Technical Computer Stuff

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Venusy (?) » Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:34 am

As a former Windows Phone user (I know), we got an early example of this - sites were not designed for mobile IE/Edge at all, filled with WebKit specific extensions and user agent sniffing. Will the rendering just break completely when it tries to push the WebKit specific page? Will it only view IE as a desktop browser and give the desktop version? Will it understand IE is a mobile browser, but in the context of Windows Mobile 6 and so push the legacy WAP version?

I can only imagine Firefox Mobile has the same issues - at least on Android.

There's an example recently of Google pushing a "only works on Chrome!" page that is just user agent sniffing like the bad old days of the web; there is no technical reason it doesn't work on anything else.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:18 am

Venusy wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 2:34 am
There's an example recently of Google pushing a "only works on Chrome!" page that is just user agent sniffing like the bad old days of the web; there is no technical reason it doesn't work on anything else.
OUCH. That is Halo 2 Windows port levels of bullshit right there. I mean, at best it means "We didn't take two seconds to pull this up in some other browser to see if it worked"; at worst it means "We are actively sabotaging our competition; suck it, losers!"

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Factory Factory (?) » Sun Apr 22, 2018 1:51 pm

Fizzbuzz wrote:
Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:59 am
So, I've been thinking of getting a new laptop.
[....]
Lenovo's T-series ThinkPads [....]
I really have nothing to add. It's a solid laptop, and while there are others worth looking at (like the 2018 models of the Dell XPS 13 and 15), I think you'd love a ThinkPad.

For reference, the GeForce MX150 is roughly a desktop GT 1030. It is not very fast. Its main use is not even gaming per se, but it could still be useful to you as a way to develop and run CUDA applications, CUDA being Nvidia's proprietary GPGPU API.

Also, WSL is limited but is improving with each yearly update. Here's the April Creator's Update (ver. 1803) notes: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/comman ... ws10v1803/

There's also some enhanced integration with HyperV-hosted Linux VMs, and a Kali distro environment for WSL.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:22 pm

Cross-posting from PPPP:

I'm shopping around for a new computer. Specifically, one to work on animation and video work.

What computer would one recommend for video editing? For either laptop or desktop. Windows preferred, around $1,000 or less.

I'm hoping for a laptop, although I realize a desktop is usually cheaper.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Fizzbuzz (?) » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:29 pm

Mr. Big wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 1:22 pm
I'm hoping for a laptop, although I realize a desktop is usually cheaper.
Do you particularly need to be able to take your work with you? Video editing beyond splicing together YouTube poops in Windows Movie Maker is pretty demanding, enough to where you could likely build something decent with $1000 on a desktop (especially if you already have a display, keyboard, etc.) but I feel like you'd be compromising pretty hard with a laptop. I'm not here to dictate your use case to you, but at the $1000 level I do feel it's worth considering if you can do your creative work at home and save other work for when you have to be on the road.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Tue Apr 24, 2018 6:45 pm

I've thought about it (I figure I'd have a good enough laptop to do digital art stuff), but I figure for when I need to edit together animation, a desktop would suffice.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Factory Factory (?) » Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:49 pm

Are you already set for a drawing tablet? Or is that not a concern (IIRC you scan real paper more often than not). The good news is that still art does not need much "oomph", so you can get away with a lower core spec in return for fancier features, e.g. with a Microsoft Surface Pro of some lower-end variety.

Either way, I'd prioritize a good screen if you went with a laptop. Dell's refurbished outlet has a number of nice XP 15 (model 9560) for exactly $1000, all of them coming with a quad core CPU, 8 GB of RAM, a sizable hard drive with a wee SSD cache drive, a GeForce 1050 (more a gaming thing, but I wouldn't say no to it), and a high quality non-touch/non-pen display. RAM and storage are upgradeable for down the line.

You could also look into a ThinkPad like Fizz is. I see some new ThinkPad P50s in the outlet store for about $1050 with the 1080p screen. These are ones where a corporation ordered a bunch of one spec and then backed out, leaving a whole bunch of new, unused laptops piled up in the warehouse. They need a little adjustment (for example, they come with Windows 7 installed, but are licensed for 10 as well, so you'd need to do a swapperoo to 10 IMO).

If you decide on a desktop instead, I wouldn't stress too much about specs - again, drawing is typically one of the least intensive professional computing workloads. The big question there is whether you want to build your own or buy a pre-built, and what kind of screen you get to go with it. Or split the difference; get an Intel NUC and mount it directly to the back of whatever nice monitor you get.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:08 pm

Factory Factory wrote:
Tue Apr 24, 2018 7:49 pm
Are you already set for a drawing tablet? Or is that not a concern (IIRC you scan real paper more often than not). The good news is that still art does not need much "oomph", so you can get away with a lower core spec in return for fancier features, e.g. with a Microsoft Surface Pro of some lower-end variety.
I do have a drawing tablet, and am planning to do more digital art (for animation, drawing it digitally is easier for me, while my comics is mostly traditional), so yeah.

I might have a few ideas on what I want, though, at least for the start.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Thu May 17, 2018 9:57 pm

Well, balls. I got the latest feature update for Windows and now YouTube videos are stuttering. You know, that thing where the audio stutters Max Headroom-style but at 1000x the speed so it's more of a buzzing sound? Normally I'd suspect an impending hardware failure but it literally just started after I applied the update. I tried updating my video driver as well and restarting, but that didn't help.

EDIT: Just confirmed that it happens with games and playing music as well. My computer has essentially been rendered unusable. Lovely.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by SlateSlabrock (?) » Fri May 18, 2018 1:51 am

I got the feature update last night as well and haven't seen that, but... maybe the sound driver got borked? I know mine was really screwed up when I first updated to Win10.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Fri May 18, 2018 1:45 pm

I'm not sure if it would even be possible to fix the audio driver. The computer is over 10 years old now, and I'm sure the on-board audio device has long since stopped being supported. But I don't think it's just the sound. The video seems to freeze during these hiccups as well, as if the entire computer locks up for a fraction of a second.

Also, I am now sure it's not a hardware issue because I rebooted into Linux and everything is working fine.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by diribigal (?) » Fri May 18, 2018 2:50 pm

I had a laptop that was dying due to physical ossies and a clean linux install made it run basically smoothly again, for a little while, and then that gradually degraded too.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Thu May 24, 2018 2:35 am

I had a thought. Would it be of use to write a little program that just runs through a loop printing the current timestamp down to the millisecond or whatever, and looking at the output to see if there are sudden gaps? I feel like if both audio and video are affected, then whatever's doing this could be literally stealing clock cycles somehow.

EDIT: Ooh, or maybe program it to store the previous timestamp in a variable, then compare it to the current timestamp every cycle, and flash the screen if it detects a discrepancy of more than 1ms. Then I can watch to see if the flashes sync up with the audio hiccups.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:31 pm

Vintage computer question: The internet tells me that Commodore's 1541 disk drives contained a MOS 6502 processor, the same used in the VIC-20. Are they totally 1:1 interchangeable? Because I have a busted VIC-20 that I have reason to believe is suffering from a dead CPU, and that seems like the easiest way to find out for sure.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Factory Factory (?) » Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:12 pm

Pocket wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:31 pm
Vintage computer question: The internet tells me that Commodore's 1541 disk drives contained a MOS 6502 processor, the same used in the VIC-20. Are they totally 1:1 interchangeable? Because I have a busted VIC-20 that I have reason to believe is suffering from a dead CPU, and that seems like the easiest way to find out for sure.
Check the pinout for a sanity check (Google the chip's part number to get the datasheet), but yes.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Thu Aug 02, 2018 5:00 pm

I finally, finally bought a large-format scanner, using the recommendations Tony Fleecs gave me when I met him at Bronycon.

Needless to say, I'm gonna have an easier time scanning large drawings now.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Erythema (?) » Fri Sep 21, 2018 1:58 pm

What computer could be good enough for someone on a tight budget? Ideally, it would be a PC that's not only cheap but could also see continued use for as long as possible before needing replacement. Any recommendations?

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Venusy (?) » Fri Sep 21, 2018 2:48 pm

What are you planning to do, and what form factor are you looking for?

Like, for desktop machines, companies and schools will get rid of their old desktops every few years - many can be picked up very cheaply from eBay or from an electronics recycler if there's one near you. A lot of these are stable machines that will last a long time if treated OK, suitable for web browsing and some light gaming (and in most cases you can add an affordable graphics card later to improve performance).

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Erythema (?) » Fri Sep 21, 2018 3:51 pm

Internet browsing and light gaming sound good. I could ask around to see if there are any establishments that are looking to replace their machines. It's definitely worth looking into.

Thank you!

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Fri Sep 28, 2018 9:56 pm

It's finally happened. I'm seeing SSDs selling for the same price I paid for a mechanical hard drive of the same size less than a decade ago. Granted, that was like immediately after the flood or something, but still.

I do worry about the "hard limit on number of writes" thing, though. How does that work exactly? I imagine some parts of the drive become unusable before others; can they detect when it's about to happen and start shuffling data over to the remaining empty space so stuff doesn't get corrupted? I know people say mechanical drives are just as much of a crap shoot, but I've honestly never had one completely crap out on me without some degree of warning.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Void Chicken (?) » Fri Sep 28, 2018 10:45 pm

SSDs have fancy wear leveling algorithms to make sure that the whole thing wears out at the same rate, no matter how you're actually doing writes. In practical terms, on a modern drive, even if you hammer it 24/7, it'll be obsolete long before wearing out becomes an issue.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Factory Factory (?) » Sat Sep 29, 2018 12:31 am

TechReport did a torture test endurance marathon back in 2015 or so, and it's a fun read (shut up I'm a nerd).

https://techreport.com/review/27909/the ... e-all-dead

That's the final report and recap. It literally took months of constant writes and rewrites to kill all of the drives. And since then, the state of the art has improved to the point where a cheap/poor drive wear-levels like the best drives featured in that round-up.

In short, most drives are good for about 1000 total drive writes. Many are good for more. Some do worse, but those are generally the very slow, very-high-capacity, very-cheap drives; because of their size, you still get a good amount of write use. Just make sure you don't 100% fill the drive - leave at least 7% free, more like 10-20% is better - so that the wear-leveling algorithm has plenty of spare room to work with.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Sun Feb 03, 2019 8:41 pm

Hey, remember this?
Pocket wrote:
Thu May 17, 2018 9:57 pm
Well, balls. I got the latest feature update for Windows and now YouTube videos are stuttering. You know, that thing where the audio stutters Max Headroom-style but at 1000x the speed so it's more of a buzzing sound? Normally I'd suspect an impending hardware failure but it literally just started after I applied the update. I tried updating my video driver as well and restarting, but that didn't help.

EDIT: Just confirmed that it happens with games and playing music as well. My computer has essentially been rendered unusable. Lovely.
This ended up leading me on a long and frustrating journey, and the long and short of it is that I've been running mostly off a temporary, fresh install I made on a spare hard drive out of desperation, and thanks to Windows deciding on its own to scan the old drive in the background, I discovered that it's developing errors. Not too surprising; I've literally lost track of how many years ago I bought it. Well, telling it to fix the errors magically solved the problem, OR SO I THOUGHT until I finally installed a brand new drive and found that the problem had suddenly reappeared on my temporary install.

BUT. BUT! Turns out that in the meantime, a thread about this very issue popped up on Microsoft's site, and someone mentioned it magically going away when they noticed their optical drive had also stopped working and went to re-enable it in the BIOS.

Sure enough, in the process of installing the new drive into my very cramped case, I had knocked out the DVD drive's power cable. Plugging it in and booting up again somehow fixed the audio problem.

So now I'm like, was this the cause of the issue the whole damn time? Had I bumped the DVD cable loose at some point and coincidentally plugged it back in at the same time I hooked up the spare drive? And, would I have never known that my hard drive was dying until it was too late if it hadn't been for that? Yikes. :starity:

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Fri Feb 22, 2019 7:37 pm

I wrote about this in the cottage, but I think I may have done something wrong with my rig.

So I tried to install additional RAMs to the computer. Normally, RAMS are easy to find and install, but mine was a bit complicated: it was behind a DVD drive, and in order to reach there, I had to remove the DVD drive, add the RAMs, then put the DVD drive back in.

And I may have done something wrong in the process, because when I try to boot it up, I get this message:

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I tried to select the proper Boot device, but it doesn't list my hard drive. Just the DVD drive and two USB drives (last time I did this, I took out all the unnecessary USB drives). Still getting this message.

Give it to me straight, did I brick my rig trying to install RAMs? I removed the ones i tried to install, btw.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:17 pm

...so upon further inspection, I figured out what may have happened.

So, you know the DVD/CD drive I had to take off to add the RAM in? Well, it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that the hard drive is ATTACHED to the said CD drive. I didn't pay attention to it because the CD drive hasn't worked in years, figuring it wasn't important.

Anyway, so there's a cable connecting the hard drive, right? Well, in the process, I may have snapped the little plastic in the slot, making it impossible for me to connect the hard drive.

So that's what happened. In order to add RAM, I had to remove the hard drive, but I didn't KNOW what it was until I looked closely. And in the process I snapped the little plastic slot that's supposed to connect to the hard drive.

...I'm in kind of a rage right now. I happened to have the one rig where I had to remove the hard drive to add RAM.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Perrydotto (?) » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:34 pm

Oh no, that's not so uncommon actually. Depending on how your PC is put together and how small the case is, things can be very tightly packed, thus requiring you to remove parts temporarily.

Have a nice, long breather. "Bricking" a PC is very difficult, since it's made of several different components that you can actually switch out. It's not like a console which can indeed be bricked, due to the different way they are set up and how they are a way more proprietary and closed up system. Personal computers have come a long way in this regard, and manufacturers of parts have a vested interest in making stuff easier to remove and install for the end user, to get more customers.

Can you take a picture of the plastic slot? It's very possible it's the sorta thing that can be replaced. These days, the vast majority of bits and pieces inside a computer are replaceable.

Don't be angry with yourself. I understand how frustrating it feels to sit in front of something that seems way beyond your comprehension and how dumb and small it can make one feel. But you are neither dumb not incapable of doing this better the next time. You're learning, and you will benefit from learning this, seriously. But everything we want to get good at starts with us not being good, and that's really okay. Remind yourself that this is very likely fixable. If push absolutely comes to shove, and it cannot be fixed on this drive, hard drives are not terribly expensive, so if the rest of your computer still works fine then even IF you have to replace the hard drive, you'll be okay.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:38 pm

Honestly, I think it would be good to get a new computer at this rate. Keep in mind this is old. It's a Windows 7 I got about 10 years ago, and it's been showing its age in recent times.

Even if this is salvageable, I think it'd be easier to just get a new rig in its entirely, having had too many frustrations with it as of late. This is pretty much a straw that broke the camel's back at this rate.

Only good thing is I have a better idea of what to do whenever issues arise with newer computers.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Perrydotto (?) » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:44 pm

Mr. Big wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:38 pm
Honestly, I think it would be good to get a new computer at this rate. Keep in mind this is old. It's a Windows 7 I got about 10 years ago, and it's been showing its age in recent times.

Even if this is salvageable, I think it'd be easier to just get a new rig in its entirely. I think I'm long overdue at this rate.
That will set you back quite a bit more than a hard drive, and you can still put any working new parts (like a potential new hard drive or RAM) you have gotten into whatever computer you have next, since it's unlikely the current standards will be replaced that quickly. It's not a waste to try and salvage this one for a bit longer while you save up for a decent enough modern computer. And again, it's annoying to learn something new but grasping the basics of the thing you use daily to work on would really help you in the long run, so that's worthwhile to keep in mind.

You can also install a newer Windows on an older PC, there is no reason not to unless the computer is REALLY old.

Again, I fully understand your frustration about it right now, but I'd recommend having a decent night's sleep before you make decisions.

If you need help putting a new PC together or comparing part prices, Newegg and Amazon are decent places to start. If you do decide to get a fully finished computer, I know Dell offer them, but other places also exist. (Other posters are welcome to post places they know, my knowledge is limited since I'm not in the US) And since you don't play videogames or use all fancy features in Photoshop that drive computers crazy, a relatively basic computer would do for you, I reckon. Just again, have a nice good breather, and look at pricing and think about it. Especially if only the tiny plastic bit on your HDD is broken and it's very likely replaceable like I think, then that would set you back a few dollars versus hundreds of dollars for a new PC. Something worth to keep in mind.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Sat Feb 23, 2019 12:59 am

I didn't exactly sleep over it, but I was able to find a solution.

My mother helped look for a new computer, and found one that's much better, with much bigger disc space AND a 16gb RAM. The old one, by comparison, can only hold a max of 8GB ram, even if I was able to successfully add new ones in.

Not only that, she agreed to pay half of it, so I only had to pay $300.

I decided this is a good opportunity to take, and with the time crunch I have (in addition to the book, I have to do storyboards for a client), it was the safest option for me. Not to mention, I needed bigger ram space anyway; I was amazed I was able to do Photoshop with the little ram I had...

That being said, I'll make sure to at least learn basics for future in case I have to modify the new computer. Thanks for the advice on that, regardless.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Factory Factory (?) » Sat Feb 23, 2019 2:19 am

Be sure to recycle the old one properly!
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Perrydotto (?) » Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:32 am

That sounds like a great option. Glad it works out for you. :yay:
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:32 am

Thanks! :flutterunsmith:

More info: the new computer has 2TB hard drive, with 16gb RAM. This kind normally sells for $1,200, but the one I got is certified refurbished, so it was only $600, of which I paid $300.

This is the kind of deal I would rarely get, so I took it. I lucked out, all things considered.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Venusy (?) » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:13 pm

Remember that you might still be able to get data off the old hard drive with a cheap USB-SATA or USB-IDE adapter, assuming you just broke the cable! (It sounds like IDE given the fact the one cable was connected to both the hard drive and the DVD drive - it'd be easy for someone here to check with a photo)

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:11 pm

Venusy wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:13 pm
Remember that you might still be able to get data off the old hard drive with a cheap USB-SATA or USB-IDE adapter, assuming you just broke the cable! (It sounds like IDE given the fact the one cable was connected to both the hard drive and the DVD drive - it'd be easy for someone here to check with a photo)
I backed just about everything up with an external HD and Dropbox (I pay $10 a month for 1TB space with Dropbox), so I'm not too worried about it, personally. I'll still keep it just in case, though.

There were separate cables connecting to the DVD drive and the HD.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:50 pm

I'm in a bit of a pickle right now. When I bought my new hard drive, I thought it would be fairly simple to consolidate my Linux and Windows drives onto it, because they're only half a terabyte each and it's a 2TB disk. But to do that I'd need to ghost one drive first and then ghost the other into the remaining empty space, and so far I haven't found any software that can do this. They all assume I'm either trying to make a "backup" into an image that I then plan to restore from (which would require yet another disk drive to store the image on), or just want to wipe the target drive. Is there any software that can do what I'm aiming to do?

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Factory Factory (?) » Wed Feb 27, 2019 1:44 am

Yes, but IMO: Don't bother. Besides just putting all the data on one drive, you need to configure both the Windows and Linux bootloaders so that one is the default and it chain-loads to the other, and that's a PITA because every time Windows updates builds or Linux gets a dist-upgrade or kernel update, it'll change the bootloader(s) and possibly break the setup, and you'll have to reconfigure one or both. At least with them on separate drives, you can skip software multiboot and just use your BIOS to pick the boot device.

That said, if you must do this, grab a liveCD of Clonezilla or Partimage. They're turnkey Linux imaging and cloning utilities.
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Wed Feb 27, 2019 8:28 pm

Welp. Turns out it's a moot point anyway. The partition editor won't let me expand the Linux drive after I ghosted it, because the swap space is in the way. Might as well just wipe it, ghost the Windows drive, expand it, do a totally fresh install of Linux into the remaining space, and install GRUB into the master boot record. That should take care of knowing where to look for Windows regardless of future updates, too, if I'm not mistaken.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Sat Mar 02, 2019 6:56 pm

Aaaaaaaaaaand my Windows drive just went kaput partway into the ghosting process. Fuck. My. Life.

EDIT: OK, it's not completely busted; Linux can still mount it and read files off it. It just can't boot anymore because fucking gremlins or something. I'm just so sick of everything right now, and I'm probably going to throw in the towel, do a fresh install of EVERYTHING, AGAIN, and manually copy all my personal files even thought it's probably going to take me all week. And just hope my existing drives don't both spontaneously combust before I can get everything off them because that's the kind of luck I'm having these days.

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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Mr. Big (?) » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:19 pm

Just want to say, my new computer is great! Everything is fast, and I have lot bigger ram and storage space. After nearly a decade with my old set up, it's refreshing.

Will look into SSD later, but for now I'm super happy with my new rig
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Re: Technical Computer Stuff

Post by Pocket (?) » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:36 pm

This story just keeps getting weirder. I did a fresh install onto my new 2TB drive, followed by plugging in the temporary one as a secondary and copying over all my personal files. But when I tried to do the same with the old, dying drive, it just got stuck trying to open my home folder. Like, it did the thing where the path turns into a green progress bar and keeps getting slower and slower, except instead of eventually finishing it just gave up and disappeared without so much as an error message. OK, I thought, no big deal. I'll just reboot, F12 to start the old install, and copy the files over in the other direction. Well, while I was waiting for it to finish, I was on the tablet doing other things, and the next thing I knew I heard a beep and it had started rebooting... into the "checking drive for errors; this may take several hours" screen. When it had finally finished, it was telling me it "could not recover" Windows, and sure enough, it was talking about the copy on my brand-new drive.

What's worse, examining it from Linux revealed that most of the files had just disappeared. Like, the Pictures folder was there but there were only three files in it, and several folders were missing entirely. After doing yet another clean install that it said would move my files into Windows.old, I confirmed that it wasn't just a case of Linux not being able to read them; they really did just vanish.

What the hell happened here, and how afraid should I be that my brand-new drive is horribly defective?

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