09 November 2012

New computer: highs and lows.

Let’s start with the bad news. The bright light in all my digital trouble was the computer itself: it worked like a dream. Fast. Without complaining. But that lasted less than a week. By then my computer had taken up the habit of bombarding me with error messages. It started with a window saying “Microsoft Pen & Touch Component has stopped working”, and a button for closing this programme, appearing first thing after logging on. Soon it gives three of such messages in succession. The other ones are: “Host Process for Windows Tasks has stopped working” and “Group Policy Script Application has stopped working”. The computer worked fine otherwise, but I was a bit worried anyway. So I contacted the helpdesk. Soon a chap appeared in the door opening. He figured the first issue was easy: I had connected my old digital pen to the computer, but it wasn’t compatible with windows 7. That was an easy one… I could have figured that one out. The tablet is quite old!

The other messages, though, were more serious. The helpdesk guy warned me it might mean my computer has to be re-imaged. That means: losing all the software. I only just had re-installed Illustrator, Acrobat, C2, Endnote, PaintShop, Dropbox, SigmaPlot, Skype, iTunes and R! It just continues, doesn't it…

But I mentioned I’d start with the bad news. Yes, indeed that means there is good news too! I had my data backed up on 4 external hard drives. Two still work fine. One already had given me some issues. And one was big and brand new. That last one died as soon as the new computer got installed. Noo! All my work data was backed up on 2 hard disks, so that was fine. But I had some private files that I only had on that disk, and on the one with issues. So I tried to retrieve my files form that disk. My new computer didn’t recognise it. My own laptop only did for a tantalisingly short period. So I brought it to ICT. Could they get the data off? After days of things seeming to go either way, the final call came. No, they couldn’t. Bummer. But as I had the ICT guy on the phone, he suddenly thought of something. This university has a Digital Forensics Laboratory. I had never heard of such a thing, but it sure makes sense! And they have the tools to get to data that’s really hard to reach. So I was referred there. An associate professor in the lab in question received me in a most friendly of manners. And a few hours later I had my data back. He hardly had to bat an eyelid for that. Yay for digital forensics!  

A new digital pen is on its way; I don't want to do without. And regarding the broken hub and other hard drive: they are back at the manufacturers: with some luck, I will get replacements!

 The battery of external hard drives I keep my data on. One might understand the use of a hub here...

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