Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SSD at Home

This past weekend I installed a new Intel X25-M 80GB solid state drive into my home PC (which I use for work and play).
I had no end of fun clearing out my 1TB disk formatted as my C: drive (and “system reserve” partition) by moving my documents and certain key applications to another partition in the system.  After I was done playing the “sliding square number puzzle game” with my data to pare the combo C: and system reserve down to under 80GB with some headroom I used Partition Wizard Home Edition to move the boot and system partitions to my new SSD.
From there it was a matter of changing the boot order in BIOS and then running a Windows 7 repair after a failed boot attempt and I was off and running. 
Drum roll, please!
Does it boot quicker?  Oh yes.  But, considering that I only reboot about once a week (I usually have the system sleep during idle time) it’s not a huge improvement for me.
Was 80GB enough?  Yes but I’m down to about 18GB free now.  My Steam game files all now reside on a spinning disk but honestly I’ve not had disk IO bottlenecks with my games. 
So… why did I spend money and time on this?  Frankly, I wanted to speed up work I was doing in Excel and Perfmon with customer performance data.  It didn’t really help that much, but I’m trying to figure out why that is.   Shame on me, but I assumed that the bottleneck was with disk because I’ve got an AMD Phenom II X4 955 running at 3.2GHz with 8GB RAM and I’ve got a CPU and RAM monitor loaded as widgets and check them often when things are going slowly.
Your mileage may vary but overall I’m not getting what I thought I’d get in return for my SSD investment but it was pretty much an impulse buy and gosh I just wanted to be the first kid on my block with a solid state drive. 
If you want faster boot time or performance improvement for your laptop, I’d check out the new Seagate Momentus XT drives.

Important Notes

Of course, always back up your data before moving anything.

Move documents using the location tab in the properties of the various user folders (i.e. My Documents, My Pictures, etc).

Steam files can be moved to a safe location, and then copied back after reinstalling Steam (you don't need to redownload your games or content).

Make sure you turn off defrag for any logical drives stored on your new SSD.

Make sure you move or RE-move your page files so you aren't thrashing your SSD.  Page files are probably not needed if you have ample RAM anyway.

Intel provides a utility to schedule and run TRIM - make sure you do this to maintain optimal drive write performance.  Once a week is recommended.

Monday, May 17, 2010

FUD Slinging - Why It Is Poison

I made myself a few promises when I jumped the fence from end user to peddler of storage goods. Among those was that if I ever had to compromise my integrity or ethics I'd go find something else to do. This means that I have to believe in what I'm selling and that the product can stand on its own merits. It also means that I am free to be truthful with a prospect and walk away from an opportunity that doesn't make sense.

Happily, during my onboarding and initial training with Compellent these points were firmly established by the management team all the way from the top to my direct leadership. One of the points made, emphatically, was that it's a very bad idea to talk about the competition to your customer.

I heartily agree with this point of view. Based on my experience as a customer sitting through countless sales presentations I can tell you that there are a variety of reasons which make spreading FUD a bad practice and virtually no good ones.

1. When you talk about your competition you're taking time out from selling your solution. Time is golden. Every minute in front of a prospective customer is a chance to listen and learn and help solve their problems. Every minute spent bad mouthing your competition robs you of a chance to sell your value.

2. FUD is typically based on outdated or inaccurate information. I spend a great deal of my free time getting intimately familiar with my product. I do research competitive offerings just so I know how I stack up in a given account. The customer has allowed me in to talk about what I know best - my product.

3. It's annoying. Really. Sometimes customers will ask for competitive info and that's fine. But even then your probably going to offend someone in the room depending on how you approach those particular questions. I always try to keep it positive when asked about the competition - "Vendor X makes a really great product, it works well and they've sold a lot of them. However, this is how we're different and we believe this is a better fit for you."

4. It's potentially dangerous. First, if I spout off about a "weakness" in the competitions product I've just given the customer a reason to invite them back in to answer to my accusations. Bad for me. Secondly, my blabbering on and on about how bad my competition sucks may leave the customer wondering why I protest too much. Finally, if the FUD you spread turns out to be unfounded the customer could then be convinced you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground (and rightly so). To be honest, I really do like it when my competition has been in before me and spread FUD so that I get to spend more time talking about my product and feature set and to erode the customer's confidence in the other guy.

Anyway, that's my take. I'm not going to say I've never spread FUD. It's too tempting and sometimes the stress of the situation leads you to not think rationally and say all sorts of stupid things! But, as a practice in front of customers and in social media I do my level best to keep the conversation above the level of degrading anyone's company or product.