My week in technological limbo

21Jan07

I try not to fill this blog with personal tales & whining, but the past two weeks of technological mishaps helped reinforce both how dependent I am (personally and as part of a larger culture) on technology, and point to some interesting features of the Web 2.0 world. To start off, my wireless router at home died two weeks ago – not a tremendous loss, but an inconvenience when you’re trying to keep an eye on 3 kids and trying to squeeze some work in the margins. Simultaneously, the DVD burner on my PowerBook stopped working reliably, just as I was trying to exercise my new exemption from the DMCA by making a bunch of clip DVDs for my animation course. Thankfully, I work at a well-funded institution with excellent tech support – one fast external burner to the rescue! (The new router was up to me…)

This was just the prelude to Monday afternoon – sitting in my office, in the process of ripping one of those aforementioned animation DVDs, my Mac froze – hard. It wouldn’t reboot. The helpdesk couldn’t even locate the hard drive when trying to boot from another disc. Bad news. Time to send it out for service and potential data recovery, but I’m doubtful. Thankfully, the tech team got me a new PowerBook to use in the interim the very next day!

Now here’s the point of this tale – were it not for me tinkering with some of the nice features of Web 2.0 and mobile technologies, I would have been completely screwed. But luckily, I had backed up my documents onto my iPod 3 days before the crash, and could restore my music & photos from the iPod as well with fairly little hassle. So I only lost a couple of days of grading, blog-entries in process (hence the silence here), and part of an article – a low impact loss. Having the iPod encourages me to do backups more frequently, just because it’s part of my daily life a lot more than the external drive buried in my office – and now I’ve got it set-up to backup each night automatically (one lesson learned).

The more interesting lesson is about my bookmarks – while I save pretty much everything of value in one documents folder for easy backup, bookmarks in Firefox default to the Apps folder, which I had no recent backup of. But I did have my bookmarks saved in my del.icio.us account – the irony is to make my bookmarks sharable to other people, I was able to share them with myself in my moment of need. Now I use del.icio.us to manage all my bookmarks in Firefox, keeping as little as necessary on my hard drive when online social storage can suffice.

Bottom line – I spend the last week trying to reconstruct things in my digital life, with a low level of damage as far as such things go, but still quite a hassle (doing things like resetting preferences in Microsoft programs can eat away a full day!). But I got some karmic bonus – I was in a mall in Burlington on Friday, a place I find myself maybe 3 times a year (as a colleague told me when I was interviewing for my job, “Middlebury has very good online shopping”), and I wandered into a lame mall music & video store. What do I see behind the front desk? That’s right – a Wii! So I spent a week in digital limbo only to be rewarded with a difficult-to-procure new toy to occupy my time. More about the Wii in later posts, but remember the lesson, dear reader – your hard drive will fail you, so backup everything (including your bookmarks)…



2 Responses to “My week in technological limbo”

  1. 1 Anne

    There is an excellent website for online backup information, news and articles. Check it out here:

    http://www.BackupReview.info

    This site lists more than 400 online backup companies and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.

    Cheers,

  2. The second lesson might be “read Jason Mittell blog instead of skimming it.” I had skimmed past this entry and three days later, my MacBook froze and I lost my hard drive. I backed up all my lecture notes, and had backed up everything else several months ago (and hadn’t really written anything amazing since then), so I, too, am not totally screwed. Right away, I had this semi-rational hatred of Apple, thinking that they’re too concerned with making the Next Big Thing (iPhone) to care about making products that work. I know its normal to feel this way after being burned, but reading your entry, I wonder if my hatred was misplaced after all. And even if every MacBook in the world started crashing, what recourse would we have as consumers?


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