July 17, 2009
Computers are fast these days—real fast. One might venture to say too fast, two times fast. Back in my day, you could `type a:autoexec.bat`, drink a sip of coffee, change your mind and Ctrl-C it before you cluttered up your screen with unwanted output. I got nostalgic for those halcyon days of clean screens, and that's why I bought the 640GB Western Digital Caviar Green.
The WD6400AACS is an adequate performer, and runs nice and cool; exactly what I want in a RAID 1. But it was this stellar feature which really caught my eye: after 8 seconds of inactivity, the drive parks its heads. The first subsequent access incurs a half-second pause, which I like to call my "me time".
Eight. Unconfigurable. Seconds. Configuration? No thank you! You'd lose the primary nostalgic benefit: frequent, jarring pauses during interactive use, which is why I bought the thing in the first place!
Let's have a look at an example session with the Caviar Green.
$ ls /usr/share/doc # what the heck was I looking for? [dramatic half-second pause before results appear] [you peruse the directory list for 10 seconds; clunk, heads park] $ cd mutt-1.5; ls # found it! [dramatic half-second pause; exeunt results] [you get distracted by an errant cat for a moment; parks heads, clunk] $ cat README.Debian # there's my bedtime story [dramatic-half-second pause music] [you skim the readme for 10 seconds; clunks park, head] $ date # it feels like aeons have passed [ironically dramatic half-second pause] 2300 AD # gato, is that you?
Meanwhile, while I pause to gather my thoughts, the drive is continuously falling asleep and being woken up again every 15 seconds anyway as Linux periodically squirts a bit of data at it, causing an absolutely adorable constant clacking sound.
Now, in an alternate universe where I don't actually enjoy using my command-line like it was the gas pedal on an old man's Cadillac, I might scour the internet for hours and come up empty except for an unsupported, DOS-based, placebo utility which only pretended to fix the problem, and eventually resort to a backgrounded while loop touching a file every 7 seconds.
But in this universe, I and Ferris Bueller rate the WD6400AACS a Strong Buy.