Image from Stupid Computers

I haven’t been doing a lot of deep posts lately. Many of them are short commentaries on articles I found interesting or sharing other people’s posts. And not that much on anime.

One reason is that I’ve been putting more effort into my solo stage performance for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Some of that stuff is new and some of it is drafts that have been hiding in my Au Natural blog that never got published or got published and pulled, or published here then reworked and copied over to the new site.

If I’m going to piss and moan over getting older, it will be found at: I’m Not Dead Yet… A one man play about the tribulations of an aging Aspie.  Check it out if you might be interested.

A second reason is that I’m just not into writing long essays right now. I’ve been attacked by a case of laziness that has impacted both sites. I blame it on the season; long nights and short days. As I have grown older I find that daylight keeps me happier and more motivated, leading to a kind of bargain-basement Seasonal Affective Disorder around the winter solstice. When I was a child in northern Michigan it affected me massively. You’d think in sunny SoCal it wouldn’t… but it still does to a much lesser degree.

The third and probably biggest reason is my %$#@! primary computer crashed. Three 1 Terabyte hard disks, 8 core high-speed CPU, 64 GB onboard RAM and one day it just wouldn’t boot. That pissed me off. My primary wouldn’t boot, my secondary drive (which had an image of the primary) simply ceased to be recognized by the BIOS and the data backup on the third drive wasn’t being recognized by Windows as a legit backup.

I dug out another 500 GB hard drive I had in storage and tried reinstalling Windows on it. Wouldn’t go, the error message said that this drive was ready to fail. Sigh!

What happened, I think, is that the secondary drive had a hardware failure that somehow cascaded onto the primary to corrupt the boot sector so badly I couldn’t repair without reformatting. I am not sure how that would happen but it is a good reason to back up on an external hard drive and store it separately.

Hard drive shot
Hard drives are almost bulletproof!

Off to Best Buy and bought a 1 TB high-speed drive. Brought it home and installed it. Installed a copy of Windows 10. Then I installed Acronis Disk Manager, Acronis True Image and EasUS Data Recovery Software and set to work. Between my wife and I, we probably had 400 GB worth of photo, video, music and other document files. The first order of business was to try to recover the lost data.

I hate Windows. There were two different data backups, one was on my tertiary drive and one on an external USB. Windows didn’t recognize either one even though they’d both been done with Windows. I also hate Microsoft. I will not use either of their browsers nor will I use a Microsoft account nor will I enable my PC to report anything back to them. That just makes their data mining too easy.

I used the data recovery software to dig my data files out and copied them into the new user directories. Then began a long and tedious process of downloading and reinstalling all my applications.

The instant Mozilla Firefox was running I did everything I could to neuter Edge and Internet Explorer. You can’t kill them completely but you can minimize their appearances. I installed Chrome so I can Chromecast to my television.

Software vendors charge significant money if you want a CD for a permanent copy of the product. Ok, fine,  I saved some money there. But my “downloads” folder wasn’t there anymore, so I downloaded everything again.  Lo and behold, some of my product keys were no longer valid. So I go onto tech support to find out why and it feels like a part of some business plans is to coax you to buy the updated version 37.1 instead of easily giving the option of reinstalling your bought-and-paid for-version 37 which was working just fine. That’s more time out of my life I won’t be getting back.

I dismantled the failed hard drives since the hardware failures wouldn’t let me

At the base of the actuator is an insanely powerful permanent magnet. They are fun to play with.

shred the files on them. (I needed three different tiny sized Torx wrenches to do it.) I had planned to use then as target practice. (Did you know a hard drive can stop a jacketed .45 slug?) Instead, I’ll drill holes in the magnetic platters and hang them as shiny decorations. I love to take out the permanent magnets because they are insanely powerful.

Otherwise, if someone dug my drives out of the trash and fixed them, data might be recoverable. (This is not something I’m going to try myself.) Maybe my credit card numbers or tax returns. Maybe my secret plans for conquering the universe. Perhaps I am just excessively paranoid about identity theft.

I am back up and running. I have cloned the disk to another hard drive which is going into storage – in addition to my regular on-site data backups. There are important financial and personal documents to verify I still have and others to be scanned in. I keep hard copies of anything super important like tax returns, recent account statements, family photos, and contracts.  Plus when an SD card in a camera gets full, it goes into storage as well. (I don’t reformat and reuse.)

I can eventually recover from anything short of a nuclear EMP. It is just many, many hours of boring and unrewarding work.