Well, I suppose it was appropriate that it would happen in the week of Back to the Future day. Except for me it was more a case of ‘Back to the Past’, or ‘back to the exact instant before I did something incredibly stupid’! Intrigued? Allow me to expand…
They say there are only two kinds of computer owners – those who back-up, and those who wish they had! Until recently, earlier this year in fact, I was one of those carefree souls who added, subtracted, updated and migrated files, programs and even entire systems without a problem. Any time I did think about backing-up I thought, I really should do that. But I didn’t.
Then, I must’ve read an article too far and realised I was playing Russian Roulette with a lot of precious stuff, especially photos, that would cause intense anguish if they ever disappeared into the ether completely. Not to mention the grief I’d get from she-who-must-be-obeyed!
Anyway, when everything else was getting updated and upgraded I reckoned the new Mac Mini and fibre broadband deserved a new router too, so why not go the whole hog and do the funky back-up thing as well. So, an Apple Time Capsule was duly added to our tech family. Now, clearly, other back-up solutions are available, but who can resist yet another piece of sleek white Cupertino magic that just, well, works?
Since February, said piece of white sleekness has sat innocently in a corner beaming tinterweb all round our house without missing a beat whilst also, surreptitiously, backing up our entire system every few hours. So far, so fantastic but, so what? If you’re thinking ahead you’ll probably know what’s coming…
In an idle moment last week I decided to clear out some space on our hard drive so started junking redundant download managers and other pieces of accumulated debris (as an aside, they should get the ‘Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners’ engaged in some hard drive decontamination – now THERE’S a programme, Channel 4!). And very satisfying it all was too. So much so that I decided to rectify something else that’s been bugging me for a while.
Without going into too much excruciatingly boring detail… I had somehow created two accounts for each of us on the computer when I went through the initial set-up. No great problem, as I was able to delete the extra ones at the time, but they hung about in a ‘Deleted Users’ folder as a constant reminder of my faux pas. Cometh the day, cometh the hour – why not get rid of them too?
Checking online, in case I did something stupid (watch THAT come back to haunt me…), I set about my task and had soon deleted my deletions. Did I stop there? Of course not, as that would be too sensible. What was still bugging me was that the remaining user accounts had the digit ‘1’ after them so I set about changing that too. Oh, the sense of achievement! I was on a roll! All that remained to be done was to restart the computer so everything would tidy itself up. Then, I could bask in the glory of space on the hard drive, properly named user accounts and the ‘Deleted Users’ ghost would be gone for good.
As the chime kicked in and the Apple symbol appeared, all seemed well. Then, wait a minute, that doesn’t look right and… why on earth is it asking me to set up my account again? Oh well, just a quirk, carry on… and then, it happened. I stared at the screen in disbelief. Where my overstuffed and badly organised desktop should’ve been set against a backdrop of Lake Trasimeno at dusk, was… nothing. Well, not nothing exactly, but a fresh, empty desktop straight out of the Apple playbook. The Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners would’ve liked what they saw, but I was too gripped by panic to appreciate its squeaky cleanness!
I checked the other account desktop, by this time more in hope than expectation, but it was the same story across there. Not only had I lost everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, but I had also lost the Boss’s everything! This was not good.
Then I remembered Time Capsule, that shiny plastic beauty whirring away silently in the background, so I entered Time Machine and prepared to go ‘Back to the Past’. At this point in the story probably only the geeks are still with me, but for all the normal people out there, Time Capsule is where the back-ups live and Time Machine is the proverbial Delorean that gets us into those back-ups.
Except, it didn’t! Now, whatever panic I felt before was nothing to what was going on now! More hyperventilating research led to me discovering that my very own Flux Capacitor (if you haven’t seen Back to the Future, and shame on you by the way, the Flux Capacitor is what allows Doc’s Delorean to travel through time) was a specific restart procedure involving the Command and R keys. Bear with me…
Wow, pressing those two keys on restart had me hitting 88 miles per hour tout suite, the Flux Capacitor kicked in and Time Machine took me back to that far off place of about an hour before where everything was right in the world, except for United being bottom of the league and my hard drive being a wee bit full, right before I had got involved in deleting the deleted.
About half an hour later I was gazing lovingly at exactly the same scene I had been gazing critically at less than two hours previously, and boy it looked good. It was like the last two hours hadn’t happened. Fantastic.
I now look upon my ‘Deleted Users’ folder in the same way a child looks at a favourite toy, and bathe in the security that it affords me. Once I’ve calmed down, and done a heap more research, I may return to the task I so painfully failed at, but the moral of this simple tale, dear reader, is… BACK UP, BACK UP AND… BACK UP AGAIN!
Well, it may be the end of February but… Happy New Year! Waddya mean, “you’re a bit late”? I got here as quick as I could! I had places to go, things to do, people to see. And websites don’t build themselves you know. Yes, this shiny new site is all my own work… well, with the help of those awfully nice people at Weebly, but still, it takes time…
Anyway, it’s here now and I’m raring to go with 2015. Like it says above, the blog entries dated earlier than 2015 have previously appeared elsewhere and have now been rescued to here, sort of like a ‘greatest hits’ compilation. This venture has been a long time in the planning, but that’s probably a story for another day, maybe even another place.
And, readers, it’s not just websites that don’t build themselves, oh no. Another continuing story has been the setting up of our new IT infrastructure, better known to the rest of the world as ‘getting a new computer’! You may be able to tell from the banner photo up above that I’m firmly in the Apple camp when it comes to technology. So that should’ve made the changeover process a scoosh, right? Well, not entirely but, in Apple’s defence, this was largely self-inflicted! It all started back in 2013…
Our aged Mac Pro, the last of the PowerPC beasties (technical term), was starting to baulk at certain modern webpages and programs so we had the “time for a new one” conversation. As resident, and self-appointed, tech expert it was down to me to research and procure the replacement. Our super-duper 20” Cinema Screen was still doing the business so I wasn’t overly keen on forking out for an iMac. That left the field clear for the Mac Mini, but it was overdue an upgrade…
I’d been here before, but although waiting for the next generation of tech gear is generally a pointless process – it’s all out of date once you’ve bought it anyway – this upgrade appeared to be ‘imminent’ and therefore apparently worth hanging on for. So we waited… and we waited… and meantime I got far too well acquainted with all manner of Apple rumour websites. Finally, the waiting paid off and the upgrade was announced in… October 2014!
That’s not the end… then the Apple community spun into some crazy fervour warning people off buying the new model for various spurious reasons but, having waited this long, I decided to wait until I could see it in the flesh. Or aluminium…
We’re not blessed with an Apple Store in Dundee so I trotted off to our ‘Premium Reseller’ but couldn’t see the Mini on display. “Can I help you”, said a slightly shifty looking youth. I told him I was looking for the new Mac Mini. “The iPad Mini?” he offered. “No, the Mac Mini” said I. Looking around the shop he gestured at an iMac and said, “that’s the smallest we have”. Left speechless by his complete and unashamed ignorance and incompetence, I left.
Next stop was our out-of-town electrical and computer superstore that I usually try to avoid, but, needs must. A quick play around with a display version convinced me that the naysayers were wrong and that this was indeed for us. So, back home and one of the last big jobs for our trusty Mac Pro was to order its own replacement – poignant.
Anyway, my research had also told me that the screen needed an adapter to fit the new Mini as the connections had changed. Relevant adapter ordered. When it came to hooking up the machine though I discovered there were 3 cables – the first was OK with the aforementioned adapter, the USB was fine but the third, Firewire, needed another adapter. Mama mia!
Back to Premium Reseller, no chances taken with discussion this time, Firewire to Thunderbolt (are you following this?) adapter purchased, return to base camp. Didn’t fit! Further research confirmed this adapter was for Firewire 800 and I had Firewire 400 – who knew? Yet more research confirmed the requirement for yet another adapter, Firewire 400 to 800. I wasn’t convinced…
‘Phone a friend’ time, 2015 style - I went online and had a web chat with Scooter (no, really) who was reading from an Apple script somewhere in the good ol’ US of A. After a bit of toing and froing Scooter patiently explained that I didn’t really need the Firewire link at all! How on earth are you supposed to know this? Anyway, there was still reason enough to order the new adapter from eBay for £3.60 including postage, but I could continue the setup without it.
So, to cut an extremely long story a little shorter than I could make it if I really wanted you to suffer, our new IT infrastructure is absolutely splendiferous and it has been a pleasure to write the first blog post of 2015, belatedly, using it!
Oh, just realised, I forgot to tell you about the new phones…!