73 - The Crash

Flaming Hardrive

As I wrote/recorded this I hadn’t been podcasting for a while, for several very good reasons and a few not so good reasons. I’m sort of easing back into it now. The big hold up was THE BOOK! With 70 odd podcasts out there with transcripts I found that turning it all into a self-published book, learning Adobe InDesign, putting it all up on Lulu.com and getting the printed copies, then finding there were lots and lots of typos, was hard work and it took time. I printed a 2nd edition and found there were more undiscovered typos. I don’t know where these darn things come from.

In Stage 3 now and working at it bit by bit but it’s not the enormous task of putting it all together. On the other hard I’m starting another book, based on my mother’s memoirs and family photographs. Sooner than putting it together in InDesign and all that, I’m going to try authoring a CD. That way I can put all the pictures on it and they can look at it as a slideshow. My family can then view it any way they wish, with a bit of this and a bit of that, like roaming about on the web. One thing reminds you of another, so you look and you pull that in. This is how we read and look nowadays. Speaking for myself, it’s become difficult for me to just sit down and read a book because I’m so used to multi-tasking. This is partly from my former job with the government, where we were always putting out fires and jumping from one thing to another. I can do something for maybe half an hour, then I have to switch to something else. I have to! However, that’s another story. Bottom line is I’ve been too busy darting around to focus on podcasting.

On the other hand I have become quite involved in learning graphics, first in Photoshop and now I have become embroiled in learning Paint Shop Pro. My friend, Joan, in England got involved in a ridiculous email program called Incredimail, which was discontinued in 2020. With Incredimail you could add all kinds of doodads – graphics and sound and animations and what have you. Interested in learning how people could get involved in creating this graphical mish mash. I found a nice group on Yahoo and I started to learn Paint Shop Pro, which is a very clever program. Incredimail ‘stationery’ tends to emphasize nubile maidens, artfully misted, and ensconced in flowers with fancy frames and fancy effects and masks and what not. It’s also big on cute animals and cartoons. While all these plugins and effects make it very glamorous, it’s not top tier stuff as far as the underlying graphic material in concerned.

Learning these manipulations, I’m starting to cross over into Photoshop to find how the same effect is created there. I guess I’m a masochist. It’s been interesting. As I wrote this, I was on Lesson 82 of 100 Paint Shop Pro lessons. My teacher sends me a tutorial with masks and plugins that are needed and a picture to start out with. You do the tutorial and are graded on it as a pass or a fail.. Most of mine have been passes. I’ve had a couple of fails. It’s like having a lovely puzzle to do every day. I would get greedy and try to send them in as fast as I could, so I got have more puzzles, more puzzles. I liked the puzzle part.

The other thing that happened – Oh Lord have mercy on us poor sinners – was a double hard drive crash. First of all I had a flaky little C: drive. It wasn’t very big and it was gobbling material from someplace and I would have a Gig less space every morning. My gradually disappearing C:\ drive was a problem. I decided it just wasn’t big enough so my solution was to go overboard.

I bought a Seagate Barracuda one Terabyte drive. Unfortunately, a small run of these one terabyte drives had a problem. The drive would fail suddenly. The files were still there on it but the system couldn’t read the drive. I had installed Windows on the one terabyte drive and wiped it off the little drive which had been eating its own young, by which I mean the disappearing space problem. Windows ran fine on the Seagate Barracuda one terabyte drive until one day it just failed. It totally failed.

Fortunately, I keep my ‘one generation back’ computer in pretty good condition. All I have to do is switch my cable modem on to it and I’m in business with a smaller monitor and somewhat older software, but I’m still truckin’. I worked in that way for a while as I thought about the problem. A friend had warned me about the Seagate drive problem so I knew why the big drive had failed.

I had a nice fellow come by who had helped me before and he took way the terabyte drive. He installed a 250 gigabyte drive in addition to my existing little drive which was wiped. We put C:\ back on the little drive, which seemed to be o.k. now. I think it had been a software thing that caused the original space-eating behavior. All my files had been backed up on two external USB drives. I decided to take a friend’s advice to use the C:\ drive only for the Windows system and, whenever possible, I installed program files on the new 250 gig drive. So, now I have Windows on the little drive and programs on the 250 gig drive plus my USB drives and I sort of didn’t even need or want the one terabyte drive back as I was scared of having more trouble. Seagate had come up with a firmware patch. My favourite dealer applied the firmware update and my man came an reinstalled the one terabyte drive which I determined to use just for backup storage.

I had, therefore, a little system drive, the 250 gig drive where all my programs were, two pretty large USB drives and, off in the distance, my then enormous one terabyte. No matter how much stuff I put on it this enormous drive seems to be saying “Feed me!” There’s always more space because it’s so huge. (this was back in 2009).

I’m starting to get together an idea of how to proceed, not in case there is another crash, but with the certainty that there will be, at some point in time, another crash. I’m going to build several CDs called essentials. All the things that I absolutely have to have like my Snagit program that captures graphics for me and my password program and my extended clipboard program. My Palm Pilot software was too old and I had to go online to their site to get newer software and futz about until I could load all my stuff back in from backups. There were over 400 entries in there and I used it mainly on the desktop because my little Palm Pilot eats batteries even when turned off. I needed but could not find a program that converts the palm ABA file into a plain DBF file that I can port straight into a database, so that if everything goes “Bang!” again, I’m not stuck.

A friend suggested getting a couple of flash or thumb drives for the core essential stuff and I’m doing that too.

I’ve been busy but I’m starting to see daylight again.