Sep 23

I started listening to podcasts back in 2007. It’s actually a great way to learn and be entertained while doing something else such as taking exercise for example. Soon after starting this blog in 2008, I posted the podcasts I listened to back then.

My listening habits have changed over the 7 years till now and some very good podcasts have just faded away. I’ve cut out a number of tech podcasts and replaced them with some thought provoking material. I thought it might be worth updating my current picks again now so here we go.

Knightwise.com

I’ve stayed with this podcast pretty much right from the start. I’ve always wanted to move away from Windows at some point and this podcast has helped me on my journey. If you’re interested in cross-platform computing then this one is definitely worth a listen. Knightwise has posted some great podcasts recently including his essential Android apps (KW708), and cross-platform security (KW801).

WNYCs Radiolab

Again one of the earliest podcasts on my player. Science and philosophy. Always thought provoking.

FrequencyCast UK

Keep up-to-date with the latest UK tech news.

mintCast

A little rambling, but useful info on recent Linux Mint releases. But some of the stuff just goes over my head as with many things Linux.

NPR Intelligence Squared

Top thinkers debate today’s issues, but perhaps understandably, a little too US-centric. However, there are occasional interesting topics such as Does Science Refute God? and Is Death Final?

Point of Inquiry

A podcast from the Center for Inquiry, a think tank promoting science, reason, and secular values in public policy and at the grass roots. Point of Inquiry has apparently consistently been ranked among the best science podcasts available in iTunes.

Tech-Vets

Two tech vets, Mike Smith and Carey Holzman, discuss tech issues, the tech repair business and listeners’ questions.

The Ihnatko Almanac

Andy’s views on tech, movies, music, and photography among other things. Here’s a man who can produce an off the cuff, yet incisive and well formed verbal masterpiece on just about any topic. That’s about the closest I can come to describing this great podcast and uncanny talent.

You Are Not So Smart

A book, blog and podcast exploring self-delusion, irrational thinking and scientific skepticism.

Well that’s my current list. If any of these topics don’t cut it for you, have a look through a Lifehacker post from a few months back where the readers recommended a great list of podcasts. There should be something there for everyone.

What are you listening to now?


Sep 10

As they say, there are two certainties in life… death and taxes. Well I can add another – hard drive failure. The hard drive in my desktop PC died last week. It was a 1TB Seagate drive which I had bought in November 2009 so it was almost 5 years old. I blogged about installing it back then.

What were the signs it was about to die?

Well, very little really. The day before, I noticed that programs were taking an age to launch and it blue screened once. I hadn’t experienced either of those before with this setup. I shut down the PC thinking perhaps I had installed or changed some setting and that was the fault. Next day, it booted up fine. I loaded Windows Resource Monitor to see if it was running low on memory but that wasn’t the problem. Anyway I had installed 4 GB of RAM a couple of weeks ago, up from 2 GB so that shouldn’t have been the problem. I uninstalled a couple of recently installed programs. Everything was still fine, I went for lunch, came back and there was another blue screen. This time, when I rebooted, I could hear an ominous faint clicking sound from the PC and I knew the game was up.

What next?

There’s nothing like a hard drive failure to concentrate the mind. Luckily I had data backups from a couple of days earlier so thankfully, I hadn’t lost much. I tried booting up from a couple of rescue disks and Linux live disks. It booted up no problem but nothing would see the dying hard drive. I have a Lenovo laptop which I bought to dual boot Windows and Linux Mint so I moved over to that and gave my old PC to a repair tech friend who managed to get back pretty much all the data.

Any lessons learned?

You can never back up often enough. Make sure you back up you data every night. If you need your PC for work, make sure you have a backup plan like a laptop so you can move over to it seemlessly. I had but not everything I needed to keep on working was installed. It is now. If your hard drive is about 5 years old, it’s not a bad policy to have a replacement sitting in reserve (or an SSD) ready to fit. Or don’t wait for failure after 5 years are up – just replace it for peace of mind. I was planning to fit an SSD/hard drive combo anyway but this failure has brought that plan forward. I plan to get a 128GB SSD and install Windows 7 64 bit on it and some programs that I need to launch quickly. The 1 TB hard drive will be for other programs and data.

Have you suffered a hard drive failure? Any tips on getting up and running again?


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