Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Held Hostage by my Hard Drive!

I've been a bad, bad blogger. This is my first post since September 2nd. I've not been lazy. On the contrary, I don't believe I have ever worked harder since I decided to pursue writing as a profession. You see, I spent the past several days finishing off my latest book (more on that at a later date). But, that wasn't the real reason I did not have the chance to do any posting to this blog.

I've been held hostage by my computer's hard drive. I started out the weekend diligently working on editing photographs and writing captions for the aforementioned book, putting in about 12 hours on Saturday. Like any sensible 21st century writer, I realized the importance of "backing up my work" so I copied (or so I thought) all of the edited files onto an external hard drive for "safe-keeping." I shut down the computer shortly before midnight and called it a day.

When I woke up early on Sunday morning, I followed my usual routine. Turn on the coffee pot, turn on the computer. That's when it got ugly.

Upon start-up, my computer was making some funky clicking noises as the drive started to boot; then I got a cryptic message about a "FAT32 file" (no I am not talking about the latest digital music clip by a famous hip-hop act). So, I shut the machine down and proceeded to start the whole process over again. After several failed attempts to boot, it was clear to me "Houston, we have a problem." I was instructed to "Re-install Windows XP". Problem was every time I put the disk in it went through the motions but nothing happened and kept seeing the same message about reinstalling Windows XP over and over. Hello, that's what I was trying to do! (several deep breaths in between cursing out Bill Gates...)

Another message appeared; this one even more ominous: "Fatal Error!" I feared the worst--my hard drive was history!

Not to worry, I thought. I have the external hard drive with my book project files safely stored on it.

I proceeded to copy the files to my laptop, thinking all was fine. But when I went to retrieve some key documents, the files I had thought I copied were no where to be found! Either the computer gremlins mysteriously copied these files into the recycle bin, or I was delusional--had I not really backed everything up as I had so smugly thought?

Making a long story short I spent all day Sunday redoing all of the work I had previously finished. Then through some divine intervention, we were able to finally access the data from the hard drive by hooking it into my husband's desktop's open drive slot and making my drive the "slave" drive. I didn't know whether to kiss the computer or shoot it! On the one hand, I had all of my precious data files back; but on the other, I wasted an entire day repeating a whole bunch of work. Not to sound ungrateful, but couldn't the divine intervention have come just about 8 hours earlier? I then spent the next two days playing catch-up to finish writing all of the text and do the layout in order to meet my publisher's deadline. I've since backed up the contents of that drive onto another external hard drive. Unfortunately, however, the desktop machine is still dead for the moment until I see if I can reformat the old drive and reinstall the operating system and all of my software programs. Thankfully, in the interim I can work from the laptop.

We've all heard the mantra to "back up our data" regularly, and until this weekend I thought I was pretty good at following this cardinal rule. However, just a little bit of laziness or preoccupation with other things (such as a major writing deadline!) can wreak an immense amount of unplanned havoc! I've learned my lesson!

So, the book is at the publisher, and I am back to blogging and slowly regaining my sanity--my release from computer activity was successfully negotiated this time around!

Now, you'll have to excuse me - I must log out and back up this post!

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