Cloned my hard disk drive

Over the weekend, I spent some time to upgrade the hard disk drive in my notebook computer to one with a larger capacity. This hard disk is the system disk, containing the Windows XP operating system installation. In previous upgrades that involved the system disk, I would do a complete new installation of the operating system, the reasons being that generally it is the cleanest and it avoids moving the junks accumulated over the years to the new hard disk drive.

This time round, I wanted to save some time and decided to try a disk cloning program. Although I have heard of programs such as Norton Ghost that helps you clone a hard disk, I have never used one. I need to find a program that can do this job. My main criteria was that it had to be “cheap” (aka free) since I am not willing to shell out money for a program that I perhaps will use only once in every two to three years.

I went to Snapfiles and look up their freeware program. I decided to try Xxclone. It was a very small download (1.2MB) but to my pleasant surprise, it worked very well.

Here are the steps I took to upgrade the hard disk drive in case anyone is interested:

  1. Connect the new hard disk drive to my computer through an external USB 2.0 drive enclosure.
  2. Partition and format the drive using the Disk Management tool in Windows XP under Administrative Tools > Computer Management (in Control Panel). If this is the first time the drive is being formatted, I suggest NOT using “Quick Format” to check and make sure that there are no bad sectors.
  3. After the drive is formatted, assign a drive letter to it.
  4. Install and run Xxclone.
  5. Select the source disk and the target disk.
  6. Use the “Backup the entire volume by copying all the files form scratch.” (/backup1) option. This is the only option if you are using the free version.
  7. Click “Start” and then go have a coffee or something while Xxclone does its job.
  8. After the cloning is completed, use the “Cool Tools” to make the new disk bootable (“Make Bootable”). Also duplicate the volume ID if you like.
  9. Power down the computer, swap out the old drive with the new drive.
  10. Power up the computer, and … viola, the new disk boots correctly with the same Windows environment.

For me it was a painless experience, and all this for a price of $0. I couldn’t help but write this post to recommend it. 🙂

List of interesting ETF tickers

Here are the tickers of some ETFs which I found particularly interesting or meaningful :

BIL — SPDR Lehman 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF.

BND — Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF.

CUT — Claymore / Clear Global Timber ETF. You wanna CUT down a tree?

GLD — Gold ETF streetTRACKS Gold Shares.

KOL — Coal ETF.

LQD — iShares iBoxx Invest Grade Corp Bond ETF. Need LQUIDITY?

SLV — Silver Trust ETF.

And the best one for the end :

MOO — Agribusiness ETF. Got Milk?

Merry Christmas!

I received some information about the history of the Christmas holiday with my recent phone bill. I thought it was very interesting and would like to share it with everyone. Enjoy!

In the 4th century church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. Since the date of His birth is not pinpointed in the Bible, Pope Julius I chose December 25th.

When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in 1645, they owed to rid England of decadence and as part of their effort cancelled Christmas.

King Charles II was restored to the throne and with him came the return of the popular holiday.

The pilgrims – English separatists that came to America in 1620 – were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell. As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From 1659 to 1681, the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings.

By contrast in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident.

After the American Revolution, English customs including Christmas – fell out of favor. In fact on Dec. 25, 1789 – the first Christmas under America’s new constitution – Congress was in session.

Christmas was not declared a Federal Holiday until June 26, 1870.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to All.