Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Computers, video cards & backups: Oh My

Thanks for the volumes of email inquiring about Ol' Myrt's quietude of late. At least part of the definition of that word is accurate. From our friends at Dictionary.com we read:

"the state of being quiet; tranquillity; calmness; stillness; quiet. "

Well, Ol' Myrt here may have been quiet in the blogging sense, but my life was anything BUT calmness. My computer was down -- though at the time I didn't know it was repairable -- for three days of agonizing torture. On a weekend no less.

As anyone with a dead or semi-dead computer can tell you, life becomes hectic while attempting to resolve the situation. My little laptop, normally reserved for seminar presentations, was used to contact HP tech support via live chat. (Chat in this context means typing in real-time -- decidedly quite different from the voice chats I've been describing in our Second Life genealogy meetings.) See DearMYRTLE's blog entries titled Second Life genealogy events, also Get a SECOND LIFE, genealogists and Second Life: A new type of genealogy society.

The terrible news was that my desktop computer was 2 days out of it's 1-year warranty, and this was the first time in recorded history that Ol' Myrt here hadn't purchased an extended service plan. As my older XP machine will show you, I'd never needed an extended warranty in the past, so why spend the money? Instead I chose to use the savings to upgrade to a 22" LCD monitor.

Well, I am glad for many things:

  • The 22" monitor is a dream -- I now am considering using 2 monitors with one computer.

  • Two days before the computer broke down, (and what a difference 2 days make!) my computer completed its scheduled usual & customary weekly FULL backup.

  • I always keep an exact copy of my genealogy database and accompanying scanned images on both my laptop and my old XP machines.

  • I have two sets of computer software and recording equipment for developing each DearMYRTLE's Family History Hour genealogy podcast

  • I recently chose to use Google Calendar's new "Outlook Synchronize"option, so my appointment calendar was intact.

  • Working revisions of two of my DearMYRTLE "Little Books" and the outline for my new book Caring for Blanche were included in the full backup.

What was missing?
If it had been my hard drive and not a video card that died, I would most certainly be behind the 8-ball on these counts:

  1. I didn't have a backup of my current email.

  2. I didn't have a backup of my email contact list including phone numbers for the folks I was to interview for this week's podcast.

  3. I had worked very hard during the 2 days since the last full back up, designing a new shopping cart interface for my website & that would have been lost.

  4. I am in the midst of preparing to speak at the 2008 National Genealogical Society Conference next week on behalf of GenealogyBank.com's Tom Kemp. He is recovering nicely from the recent insertion of stents in his heart, but his physician won't yet allow him to fly.

  5. Completed after the backup were about 2 hours of planning for the event to honor Halvor Moorshead upon his retirement from magazine publishing.

Be it resolved that a person whose life is dependent on the use of computers has now set in place:

  • The weekly "full" backups to an external hard drive will continue.
  • "Incremental" backups be created on a second hard drive on a nightly basis.
  • Email will be backed up to a third external hard drive on a nightly basis.
I don't want to be down and out because of a computer for 3 days ever again. The anxiety was simply not worth it.

And despite my best efforts (or what I thought were adequate backup measures) Ol' Myrt here would have completely lost 2 powerful days of computer work.

Now I've just got to play catch-up.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.

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