80-Bus News


November–December 1983, Volume 2, Issue 6

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better, so if the disks are being used for business and the firm is paying, then use them, otherwise, anything that goes will do. Personally, I keep my eyes open for secondhand disks, they’re usually the best bet and dirt cheap (if not actually given away).

Stubborn Disks

Now on to another couple of tips. If you’ve got a disk that resolutely refuses to format in one or two places, don’t necessarily assume that it is scratched and therefore useless. Before you ditch it (or take it back from whence it came), try an old ‘speaker magnet on it. Needless to say, keep the magnet away from your other disks, but by giving the disk a good stir up with a powerful magnet, even the crudiest disks seem to spring into life. Don’t ask me why, but they do!!!

Another point is formatting disks. Always allow time for the disk temperature to stabilize within the drive. It’s no good formatting a stone cold disk and then expecting it to work on a hot day when the machine has been on for a couple of hours, as the originally formatted tracks are likely to be in entirely different positions under warms conditions. Shove the disk in the hole and wait for 30 – 40 seconds to allow the disk to warm up before formatting.

The final answer with Verbatim disks was revealed to me in a letter from Rory O’Farrell. A little while ago I gave him a disk on which he found no less than 65 duff sectors, Rory concludes as follows, “It might be due to some unkind person having put fingerprints all over the back of it, but as it was a Verbatim disk, made in Ireland, it is more probably due to their cutting down the Fairy Thorn tree that once stood on their site at Raheen, Co. Limerick. As I’m sure you realise, immeasurable bad luck always accompanies interference with the fairies.” So if all else fails, go to the bottom of your garden and talk to the fairies.

Drive care (or lack of)

I hear a lot of waffle about cleaning disk drive heads. Again, if the propaganda is to be believed, disk drive heads should be cleaned weekly with the brand X disk cleaning kit for only £25.00. Now I can’t answer for the public as a whole, but I’ve found that our customers fall over backwards with mirth at the thought that I was daft enough to buy some of these kits for stock in the hope that some customer would be equally as daft as to pay the asking price. In fact, the couple of disk cleaning kits the glib, smooth tongued rep. managed to flog me remain untouched, not even I can afford to use then.

Now I have had access to disk based machines for about 3 years now, and during that time I have dismantled and examined a number of drives for various reasons. (Don’t you try it or you’ll be along for the rip-off £25.00 disk drive alignment disk the same rep. talked me into. Realigning drive heads is something for masochists and loonies only, I know I qualify.) Anyway, to the point, I have not yet seen a drive head that warranted cleaning. Not even the drives out of the Galaxy we had in recently which seemed to live in the bottom of a cement works. This instance doesn’t say much for the fan filters, as the whole thing was potted under a quarter inch layer of cement dust, but at least the heads were pristine clean.

It’s not that I’m saying that drive heads never need cleaning, all I’m saying is that I have yet to see one that DOES need cleaning. So don’t get talked into expensive disk head cleaning kits when any faults are more likely down to something else.

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