-SOME..."

      My general rule is that anything that's been broadcast on radio somewhere is good for a listen: editors are truly the most underrated, and most necessary, people in the media.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cable ties

    Had the same problem myself with installing an SSD, so I also used cable ties.

    Question: how are they for long-term use?

    1. cosymart

      Re: Cable ties

      Cable ties are fine unless they are fitted in a hot location and then they go brittle.... Fitted some replacement nicad batteries to a fluorescent emergency light fitting using cable ties and a year later there was a loud clunk as the batteries succumbed to gravity.

      1. Robert E A Harvey

        Re: Cable ties

        Cable ties can fail in sunlight too. I used to work on cable laying ships and the management had exprimented with special UV resistent ones, which were not, and expensive original Ty-raps with a 25 year warranty that would not last a year. I suggested using stainless ones (with rubber belts, if necessary) and that sort of fixed it, except for the heavier handed seamen who could get them tight enough to not only cut into an armoured antenna cable, but into the aluminium frame of a buoy too.

    2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Cable ties

      I've had cable ties holding up heavy graphics cards on PCIe slot width adapters for years, so I'm pretty certain a farty little SSD will be fine. Also, as there are no moving parts, it doesn't matter if it hangs down.

  17. Blitheringeejit
    Thumb Up


    Hooray for the Stobular return! I shall add "penetranium" to my spell-checker immediately, it is absolutely the correct term for several things which spring to my cess-pit of a mind.

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