Losing your hard drive sucks

You might recall, if I bothered to mention it (I’m not going to go back and look) that I had some trouble with the hard drive in my laptop back in November. For a couple of days the machine would not run at all. When I fired it up the drive just went clickety-clack, clickety-clack, while the screen showed the “I’ve got no hard drive” icon. Finally I figured I had nothing to lose and hit the computer firmly five times. Zing! The drive jumped to life and worked perfectly. I didn’t lose a single byte of data.

I said to myself, “Self, next time that drive takes a powder, percussive maintenance may not work. It’s time to get a new drive.”

On a sunny Friday afternoon in April the drive went clickety-clack again. I didn’t even bother to power it down, I just smacked it a good one and it started to work again. For maybe five minutes. Another whack, a little more time.

I keep pretty well backed up all the time, but it was time to devote myself exclusively to scraping every one and zero off the old dog and onto my external drive. I also have backup software that is all about putting things back where they used to be, so after I copied all the except the system folder onto the external, I created an additional backup using the backup software. Those, combined with my usual Internet backup, had me backed up out the wazoo.

On the weekend there was no getting a laptop drive here in the Czech Republic, but the old drive was hanging in there. Sunday I did a little bit of work, always knowing that at any moment my computer as I knew it could simply cease to exist. Monday morning I updated the backup made with the backup software and bought a new hard drive. What has followed has been the long and arduous task of getting things back the way they were. I loaded the operating system without any problems, then while the updates loaded over fuego’s Internet connection with agonizing slowness I reinstalled the backup software.

“Software installed successfully,” the window proclaimed, only… it wasn’t there.

Backup is a free program for Apple’s .Mac customers, and it’s worth every penny. I have given up submitting reports of grammar and spelling errors in the user interface (Spelling! In a product from a multi-billion dollar company.). Then there’s the fact if something goes wrong while you’re backing up you stand to lose your entire archive, and you’re certainly not going to restore anything until you redo the backup successfully.

I have no idea why the first attempts to install the software failed – this was about as clean an environment to install to as you could possibly imagine – but finally I futzed around and got it installed – mostly. While I was connected to the Internet it would try to read my archives up there and crash. There was no way for me to tell it, “Hey, screw the Internet, I’ve got a disk here.” Launch, read internet archives, crash. Great software design there, guys. I get the feeling Apple just paid some guy a six-pack to throw a backup application together that took advantage of their web services.

All right, so the easy way to restore wasn’t working out so well, so I’ve been doing it the slow, difficult way. My external drive kept seizing up reading one particular file, which made my life really friggin’ swell, and moving gigabytes of data around just isn’t a speedy process. Things will be better when I’m done – I downloaded newer versions of several programs I use, and there’s a lot of junk that is still tucked away in the backup that I will likely be able to delete.

So now I’m back. My plan tonight is to crank out several pent-up blog episodes, so by the time you see this there will be a veritable deluge. That’s how it goes in the blogosphere. Feast or famine, baby, feast or famine. I will be writing them here in a little bar, so perhaps you will be able to watch the evolution of my writing ‘style’.

32 thoughts on “Losing your hard drive sucks

  1. In a grand tradition of my own, wherein I don’t comment specifically on Jer’s entry, I have to mention that I was walking down the hall, just now, and a geology grad student poked his head out of his office and said, “Hey, you wanna see area 51?” So I went in and looked at his screen and he had the new maps.google.com up and had switched it from map mode to satellite mode. There was some really high resolution imagery there: one could tell a bus from a car on the highway. He was manipulating the imagery around Groom lake in NV, and there were some suitably mysterious bumps and craters in view. So in my head, I’m like, yeah whatever, 51 schmifty one. I wanna see Los Alamos – the cradle of sterilization for many of this ragtag community of MR&HBIers. With visions of sugar-plum-plutonium-pits in my head I raced to my computer, spent 20 seconds on the learning curve, and proceeded to focus in Tech Area Whatever It Is on Pajarito Rd.

    No surprise, there is a big blurry splotch over L/A surrounded by high res imagery of the surrounding rez. I could practically count the number of metal flakes per cm^2 on the lowrider in Espanola (okay, a wild exag), but I couldn’t focus in much over Lost Almost. It was a bummer though that not even the caldera was very resolved.

    So in the end I did the next best thing and zoomed in over my house in NC; my little patch of blue heaven; and waved to Cody (cause ya know it’s real time imagery ;) )

  2. If you like satelite photos, be sure to try Keyhole, recently bought by Google and available from their Google Tools menu. This marrying topology imagary software with areal photographs, and is the closest thing yet to placing the real world into a video game. Unlike the satelite picture which always puts you 90 degrees above the horizon (straight above), Keyhole lets you move your perspective from the horizon (level) to any angle. In other words, full 3D movement through the real world, like you’re flying a helicopter or jet. After a 2 week free trial period, they will charge you, but I guarantee you’ll pay for it gladly.

    Real world application. After taking pictures from the side of the road in on my Death Valley bike trip and not knowing if those mountains on the horizon were indeed the Sierras, I used keyhole to match a view to exactly where I was standing (in other words, I found on the map where I took the picture and pointed in the same direction), then I “flew over” to the mountains a hundred miles away to determine what exactly I took a picture of (Olancha Peak, it turns out). TOTALLY COOL.

    Added bonus: San Diego (where I live now) has some of the highest res photos, so it’s fun locally.

  3. Okay, blog community, I need your help. After hanging out here for the last year (and seeing how a real blog should be run), I’m about ready to restart my old, morribund blog.

    Hanging out here, I have learned there are clearly two key elements of success for a blog. One is alcohol (beer is best). Got that in spades (or at least in the URL and banner). The second is good writing. Not gonna get that one from me, so please come on by and help with you all’s excellent contributions.

    Please check out http://www.drunkandsilly.blogspot.com

  4. One caveat about the satellite photos on Google Maps — they’re not actually real-time, but about 6 months old. That’s to allay privacy concerns.

    I’d been bothered about the images of Five O’Clock Somewhere not being availabe at the three highest levels of resolution. I had thought that maybe that was because nobody really cares about rural areas. But now, I’m not so sure. Maybe there’s something in this corner of Rio Arriba County that THEY don’t want us to know about.

  5. Sorry about that misplaced gravatar. Someone’s been using my computer without permission, and when I went to correct the name, Mozilla posted the message without waiting for me to correct the email address as well.

  6. I bet you’ve got space.

    Actually, I would love to come for the wedding. My friend, your cousin, has been talking about it, but I am poor as a church mouse, and could never afford it.

    One day I will make it across the water, but that day is not at hand.

  7. Typical. Just typical. Someone becomes the new MOH and posts a comment that blows the formatting of the blog.

    I’m OK with that, really, but here’s what I want to know. What’s in picture 2007? I’m pretty good with numbers as long as they stay in line, and there’s a gap up there. I tried punching the number in, but the secret police came knocking at the door. Good thing I’m at fuego’s place. He was pretty pissed off as they dragged him away, but at least it wasn’t me.

  8. Here’s a thought: have a photo of the current MOH over at the right where the name is listed — at least when a photo is available.

    BTW, lew, you’re not related to Lew Wallace, are you?

  9. i’m lew’s photographer and v amused with the trouble i’ve caused. truth is, no one will ever know what was in photo 2007 except lew and me…

  10. Well, I must say the photographs confirmed some of lew’s more outrageous claims, but I still want to see the rolling orange chair.

  11. Thanks for the tip about keyhole. Went to D&S blog and latest entry is Nov 22?!?! Are you saying you’ve been neither drunk nor silly in 6 months?

  12. Hmmmm. lew and her “photographer” share a gmail account? What else might they share? MR&HBI denizens, feel free to speculate.

  13. The bloggcomm is suitably impressed with your photos. We would like to say hello to the three of you.

    /in a larry,curly,moe harmonization:




  14. So lew, here’s what I think. You should hop the flight with Andrew and hang out here for pL’s wedding.

    That’s what I think.

  15. ____________________shalom




    “But wait, King, listen to these guys…”

    “No time for talkin’, King Blues is walkin’!”

  16. Disclaimer: i, the photographer, and lew were referred to as “the drunk girls” the night i took these photos…

    second, i thought you had already seen these photos when i previously posted.

    and third, it is actually my gmail account, apparently when lew commented she didn’t clear the email bar.

    so without further ado, please, enjoy the photos…




  17. Just my luck to post my erudite and well reasoned

    1) coments about a very cool application (keyhole), and

    2) request for help on my morribund blog

    on a thread that degenerates into pornography. Well, I know when I’ve been licked.

  18. re: andrew

    apparently the origonal purpose of those pictures was to post them on here, you were just the lucky one to see them first…

    and keith, it’s not actually pornography as there is no actual touching, etc in the photographs… just insinuation. that much is allowed on prime time TV.

  19. Now, Keith, you shouldn’t try to be so above-it-all. After all, you and I were computer account-mates in high school. Oh, the goings-on in the LAHS computer lab!

    Of course, we really don’t want the offspring to find out about any of this —


  20. And speaking of reviving threads, there might be some merit in the “brewmaster monk” one.

    I’ll be forwarding the Albuquerque Journal article to Jer, pL, and anyone else who is interested. Seems the most recent application for a new microbrewery in New Mexico is going to have to get a special variance to allow it to be within 100 yards of a church. The Pecos Benedictine Monastery, near Cowles, and the Christ in the Desert Monastery, near Five O’Clock Somewhere, want to form a partnership to operate a microbrewery.

    Yes, one usually associates the Benedictines with brandy, but the German Benedictines are very much into beer.

    One could easily imagine that tne new Pope will regard this venture with favor.

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