Monday, January 05, 2009

Coping With An Unexpected Laptop Outage

To make a very long story short, my conversations with Dell have left me with my same old laptop, but a new hard drive. The result, I started off this first real work day of the year with a laptop with no software on it.

This wasn't good. Here's what made it less painful...

  • Having documents, calendar and my e-mail all in Google Apps means that the crash didn't effect any of these. I simply pointed the web browser to the right URL, and I was instantly back in business. Sure, the Spreadsheet and Docs tools are somewhat crude, but they really pay dividends in situations like this.
  • The above is also true for my TODO list and customer notes, which I store on a secure wiki. Again, having this information online means it's accessible from any device, including a freshly installed version of Windows.
  • Having a list of software tools I use made it a little easier to grab the key ones I needed. It also contains some specific URLs to somewhat hard to find utilities like sitecopy and GNU screen.
  • The issue I ran in to, we believe, was a hard drive that has some issues. Luckily, the drive is still usable enough so I can mount it. I purchased a BlacX hot swapping SATA docking station. This is a fancy way of saying I bought a device I can literally (gently) drop my hard drive into and see it from my built compute r. It's awesome. It's well worth the $60.00, to be able to easily see and copy files from my old computer as I need them.
  • Finally, Low Fat Moose Tracks and Reddi Wip definitely played a critical role in keeping me sane during this process. When in doubt, have another bowl of ice cream.

So far, the new system is coming together relatively well. I may even get some real work done today. Wouldn't that be nice?


  1. I'm surprised to see you using Ghost. Nice tool, I just figured you'd be using dd, partimage, or G4U. :-)

  2. Thanks Helmy -

    Though, it's actually Dell's tool that uses Ghost. This was a shot of their imaging tool.

    I'm surprised they didn't go to more effort to make it look like their own product. But of course, us geeks would know better.

    And yeah, I'd just normally use dd ;-)