After reading this last week, I had a look at the hardrive of my IBM T40 (the hardrive is only less than one year old, the previous one had died).
smartctl -A /dev/hda | sed -n 's/.*Load_Cycle_Count.* //p' told me it had experienced 540 205 load cycles within the 7037 hours it had been up. With the article talking about 600 000 lod cycles I got quite worried, and indeed I often ear clicks when I don't use the disk.
So, I changed /etc/sysconfig/harddisks to set EXTRA_PARAMS to -B 255 but that did not help : it is only run at startup and it looks like it gets changed again afterwards. I then put a cron job to set it every 10 minutes, and still got about 6000 Load Cycles in less than one day. So I changed the cron to run every minute, and I only got 11 new Load Cycle since (in 4 days !). I think they still occur at boot time, before linux has even started booting, as I could ear some while looking at options in the BIOS.
So, my solution is * * * * * hdparm -B 255 /dev/hda >/dev/null 2>&1
This is really ugly so I have to find a way to avoid the BIOS setting back this bad value.