Tonight my desktop suddenly displayed a screen consisting of nothing but vertical stripes and then shut itself down, making sad beeping noises until I held down the power button.

It restarted successfully and is running its backup programs a little early, but (1) that was way more exciting than I needed tonight and (2) I'm guessing that this is the HDD error that came up about two months ago and that I decided to ignore until I couldn't any more.

Honestly I'm half-tempted to just bring the netbook—which lives in the Pip's room for me to use at naptime, bedtime, and in the middle of the night—downstairs, hook it up to my monitor and external hard drive, and just prop the tablet up in his room. But I should really at least open the case and see if any fans are obviously broken or dust bunnies are breeding or whatever, before deciding whether to replace the HDD. Again. Whee.

and I don't like it.

My disk imaging program says that it can't read a particular sector. On the other hand, this time chkdsk didn't throw any errors, so perhaps the backup program is just flawed somehow. But somehow I doubt it, and I really do not have time to be replacing my hard drive again just now, or really ever.

(The last full backup I have is from two weeks ago, so at least it's better than last time, when I had no full backups. Still.)

*note

Dec. 15th, 2012 10:05 pm

I have recently started using two tools that probably everyone but me knows about, but just in case!

Simplenote. Straightforward text files that you can access and update in your web browser or through various clients, that sync automatically. For instance, I have a pinned "to do" note that I keep open throughout the day and jot down anything that comes to mind (shopping list, stuff to do at home, etc.); "hobbit reviews I am not reading yet"; the most recent book added to the NYPL's ebooks site, so I know if anything new has been added; boilerplate HTML for the Tor.com Hobbit posts; and so forth. There are lots of clients; I'm using ResophNotes with no complaint at home.

Yes, it's true that this means I'm using three different web-based services to organize my life: Simplenote; Remember the Milk for recurring or future-dated tasks; and Google Calendar for appointments. [*] This seems inelegant, and yet they all do what I need them to do—which includes setting recurring tasks, sharing appointments with Chad, and being available in a browser (as I neither have nor want a smartphone), so hey.

[*] I have the last two open all the time in GMail, using the RtM for GMail gadget, the Google Calendar GMail Labs gadget, and a CSS trick to give them more room (in Opera I can do this with a user stylesheet and no add-on).

Evernote. This is kind of the philosophical opposite from Simplenote, and is designed to store and tag basically everything. I use it for a very specific purpose, which is to keep fanfic: my prior find-it-later system was too much work and never got done, but now I use Evernote's bookmarklet on a fic's web page (the HTML download page on AO3 is good for this, but you can also highlight just the text on an LJ/DW journal entry), and then it's saved to my various computers and can be tagged and full-text searched within Evernote. I can also occasionally export from it to put on my ereader, though if I get a tablet (as I'm contemplating), I can use their Premium feature for offline data availability.

What are your go-to online services to make your daily life less chaotic?

A while after we switched to cable internet [*] our home network started doing this highly annoying thing--which it is doing right now, in fact--where it would cycle off and then cycle immediately back on, every minute or so. Sometimes rebooting everything helps and sometimes not. It seems to happen mostly at night (possibly there is a temperature correlation, as we haven't turned heat on yet?).Unlike when our DSL would go on the fritz, our internal network also vanishes when it loses the internet (that is, I can't see my desktop from my netbook), so I suspect this means the problem is the router not the cable modem?

[*] I thought I was getting an all-in-one modem plus wireless router from the cable company. The instructions were zero and so I'm not sure if that's what I actually got, and anyway I realized that we still needed the existing router because of the multiple Ethernet connections we use, so I just plugged the modem-possibly-router into the existing router and it worked fine. I'd think any interference from incompatible devices or whatnot would have shown up sooner and not be so intermittent.

Is there a thing kinda like LastPass that I can run off steelypips.org? Or not even with the fancy browser integration, just something that will let me safely decrypt, edit, and encrypt a password list?

Because I definitely like the idea of LastPass, but it's true that they are a big fat target, and if I could get the same functionality (or something approaching it) that's just for me, well, that seems like it would be less of a target. Or does the difficulty of properly implementing such a thing outweigh the possibility that LastPass's data could be obtained, especially if I use a proper master password and turn on two-factor authentication?

(Context 1: right now I use a program that syncs between my desktop and my Palm, but that requires I have physical access to one or the other, and sometimes I don't. (Also, eventually the Palm will go away, of course.))

(Context 2: this very interesting article about password cracking.)

One: our dystopic present: Slate on the business of international surrogacy.

Two: my sleep schedule is so variable that I can't say whether f.lux is helping me sleep better, but it is a lot more pleasant to look at my computer in a dimly-lit room at night with f.lux's adjustments to the screen color.

Three: I'll be at Boskone with Chad and the Pip, mostly doing the lobbycon thing since, well, the Pip. This will also preclude me from running a bake sale this year; if anyone wants to take that on, I'd be glad to advise and help. And I hope to see some of you there.

This thing where you keep deciding I don't have access to my own User folder?

You can stop that any time. Really. In fact, I thought we'd already had sorted this out last night.

No love,

Me

but though I can restore an image of the "recovery partition" to my new hard drive, Windows refuses to actually restore or install from that partition, with many interesting variations on that refusal. (For instance: when it claims to be restoring a factory image, in fact it erases everything on the hard drive and replaces it with nothing. Windows 7 setup boots from a DVD, then refuses to proceed because it needs DVD drivers (and can't find any from the manufacturer's driver install disk or downloaded drivers on a USB thumb drive). Etc.)

I have given up and sent a request to Dell for an actual OS install DVD. For now I have hooked the monitor, keyboard, and trackball up to the netbook, which does work, I have to keep reminding myself, and the inconveniences are very very minor things in the grand scheme.

. . . such as that my iPod now thinks it has no music on it. (It does.) Joy.

New hard drive it is. While my poor sick toddler naps, I shall find the various recovery/install discs that came with the desktop, let the current drive imaging run and if it completes successfully create a rescue disk, if not do as much pulling-of-data as I can, and then go get a new hard drive installed. And it appears that Macrium will let me restore to a drive of a different size, so I will take this opportunity to upgrade the size too.

Thank you internets; I am answered (see next rock).

Read more... )

I am late-come to the idea of sidebar gadgets (having been on Windows XP for a long long time). But one of the ways I procrastinate is doing fiddly obsessive cat-vacuuming things that I can justify as eventually increasing my productivity, and so after several iterations I now have an assortment of Windows 7 sidebar gadgets that are genuinely useful to me. (And also provided me with some fine, fine cat-vacuuming.) Allow me to share the fruits of my obsessive gadget-combing with you.

seven gadgets )

So what do you all find useful to have always visible/accessible on your computer workspace?

And yet I neither made a Windows 7 recovery disk nor a boot disk from my backup program when I got this new computer.

Since my boot manager has suddenly vanished—*poof*—into thin air, meaning my computer won't start, this is a non-trivial problem.

Don't be like me: go find your system recovery tools now, or make them if they don't exist.

(I have already tried the boot options menu at startup; no good. I have plans for creating recovery flash drives for Windows 7 and my backup program, so I'm pretty sure this is solvable and I'm not looking for advice. I just wanted you all to profit by my bad example.)

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