[TAG] wanna learn about hard disk internals the virtual way?
ben at okopnik.com
Sat Sep 4 20:33:43 MSD 2010
On Sat, Sep 04, 2010 at 10:54:21PM +0700, Mulyadi Santosa wrote:
> Sometimes, people are scared to get a screw driver and check what's
> inside the hard drive. Or maybe simply because we're too lazy to read
> So, what's the alternative? How about a simple flash based tutorial?
> It's geared toward disaster recovery, but in my opinion it's still
> valuable for anyone who would like to see how the hardware works.
Y'know, I sent this to the Answer Gang years ago (back in the
linuxgazette.com days), but searching for it at LG doesn't turn up
anything. Hence, here's a great hard drive story - made all the more
pointed by the "here's what a speck of dust on a drive platter will do"
demo from the above link. Enjoy. :)
Just read a short story from a Russian mailing list I'm on... this should
go right along with Mike's "Foolish Things" article, but kinda-sorta in the
opposite direction. So to speak.
Yankee ingenuity doesn't *even* come close. Perhaps for fear of contagion.
(Translated by Ben Okopnik)
Back around the beginning of the Nineties, I ended up in Singapore, on
business. Mostly having to do with buying hard drives, but keeping an eye
out for small electronic gadgets as well.
Eventually, I found myself at a tiny company that did just that - build
little electronic widgets; there were only a few people there, mostly
electronics engineers, i.e., colleagues. Of course, there was lots to talk
about; we all had much in common. In a word - drinking buddies. :) That
evening, we all ended up in a tiny Chinese bar. The topic of the day,
discussed with much animation, were the types of problems that we all
encountered professionally, in the main - the differences in how they're
solved in China and in Russia. After the n'th glass of grape juice which
they insulted by calling "wine", I told them the following story.
* * * * *
It was the end of the Eighties. Our computing center, which was a
department of an agronomical combine, received a shipment of the newest
computers with 5" Winchesters (hard drives), with the gigantic capacity of
20MB (made, by the way, in Singapore.) Which cost an astronomical amount.
One month later, one of these gigantic drives went out of operation.
Woudn't accept data, cursed us and our mothers when we tried formatting
it... when we finally tried a low-level format, the evil truth became
apparent: track 0 was hopelessly damaged, and this particular disk was
ready for its traditional inscribed watch and retirement dinner.
Our division manager (my boss, Igor Eduardovitch, a.k.a. "Boss") said that
he would rather hang himself than explain this to the top management and
_especially_ to the bookkeepers, since they would immediately and ritually
sacrifice him, given the above-mentioned astronomical cost of the equipment
and the miserably short usage period. As a reminder, this was the end of
the Eighties; bookkeepers distinguished themselves by being scrupulously
miserly, and technical personnel were their /a priori/ declared enemy.
However, our electronics engineers are, well, _ours._ The Winch was quickly
disassembled, all its seals ripped away (we had nothing to lose anyhow),
and all of its intimate places exposed to public view. Three of our main
specialists (the senior mechanic - Evgenii Nikiforovitch, retired senior
mech of the Northern Fleet, my boss, and me), all of us well-versed in the
habits of the Big Iron produced in Minsk, Kiev, and Vilnius and always
smelling of machine oil and soldering flux, took up the challenge. The
Winch was long "hmmmm"ed over, and Singaporean simplicity, ingenuity, and
graceful execution wondered at. After the first glass, we discovered the
linear drive mechanism which moved the heads over the surface of the disk.
After the second - a notch at the end of that mechanism and a photodiode
pair which triggered just as the heads lined up with track 0. After the
third one, we hit on the graceful solution of _moving_ the photodiodes, so
that "that bitch", as Nikifor'itch expressed it, "would think that 0 was
now in another spot." A rusty nail was quickly procured from one of his
bottomless pockets, I wielded a small hammer, and the whole affair was
wrapped up with a small "ding!" as it was gently applied. That was all,
except for the reassembly. A year and a half later, when I was leaving,
"that bitch" was still working - without *any* bad sectors, by the way.
* * * * *
This was the story that I related to my Singaporean friends. They all had
fits, poured the grape juice over their own heads, but could not and would
not believe. The idea of the repair itself, sure - there was no doubt nor
any arguments as to its usability. The thing that they couldn't fit into
their heads was this: that somebody had come up with the idea of repairing
this incredibly complex device without vacuum enclosures, hermetic zones,
or sterile suits - and by using such a socialist instrument as The Hammer.
Too bad we didn't have a sickle on hand...
Told by "Just Vasya" (prosto_vasia at somewhere.in.ru), via <http://www.anekdot.ru>
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