back to article HDD Clicker gizmo makes flash sound like spinning rust

The best way to make a sluggish old computer quicker is to replace spinning rust with some flash chippery. The snag is that loses part of the experience: the sound. It doesn't need to be a purpose-made SSD. In fact, right now, The Reg FOSS desk has a smallish CF card and an adapter to turn it into a 2.5" drive, waiting for a …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cool...

    But what about those of us that want that old school floppy drive initialisation sound on POST?

    Not all of us are youngsters that grew up with hard drives.

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Cool...

      I want the sound of a paper tape reader firing up ..... you whippersnapper!

      --------> Me with the Ada Lovelace poster on the bedroom wall when I was young!

      1. RockBurner

        Re: Cool...

        'Paper'.... 'firing'... ?

        Sounds like a combustable mix to me...

      2. Matthew Brasier

        Re: Cool...

        Paper tape? Why not go for the sound of delay-line waves sloshing about in baths of mercury?

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Cool...

      Just one floppy drive click when turning on? Luxury. Some of us had an Amiga with the floppy drive clicking every couple of seconds.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cool...

        There were hardware projects around for the Amiga to stop the clicking drives back then. Now we have silent drives, people want clicks. You just can't win.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Cool...

        Some of us had an Amiga with the floppy drive clicking every couple of seconds.

        So, does the emulator support Drive Music?

    3. Dave K

      Re: Cool...

      My favourite are the two floppy drive sounds as both the 5 1/4" then the 3 1/2" drives initialise during POST (yes, our first PC was a 386 with dual floppy drives).

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Great product line

    What's next? A bunch of tiny hammers that you can attach to a laser printer to recreate the racket of a dot matrix printer? Modem screech for wifi adaptors?

    1. Jad

      Re: Great product line

      you joke, but if the windows had the modem noise on desktop start it would allow me to understand why it takes so long to become responsive ...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A few years too late.

    I could have seen a use for this... for real. Years ago when I got my first SSD, I would launch an app and think "I did click it, didn't I?" Lots of slow launching apps didn't have user feedback and I'd become used to hearing the churn of the HDD as the sign it was doing something. Windows now has the "waiting" circle thing next the pointer when launching something, but for the early SSD years this clicker could have been an alternative.

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: A few years too late.

      Even Windows 3.1 had the hourglass pointer when busy.

      (I can't remember if it was present in Windows 1.0, too many beers since then.)

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: A few years too late.

      > I'd become used to hearing the churn of the HDD as the sign it was doing something

      New laptop doesn't even have a disk access light, disks are SSDs, so I have absolutely no way to know if it's frantically doing something, doing nothing, or dead and decomposing. Very frustrating, and I'd love to tell the cretin designer who decided to drop the HD light my personal opinion. Usability? We've heard of it.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: A few years too late.

        If you're on Windows, Task Manager on modern versions will show you disk access usage. On Linux iowait does the same. I have no idea how to view it on OSX.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: A few years too late.

          > Task Manager on modern versions will show you disk access usage. On Linux iowait does the same.

          Thanks but that's highly impractical. All I want is to know if something is indeed going on when I expect something to happen. Is the program taking its sweet time or did my request go unnoticed? Was there an error the programmer was too lazy/cheap to create a message about? Is something else currently running and slowing the whole laptop down?

          Yes, I could have a separate window showing me at all time what's running, but a laptop's screen space is too precious to be wasted that way.

          BTW, the best tool for doing this in Windows would be Sysinternals' DiskMon.

      2. MarkTheMorose

        Re: A few years too late.

        If this was a gadget that plugged-in in line with an external drive that the penny-pinching manufacturer left the access LED off, then I'd have four, please.

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    $25 for what?

    As I process audio, I've spent a lot of time, money and ingenuity making my workspace as quiet as possible (large slow fans in the computers, antivibration pads on the case sides, recording studio wall clock, wall padding and all the rest). So the last thing I'd want to do would be to spend hard earned bucks on something that makes gratuitous noises.

    And in any case my HDDs don't click, they just hum gently.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: $25 for what?

      >And in any case my HDDs don't click, they just hum gently

      They just ain't got no rhythm.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: $25 for what?

      Nostalgia.

      You're not the target audience, old gits like me will enjoy this.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: $25 for what?

        Our grandparents had steam trains, radio and rickets to be nostalgic about - we get ZIP drive's click of death

  6. Evil Scot
    Big Brother

    Voyage (back to my childhood) home

    As a child growing up in the eighties I had the joys of loading from cassette with the audio repeated by a piezo transducer.

    Team Spectrum Always.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Voyage (back to my childhood) home

      A downvote from Team BBC

      1. Little Mouse Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Voyage (back to my childhood) home

        Team ZX81 here. I've dished out an up and a down. :)

        It's like I'm back in the school playground again.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Voyage (back to my childhood) home

          You can’t really be Team ZX81. You used lower-case letters.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge
            Go

            Re: Voyage (back to my childhood) home

            You can if you really want to.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Voyage (back to my childhood) home

      "As a child growing up in the eighties I had the joys of loading from cassette with the audio repeated by a piezo transducer.

      Team Spectrum Always."

      Team MSX (remember that ?). It was always a royal PITA whenever, after half an hour of reading a cassette, you had an error and had to restart !

      Kids these days, can't appreciate how lucky they are to have never encountered this ...

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Voyage (back to my childhood) home

        Quote

        "Team MSX (remember that ?). It was always a royal PITA whenever, after half an hour of reading a cassette, you had an error and had to restart !"

        You had it lucky... 3 hrs of typing on a ZX81 and the rampack would wobble and .. its gone!

        Anyway... back to using the steam hammers to forge every single bit, then a 12 mile walk home in the snow....

        AND yes its uphill

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WinUAE

    Years ago, I tested WinUAE, Amiga emulator, with some floppy disk images.

    I swear, I have no idea how they manage to emulate the sound of the floppy, but it varies, depending on the copy protection system, in EXACTLY the same way as back then, on my real Amiga !

    Incredible !

    1. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: WinUAE

      I would imagine the behaviour of the stepper motors in response to commands to the FDD controller (Paula?) would be relatively predictable, hence the people behind UAE able to link sounds to that. Generating the sound of the motor, that's somewhat trickier. Samples? Will never quite be right. And synthesis? I guess possible, but what a use of a programmers time!!

  8. Natalie Gritpants Jr

    What disk-access LED?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Would it not be simpler (and more flexible) to do it in software?

    That way everybody gets to choose their noise... fairground organ, anyone...

    1. David 132 Silver badge
    2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Software for DOS, or Windows 3? Or Windows 95, or 98, or ME, or NT, or for Linux -- it's a driver, so which kernel version? -- or for FreeBSD or OpenBSD or NetBSD, or for OS/2?

      No, it wouldn't be simpler, or more flexible.

  10. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    BMoW

    The Big Mess o' Wires Store [1] is excellent if you are involved with Macs before 1998 & Apple IIs.

    With the Floppy EMU, one can store floppy images on it and boot from it. It plugs into the floppy port.

    It saves a lot of hassle if your floppy drive needs re-greasing or repair or simply if your 30 year old floppy is not as up for the task as it once was.

    Anyone working with floppy images on these machines ought to check out the Floppy EMU and the Yellowstone.

    I have tried the Yellowstone yet.

    [1] https://shop.bigmessowires.com/

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm just going to say that Serdashop is awesome. Thanks to them, I put my Creative Labs WaveBlaster back into service last year, connected to a MIDI keyboard.

  12. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Another product from Barnum Industries!

    If I could, I'd put all flash in my NAS, I don't like the flurry of disks spinning to life once something is accessed.

    It's probably a fun gizmo, but I'll pass.

  13. JohnGrantNineTiles

    Nothing new under the sun

    Back in the 1980s when we made what must have been one of the world's first remote file access systems we had a similar problem -- fetching stuff from the server took about the same time as from a local floppy, but without any indication that anything was happening. So we got the PC's speaker to produce click-clunk sounds whenever a network drive was being accessed.

  14. iron Silver badge

    > attaches to the connector for the disk-access LED, and which uses a tiny piezo-electric buzzer to emit a brief click every time the LED flashes

    Fun but also sounds like it could be used for a side channel attack.

  15. Nifty Silver badge

    If this HDD noise emulator produces the same early warning increased clicking towards the death rattle, I'm in.

  16. Mike 16

    A "practical" use

    Back in the day, the 1401 jockeys on the business side of the "computer center" (A porta-shed) got a program to play music via RFI modulated by the length of data in "MOVE" instructions. Not to be outdone, the 1620 pilots on the "engineering" side reverse engineered the code, ported to the 1620, and added a percussion section, issuing appropriately timed "seek" commands.

    It may help to know that these were all community-college students, with a certain amount of youthful enthusiasm. And spare time...

    (The practical side I have mentioned before. Having a reliable "audio signature" to track the behavior of the code allowed us to leave the machine room for next door while a longish task was running, secure in the knowledge that the distinct whine of the "waiting for next console command" state would cue us to put our parkas on and go start the next job.)

    For completeness (sound from unexpected computer systems) I must mention Ken Shirriff's blog entry about using a printer for music:

    http://www.righto.com/search?q=printer+music

  17. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Hybrid

    Many terabytes of SSD was out of budget during the last personal server upgrade so I have a ZFS pool of spinning rust with partitions of a speedy NVMe providing 'special', 'logs', and 'cache' components. It's reasonably fast and I still get a bit of auditory disk access indication.

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