Friday, September 18, 2009


I have a bit of a saying that in my own opinion, find is true more often than not. That saying is; "Those that do it first do it best."

Now, as I just said, I find this TRENDS toward true, not that the phrase always is.

With that out of the way, there are a number of examples such as Apple with providing the modern personal computing experience, Ford with cars, etc...

Well, today I have an example that is all but a shame to the company that crafted it.

How Microsoft handles formatting floppy disks.

It's sad really, they really made the floppy popular with consumers with DOS being the first consumer level OS shipped on the then new format. So, of course they had to have a solid way to prepare those new disks for work and erase old disks to be used again.

The result was the now nearly forgotten command "Format". This tool was then the best way to easily format a floppy disk and now has come full circle to claim that same title in modern times despite the floppy having gone the way of the Dodo.

That's right,the Modern Microsoft OS is currently the best thing I know of in the use of handling floppies, hands down. Way to win the award for a dead technology!

I know this whole spiel may sound a bit odd, so allow me to elaborate.

I wanted to modify my IBM T42 Thinkpad the other day and was having a bear of a time getting a modern USB flash drive bootable and even getting it to work the way I wished off of a less modern CD.

So I gave up and for the first time since 1997-98 I decided to use a 3.5" floppy drive & disk. (if you exclude one college class in 2002 where the professor just stopped using a stone tablet with a chisel and had no idea of the internet and email)

I peeled off the several inch thick layer of dust from my USB floppy drive that I had received free with my iBook around 2000 and have used a grand total of exactly 3 times, plugged it in, was surprised it still worked and did my thing.

Now, I found a few scratch disks in a case I had used for the previously mentioned college class and decided to see if any of them were still serviceable.

Hmmmm.... My trust Macintosh understood the drive and media just fine, and even was perfectly happy to let me quick erase the disk in Disk Utility, but lo, there was just no way I could find to actually VERIFY the format and check for bad sectors, something floppies are INFAMOUS for...

Not a problem, the floppy was declared dead by Apple more than a decade ago, I can understand the less than full support in an OS that was built 2 years AFTER Apple stopped supporting the said media.

On to my Thinkpad with Linux! To this end, I thought to myself that this task would be NO PROBLEM as Linux was built LONG before such things as booting from a CD were even possible so a simple legacy task of floppy handling should be a cinch!

Bulllllllshit, 20 minutes later I rebooted my Thinkpad into it's seldom used Windows XP partition.

A few minutes later I had 3 disks formatted, verified and ready for service. I could have done the same thing on Vista or Windows 7 after looking into it for this post.

I suppose the point of all this text is my complaining about what's actually wrong with Microsoft's mentality of never letting go of anything... ever.

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