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MotorcycleGeocaching in Florida last week was an exciting experience and it was chilling to come home and find the temperature more than 75 degrees colder. There is a lot I want to write about Linux, WiFi, blogging, digital identity and other aspects of Internet technology, but I know there are patrickWeb readers who are fellow motorcyclists and geocachers who may be interested in this update. The sky was blue, the roads were clear, and I could not resist a motorcycle ride. It was one of the shortest on record for me. An even chillier experience is what happened to my hard drive.
Motorcycling in the winter is not a new experience but today took things to a new level. The Harley-Davidson Fatboy hesitated in the six degree temperature but started fairly easily and ran very well. The Widder electric socks, chaps, and vest performed quite well. The warmth contrasted with a very cold nose from air that leaked in through the helmet shield. Everything warmed up well in the first mile or so except for my fingers. The electric gloves take more time to heat up and my hands did not have the patience to wait.
It is always important to be careful when riding motorcycles but the winter offers some additional challenges. Black ice is especially treacherous and I wait until the roads are dry before going out. The remaining danger is the sand and leaves. These require riding at lower speeds and taking curves even more slowly. The electric clothing can actually make you warm and toasty if you can wait long enough for the gloves to heat. I did not calculate the wind chill but it was way below zero for sure. See the Wind Chill story if you want to see the formula.
Last week things were roughly 75 degrees warmer — perfect for geocaching.
Another thing to be really careful about is backing up your hard drive. You can not be too secure and part of security is protecting your data and protecting your data means, in part, backing it up. Last week I began to get the "blue screen of death" from Windows XP Professional on my ThinkPad. I suspect most of us have had these at one time or another. I have been getting them for years and gotten used to it. I would just re-boot and everything was fine. The error message at the top of the blue screen make no sense to most people, including me, but the recent ones sounded ominous. "UNMOUNTABLE BOOT VOLUME". "KERNEL_INSTACK_INPAGE_ERROR". Clearly not meant for human consumption.
Thanks to Google, I was able to find a web page at a small help site that offered a solution. Re-boot using the XP CD, select Repair mode, run CHKDSK /P, then "fixboot", and re-boot. To my amazement, it worked. I immediately made a new full backup, copying everything to the xSeries eServer over the home LAN. Back in business. I continued for a day or so and everything worked fine. I made another full backup on Sunday. Things continued to work well Monday and Tuesday. Unfortunately, I did not make another backup Tuesday night and sure enough when I approached the ThinkPad this morning I saw the blue screen.
I used the new technique I had learned over the weekend multiple times with no luck. "UNRECOVERABLE" error I was told. A call to IBM and they confirmed that nothing could be done. The cost, in addition to hours of effort, was two days of lost email, folder updates, appointment changes, contact list updates, a couple of spreadsheets, Quicken update, etc. The Sunday backup will enable me to recover most of the data, but not all, and there are dozens of programs to reinstall. It will take many hours to get back to where I was.
Backups are a pain and most people don’t do them. The cost of not doing them is huge — per my experience. There are many backup solutions in the market ranging from a simple USB memory key, programs that copy to CD, dedicated hard drives, tape units, server solutions, online backup services, and more. Each solution has strengths and weaknesses. The key is to have something and to establish the discipline to use it. The backup I had contains thousands of pictures and thousands of song tracks. The music could have been replaced. The pictures could not have.