Thursday, 13 January 2011

The most dangerous thing in the world: the enthusiastic idiot

Much of this week has been spent sorting out the office at home.

I can't quite believe it myself, but the previous sentence is true. I have spent almost a week sorting stuff out in the office. Unfortunately I'm no good at throwing things out. So I've accumulated a ridiculous amount of junk over the years, and when I say "sort out" it really means that some stuff goes, but most just gets rearranged, boxed up and stuffed into the loft. This isn't new, so the loft is already full of stuff that's been boxed up during previous efforts to get sorted.

So it was necessary to make some room in the loft as well.

Making room in the loft meant throwing out a lot of even older junk, including some old computers that have been stored up there since the days of Babbage, or thereabouts. The reason we kept them in the first place was that I wasn't sure what was left on the hard drives. The machines pre-dated USB ports, proper network connections, or any writeable media bigger than a floppy drive. So I decided that the best thing was to remove the hard drives, and install them in a newer desktop. That way I could transfer the contents to a removable drive. Of course the really sensible thing would have just been to trash them, but I wasn't thinking too clearly. Anyway, it all went surprisingly well. I stripped out three old drives, re-installed them, transferred the contents, and discovered that they didn't contain anything worth saving.

So it was really a waste of time, but at least I satisfied myself that the old computers could safely go to be recycled. And they did. At the same time I managed to fix a long-standing problem with a flaky graphics card on the newer desk-top.

Flushed with success, it then seemed like a good idea to re-configure the newer desktop so that I could dual boot Linux, and experiment with some open source stuff that isn't available on Windows. In practice all that proved a bit more difficult than I expected, but by this morning I had Ubuntu up and running, and I thought I was a wizard.

I played around or an hour or so, then I rebooted to get Windows back. Oops. Unfortunately I had messed up somewhere, and I discovered that I could no longer boot Windows on the machine that contains a chunk of useful stuff, including the company accounts.

I'd backed everything up, of course. Or at least I thought I had. But I hadn't.

Now I'm in the process of trying to rebuild everything. I seem to have access to most of the files. I've installed the main applications, and at the moment I'm struggling with re-connecting to the network. (I'm writing this on a different machine). I can see the files that hold the company accounts, but I haven't yet worked out how to get them working - which is probably the most important thing.

Time will tell, but I think I'll get there in the end. But it's been a terrible waste of time, not to mention a humbling experience.

Still, the office is looking a lot better, and one day I'll look back and laugh at what an idiot I am. Maybe.

Later: I've got the network back. Starting to install updates.

It's now gone 1:00 am, the network is working, the printers are working, I can access the external drives as well as the internal drive, and I seem to have got all the old files still.

The accounts package is working. I can import my last backup. But the contents are all garbled.

Not garbled in a normal way. Garbled in a completely different way.

Tomorrow is another day.

It's 10:00 the following morning, and I now have my accounts back. I'm a happy bunny. The only issue I have to face now is everyone telling me that you don't get these problems on a Mac.


Steve said...

gom1 said...

It's one o'clock in the morning, and that's not very funny funny!

Anne Frizell said...

Um, no. If you start messing around with an unbacked-up Mac, this is pretty much the result as well. Or some flavour of it.

Chris Hill said...

Linux is worth the effort. Don't be put off by this experience. The reason you couldn't start Windows is Window's fault not Linux! I went through the process some years ago, with some problems, but now most of the real pain of Windows is far behind me.