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Sunday, September 20, 2009

We interrupt this regularly scheduled life to bring you a technological breakdown

Arg!

It seems that at least once a year, sometimes more I have to stop my life to reformat my computer. Not something I look forward to. I am pretty good about keeping my computer cleaned up, I scan it with several different programs designed to find spyware, malware, viruses, trojans, bla, bla, yadda, yadda, and all that nonsense. Eventually I realize that my computer is just not working correctly. I spend time trying to figure out why this program keeps crashing, and that program keeps resetting the toolbars, why the other program crashes every time I try to save a project.

Over the past several weeks I have noticed that way too many things have been going wrong with my computer and tried and failed to get things working properly again so I didn't have to pull out the disks and format my hard drive. I get comfortable with my add-ons, with toolbars, icons and placement of things on my computer. I have a hard time dealing with some types of change. I like need some things to be a certain way. When I sit down, and start working, writing articles, editing photos, looking up homeschool projects, etc, I can mindlessly click here or there and get to where I need to be with hardly a thought. Everything is right where it was yesterday and I can quickly get to work. I can nurse the baby, work on the daily homeschool lesson with my son, write articles, edit photos, (try to) post to my blogs, check my email, research work-at-home jobs, twitter, and laugh at I Can Has Cheez Burger lolcats all at the same time with hardly a glance at the links and icons I am clicking on. My computer is organized and designed for my quick paced, gotta find it, gotta do it, gotta get there now day.

In a way it is kind of a good thing...in a force me to scourer my hard drive and completely organize all of the little things, kind of way. A complete back up, kind of way. A wow I have been looking for that picture, kind of way. A huh, I didn't realize I had that file saved in four different place,s kind of way.

So I started two weeks ago and spent a week going through my files on my hard drive and my back-up hard drive completely organizing all the little things. It’s like spring cleaning for my little home computer and my back-up. I back up and save everything, some things that are really important, like photos and taxes get backed up several times and stashed in different places. I organized and cleaned up 4 years worth of files and photos. My back-up hard drive was a mess! There have been times when my computer was spiraling out of control and in a rush to not loose anything, I just grabbed all of my important files and dumped them on the back-up. And I never took the time to look to see what is already on there, so a huge majority of the files on the back up have been saved three or four times. This time, I took the time to look for things that were outdated and that I didn't need any more, folders that were saved several times with the exact same things that haven't changed recently and photos that were saved over and over. I am glad that I took the time to do that, I found photos that I thought I lost! It was like waking up and realizing it is your birthday and your kids are standing there smiling at you with breakfast (even though that hasn't happened in YEARS, it would be cool like that). There were photos that I compactly forgot about and I am so happy to find them again. It was nice to sit with the kids and look at older photos of them that have been hiding on my back-up, stashed for safe keeping.

As frustrated as I was to have to take the time to try to fix my computer, as much as it pained me to fix my computer and not sit down to get caught up on my freelance articles, blogging, making homeschool lessons, lolcats (cuz those cats are just too funny!), photos, CHD and ADHD research, emails, twittering, random WAHJ's and all the other things I NEED my computer for every single day ...I sat down and did it. For a week, I went through my hard drive, my back-up hard drive...back and forth between the two, looking, double checking and making sure I had everything saved and I wouldn't loose anything. This is one of those times where "just a touch of OCD is a good thing, but can easily get out of control. It probably did, get just a little out of control, but I couldn't stop until I new for sure I wouldn't loose anything important.

There are so many other things in my life right now that are teetering on spiraling out of control, it is a good feeling to know that my pictures are safe. My next project is to burn all of those photos to disk and get prints of them, actually get several disks made and given to family members for safe keeping. Honestly, if my house were on fire the only thing I would grab after my kids, would be my computers because of all the photos, along with my box of film photos from back in the day. And that is the thing that drives me crazy the most, about a crashing computer, I worry about my photos. Now with digital photography, all of our memories are stored on a computer and we sit in front of a screen and watch slide shows, but we never print them up. Now there are digital picture frames so we don't have to print them, but that will not preserve them forever. Somehow I just don't see looking at the same digital photos with my kids in 50 years with my kids and my grandkids sitting in front of a computer screen. It's like storing all of your memories on a Beta VHS tape in the 80's or even a VHS from the 90's. I just imagine Beta tapes, 20 something years old, sitting in attics, melting and warping. We took the time, back then, to preserve our present to look at in the future, but technology put the kibosh on that and now they are just lost memories. When I think of preserving family memories, I think of an old photo of my great-grandfather from 1928 hanging at my parent’s house. It is not perfect, it is peeling a bit, definitely warped, but it is over 80 years old and in much better shape that the photo that was printed on my home computer just last year. So until I can get my digital smiles, vacations, birthday parties, the birth of my children, pictures of my first home and Christmas with my family, printed up on quality paper and preserved, I will always get stressed when my computer starts running all squirrelly on me. My life will always come to a grinding halt while I take the time to back everything up and double check to make sure I don't loose anything. I will always have memory sticks, computers and back-up computers packed with photos, backed up several times…just in case.

Last Monday, after spending the morning performing the one last final check to make sure I didn’t forget anything on my computer, scanning through my back-up, I reformatted my hard drive. It always takes awhile, because I do it while doing other things. Inserting one disk, coming back later to switch it out for another. It is 11 disks in all. My computer tells me that I can just press F10 to reformat, but it never works, so I spend time loading all 11 reformatting disks. My computer is 4 year old…not as young as it seems and coming up on being outdated, I’m sure. So all of the programs need all sorts of updating, but before I can do anything, I have to install virus protection, get that up and running. Can you believe that I had to reformat my computer 5 times over two days! Twice was because before I got the virus protection installed and running, my computer got infected with a Trojan, Twice! Unbelievable! Two times were because I started updating my computer and installed that Windows service pack 3 that locked up my computer and I couldn’t even uninstall it. After downloading it twice, I remembered how it wrecked havoc on my computer when they first released it. So by the 5th time, I got the virus protection loaded, Windows 8 downloaded and got everything updated before anything went wrong. Two. Whole. Days. I was still working on it after the kids went to bed Tuesday night. There were still updates for my computer coming in all day Wednesday and when I fell asleep on Wednesday night it was still updating and downloading. I started installing of my must have programs loaded Wednesday as well and now here on Sunday morning I finally feel like I have things working somewhat comfortably again. I still haven’t added all of my favorite add-ons or changed too many things from the reformat yet. I still have this lurking feeling in the back of my mind that I shouldn’t get to comfortable. I didn’t even download FireFox until last night, and the only reason I downloaded that was because I needed some bookmarks and I couldn’t get my FireFox bookmarks to import into IE.

As in the past, I am still not sure if I will stick with IE or go back to FireFox. After years of using FireFox, I still to this day am not really sure that it is not the root of all of my problems. I still don’t know if it is worth it to use. Honestly, my FireFox has only been on my computer for less than 24 hours, and already it is running slower. I have one WAHJ that requires FireFox, so I have to have it if I want to keep that job. And when I am building my websites and blogs, I like to look at the sites through both browsers to make sure that my sites work in both of them. I am just not sure I can trust FireFox to keep the peace within my computer.

For now though, I am feeling much better that my computer is running smoothly again and that my life can get back to normal. I am getting back to work on editing those pictures of the little She-Nut…I know, I know, I have said that before, but now that my computer is running normally again my photo software wont be crashing every other time I save a photo. I can sit down and know that my computer will be working, that it wont crash in the middle of a blog post, that my articles are safe from crashing programs and I can sit and giggle with my kids as we look at slide shows of old pictures and those darn silly lolcats (have you noticed how much I love those silly cats?) There was a time that I would have been mortified to say that I depend on my computer every single day, but it is good to know that I can once again depend on it, and I can resume my regularly scheduled life.



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