I'm Re-booting my LIFE right now

Aug 29, 2008 at 11:38 PM
WARNING: Skip this post if you're not interested in my tech-babble or listening to a rant. This is an unabashed rant. It's my blog, I'll write what I want to.

My computer crashed. This may not seem like a big deal - but the last six years of my life I have been happily working away (my job is in my computer, I'm a website designer/internet person extraordinaire) from behind the gorgeous sleek lines of a purring, happy beast better known as a COMPAQ Presario. I loved that machine, dusted it regularly, ran all the good programs to keep it virus/spyware/adware free. Ran disk check and defrag, maintained and removed unneccessary files, and generally did everything you ought to.

I didn't realize it harboured a secret hatred for me. That Presario, with it's amazing graphic load ability had been simply coaxing me into submission prior to the pounce, not until last Thursday when it killed every piece of data in it. And unfortunately, it pounced while it was defragging and so it turned into a sort of murder-suicide. Data gone, but it killed itself, torn apart by partition amnesia and disk damage.

Thank god for backups - I saved nearly everything onto my laptop as a backup, plus I had a SeaGate external drive onto which I backed the entire thing up.

So, imagine my horror to discover that NOTHING fixed this. It ended up needing to go to the nearest hardware guru, who called to tell me today that the hard drive was DOA and there is nothing that he can do but try to get it mirrored onto another drive, or some such greek.

I'm an INTERNET person, I don't speak hardware. So I simply said in a weak voice, "Uhm, OK, whatever you have to do, do it. That sounds OK." Pricetag = about a week's food. Not so bad. When I was a kid, you'd have had to pay more than we pay for brand spanking new MACHINES now, just to get the old one working again.

So, anyway, for the time being, I'm working off my laptop. Since it has all my client's files and data and work-related stuff backed up onto it, I thought I'd be good to go.

Despite losing about two weeks of work - probably permanently. At least I'm not out of business. Right?

No. It's not the hardware costs that get you, it's the software costs.

Thank god there is so much open source stuff out there, or this would have cost me a couple thousand dollars...

First I had to update FireFox, then re-download all my favorite Firefox extensions - which is a trick when you can't look up your original list:

  • Web Developer
  • Alexa Toolbar
  • Server Spy
  • Search Status
  • Sage
  • PDF Download
  • Live HTTP Headers
  • Download Manager
  • BugMeNot
  • ColorZilla
  • etc...
I think I probably still left five or six of my old favorites out. Plus I had to have a bunch of extensions that let me use my other tools via Firefox.

This is the machine I THOUGHT was already ready - I've been using it while traveling for a while. But apparently one or two days never really brought me around to wanting my usual tools.

I didn't have full-use versions of:

  • NoteTab Pro (had to reinstall with my original license key)
  • All the NoteTab Pro clip libraries I am used to (the ones I myself created are simply POOFed, I guess)
  • TopStylePro (had to find original license key)
  • WinZip (again, original license keys are hard to find sometimes)
  • WS FTP Pro (more original license keys to find)
  • NVu
  • HTML Tidy
  • Download Manager
  • Offline Explorer
  • GSiteCrawler
  • AdWords Editor
  • GIMP
  • OpenOffice
  • ColorCop
  • Meazure
  • MWSnap
  • PHP (still not working)
  • Zend (whatever, not working)
  • and lots (I mean LOTS) of others I'm forgetting right now.

I've been installing my little brains out on this laptop. But you'll notice my list does NOT - repeat NOT - include Dreamweaver or FrontPage or any of the other WYSIWYG editors. I don't use visual editors - but I own NVu entirely and only for using to view, understand, and convert Dreamweaver and FrontPage creations down to something I can actually play with. Any WYSIWYG editor honestly creates horrible code - I cannot imagine that anyone would allow the electrician to leave their house having left 20 tons of unrequired wires running every which way inside their walls, but people let those god-awful pages represent themselves online all the time.

Thank goodness the laptop had Photoshop from when I bought it second-hand - that's flipping EXPENSIVE. I don't know why I wanted the GIMP and Photoshop - but I do. I use both. Don't ask why.

And it already had Pidgin on it - so I can chat.

Anyway, despite that it could have been worse, it feels crappy to spend SO MUCH TIME getting back to full operational status.

That doesn't count the little USB tools I've had to buy to make my laptop operational - thank goodness I'd been buying those up for a while. All I still need right now is a USB keypad entry thingee. For numbers. I can't use the little numbers on the qwerty keyboard system. I want my keypad back!

Enough bitching for now.

And BTW, if you ever wanted to do what I do for a living, I do believe I just gave away the farm. :) I'm not worried though. These are only the TOOLS of the trade, or at least the tools for doing things in my exact controlling, perfectionistic way. There is no tech knowledge buried in them that will do everything for you. Just owning a pair of ballet shoes won't make you a Baryshnikov. So I feel fine giving you the list.

Any ideas for where to go from here? I'm not gonna be using the laptop forever... When I switch away from it, I want something that works better than the POS I no longer trust.

I'm actually thinking that it might be a really good idea to ask my uncle (a really great old-school programmer, he's been at it since back when you had to actually study and excel in your field to end up working in programming) to finish up that Linux box he's been talking about building for me. Maybe it's time for me to just start scooting over to the new tech. I hear better and better things about operating in a window-less Linux environment every day. I doubt ALL of the above tools would be usable on a new box - but at least it would have a stable, sane OS to sit on. I could adjust, if I knew my machine wasn't a big insane beast underneath a coat of polish.

Windows has NEVER been good to me. It loads slowly, steals system resources, won't give them back, it crashes far too often doing just plain normal every day things, leaves bits and piece of old files everywhere it wants to, takes up immense space that it really shouldn't need to, and doesn't really operate as though it considers me the "master of my own destiny". I always feel like a guest on my own computer ("why's it slow now? Oh, it's automatically downloading a self-checking program without asking me. Well. Uhm, I guess I'll go sip a cup of tea." and "Why's my internet being limited now? Oh. It's because windows downloaded a 312 MB update last week. Nice of it to warn me!") And Windows as totally unintuitive ways to handle simple tasks that shouldn't be too tough. I already know I hate Windows. So do most of the rest of you (at least the sane ones). But, my hatred has gotten much much worse since I found out that Windows was the particular bit of the beast that killed my job last week. I was down for the count, TKO, for DAYS.

I don't like MACs either - I like to be able to gut around in the works of my programs and that's not how MACs like to work. In my brief experience with them at least. They are not workable for me -- I simply don't like the overly simplistic interface of a MAC. I feel like it's talking down to me. Beats me why. (Maybe it's related to my "mom issues" - she and my step-dad swear by MACs - they always seem to have the latest model.)

Anyway, so I guess I'm realizing that I actually WANT to transition over to a nice, clean Linux box. Maybe. Any other ideas?

(Or really, any box that won't flip out and randomly destroy itself for no reason at all. And that has room for the few hundred websites and related files, hundreds of programs and related files, etc, that become the standard detritus of a job like mine.)

I can use my old windows machine to store archives or something. Or maybe I'll just gut it and make it into a breadbox. I actually need one of those.


  1. Kat Says:

    "A big insane beast under a coat of polish." That's perfect.

    How do you like your Seagate? I'm very guilty of having no backup, even after a crash last year. That's just stupid, right? Right. Need to rectify that this week.

  2. desi Says:

    Yeah - you should never exist without a backup and restore disks on any machine that you desperately depend on.

    I recommend a SeaGate that is specifically designed for BACKING UP the entire computer. That way it can easily be used to restore. It's called ghosting or mirroring or something like that. Apparently my SeaGate is some kind of stupid thing that only backs up key files, and nothing else. It was totally useless at the computer shop to help turn my breadbox back into a computer.. Even though it has something like 5 times the memory space of my machine. I chose wrong. So make sure you choose right, and ask a lot of questions.