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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I've got a STARCK product

When your screen suddenly goes off and any attempt to restart your computer ends up in a whining sounds like "whiiii shtAK!", it most probably means that your hard drive crashed. If you had no backup, you've just lost all your data!

Philippe Starck is a world famous French product designer. His most famous product is undoubtedly the Juicy Salif. You know, the aluminum lemon squeezer that looks like Tintin's rocket with longer legs. Starck said that it was actually not meant to squeeze lemons (...) but to start conversations. One day I almost bought one, but I had second thoughts: I felt I do not have the right house to put around it.

A fascinating person

To be honest I am usually not really attracted by what he creates. I tend to like his Aprilia Moto 6.5 motorbike, although I suspect that not too many bikers like it. But in general I don't like much what he does, however I think that he is a fascinating person.

A few years ago he gave an inspirational talk at TED (the ideas worth spreading) about "Why design?". To explain what is the essence of product design, in 15 minutes and with great humor, he is going through the last 5 billion years on Earth and the successive human mutations, and finally he opens the door to the next 5 billion years on Earth. You must see Starck playing the "primordial soup" and the appearance of life, it is priceless. I listened to the talk many times and it still makes me laugh. Give it 15 minutes!

Useful and beautiful

Some times ago I was in need of an external hard drive to backup my data (what a weird idea, isn't it?). Among other brands I checked LaCie hard drives. LaCie is a French company that has been investing massively in product design since its early days. Each of their products received intense attention from industrial product designers. This is something that counts for me.

I was nicely surprised to see that Starck contributed to their product line, and even more because I liked his product immediately. The product shapes an informal magma enclosed into a strong protective box. A very practical aspect is that its USB cable is embedded into the shell, so you never have to look for it.

This informal magma recalls the valuable data we store into hard drives, like personal information, administrative documents, projects files, music, photos, videos, etc. The strong aluminium case around it tends to inspire protection and safety from external aggressions. But what about a threat from inside? Hard drive is not a fully reliable technology. It is very sensitive and sometimes it fails hard, destroying all your data. So I think that here the design somehow mislead the user.


There are two kinds of people: those who do regular backups and those who never had a hard drive failure.

Severe head crash that ate most of the disk

I once lost plenty of data after a hard drive failure. When your screen suddenly goes off and any attempt to restart your computer ends up in a whining sounds like "whiiii shtAK!", it most probably means that your hard drive crashed. If you had no backup, congratulation, you've just lost all your data! When it happens it's clearly a shock. You think to your ongoing work and all your valuable data. That's gone. Especially loosing your ongoing work is a pain, it's like loosing your ID and credit cards.

But after all, surprisingly, I felt lighter. It's hard to explain but I felt relieved. Maybe because I realized that this data was not so important. Maybe also because I was relieved from the fear of loosing my data, since I did not have it anymore!

Since I do regular backups and I also invested into a large SSD drive. Solid State Drives are still pretty expensive but they are much more reliable. In addition they are significantly faster, so they bring a clear boost to your computer. A good investment I believe.


  1. I like the idea of the informal magma encased in rigid case. Simple but never thought about it. And the TED talk was really great, thanks for the hint :)

    What I miss is a proper configuration backup. I use the computer mostly as Media Center, but ironically more than media is the detailed screen/sound/keyboard shortcuts configurations what would annoy me to redo in case of (crossing fingers) HD failure.

  2. For your configuration, this is just a few text files. You could create a folder, move all the important configuration files here, and create links at the original place. Then make snapshots, or better put it under git with an hourly cron table, and send (or clone) the git data to another computer periodically, maybe on a web server.

    How does it sound?


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