Thursday, June 28, 2007

Catching Up: Best of 2003

I'm going to start a little project here. Since August 2003, I have been posting miscellaneous items on a Yahoo! group for my friends. As time permits, I'm going to start reviewing those items, for the purpose of mining those that seem worth preserving. This posting is a start on that. * * * * * Regarding the 2003 Ford Focus PZEV, which (despite its gas-burning, internal combustion engine) meets California's Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standard: "How clean is it? Spend an hour pushing a gas lawn mower, and you'll produce more harmful emissions than the Focus does in 6,700 miles." (Money Magazine, "Start Your Engine," July 2003, pg. 119, col. 3.) Would you believe that, of all the people who have ever reached the age of 50, nearly two-thirds (65%) are alive today? (Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2003, pg. D1, col. 3.) * * * * * George Bush and Colin Powell were sitting in a bar. A guy walked in and asked the barman, "Isn't that Bush and Powell?" The barman said, "Yep, that's them." So the guy walked over and said, "Hello. What are you guys doing?" Bush said, "We're planning World War III." The guy asked, "Really? What's going to happen?" Bush said, "Well, we're going to kill 10 million Afghans and one bicycle repairman." The guy exclaimed, "Why are you gonna kill a bicycle repairman?!" Bush turned to Powell and said, "See, I told you no one would worry about the 10 million Afghans!" * * * * * Meyer, a lonely widower, was walking home along Delancy Street one day wishing something wonderful would happen into his life, when he passed a Pet Store and heard a squawking voice shouting out in Yiddish: "Quawwwwk... vus macht du... Yeah, du... outside, standing like a putzel... eh?" Meyer rubbed his eyes and ears. Couldn't believe it. The proprietor sprang out of the door and grabbed Meyer by the sleeve. "Come in here, fella, and check out this parrot..." Meyer stood in front of an African Grey that cocked his little head and said: "Vus? Kenst reddin Yiddish?" Meyer turned excitedly to the store owner. "He speaks Yiddish?" "Vuh den? Chinese maybe?" In a matter of moments, Meyer had placed five hundred dollars down on the counter and carried the parrot in his cage away with him. All night he talked with the parrot. In Yiddish. He told the parrot about his father's adventures coming to America. About how beautiful his mother was when she was a young bride. About his family. About his years of working in the garment center. About Florida. The parrot listened and commented. They shared some walnuts. The parrot told him of living in the pet store, how he hated the weekends. They both went to sleep. Next morning, Meyer began to put on his tfillin all the while, saying his prayers. The parrot demanded to know what he was doing and when Meyer explained, the parrot wanted some too. Meyer went out and hand- made a miniature set of tfillin for the parrot. The parrot wanted to learn to daven, and learned every prayer. He wanted to learn to read Hebrew so Meyer spent weeks and months, sitting and teaching the parrot, teaching him Torah. In time, Meyer came to love and count on the parrot as a friend and a Jew. He had been saved. One morning, on Rosh Hashana, Meyer rose and got dressed and was about to leave when the parrot demanded to go with him. Meyer explained that Shul (synangogue) was not place for a bird but the parrot made a terrific argument and was carried to Shul on Meyer's shoulder. Needless to say, they made quite a spectacle, and Meyer was questioned by everyone, including the Rabbi and Cantor. They refused to allow a bird into the building on the High Holy Days but Meyer convinced them to let him in this one time, swearing that parrot could daven. Wagers were made with Meyer. Thousands of dollars were bet (even odds) that the parrot could NOT daven, could not speak Yiddish or Hebrew, etc. All eyes were on the African Grey during services. The parrot perched on Meyer's shoulder as one prayer and song passed - Meyer heard not a peep from the bird. He began to become annoyed, slapping at his shoulder and mumbling under his breath, "Daven!" Nothing. "Daven...parrot, you can daven, so daven...come on, everybody's looking at you!" Nothing. After Rosh Hashanah services were concluded, Meyer found that he owed his Shul buddies and the Rabbi over four thousand dollars. He marched home, upset as hell, saying nothing. Finally several blocks from the Temple the bird began to sing an old Yiddish song and was happy as a lark. Meyer stopped and looked at him. "You miserable bird, you cost me over four thousand dollars. Why? After I made your tfillin and taught you the morning prayers, and taught you to read Hebrew and the Torah. And after you begged me to bring you to Shul on Rosh Hashana, why? Why did you do this to me?" "Don't be an idiot," the parrot replied. "Think of the odds on Yom Kippur!" * * * * * Borowitz Report Breaking News ABSENCE OF WMD's IN PRESIDENT'S SPEECH RUINS DRINKING GAME 'Where are the Weapons?' Deflated Drinkers Ask Bar patrons in Missouri who had planned to do a shooter of tequila every time President Bush used the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" in his speech to the nation tonight were left disappointed as the President barely mentioned the deadly weapons at all. The game was the brainchild of Jake Hoving, 31, bartender at the Horny Skunk Saloon in Springfield, who invented the game earlier this year when he and his friends were watching Mr. Bush's State of the Union Address and noticed that the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" appeared in virtually every other sentence. "I was like, dude, let's do a shooter next time he says it," Mr. Hoving remembers. Mr. Hoving said that by the end of the State of the Union speech, he and his friends had drained the bar's "entire supply" of tequila. "I have never been so polluted," Mr. Hoving said. "It was bodacious." Knowing that Mr. Bush was scheduled to make a nationally televised address about Iraq tonight, Mr. Hoving gathered his friends at the bar once more to play the WMD drinking game. But the game "never really got started this time," Mr. Hoving said. "We had our shooters all racked up, but he only said 'weapons of mass destruction' like once in the entire speech," Mr. Hoving said. "We were all like 'Dude, where are the weapons?'" As disappointing as tonight's game was, Mr. Hoving remains undaunted, planning to reassemble his pals at the bar for the President's next major speech on economic policy. "We're going to do a shooter every time he says 'tax cut,'" Mr. Hoving said. * * * * * ASSOCIATED PRESS (Sept. 10) — More "golden years" do not cost the health care system more: Whether people are healthy at age 70 and live independently for many more years or are sickly and die sooner, their medical costs are about the same, federal researchers say. Parts of Shanghai are now sinking at a rate of one-and-a-half centimetres a year, largely as a result of a massive building boom there over the last 10 years. [Policymakers are now asking,] should Washington reconstruct Iraq's schools and hospitals, lawmakers are asking, or America's? Should it pay for more than 100,000 American troops to stay in Iraq, or for 40 million seniors to be offered prescription drugs through Medicare? And if it tries to do it all, should it keep cutting taxes? Americans are often shocked to learn that black Indians exist at all — and that Native Americans actually held slaves. In the mid-1990s, researchers at the University of Illinois went to Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes to interview residents about domestic violence and quality of life in one of the largest public-housing developments in the world. Within this impoverished, isolated cluster of high-rises, some people led more fulfilling, positive, and happy lives than their neighbors. Were these differences a result of advanced education? Job training? Better role models? Nope. The residents owed their good fortune to trees. Some of the development's 28 buildings were surrounded by concrete and asphalt, while others were close to common areas with trees, grass, and flowers. Of the 200 or so residents the researchers met with and observed, those who lived near the landscaped areas had better relations with their neighbors, felt a stronger sense of community, and experienced less violence in their homes. BOSTON, Oct. 2 — An Indian who spent 18 years trying to prove he was alive, researchers who showed London taxi drivers have bigger-than- average brains and the inventor of Murphy's Law won Ig Nobel prizes Thursday. ... The chemistry prize went to Yukio Hirose of Kanazawa University in Japan for his study of a bronze statue that fails to attract pigeons. ... The physics prize went to a team of Australians who conducted "An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces." The biology prize was won by Dutch researchers who documented the first scientifically recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck. ... The process of deinstitutionalizing people with mental illness in the United States - now a half-century in the making - has manifested itself in a dramatic decline in the populations of state and county mental hospitals: from more than half a million in 1950 to about 50,000 today. At the same time, the ranks of jails and prisons are swelling with a rising number of inmates with serious mental illness, to the point where a person with a serious mental illness is about five times more likely to find himself incarcerated rather than admitted. See * * * * * Don't Look Down By PAUL KRUGMAN Published: October 14, 2003 During the 1990's I spent much of my time focusing on economic crises around the world — in particular, on currency crises like those that struck Southeast Asia in 1997 and Argentina in 2001. The timing of such crises is hard to predict. But there are warning signs, like big trade and budget deficits and rising debt burdens. And there's one thing I can't help noticing: a third world country with America's recent numbers — its huge budget and trade deficits, its growing reliance on short-term borrowing from the rest of the world — would definitely be on the watch list. ... There is now a huge structural gap — that is, a gap that won't go away even if the economy recovers — between U.S. spending and revenue. ... The crisis won't come immediately. For a few years, America will still be able to borrow freely, simply because lenders assume that things will somehow work out. But at a certain point we'll have a Wile E. Coyote moment. For those not familiar with the Road Runner cartoons, Mr. Coyote had a habit of running off cliffs and taking several steps on thin air before noticing that there was nothing underneath his feet. Only then would he plunge. What will that plunge look like? It will certainly involve a sharp fall in the dollar and a sharp rise in interest rates. In the worst- case scenario, the government's access to borrowing will be cut off, creating a cash crisis that throws the nation into chaos. * * * * * October 20, 2003 [According to the] latest data coming out of Chicago, which is roughly representative of conditions in other major urban areas ... 22 percent of all Chicago residents between the ages of 16 and 24 are both out of school and out of work. ... [Many lead] haunted lives that recall the Great Depression. ... On a previous visit to Chicago I talked with a teenager named Audrey Roberts, who told me: "The stuff you hear on the news, that's our everyday life. I've seen girls get raped, beaten up. I saw a boy get his head blown away. That happened right in front of me. I said, `Oh my God!'" ... The recent increased federal involvement in the nation's public schools is having the perverse effect of driving up dropout rates as school administrators try to pump up their high-stakes test results by getting rid of struggling students. * * * * * October 22, 2003 As many as one in five of the 2.1 million Americans in jail and prison are seriously mentally ill, far outnumbering the number of mentally ill who are in mental hospitals, according to a comprehensive study released Tuesday. * * * * * Little Johnny was in his 4th grade class when the teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up -- fireman, policeman, salesman, etc... Johnny was being uncharacteristically quiet and so the teacher asked him about his father. "My father's a dancer in a gay night club and takes off all his clothes in front of other men. Sometimes, if the offer's really good, he'll go out to the alley with some guy and make love with him." The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the other children to work on some coloring, and took Johnny aside to ask him, "Is that really true about your father?" "No," said Johnny, "He's the manager of the Boston Red Sox, but I was too embarrassed to say so." * * * * * In the last 50 years, 40% of the world's wetlands have been lost. * * * * * Borowitz Report OPENLY EPISCOPAL MAN JOINS VILLAGE PEOPLE Controversy Threatens to Tear Disco Band Asunder For the first time in their three decades of existence, the disco band The Village People have inducted an openly Episcopal man, igniting a controversy that threatens to tear the fabled group asunder. Holding a press conference in New York City today, The Construction Worker, a prominent member of The Village People since its inception in the 1970's, urged "tolerance and understanding" for its latest member, The Episcopal Guy, who joined the group over the weekend. * * * * * So Few Soldiers, So Much to Do By EDWARD N. LUTTWAK Published: November 4, 2003 ... It is part of any president's job to inspire confidence under pressure, but given the true number of troops in Iraq — actual armed soldiers doing a soldier's job — President Bush might just as well have said that there is no need for any American troops in Iraq. Because zero is the exact number of soldiers actually present at many sites that should be secured 24 hours a day. Such is the arithmetic of an ultra-modern army. The support echelon is so large that out of the 133,000 American men and women in Iraq, no more than 56,000 are combat-trained troops available for security duties. ... And even the finest soldiers must sleep and eat. Thus the number of troops on patrol at any one time is no more than 28,000 .... In fact, the 28,000 American troops are now so thinly spread that they cannot reliably protect even themselves; the helicopter shot down on Sunday was taking off from an area that had not been secured, because doing so would have required hundreds of soldiers. For comparison, there are 39,000 police officers in New York City alone — and they at least know the languages of most of the inhabitants, few of whom are likely to be armed Baathist or Islamist fanatics. ... * * * * * Eleven year-olds whose mothers were depressed after giving birth are more likely to exhibit violent behaviors than children of mothers who didn't experience postpartum depression, new research indicates. * * * * * Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates. "In honor of this holy season," Saint Peter said, "you must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven." The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. It represents a candle, he said. You may pass through the pearly gates Saint Peter said. The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, "They're bells." Saint Peter said you may pass through the pearly gates. The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women's panties. St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, "And just what do those symbolize?" The man replied, "They're Carols." * * * * * As a child, Julian Asher had a theory about the symphony concerts he attended with his parents. "I thought they turned down the lights so you could see the colors better," he says, describing the "Fantasia"- like scenes that danced before his eyes. Asher wasn't hallucinating. He's a synesthete — a rare person for whom one type of sensory input (such as hearing music) evokes an additional one (such as seeing colors). * * * * * Franklin D. Roosevelt [who suffered from polio] spent most of the Thanksgivings of his presidency at the polio rehabilitation center he founded in Warm Springs, Ga. He carved the turkey while seated beside children in leg braces, and talked about the battle against a dreaded disease. ... The holiday menu had politically incorrect offerings like "Potato Crips," and the entertainment included girls in wheelchairs singing "I won't dance, don't ask me." * * * * * Three hundred and eighty years ago, a huddled band of Europeans set out across the Atlantic to seek a new life in wilderness America. They survived hardship, gave thanks, ate turkeys and eventually flourished. And every year at Thanksgiving we ignore them. No, I'm not talking about the Pilgrims, nor about that other sect often hailed as progenitors of America, the Puritans. ... The contribution of these settlers has been overlooked because of that truest of truisms: history is written by the winners. The two great European rivals of the 17th century, the English and Dutch, each planted colonies in America. In time, the English engulfed the Dutch colony .... It wasn't accidental that Swedes, Germans, Jews and others flocked to [New Amsterdam, i.e., New York City], for the Dutch Republic of the 17th century was itself built on a policy of tolerance that made it the melting pot of Europe. The birth of tolerance in the Low Countries changed history. It made Holland the center of publishing, where Galileo and [the Englishman Thomas] Hobbes printed their books free of censorship. The Dutch provided haven to exiled English royalty and peasants from across Europe who fled war and repression. It's often forgotten that the English Pilgrims, before taking a flyer on America, went to Holland in their search for religious freedom. They found it and then left for the same reason: they feared that amid the diversity of Holland their children would stray .... The colony centered on Manhattan was always an unruly place. Almost from the start there were 18 languages spoken in the capital's few streets. ... * * * * * TERRE HAUTE, Ind., Nov. 22 — An Auschwitz survivor has vowed to rebuild a Holocaust museum here that was destroyed by a suspicious fire early last Tuesday. ... On Saturday, Ms. Kor, a 69-year-old twin who was used in a number of painful experiments by the notorious Dr. Josef Mengele, sifted through the blackened remains of the museum, which honors children who survived the Holocaust. Most of the memorabilia were ruined. ... Ms. Kor, who bears a blurred number A-7063 on her arm, said she had forgiven the Nazis and her next task was to forgive those who had destroyed the tiny museum. ... * * * * * The reality is that we [are not recovering from a mere] mild recession. Jobs-wise, we had a deep one. The government reported that annual unemployment during this recession peaked at only around 6 percent, compared with more than 7 percent in 1992 and more than 9 percent in 1982. But the unemployment rate has been low only because government programs, especially Social Security disability, have effectively been buying people off the unemployment rolls and reclassifying them as "not in the labor force." ... Congress began loosening the standards to qualify for disability payments in the late 1980's and early 1990's, [so] people who would normally be counted as unemployed started moving in record numbers into the disability system — a kind of invisible unemployment. * * * * * The outsourcing of jobs to China and India is not new, but lately it has earned a chilling new adjective: professional. Advances in communications technology have enabled white-collar jobs to be shipped from the United States and Europe as never before .... * * * * * Municipal employee George Pavlovsky stalked through his shop in April, drunk, carrying a loaded, sawed-off shotgun (sending colleagues fleeing in fear), and looking for the two supervisors who had recently passed him up for promotion. As a result, he was fired by the city (Moncton, New Brunswick) and went to jail in November, but he said through his union (Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 51) that he wants his job back when he gets out, and the union has filed a wrongful-firing grievance on his behalf. Several of his colleagues are still on stress leave from witnessing the incident. * * * * * Recently Arrested on Sex Charges: The vice chairman of a Louisville, Ky., anti-pornography group (for patronizing a prostitute, November); a retired New Jersey Superior Court judge whose job was to administer Megan's Law for Camden County (for possession of child pornography, August); and a politically conservative Richmond, Texas, radio-show host who is regularly critical of lax moral standards (for indecent exposure to a child, November). [Courier-Journal, 11-24-03] [Philadelphia Inquirer, 8-28-03] [Houston Chronicle, 11-13-03] * * * * * About 40 percent of U.S. elementary schools have eliminated recess over the last 20 years (according to a September story in New Times Broward-Palm Beach, Fla.), so that schools could squeeze in more classroom time. In addition to the problem of overweight students, Florida school psychologist Marvin Silverman referred to children's "chemical need" for recess, pointing out that even psychiatric institutions give recess to help with "mood and movement." A complicating factor is that in some schools, playground equipment has already been removed because of safety concerns and fear of lawsuits. [New Times Broward-Palm Beach, 9-18-2003] * * * * * Carson Kressley, the fashion savant of the hit series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," today questioned Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge's choice of orange for the current terror alert, calling the color "wildly unflattering." "I don't know too many men who can pull off orange," Mr. Kressley said. "And if I were a big husky boy like Tom Ridge, I would definitely avoid it like the plague." By issuing an orange alert, Mr. Kressley argued, Mr. Ridge was putting the nation "at a greater fashion risk than ever before." "We're all running around worrying about al Qaeda, but that doesn't mean we should have to worry about looking bad, too," Mr. Kressley said. But even as he attacked Mr. Ridge's choice or orange, Mr. Kressley did not recommend that the government step back down to a yellow alert, pronouncing that color "yucky beyond Thunderdome." For his part, Mr. Kressley unveiled a new "Queer Eye" terror alert chart, featuring such colors as raspberry sherbet, scarlet and blizzard. ... * * * * * Borowitz Report Breaking News WHITE HOUSE RELEASES REDACTED VERSION OF CONSTITUTION Twenty-eight Pages Deemed 'Too Sensitive' The White House today released an edited version of the U.S. Constitution minus twenty-eight pages that were deemed "too sensitive" to be shared with the American public. The altered document was "hand-redacted" by Attorney General John Ashcroft using a Marks-a-Lot ™ magic marker, the White House said, with the goal of removing the ninety-four percent of the original document that could have adversely impacted national security. ...

Monday, June 25, 2007

RAM Drives, Pagefiles, the i-RAM, and Virtual Machines

This is a report on my process in thinking about RAM drives, pagefiles, the i-RAM, virtual machines, and other things having to do with system RAM. It represents merely an effort to log the questions that arose, and how I resolved them. I have not attempted to make it very organized or publishable. Some items reported early did not come to mind until later, and vice versa. * * * * * * I was trying to decide what to do about RAM. Since I was bumping up against capacity limits in several areas, I decided to move to a new level in my motherboard. I ordered a replacement for my old Pentium 4 2.4GHz mobo using 2GB of 400MHz DDR RAM. The new motherboard used a Core 2 Duo processor with 2GB of 800MHz DDR2. Of course, the new mobo featured a number of other improvements that have come on the scene since the Pentium Socket 478 era. This was where the RAM question arose. As I say, I had not increased the amount of RAM. But there were indications that I should. It did seem that video editing and other combinations of programs were pushing up against some limits, even with 2GB. A particular problem was my pagefile. I was getting lots of hard drive activity. As I recalled, there were multiple possible explanations for that, but it did seem to vary according to workload: silent when I was not using the system, very active when I was doing video editing or keeping lots of programs open, along with (sometimes) dozens of tabs in Firefox. So I wondered if I could put my pagefile into RAM, possibly in a RAM drive, rather than having my pagefiles on hard drives. As mentioned above, I had just ordered 2GB of good DDR2 800MHz RAM. If I filled out my motherboard's four RAM slots with two sticks of cheaper RAM, they would drag down the performance of the two good sticks I already had. So at this point, if I was going to fill all four slots, I was already somewhat obligated to buy another two sticks of the more expensive RAM. There would also be a problem if I would need the pagefile (and therefore the RAM drive) to be larger than 2GB. That would entail reducing, below 2GB, the amount of system RAM left for WinXP to use, since all four of my RAM slots would be full with a total of 4GB. This was exactly the wrong direction, for me. If anything, I wanted to keep those second two RAM slots empty, in case I did upgrade to a 64-bit operating system (i.e., WinXP Professional x64 or Vista) and install more system RAM. My impression was that, most likely, I would want the RAM drive to be larger than 2GB. It would need to accommodate my pagefile, and I also thought I might put various caches there. It wouldn't need to be huge, but I would probably find a use for at least several gigabytes of temporary working RAM drive space. Also, I came to realize that, for purposes of a RAM drive, I probably did not need cutting-edge performance. Any RAM drive would be much faster than a mechanical hard drive. What I needed was just some form of RAM, and apparently it would have to be located somewhere other than in the motherboard's four RAM slots. I had heard that Vista has a RamBoost feature that allows users to employ USB flash drives to provide an assist to the pagefile. I ran across some comments suggesting that this feature might not actually be all that helpful. One reason, it seems, is that random writes in flash memory are very slow. There was also the concern that, unless your drive employs a wear leveling scheme (which I think is not standard on basic USB flash drives), you can quickly wear out a flash drive. Apparently the usual kind of flash memory dies after something like 100,000 read-write cycles. If there's one thing I'd expect to find in a pagefile, it's a lot of reading and writing. For such reasons, I didn't think it would work to just set up my RAM drive, with my pagefile, on an 8GB flash drive. About this time, I came across various indications that people have been busily inventing a variety of exotic drives. I found a list of them at DV Nation ( Among other things, it seemed that Samsung and other manufacturers had been working on developing larger-capacity (e.g., 32MB and 64MB) flash drives with greatly improved read times. I still wasn't confident that a flash drive would fare well with the constant writing of a page file, which was my focus at this point. These drives also seemed pretty expensive. I figured that, in a year or two, I would probably be able to choose from a selection of affordable flash drives that would be large enough to install the whole operating system on. Not too many people seemed to be doing that sort of thing now. So for the time being, my primary concern was just on this matter of setting up a suitable RAM drive. Otherwise, among the various exotic drives that I had found, I was interested in Gigabyte's GC-RAMDISK, which they had previously been calling the i-RAM. I read several reviews on it. It was a PCI 2.2 card with slots for four RAM sticks, up to a total of 4GB. It had a SATA connector that would let it function just like a regular disk drive. RAM sticks have the advantage, over flash RAM, of being designed for the constant reads and writes that would occur in a pagefile. People found the i-RAM impressively fast, though expensive and suffering from some limitations. It seemed that it had become less expensive since its launch, circa 2005, which was when those reviews had been published. I also felt that, for my RAM drive purposes, its limitations were not significant. Evidently Gigabyte displayed an updated version of the i-RAM (which seems to be what most people still call it) at Comdex in 2006. At that point, they apparently thought they would have it on the market within a few months. As of now, mid-2007, it has still not materialized. It may show up any day; or maybe Gigabyte has decided that flash drives will crush the i-RAM within a year or two. For whatever reason, as of now, there does not appear to be an i-RAM 2, and I'm not sure there ever will. One limitation that people mentioned was that the i-RAM would accommodate only 4GB of RAM. That seemed adequate for my present needs, though. Another limitation was that the i-RAM used DDR rather than DDR2. But this, too, was alright with me: I still had the two DDR sticks from my previous motherboard. So it seemed, for a while, that I might have to buy only two more. My two old modules had heat spreaders on them, but in one of the reviews I saw a photo of how the reviewers had managed to jam in four RAM modules with heat spreaders, even though Gigabyte said not to. That was just as well, because some webpages said that it could be difficult to do so. I figured I'd get two sticks without heat spreaders, and just intersperse them between the two modules I already had. After all, the reviewers had shown photos of assorted RAM modules crammed into the i-RAM in no particular order. Its bottleneck was in the SATA connection, not in the 200MHz (PC 1600), or 266MHz (PC 2100), or 333MHz (PC 2700), or 400MHz (PC 3200) RAM that it could accommodate according to Gigabyte's website. I wasn't sure whether the doubled speed potential of a SATA-II connector would have created a highly different situation, heat-wise. I think not. Otherwise, I doubt that the prototype i-RAM 2 displayed by Gigabyte in 2006 would have been designed to fit in a disk drive bay. Probably it wouldn't get much hotter than a hard drive. I found the i-RAM for $119 at eWiz. (If it's not available there anymore, somebody said it's also available at CyberSprint and PCSuperDeals, and I found it listed at eight other stores on PriceGrabber.) This was actually cheaper than the offerings on eBay. Before buying it, however, I did various searches for terms like "memory expansion card" and "memory board." These turned up everything from digital camera memory cards to server components costing thousands. To my surprise -- having bought a memory expansion card for my first PC in 1984 -- I did not find anything else quite like the i-RAM. (I realized that an ordinary memory expansion board would not have the i-RAM's continuous power source. Their contents would vanish when the machine powered down. Since I was interested in cache and pagefile uses, that was OK for my purposes.) To populate the i-RAM, I went looking for what I was sure would be cheap RAM. Much to my surprise, Newegg, and the merchants listed on PriceGrabber generally, were asking $50+ per stick, even if I was just looking for the oldest, slowest RAM that would work. Instead, I searched eBay for Samsung RAM (after doing a small search to support my sense that Samsung produced quality RAM), so as to cut through the hundreds of no-brand RAM ads posted by other eBay sellers. There didn't seem to be much price difference between the various flavors of old Samsung RAM offered for sale on eBay. I could get a pair of 400MHz sticks for about $78 (including shipping). It developed that my existing 400MHz modules were worth $120 or more. So I figured I would sell those and buy two pairs of the cheaper stuff, for a net cost of about $35 (i.e., 2 x $78 minus $120). This would give me 2GB of fast 800MHz system RAM plus 4GB in the i-RAM. If I went the other route, I would have a total of 4GB of system RAM, and no i-RAM. Having already ordered two 1GB sticks of 800MHz RAM, I would have to order two more. Bizarrely, their price -- $89 on sale at -- was less than the $120 I would get from selling my used 400MHz sticks. So the additional cost of this route was a negative $30 -- that is, a profit from selling the old and buying the new. In short, I was looking at a $185 price spread (spending $155 for the i-RAM plus 4GB of 400MHz RAM, as compared to a $30 profit) between the two alternatives. At this point, before going any further, I decided I had better verify some of my assumptions about page files and RAM drives. First, I noticed that some sites recommended setting the page file minimum and maximum to the same size, so as to save WinXP the trouble of constantly resizing the file. Regardless of the wisdom of that advice, which was disputed, at least it seemed that I could set the page file at a size that would definitely fit within my RAM drive. The question, in my mind, was whether the resulting page file would hold everything that the processor would be working on at any given point, so as to avoid making the system go all the way back out to wherever it would go if there is insufficient physical and virtual RAM. Some people advised allowing the system to manage the page file; others recommended specifying a page file of 1.5 to 3 times the size of RAM. If that latter recommendation was accurate, then plainly it would be important to go with the 6GB i-RAM solution rather than just add two more 1GB memory modules to the system. On this question, Microsoft said that 1.5 is "the normal recommendation." See Microsoft also said (at that the system default value in Windows 2000, at least, was 1.5 times the amount of physical RAM. On that page, Microsoft also stated that efficiency is indeed increased if you set the initial and maximum to the same value. Microsoft also said, on that page, that you could improve efficiency by setting up multiple page files, if you had multiple hard drives. I wasn't sure how that would work in my case, where I would set up one page file in RAM and would then have to set up the other on a hard drive. Maybe restricting the size of the hard drive page file would provide some relief while keeping most of the burden on the RAM drive. Possibly I could have used a flash drive instead of the hard drive; maybe sharing the burden would extend the life of the flash drive. But it wouldn't make it any faster on writes. Several webpages reminded me that, if you have enough RAM, you don't need as much of a page file. The system won't be swapping things out of RAM to a page file as long as there is still some free RAM. So the question of page file size was this: will a total of 4GB of RAM (i.e., 2GB available to WinXP, plus 2GB in a RAM drive) be sufficient for the things that I am doing, or will I need more? I was not inclined to spend $185 without knowing the answer, and I was not sure how to find the answer. So at this point I decided to hold off on the i-RAM purchase, choosing instead to go with the purchase of the extra 2GB in system RAM from It belatedly occurred to me that, of course, this would also be the much more sensible approach for purposes of planning for the future. Eventually I would probably be using an operating system that would need at least 4GB of system RAM (plus whatever flash drives or whatnot might be available as RAM supplements by then). Having seen the matter in that light, I suddenly realized that I had been just assuming that I had to fill my new motherboard's four RAM slots with 1GB modules. Checking the documentation, I found that the system would actually accommodate a total of 8GB. I think I had assumed that 2GB modules would cost more than they were worth; but now that I had looked down the barrel of spending $185 to insure that I would have enough RAM for a RAM drive, I was not so sure. Checking around, I found that, at Newegg, after rebate, I could get two 2GB modules of Corsair 800MHz DDR2 for $229. That was a lot more than the total of $160 that I was looking at paying, after rebates etc., for the two 1GB modules that I now had on order plus the other two that I was preparing to order. Was it worth $70 extra to have the option of keeping two slots open, so that I could add more RAM later? This, I realized, was not really the question I had spent all this time considering. What I wanted to know was, how much would it cost me to have a total of 6GB of RAM? The answer: $185, plus the two 1GB modules already on order, if I went the i-RAM route; or $229, plus the two 1GB modules on order, if I beefed up system RAM with an additional two 2GB modules. Basically, it seemed I was doing my best to invent the fastest and most expensive RAM drive imaginable. Then I noticed that the timings of the 1GB modules did not match those of the 2GB modules. The former were of the faster 4-4-4-12 variety; the latter were of the slower 5-5-5-18 sort. One or two webpages confirmed my fear that this incompatibility could (not necessarily *would*) enhance instability. At best, the new ones would wipe out the speed advantage I had anticipated from the ones on order. This matter of timings had not been a concern when I was considering the i-RAM approach. There, RAM timing did not matter. Certainly I was not inclined to spend the extra $70 for what might be a less stable system, just for the privilege of holding one or two memory slots open for some future date when I might (but probably would not) replace the 1GB modules with 2GB modules. By then, more likely, I would be buying a 16GB flash drive to hold, in a large page file, whatever didn't fit within RAM. An alternative was to buy three 2GB modules, rather than two (assuming the system would work if I didn't add RAM modules in pairs). They would all match, and they would hold one of my four slots open for future expansion, and they would give me the desired 6GB of RAM. They would be slower, though; and even after taking into account the cancellation of my order for two 1GB modules, I would still have to spend approximately $300 for this solution (or a little less if I chose to order two 2 GB modules plus two matchingly slow 1GB modules -- though, honestly, this memory was going to be really fast in any case). So it looked like I had really talked myself out of all other options, and therefore would just order a second set of 1GB modules to match the set that was on order. This would not give me the desired 6GB of RAM. So the problem remained unsolved on the hardware side. I decided to let that issue sit for the moment. Meanwhile, I had things to figure out on the software side. How, exactly, would a person set up a RAM drive in Windows XP? I found numerous Ram disk programs, as follows: (1) Cenatek's RAMDisk XP: $25 from (Many older links also lead to a Cenatek page at, but that page has apparently changed.) A key is required for installation. They specify a maximum 4GB drive on XP. I was not sure if that meant 4GB in addition to the 4GB that WinXP could supposedly recognize. (2) RamDisk 2.4, which appears different from the above but is not explained very well, except to say that its size is limited only by Windows and available physical memory: $35 from (3) AR Soft: cited by many, with caveats about backing up your data before using it; apparently no longer maintained but still available from Installation instructions at and (4) QSoft's RAMDisk Enterprise Lite: $12 from Described at as being easy to install and allowing for changes of RAM disk size without rebooting. (5) RamDisk and RamDiskPlus from SuperSpeed: $35/50 from Certified by Microsoft. Reviewed at,1759,15632,00.asp RamDiskPlus includes, among other things, a backup feature that optionally saves the contents of the drive to a hard disk on shutdown and automatically restores them on reboot. (This would be valuable if, someday, I would be using this program to boot my operating system from a larger RAM drive; I might have to be keeping its contents on a hard drive on those hopefully infrequent occasions when I would have to shut down the system.) (6) Apparently there is a RAM drive feature in Tweak-XP. See Instructions at (7) Ramdisk Driver: free from Seemingly simple instructions on creating a RAM drive in Windows 2000/XP/2003. I also found several programs that looked like non-starters: Microsoft Sample Ramdisk.sys Driver for Windows 2000 Instructions for making it bigger appear at Even then, though, it is limited to 32 MB. Apparently not recognized by some programs because it does not identify itself as a hard drive. RamDiskNT: may be free (but cannot create a drive larger than 30MB) from VM Back: allows you to mount a VMware virtual disk and use it as a virtual disk drive. Since I don't know VMware, I can't tell if you have to have VMware to use it. Free, from RAMDisk WindowsXP: nobody home at Comments at There were also a number of other postings in various discussion forums, addressing the question of how to tweak some RAM drive possibilities (notably, the free one from Microsoft that is limited to 30MB) to make them work, or to change their functioning (e.g., Most of those seemed to date from around 2001-2002. I also encountered some warnings that made me a little nervous about using some of these approaches. Example: "Installing the Ramdisk sample driver in a NTFS-only machine might make it unusable." Not sure if "it" refers to the Ramdisk or the whole machine. In reviewing these webpages, I was most impressed with RamDiskPlus. Its webpage indicated that the maximum supported RAM disk would be about 3GB. Apparently, then, at least in their case (and perhaps in all cases), RAM drives in WinXP Home (and in WinXP Professional 32-bit) would be taken out of system RAM, of which there could be a maximum of 4GB. (In Windows XP Professional x64 and other 64-bit operating systems, the maximum would be 127GB.) Now, suddenly, it seemed that the i-RAM memory could not be made into a RAM drive because it was not part of system RAM; it was just RAM that behaved like a drive. Moreover, you wouldn't need to set up a RAM drive within the i-RAM; you would just *use* the i-RAM. If the i-RAM got designated as drive E, then you would just set your pagefile and various caches to be on drive E, as someday supplemented or replaced by i-RAM 2 and/or by a flash drive. This wasn't the way Wikipedia had talked about RAM drives: they had used the i-RAM as an example of a RAM drive. And well they should. It is, after all, a drive consisting of, or based on, RAM. But this didn't seem exactly like the concept of a RAM drive (i.e., based on *system* RAM) that emerged from the foregoing review of RAM drive software. Wikipedia's distinction, at this point in time, was between a software RAM drive (i.e., what the foregoing programs try to do) and the hardware RAM drive, like the i-RAM. So one conclusion seemed to be that a software RAM drive would be limited by the operating system's ability to recognize system RAM (i.e., 4GB, in the case of WinXP), whereas a hardware RAM drive would be limited by the system's ability to recognize hard drives (which means they can be vastly larger than 4GB). ************************* Note: I have been focused upon using a RAM drive to speed up my pagefile and caches. It is also possible to use RAM instead of your hard drive to reduce the use of your laptop's battery (but remember that RAM drive data vanishes when you power down). For general info on RAM drives, see: For instructions on how to move your browser cache and cookies to the RAM drive, see ************************* I returned to the question of whether the system could make use of the entire 4GB in WinXP, if I did decide to acquire that much in system RAM. I had previously seen various opinions on the matter, but had not tried to get a definitive answer. Microsoft said that 32-bit Windows (including XP Home) could support up to 4GB of system memory. It seemed, however, that Intel had developed a Physical Address Extension (PAE) that would allow developers to write software that would support more than 4GB. (See So it stood to reason that a RAM drive developer could have written software that would allow for huge RAM drives in WinXP Home, using PAE. But my review of RAM drive programs (above) did not suggest that anyone had actually done so. (The webpage just cited raises the thought that limitations of specific motherboards may cause problems with use of PAE, so perhaps developers have not considered it worthwhile to develop something that would work only on some systems.) More details at Although I have been talking, here, about a 4GB RAM limit in WinXP Home, it began to appear that in practice XP Home would recognize only 2.7GB or 3GB, not 4GB, even if the system had 4GB installed. See e.g., Also, of the RAM that the system would recognize, it seemed that a large chunk was used by various pieces of hardware in the system. See and One possibility was to upgrade, either to WinXP Professional x64 64-bit or Windows Vista 64-bit (apparently there was also a 32-bit version of Vista, which would not solve the problem). From browsing various webpages, though, it seemed that many people were frustrated with those two operating systems, due to such factors as driver availability and Vista's enhanced security arrangements. There also seemed to be some difficulties, even in the 64-bit versions of Vista, in getting that operating system to recognize a full 4GB of RAM. See This was an odd outcome. It seemed that there existed these RAM drive programs to help you create RAM drives of up to 3GB in WinXP Home; yet there was no practical way to have enough RAM available that you could actually go ahead and set aside 3GB of RAM in a 32-bit Microsoft operating system (i.e., either WinXP Home or 32-bit Vista). The only way I was going to have a multi-GB pagefile in a RAM drive was to use non-system RAM. In that category, the i-RAM was my best candidate, unless I wanted to wait until flash drives matured. To review: WinXP Home, as it had been functioning for me, needed more RAM. I could give it about 0.7 GB more than the 2GB that had already been in my system. But if that was not enough, it would resume its aggravatingly slow habit of swapping stuff out to a virtual page file on a hard drive. My best alternative to that scenario was to spend hundreds to put the pagefile on a measly 4GB i-RAM drive. So I could define it as a hardware problem, and wait until superior flash drives or the i-RAM2 came out. Or I could define it as an operating system problem, and find another operating system that would resolve it. I had been interested in WinXP x64, and also in the Ubuntu version of Linux. It seemed likely that I could begin by using one of these operating systems (or 64-bit Vista) to recognize the full amount of RAM I had in the machine -- 4GB, 6GB, or whatever. My fear was that those operating systems wouldn't run all the scads of programs, big and little, that hopefully make me more efficient during the day. What I really wanted was to have my cake and eat it -- to have another operating system without these hardware limitations, and yet also to have WinXP Home for its convenience. This brought to mind the possibility of virtualization, where you set up your computer to run one operating system within another. The introductory concept was to install a 64-bit OS first, and then install WinXP Home inside it. Since I was concerned about reports that these 64-bit operating systems do not tend to have all of the drivers that a person might need, my question was this: if a 64-bit operating system recognized the RAM but didn't recognize my printer, could WinXP Home (installed as a guest operating system through e.g., VMWare or Microsoft's new, free Virtual PC 2007 -- see use its share of RAM (e.g., 1-2 GB) and also recognize the printer? If that would work, I could maximize system RAM rather than use i-RAM. Or I might be able to set up the RAM drive in the 64-bit operating system, and then use it from within the 32-bit system. Starting in 1979, when I took my first computer class, I had been familiar with command-line operating systems. I began with Unix at Columbia University. I got my own IBM PC in 1983 and learned DOS. It wasn't until the mid-1990s that I found it advisable -- necessary, I think, given Microsoft's abandonment of DOS in favor of Windows -- to switch to a graphic user interface (GUI). I chose IBM's OS/2 over Windows 3.1, though I did pick up some 3.1 knowledge along the way. Eventually, OS/2 didn't keep up, so I bit the bullet and switched to Microsoft Windows 95, where I proceeded to waste huge amounts of time on poorly written and very frustrating efforts to recover the kind of functionality I had learned to expect. Windows 98 was an improvement, particularly when I discovered DriveImage as a tool for letting me roll back to a previous installation and try again. I entirely skipped Windows ME and was very pleased with Windows XP when, at last, I found that it provided me with an operating system that would not crash so often, taking small or large amounts of my hard work along with it. Windows XP does sometimes crash, but it has been a great improvement. Because of these various frustrations, I was interested in Linux since it first came out. I was also interested in VMWare, which at this point was, apparently, the leading virtualization tool. I had bought a copy of VMWare in the mid-1990s, but never used it. Since then, from what I see at their webpage, VMware had come a long way. And so had Linux. It now appeared possible to install Ubuntu as a flavor of Linux that would not bog me down for extended periods of time with computer technicalities that I didn't want to learn. So I was prepared to install a 64-bit operating system, and make that the basis for my efforts to gain access to more RAM. I felt that Ubuntu was up-and-coming, and that the Linux community would keep on developing it, whereas Windows XP x64 had pretty much died on the vine, as far as device drivers were concerned; and I just did not want, anymore, to be forced to learn whole new programs that did not improve my functionality. That may seem odd to say -- for a longtime Windows user, Linux may seem to require far more learning than a new flavor of Windows -- but at this point things had begun to seem different. I had noticed, in particular, that Office 2007 was a sharp departure from Office 2003, in which I was proficient. Office 2007 seemed to have been designed for people who were not already familiar with office software. It didn't seem to offer much new to me -- nor, I should say, to a great many others. Likewise, it appeared that much of my investment of time in Windows XP would be overruled -- that, once again, I would have to start from scratch, investing large amounts of time to figure out solutions to problems that hadn't been problems until Vista came along. I hoped for better from the seemingly greater continuity of the Linux approach. ************************* Windows XP RAM Sites of Interest (potentially unnecessary, in light of Ubuntu decision) ************************* So my preliminary plan was to install Ubuntu and then install a virtualization program over the top of that. This seemed likely to mean VMWare. From what I could see, VMWare was more professionally developed and managed and was more open to the involvement of Linux. See and In any case, the solution that seemed to make the most sense, to me, was to try installing a 64-bit foundation (starting with Linux rather than Windows); and then, to get quickly back to my former level of functionality, to install Windows XP Home in a virtual machine on top of the 64-bit foundation. For the memory situation, this did not necessarily mean an end to the pagefile question; it seemed that Linux uses swap files. Also, I might not need as much RAM as had been necessary in Windows (because it seemed Linux had a reputation for using its resources more effectively), but I would need extra RAM for the virtual machine in which I would propose to run Windows XP Home. But would Ubuntu require more than 2GB? One user claimed that his Linux machine, with 512MB, rarely used its swap file, even with many programs operating at once. See As of two years ago, a number of other contributors had similar opinions -- see I figured that 1GB would probably be enough for Ubuntu. I wasn't sure how much WinXP Home would require inside a VMWare virtual machine. While the RAM was on sale, I decided to go ahead and get the second set of 2GB modules. This, I felt, would probably be all I would need in the machine. By the time I needed more, flash drives or the i-RAM 2 would arrive to save me. It was kind of exciting to anticipate setting up virtual machines and saving and using them in the ways VMWare's webpage describes. I wished I had one for operating systems gone by, if only to fire them up and recall what it used to be like to work on the computer. It seemed like it could be handy to save one, now and then, in case I ever needed to use some ancient program from 2007 to open an old file.

Statement of Purpose

A little formal, that title, but OK. I'm starting a blog because I have written tons of stuff that either (a) has never seen the light of day or (b) saw the light of day, briefly, in some obscure website somewhere, and is now barely retrievable -- even though I, personally, might wish I could find it, for myself and/or for others who are asking questions that I asked. So my purpose for this blog is to have one place, one repository, where I can unload tons of stuff like that. I'm inexperienced in blogging, but, you know, sometimes you learn by doing.