Tuesday 2 November 1999

Zip drive

Pic of the day: My new Iomega Zip drive. Fair warning: This entry will be rather nerdy. Zip, USB, .JPG and ISP, oh my! I'm not always like that, honestly. You may want to look at some of the earlier entries if this one grows too computerish. :)


So, during the night I installed the new 250 MB Zip drive on the USB port of my Toshiba portable. It was simple, straightforward, and worked first time around. Yay!

I don't really need the Zip drive yet. Not until somewhere around Christmas is my new computer half a year old, and therefore full. You all know, I hope, that any new harddisk - regardless of size - is full after half a year? Now it just so happens that new hard disk capacity doubles every six months too, thanks to some other law of nature. Or nurture. Anyway, this has other enthusiasts buying new disks when the old go full. That is fine for the screwdriver wielding computer geeks. I am a programmer, not a mechanic. I hate to fiddle with the innards of my computers, though it will usually happen sooner or later. Anyway, my solution is to buy removable disks.

My first removable disk at home (not counting floppies) was a Zyquest. It was nice enough, had reasonable speed and capacity and even stability. However, it depended on internal mounting and a SCSI card. When that machine collapsed, I decided to go for an external disk next time. That way, when the machine died, I would just plug in the disk on the new machine and life would go on with minimal disruption. My choice was the popular (but somewhat error prone) Iomega Zip. 100 megabytes was quite a bit at the time, though the Zyquest had more. I used a parallel port connection. Not too fast, but then again I did not intend to use it for swap files.

On the Toshiba portable, the whole machine locked up violently when I tired to access a Zip drive via the parallel port. Yes, I did run the tuning program, and it made things neither better nor worse. At times the computer would start working after a few minutes, but most of the time you had to press the reset. Not a good practice. I could have returned the machine, but at this point I had already started using it on a daily basis (and that means hours a day, typically) and sent the old minitower away. And anyway, USB is the thing, I hear.


The USB (probably means "universal serial bus" or something) is a way to connect lots of different extra stuff to your PC. Any PC with a USB card. Plug and play. And it actually worked. I took the drive and cables home in my slim bag - they are all very sleek - and it worked as advertised. At first try. However, it seems that the USB controller in my Toshiba can only handle one peripheral at a time. The great idea with USB is that you can chain peripherals aplenty and the machine will take care of which is which. Not that I have more than this one yet. But it could be one thing to ask about before you buy your PC with a USB port.

Anyway, the thing is reasonably fast. And better yet, it is also just as fast while reading my old 100MB Zip disks. Yay! I did not copy everything to the new machine before shipping the old. Some stuff still lies around on Zip disks. There is for instance one Zip dedicated to digital (.JPG) photo archives, not including the ones used in my diary.

I opened the folder with pictures from Old Friend's wedding. *sigh* It's been a while already, hasn't it? There were of course pics of the bride & groom. Pics of Supergirl (now Superwoman) and the rest of her family. Quite a few pics of the "Great Earth Mother". (The Norwegian word for midwife literally translates as "earthmother". The Great Earth Mother is a hypothetical goddess, worshipped by the imaginary characters of Jean M. Auel's ice age novels.) I can certainly understand the number of pictures: On seeing them, I clearly remembered the days there and how pleasant and funny she was to get along with. She seemed so remote and reserved when she was younger ... but lately she seems to have gained a lot of confidence in herself, both as a worker and as a person. She may not have the easy command of larger groups that Super and her big sister have, but she has a lot of empathy and a great sense of humor. Incidentally she is also good looking, not that this is important to me of course. :)


In other news, I just this afternoon signed up for a new ISP (internet service provider). NetCom offers free net access and mail/news, and even lower phone charges while you connect to them. Beats Telenor hands down. Now, my site and mail are pretty deep dug in at SOL, but I can still use NetCom for all other Net access except mail and updating my site. If this works out, I may start to phase out the greedy former socialist monopoly telecom of Norway (that has now been sold out to the greedy former socialist monopoly telecom of Sweden). Not that they have ever done me anything wrong except charging lots of money to finance their expansion abroad. But when the barn door is open, the cattle inside are likely to make a run for it. :)

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