Let's take a moment to welcome me back to the online world before I get into what a week I've been having.
Hi there, how ya been? Miss me?
All right, enough pleasantries. Let's talk about the living, breathing, time-sucking hell that is personal computers. Let's talk about just how much time I've wasted on them this week and how little I have to show for it. Let's talk about ::shudder:: upgrading.
With this spiffy new DSL connection I now have (and it is spiffy -- I'm averaging about 25 Kb/sec downloads), I figured I'd be a mensch and network Beth's PC to mine so we could share the need for speed. And since we'd have a local network that's exposed 24/7 to the internet, I decided that in the interests of computer security I should set up a firewall...because, you know, we have all this sensitive data that any hacker worth his salt would drool to get at -- recipes and friends' phone numbers and pictures of Zoe and whatnot, real prime-time stuff, baby. And since I was buying a 486 to use for the firewall and was buying network cards, I decided I might as well upgrade Beth's PC while I was at it. And since I was upgrading hers I figured I might as well upgrade mine, and...
It's a rock-solid string of rationalizations, right up until you actually look at it as a whole. Bottom line? Chuckie wanted to play. You play, you pay. That's one of Life's little rules, you know.
Anyway. I upgraded my system with a build-it-yourself kit, then gave Beth my old motherboard and processor and case to upgrade her system, then decided to use her old system for the firewall instead of the 486, and now I've got the 486 open on the desk next to me trying to figure out how to set it up with network cards and Linux. Not to mention that my system is still open, and Beth's system and Beth's old system are also open on the floor behind me as I cannibalize parts from one for another and try to get any one of them to work the way it should. It's been a cavalcade of networks cards and hard drives and RAM and OSes and jumper pins and etcetera and etcetera, not to mention me dubbing each system the son of a whore at least twice.
The upshot of all this is that Beth's new, upgraded system is working, mostly. My new system is working, mostly. Beth's old system is down for the count with either a fried hard drive or motherboard. The 486 was working fine until earlier this evening when I did some hard drive swapping and I think I corrupted its data. (It's suffered the least because it only got here yesterday.) Our network is down because I'm short a PCI slot for a second network card to connect Beth with, which would have been her old system's job but it's half-dead, so it would be the 486's job but it only has ISA slots and I can't get the network cards to work there at all...and it's not booting up right now anyway, so I'm the only one who can enjoy the DSL connection and Beth can't dial in because the modem is on a desk or counter...somewhere, but there was a five or six day stretch when I couldn't get on at all myself because I'd lost my software and settings.
Stop me before I kill again.
But as bad and complicated as all that sounds, that's not the worst of it. Harken back to all that prime-time data I said I wanted to protect, the stuff that started this whole mess. I reinstalled Win98 on my machine as part of this whole process, and before I did I kept well in mind the Responsible Computing Motto: backup, backup, backup. I dutifully backed up my data to the tape backup and blithely wiped the hard drive and started from scratch, secure in the knowledge that I had that backup.
And when I went to restore the backup, smirking over how smart I was to actually do a backup for once in my careless life, guess whose backup tape is completely $*)@ing blank? Three years' worth of data. Six, maybe seven scripts. Three years' worth of industry contact information. Pictures of Zoe from birth to now. Old email correspondence, important email addresses. Work and invoice records. And so on. All gone, all gone. I can probably reconstruct most of it, but my God, what a pain in the ass to have to do so. And the stuff that can't be reconstructed...well, that'll eventually be morphed in memory to a distant cousin of what it actually was.
Know the old adage that "those who can, do; those who can't, teach"? Well, some of the rest of us just screw the pooch.
I should probably also mention, in the spirit of continuing while I'm behind, that this site will be moving soon. I'm getting my own vanity plate on the information superhighway and I'll be setting up shop at deadpan.net in a week or so.
I'll keep you posted. Assuming, of course, that I don't take Internic down with me...