Blowin’ Off Steam

2010_07Jul_4918

A normal, frustrating work day. People drive me crazy and do things that make me want to knock their block off.  But knocking someone’s block off is not a professional way of handing the situation.

I might feel better, but would be out of a job.  So instead I swallow it and stew and fume on the inside, while trying to keep my composure on the outside.

The problem is now that when I get home, my children–my precious, innocent, rambunctious children–have a run-in with a dad whose got a defective pressure release valve.  Something’s gonna give and it ain’t pretty picking up the pieces.

Does this scene sound familiar?

Most of the time, the ride between work and home is enough to diffuse the situation. But when it is not, I’m fortunate enough to have an early warning system that usually is able to detect and take preemptive measures before things get out of hand.

Tonight, my sweet “early warning system” suggested that we go on a walk after supper.  Crisis averted.  A walk is a magical mechanism to blow off the steam and get some exercise at the same time.  And when accompanied by a beautiful woman who will just listen to your rants without passing judgment, it is almost like a mini-date.

And when we’re done, I can breathe again and can go back to the business of being a father and a husband.

PC Recovery

January started with technology troubles.  I had a hard drive crash in our laptop and ended up having buy a new hard drive as the one that died was really dead. Fortunately, I had a backup.

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If you’re interested in all the gory details, you can read ‘em here, here, and here.

It Is What It Is

“The garden didn’t do as good as I wanted.  Oh well, it is what it is.”

“That doctor’s visit didn’t go so well.  I guess, it is what it is.

I’ve noticed this saying a lot lately.  At home, at work, from the pulpit, and even in the podcasts that I listen to on my commute.  This seems to be a popular saying, recently.  At least I don’t remember people saying as frequently as they seem to now.

Ah, but my memory isn’t what it used to be….oh well….__ __ ____ __ __.

See what I mean?

What does this mean, anyway?

It seems to be a phrase of disappointment and resignation:  I’m in a situation which didn’t turn out like I wanted.  I guess I just gotta suck it up and deal with it.

Don’t cry over spilt milk.

Que sera sera.

That’s life.

I don’t like it.  Do we really need to just accept things as they are and give up? Should we walk through life with a fatalistic attitude, accepting good or bad as our lot in life? It is a lie from the pit of hell.  Surely the Enemy would have us complacently accept good and bad without hope.

But..

…though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Cor 4:16-18

I have a loving Heavenly Father who knows my needs and has my best interests at hand.  Sure, it is easy to say when things are going good, but not so much when things aren’t going my way. I need to be reminded that my affliction is both “light” and “momentary.”

So I reject the phrase, It is what it is.

Instead, I propose:

It is what He says it is, because He is I AM.

And I think there is more Truth in that.

When Geeks Cry (Part 3)

(A little technology rant about how it has recently let me down.)

Part 1

Part 2

I’m big on backups.  I backup incrementally every few days, and a full backup once a month.

Of course, I wasn’t always like that.  Backups were more of a chore when trying to backup your PC to 50 floppies, or 20 CDs.  Man, what a pain!  It was worse than going to the dentist.

So backups were very few.  And I had that uneasy feeling that if my little hard drive encountered an errant alpha particle, I’d be sunk.

ghost Then, on the advice of a fellow geek, I found Norton Ghost 9.  Previous versions of Ghost required that you boot off a CD, but version 9 could create a hard drive image while you were still running in the OS.  And it could do it automatically on a schedule.

So I bit the bullet, bought an external hard drive case (EIDE to USB), a copy of Ghost, and a 150 GB hard drive.  And my worries were over.  I didn’t have to worry about losing photos or documents (or the OS for that matter).

One time I had to restore an image when a Microsoft update went south.  I was a little nervous about it, but after a couple of hours my PC was back up and working with no problems.

Acronis Then we got a laptop, and the 150 GB hard drive started feeling a little tight.  So I bought a 500 GB hard drive and a copy of Acronis True Image 10 because the laptop ran Vista, and I had heard that Norton’s version of Ghost didn’t work on Vista.  Also, Acronis was a little cheaper.  I tried it out and it worked great. It seemed even more reliable than Ghost and seemed to be less flaky.

All was well until the hard drive crashed on the laptop.  But since I had my image backup, I thought that I’d have no problem.

So once the new hard drive came, I installed it easily.  I booted the PC off of a Acronis True Image boot CD (which I had to burn, myself).  (This was a little strange to me, because I could just boot off of the Norton Ghost CD directly.)

But it booted up, but then started acting flaky.  The mouse (track pad) wasn’t working right and it couldn’t find the external USB hard drive which contained the restore image.

Again, and again I tried, even booting into a “safe mode” where it didn’t load certain drivers.  I finally got it to start restoring the image (which it said would take 8 hours to complete), to find out that it had locked up a couple of hours.

Reboot, reboot, reboot.  I growing increasingly frustrated and desperate.  I had the image. I had a new hard drive.  But I just couldn’t get one on the other. The Acronis Boot CD did not like the USB drive at all.

Finally, I used a GParted disc (a Linux live CD that partitions hard drives) to create another partition on the new hard drive.  Then I used the Vista Restore CD to get a command prompt, and did an XCOPY of the drive image onto the second partition.

Now I could boot up and restore the image from the 2nd partition.

(I learned later from reading the Acronis support forums that I’m not the only with such a problem. The Acronis boot CD is based on Linux and doesn’t play well with some drivers.  They recommend building your own CD based on BartPE.  I don’t recommend this unless you have some serious geek cred…and a Windows XP installation CD.)

Finally, after hours of pulling my hair out, I got the laptop up and going again.  It was back to its old self (minus the hard drive problems).

I was battle weary from fighting technology.  Wiping off the blood, sweat and tears, I went to bed.

When Geeks Cry (Part 2)

(This is a rant about technology, and how it has recently let me down.)

Part 1 here.

I had left our laptop for days trying to get the hard drive to work again.  It had been running SpinRite for several days and was making slow progress.  There were several sectors of the hard drive with a big red “R” on them, indicating that they had unrecoverable data.

Ironically, I wasn’t concerned about the data.  I had just backed up the laptop hard drive with drive imaging software only a couple of days before, and we didn’t have any data that we couldn’t get at from our other PC.

It didn’t seem to be the program either.  I had tried running it on another computer, and it scanned the entire hard drive in several hours, with no problems.

I was beginning to lose hope that I was going to be able to fix it, and would have to buy a new hard drive. I started pricing them online.

And after a couple of days, my wife asked: “So what’s the deal with the laptop?”  She encouraged me to buy a drive and get on with our lives.

And so I ordered a drive from Newegg, and watched the UPS tracking.  I still let SpinRite do its thing, but it let me down.  I had believed that it was cure-all, but it wasn’t–at least in my case.

“Once the new drive comes, our problems will be over,” I thought, “I’ll restore the lap top image, and have it up in no time.”

I was wrong.

When Geeks Cry (Part 1)

I consider myself a geek.  I’m an engineer by trade, and so I’m always trying to figure how stuff works, what’s wrong with it and how to fix it.  That’s just how I roll.

So when my wife called last week saying that she was having trouble with our laptop, I wasn’t too worried.

And then when I got home and got a BSOD that indicated that there was a hard drive problem, I was wasn’t worried.  Actually, I was a little excited.

I had wanted to have an excuse to buy SpinRite because I had heard so much about it on the Security Now! podcast. It was touted as pretty much a utility to fix whatever problem your hard drive had. It’s a little pricey, so I had been waiting for a good excuse to buy it, and now with this hard drive problem on our laptop, I had my reason.

So I went to GRC.com and got a copy and burned it to a CD and booted up our laptop.  It came up and went through the screens.  I selected the hard drive to scan and went to go to the next screen.

The program said, “Scanning for drives…” and just stayed there. I waited for hours and it was still stuck on the same screen.

That didn’t seem right, so I rebooted and tried again, and again, and again.  Same thing.  My smile was gone.

I then tried putting the drive in the laptop’s 2nd drive bay.  That did the trick.  SpinRite came up and started working on the drive. I knew it would take awhile, so I left it overnight working at 0.1% done.

The next morning I came in and it was 7 hours into the drive and 0.5 % done, and predicting completion in 80 some hours. “That’s not right, ” I thought, so I stopped it, and started again at 2% into the drive.  “Maybe the first few sectors are pretty bad.”

This time it seemed to go a little faster…for a while.  And then it hung up again and started chugging on another sector.

And so I let it run some more.  A few days later, little progress was made on the drive and it was now predicting over 1000 hours until it would be done.  I wasn’t smiling anymore.