Hand-cranked Fujitsu ME-P3M hard drive degausser

They're right outside the steel door, swinging, bashing, shouting. They found the line from the solar array, cut it right in two, even the second coil that was under six inches of concrete. One, maybe two minutes of light from this cheap plastic torch, its featherweight D-cells rattling around in its thin pink housing. It's time. No other options. A life's work gone. Sent to the bitstore in the sky. So close. The knowledge to make them, perhaps fix them. Nothing to be done now. The hard drives come out of the cage in mid-write, heads skittering across platters. Doesn't matter. Can't bother with an overwrite now. Terabytes stacked on terabytes, all into the Fujitsu ME-P3M. The big old machine that Sarah had helped carry down here. Laughing at the hand crank, screwing her face up as she pantomimed. Amazed at the grant for $35,000, but proud that she'd wrangled it. Please be dead, Sarah. Be dead and asleep. It's harder than it looks, but it starts to turn. Ten or twenty seconds should do it. There's a sort of machine song now, the whirr of the Fujitsu's degausser, the bang of the ram, metal on metal, the small scream of the lock, giving. It's all but dark now. The flashlight illuminates only itself, fading like the data on the hard drives inside as they are elementally scoured in a magnetic gale. One more drive. Just one more. It's here on the concrete, damp. Where did it go. A fumble, a drop. It's in. No, I, please no. Just let me finish my. A flash of light, then darkness again. A bag, cloth but feels like plastic, fogging instantly with panted breath. The Fujitsu handle slowing, carried by inertia. Be enough.
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24 Responses to Hand-cranked Fujitsu ME-P3M hard drive degausser

  1. mdhatter says:

    She’s in the magnets.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate the device, and the story, but I must hasten to remind us: we’re probably not important enough for that treatment. Honestly. Belief in one’s own likely arrest for political reasons is another form of self-aggrandisement—they’ll either ignore you or pick you up off the street or just kill you there in the event they notice you at all.

    As a practical matter, if I _were_ doing something that I thought The Authorities (or a private equivalent in a Libertopia) wanted to get, I’d stick with an efficient degausser and a dedicated UPS.

  3. Downpressor says:

    brilliant! if only your writing skills could be juiced down and force fed to others.

  4. Ryanwoofs says:

    Evocative! My inner sysadmin is crying.

  5. chroma says:

    I thought I was reading today’s Woot for a minute.

  6. flipdon says:

    Great story for such an interesting machine.

  7. Anonymous says:

    If you’re buying $35k degaussers, you already have a monkey. Look for the ones with name badges saying “GRAD STUDENT” or “CONTRACTOR.”

  8. Evil Paul says:

    Wonderful writing.

  9. Agies says:

    My day has been made

  10. airship says:

    Best. Tech post. Evar. 8O

  11. Anonymous says:

    And thus Joel gives rise to the writing phenomena to become known as “blogfic”.

    You know, somebody will take this idea and blow it into an epic five page short story.

  12. fr4nk says:

    Nice! How long before we see a steampunk HDD degausser?

    BTW, the OP is fantastic, Joel, almost as good as your musings on the home doughnut machine.

  13. fsck says:

    Blimey, all of Cory’s blogging about tor.com must have rubbed off. That was a great piece of writing!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I love the writing style, and I love the gadget from the bygone days where users could get their hands dirty and supply their own power instead of throwing $5 AAs or generic AC-DC converters at it. Who cares; it’s the cheap solution, right?

  15. Joel Johnson says:

    You guys are too kind. I can barely keep fiction up for a blog post, nevermind anything longer. It’s fun, though!

  16. spokehedz says:

    I think you just made every federal agent around the world require new trousers.


  17. doggo says:


  18. Anonymous says:

    I wasn’t reading it as government agents, but as Luddite technophobes (or maybe religious wackos), come to destroy the forces of Evil.

  19. LightningCrash says:

    it’s not interesting unless it’s steampunk

  20. Rodney says:

    Wow, that was brilliant. Can we get some gadget fiction every Wednesday?

  21. AliasUndercover says:

    Can we suggest other random equipment?

  22. strider_mt2k says:

    Move over Dr. Horrible!

    When’s the next installment of THIS?

  23. OM says:

    …For $35K, that damn organ grinder better come with a monkey that dances!

  24. byronba says:


    Joel, when’s the book coming out?

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