J255 – Cell Landline

[9/29/2009] Fallout from the week I was sick caused me to miss the update last week. I’m late this week because the server decided to go down in the morning when I was going to update. *sigh*.

Anyway, this week’s comic features the phone not seen since this early episode. It’s based off a phone we used to have at my house; you can hear its ringing in the animated version of “The Call”. It had those rubberized buttons that you usually find on TV remotes, and eventually ceased working for some reason because no matter how hard you pushed the buttons it wouldn’t respond. I took it apart to find a whole bunch of gunk on the circuit board, and I had no idea where it came from. I think that was one of the last phones I used that didn’t have a screen on it that showed the numbers you were dialing.

Just a bit of nostalgia/trivia.

dcomic 518


Hmm… there are about 14 weeks left of 2009 and a few more than 14 comic pages left to post… what to do what to do… Not to mention I really need to start drawing again. Anything really will suffice; but the backlog, once 30+ strong, is dwindling. If I can’t replenish it, the story might not actually finish this year (for fear of me not having any updates down in February or March). It doesn’t help that these tablet comics take forever to do.

So this update marks the first year for the E6400. I originally bought an E6400 (or rather, posted about it) in d203, which was dated for 08/09/20 (exactly a year ago), so here comes the one-year followup.

I should start by describing what has ultimately become of my usage patterns. Back in the day, when I only had one laptop, it mostly stayed at home. High school doesn’t really encourage the use of laptops, and other than that, I’m not going anywhere. Laptops are just convenient cuz I can take ’em with me on my family’s yearly jaunts to Hong Kong and whatever.

So somehow, when I bought D830, I bought it with this kind of usage pattern in mind. I could get a larger, more powerful laptop that would still fit my high school usage pattern perfectly. Of course, in retrospect, I didn’t really need a much more powerful machine – it was just my luck that my 500m was a generation too old to smoothly play 720p video – but I didn’t know it at the time. I thought the bigger computer with the faster processor and the discrete GPU would be a good idea.

Well, it was. And it wasn’t. Had I stuck with my high school usage pattern I don’t think I would have sold the D830. But I already had to switch my backpack – to something I didn’t really like – in order to carry the D830, then I started taking the machine to class, discovered the shitty, puny-ass auditorium desks, the pain of unplugging a bunch of peripherals going to every class, etcetera, etcetera, and it got somewhat unpleasant.

The 500m saw use on the go for another six months as the D830 sat in my room, occasionally venturing out because the 500m just doesn’t hold much water with its four-year old battery. I got my TC4200 and it became the only thing I used on the go, but my experience with less-than portability of the D830 still left a bad taste in my mouth. Not to mention it was relatively hot and noisy, especially compared to the TC4200 (which is still the quietest machine I have since the E6400 spins up its fans more often).

So I got my E6400.

Anyway, this is what it’s come down to: the E6400 stays in my dorm like a desktop replacement, and the TC4200 gets taken out. The D830 would have done the job perfectly well, but the E6400 does it better. On the other hand, if I had the D830 with this usage in mind in the first place, I don’t think I would have switched to the E6400 quite so fast. I guess it’s a little wishy washy, but I have no regrets this time around.

That’s the consensus there. I have no regrets this time around. The E6400 could have been a bit lighter, could have a better display, could have a not off-centered latch, could have all-aluminum or alloy construction, could have a slightly less obnoxious fan controller could have a ton of small improvements, but I’m not going to go pick up a T400s or something anytime soon. I’d venture I’ll still have this machine when the F-Series comes around.

Anyway, topic two.

The observant ones might notice that I’ve moved into a dorm again, as that table certainly isn’t the one that I use in my room at home. I’ve got my Higurashi mousepad, a ton of peripherals connected, my desklamp but wait – what’s that on the right?

That’s a Samsung SyncMaster 204B. It’s an old-ish (3 yrs old) 20″ UXGA (1600 x 1200) LCD that goes for about 100-150 on ebay, and I’m now using it as a secondary display, partially at the urges of the great Generalachoo. I was originally planning on getting another Sony HS95P to match the one in my room, but I changed my mind (at least for now). The HS95P is hard to find, expensive given it’s (relatively) small SXGA resolution, and even harder to find in black, which is what I need. Also, the Samsung was free.

Yeah, that’s right. My good friend Mr. Tsui came over to play a certain children’s card game and we decided to take a peek at my neighbor’s garage sale. Among the odds and ends that I think typical of garage sales (books, clothing, golf clubs, etc), there were these three monitors, the SyncMaster and two smaller Sony displays.

I was taking a look at them, and was going to ask about the pricing, when my neighbor mentioned that he’d give ’em up for free, partially because he didn’t have the cables for the displays. This was kind of like the “what!?” moment I had when I bought my original Samsung SLC SSD. Well, that made up my mind, pretty quick; he assured me it was working, and I took it off his hands. We went back to my place and fired the thing up.

Quite frankly, it’s a very nice display. It’s got a really high resolution for a 20″ display (as I mentioned, my HS95P has a 19″ screen and pushes 1.3 million pixels. This 20″ display pushes nearly 50% more; it’s got 1.9 million pixels. My dad’s twin Dell 2008WFPs are 22″ on the diagonal and have 1.7 million pixels each. The color range is also superior to that of my E6400’s display.

A bit hard to tell in the picture, but the top half is Samsung and the bottom half is Dell. It’s not the best picture, but you can see that Dell’s a little more faded; it’s a bit more noticeable if you’re standing directly in front of the two. Nonetheless, the best LCD display I’ve ever used is the one on my TC4200, which might be a bit dim, but has great viewing angles on ALL sides and a fairly good color gamma. I think that’s the word I should be using. Gamma, not range.

Ok, that’s it for now.

dcomic 516


One other reason that you want an SSD is that it’ll considerably lower the power consumption of your laptop (will obviously be less and less of a help depending on how much juice the rest of your system is eating).

Last week, on Tuesday, I ran the E6400 for 102 minutes while consuming 37% of my battery. On Wednesday, that was down to 71 minutes on 25% of the battery. On Thursday, I did 58 minutes on 20%. Cumulatively, this is 231 minutes of runtime on 82% of my battery using the Fujitsu 7200RPM HDD. If you crunch the numbers, that’s 2.81 minutes for every percent of my battery, or 4.68 hours of “real” runtime (wifi on, screen brightness all the way down, fairly heavy internet use). Factoring in that the battery has a full capacity of 57WHr, this works out to an average power consumption of 12300MW.

On Thursday I also got my X25-M, so on Friday I did a real shakedown, 171 minutes on 48% doing more or less the same thing under the same conditions. Doing the math here gets 3.56 minutes for every percent of my battery, or 5.93 – nearly six – hours of real runtime. That works out to an average power consumption of just 9700 MW – nearly two whole watts less! That’s not to mention that it does so with no noise and at a much lower temperature than the spinning thing.

I was original skeptical about these figures, but I found some data online indicating that the Fujitsu HDD does 1W at idle and 3.4W at full load, whereas the X25-M does 0.1W at idle and 1.8W at full load. So the 2W difference doesn’t seem that unrealistic considering that the spinner will also be under load for longer periods of time than the SSD.

Ok, that’s all for today. Kinda not as long on time as I’d like.

J252 – When He Cries

[9/4/2009] Too tired to type today. Rant after I get some sleep.

EDIT [9/6/2009] Okay, finally free again. So, today’s comic references Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, a horror/mystery anime series, often referred to as “Higurashi” for short. It was originally a series of visual novels, which was then made into an anime series, a manga, and a live-action movie.

At any rate, the faces that J makes in the first 2 panels are inspired by the fairly well-known extreme expressions in Higurashi (I don’t think I did a very good job of imitating the style). Given the content of the show, the faces tend to be either “berserking”, “maniacal laughter”, and “I’ve snuck up on you and am about to kill you” (For an example of the second type of face, see this update.). The final piece of the joke here is the title of the comic; “Higurashi no Naku Koro ni” translates roughly to “cicadas; when they cry”.

Aaaanyway, I guess in retrospect it’s not really that funny. Oh well, it was fun to draw though~ Plus, it’s been a long time since we’ve done 3 updates in one week…

Don’t expect the same thing anytime soon though. Until Monday (tomorrow, geh), ciao~!

dcomic a04a


I hate mechanical hard drives.

Fine, that’s a bad generalization.

I hate using mechanical hard drives as boot devices.

I think I’ve definitely caught the SSD bug. For reasons that’ll soon be clear, I’ve been using a 120GB, 7200RPM hard drive in my E6400 for the past week… and it sucks. It’s not that the drive’s slow or anything – the throughput and IO figures are fairly respectable for such a small laptop drive – it’s just slower – much slower – than the Samsung SSD I had previously been using.

From a completely objective standpoint, it shouldn’t be that bad; it’s really only a few moments here and there. Sometimes Firefox even loads as soon as I click my Firefox icon, but most of the time I click the icon and hear that spinner tick tick tick tick tick for a couple seconds. I really don’t like that tick tick tick tick tick anymore. It’s exacerbated by the fact that I have to wait for and listen to tens of iMacs tick tick tick tick tick at work. It makes me cringe. If going from HDD to SSD doesn’t feel that much different, just try going back.

And don’t get me started on noise and power consumption…

So what happened to my Samsung MCCOE64G5MPP? The one that I bought for $110?

Well, I sold it for $349.

… and bought this:

Enter the Intel X25-M:

Back when I bought my Samsung, the X25-M was the undisputed king of solid state, boasting the highest I/O throughput of any 2.5″ device. Almost a year down the line, and it is still just about the fastest storage device you can put in a laptop, bested only by the SLC-based Intel X25-E. Intel recently released a refresh of the X25-M, rather mundanely referred to as the X25-M “G2”, which simply tweaks the original X25-M controller and pairs it with some cheaper flash memory. The result is a drive of similar I/O capabilities, but – I really don’t know a better way to phrase this – it doesn’t slow down as much over time.

Originally I planned to sell my Samsung and buy one of these G2 drives. Intel was shipping ’em at just $229 a pop, but that doesn’t reflect the current street price at all. Availability of these drives has been so scarce after launch that retailers like Newegg have jacked up the price by more than $100. For a very brief period of time, the price was up to $500. That’s twice what Intel was initially offering (but still less than what the originaly X25-M sold for at launch a year ago – in fact, when my Samsung drive originally hit the non-OEM market, I think it was selling up near $1000).

By the time this pricing fiasco rolled around, I’d already sold my Samsung, so it was time to look for a different solution. I figure I wanted to have an SSD before school started again, so it was probably a bad idea to wait for the G2. It might as well be the Wii of the storage world; I bet we won’t see it available en masse for at least another three to six months. There are perfectly respectable drives out there with the Indilinx Barefoot controller (whose performance lies somewhere between that of my Samsung and the X25-M), but I went ahead and decided to shoot for the real deal. I trolled eBay for a bit got a lightly used first-generation X25-M for $180.

Wait. That’s right, do the math. -110 + 349 -180 and the ultimate cost of my X25-M is negative $59. Of course, with the eBay and Paypal fees, that figure is gonna be about $20 less, but you get the idea. I wasn’t kidding when I said buying the Samsung was a really good deal.

Ok, let’s look at some more numbers.

These are copypastas, figures of my original E6400 drive (similar to those of the Fujitsu I was referring to earlier) and and of my MCCOE64G5MPP, respectvely, courtesy of CrystalDiskMark:

Sequential Read : 51.705 MB/s
Sequential Write : 51.001 MB/s
Random Read 512KB : 22.201 MB/s
Random Write 512KB : 25.963 MB/s
Random Read 4KB : 0.297 MB/s
Random Write 4KB : 0.948 MB/s

Test Size : 100 MB

Sequential Read : 94.794 MB/s
Sequential Write : 86.774 MB/s
Random Read 512KB : 92.378 MB/s
Random Write 512KB : 68.579 MB/s
Random Read 4KB : 15.583 MB/s
Random Write 4KB : 5.387 MB/s

Test Size : 100 MB

The X25-M gets its own picture:

Yeah, ok. You see that 241MB/s sequential read? That’s the effective ceiling of the SATA 3.0Gb/s bus. You see that 35MB/s random write? That’s 35 times the 4k random write throughput of the Toshiba HDD. Compared the Samsung, the results aren’t quite as impressive – in fact the X25-M trails a little bit in some categories – but what we really need is some IOMeter love. Sadly, while that program is probably the best storage benchmark there is, I can’t figure out how to work it at all. Just go search for X25-M benchmarks on Google and everyone’ll say the same thing. It’s just the fastest damn thing out there.

Okay, so for a light user like me, it ain’t gonna be much different from my Samsung, but hey, I made some money and I get some e-peen points.

My point is that you need an SSD. If you’re planning on upgrading your computer – hell, even if you aren’t planning on upgrading your computer – an SSD is the absolute best upgrade you can make right now; I can almost guarantee it’ll much, much improve your overall computing experience (assuming you get a good SSD of course). Hard drives have always been the bottleneck of modern systems and this is the first time in computing history that it’s been practical to replace this archaic technology.

And it doesn’t cost a fortune either. A P8400 CPU, more or less the low-end/mid-range of Intel’s current mobile CPU lineup, costs $220 on Newegg. It’ll be maybe one and half times as fast as that T2300 you’re packing from 2006 (although it’ll run significantly cooler). A cheap 64GB MLC SSD with an Indilinx controller will run you a touch over $200 as well, but it’ll blow your crappy notebook HDD away in everything but capacity (and it will also run significantly cooler!). The main thing is you probably won’t notice the performance difference between the T2300 and the P8400 (well, of course, it depends on what you do), but you WILL feel the performance difference between your HDD and that SSD. especially if you’ve got a lot of shit at boot on your computer.

A few more sets of numbers here.

The first set is that of a Western Digital WD5000AAJS. This is fairly fast as far as hard drives go (being a 500GB desktop HDD and all), but this is one of the drives I’m using for storage (at $50, 500GB desktop drives are a STEAL). But LOOK, the Samsung MMCRE64G5MPP (this is not the Samsung drive I was mentioning earlier, this is the significantly cheaper ~$120 – you really gotta haggle for that price though – MLC version which I’m using in Motoko and Colette), one of the slowest SSDs out there (that don’t suck at least) is twice as fast at 512k reads and THIRTY times as fast at 4k reads. It’s four times as fast at 4k writes too. The cost of this drive is six times as much as a 60GB, 5400RPM SATA drive, but it’s thirty times faster where it counts! In fact, this isn’t even a totally accurate representation of said SSD, because we’re maxing out the effective bandwidth of the PATA bus up there at 76MB/s…

A 64GB Indilinx drive (and these are what I’d recommend if you can’t get Intel) might cost ten times as much as a typical 60GB SATA drive, but it’ll be sixty times as fast in 4k reads, ten times as fast in 4k writes, and maybe two to three times as fast everywhere else… and that’s compared to that 500GB desktop drive.

Anyway, this is getting a bit long. Go buy an SSD. I’ll write up one more SSD advertisement next week.

J251 – Sugoi Desu Ne?

[9/2/2009] Second update of the week! The title means “It’s awesome, isn’t it?” in Japanese. The update is a little late because I had to help with an event today that determined which freshmen get put in the section of the dorm I’m living in.

Anyway, in honor of the 5th Anniversary of Nonsense Wars, I’ve redone my profile pic! Man, the previous one was old…

Derek says 4koma are funnier if they’re all the same joke over and over again. I guess that’s kinda the route we’re going with here…?

Oh, one more thing! Yesterday, I was a butler in a maid and butler cafe as a part of an MIT Anime Club event. It was a lot of standing and writing “MIT AnicafĂ©” in chocolate syrup, but it was a lot of fun too. I’ll post pictures when I get ahold of them …

Until Friday, ciao~!