July 9, 2007

The horse I'm supposed to be on

It has struck me recently, as I finally accept the death of my hard drive and try to move forward, that the reason I have been so devastated (and deeply, deeply in denial) about the death of the drive, is that computers are deeply mysterious to me. I spend a great deal of time working with them. I entrust massive amounts of information and images to them, all of us use them for communication and banking and...I don't know about you, but I have absolutely no idea how it works. My knowledge of my computer - despite it being VITAL to my career and lifestyle - is pretty much driven by what I need to know and what I cobble together and manage to infer from things I read and hear around me. (Note the difference between "things I infer" and "facts".)

The day the laptop Bricked (as in "turned into a" ) I remember looking at Joe and Ken and not being too upset. I mean, there's always something you can do...right? There is some sort of backup (I hear people mention that) and things on computers are "restored" (I hear that all the time too.) one of those things would work for me.
I stood there, not too concerned really...sure, everything on my computer was gone, but I knew where it was. It was on "The Server". One time I asked Ken where all the blog entries were saved. "On the server" he said. (Score one point for the server) then I noticed where my mail was coming from, "the server" (two points) then when I was connecting one Mac to the other in the house...the button you click on your laptop is "connect to server". I took those three pieces of information and concluded (inferred, really) that the server had all my stuff. Knowing this brought me enormous relief as Joe and Ken stood there telling me my drive was dead. I sighed thankfully. It was all on the server.
I'm pretty sure that Ken and Joe flipped for who was going to have to tell me that servers don't work that way. Despite their names, servers actually serve you very little.

I still wasn't upset. When I bought this laptop I got a lot of extra memory. Seemed to me that now that the drive was dead, and the server didn't serve, that it was a darned terrific move on my part, getting all that extra memory. Turns out?

Computer memory doesn't remember anything. Nothing. It forgets it all when you turn it off. Your DRIVE remembers things, your memory FORGETS things. I know this is hard to hear, but if you are, as I was, labouring under the delusion that there was no way that some of the smartest people in the world would design something like computer memory and give it such a misleading name, or put all of the actual memory in the part of the computer that breaks most often...well. If my pain can save just one knitter....

Turns out all of my things...my writing, my photos (I had some of those on cd) the Knitters without Borders Database....all gone. All. Gone. Way Gone. Joe and Ken had though that I was smart enough to be doing a backup (never underestimate my stupidity) and I thought that since they "make blog go" that they must be doing all the vital things with the computer. They are computer GUYS. This seems to be the crux of the problem. They figure that something like backups are computers 101. They can't imagine that everyone doesn't know how to do a backup, or doesn't do one. They don't understand that those of us who came to computers on a "need to know" basis and inferred the rest might have missed the day that they explained that memory forgets things and drives remember things and all of your eggs are in one very breakable basket so you have to store things in another way. (Though it's just so obvious now that I can't believe I didn't know.)

By the way? If anything I'm telling you is at all surprising and you're getting a vulnerable feeling? Here is how to do a backup on a Mac. and here's Windows. I'll wait here. (If you use something else, like Linux it's my understanding that you are either a big enough geek to know how or you live with one. Ask them.)

In any case, the next phase with a bricked drive is to send it to the hospital. My drive went first to the computer emergency room where they confirmed it was bricked and said it wouldn't "mount" or "spin". (Turns out that drives work a lot like record players. The drive spins and some high tech fancy reads the spinning record. ) From there (stopping only while I wrote terrible, terrible letters to Steve Jobs that he didn't answer) it went to the place of it's birth. Incredibly one of my readers is an engineer type at the company that makes that drive and sells them to Apple, and she very generously offered high level attempts to recover things. She sent me emails periodically to tell me how it was going. She coerced other engineers and tech people into helping her. They used robots and sterile labs. They did things I can't even fathom, and after each attempt, I would get an email.
"It didn't work, but don't give up...there is some other insanely clever thing we can try."

It was hopeful and crushing at the same time. Each attempt brought us closer to running out of options, and each attempt could conceivably have worked.

Finally, there was one thing left, and it failed...and there was nothing they could do. Nothing. The truth, after months of denial, effort, trying and superhuman rescue attempts was that not one byte of information had been retrieved, nor would it ever be. My stuff was gone, all gone. It was nowhere. The sick reality finally hit me. It was not going to be ok. I had lost it all.
Sorry. This is upsetting. Here,

Loksinswhole0

I finished the Loksins socks. (Lisa Souza sock yarn in "Turqua")

Loksinsdet007

Aren't they pretty? Feel better? I know I do.

I've spent the time since then trying to pull it together. I've had to rebuild all my addresses, phone numbers, the writing I lost (oh, that still makes me nauseous) and now that I more or less have it all back (or have reconciled myself to the loss) the only thing that's left to rebuild is the Knitters Without Borders database.

What I had before was a list (private) of all the people who had donated, their email addresses and the amount of their donations.
Since I was in the process of tallying more donations when the drive bricked, I also lost all of the emails that were yet to be added on. I want to rebuilt the database so that two things can happen. The tally in the sidebar can be correct and we can know what we accomplished, and to have a complete listing of all the names of the knitters who gave so you can all have an equal chance in the draws for gifts.

I need your help to make it work. If you have ever contributed to Knitters Without Borders please read and sort out which of the two things you should do. (Please read carefully.) The total in the sidebar is accurate up to this last December 26th, plus it has anything really recent (since the crash) on it too.

1. If you donated and sent me an email to tell me about it (probably after December 26th) and I did not acknowledge it - PLEASE RESEND IT. The original is fine, if it's still in your email. Make sure your email has your name, the email to contact you at, the amount of your donation and what currency it's in. I'll send an you acknowledgement as I work through the list and you are added.
The email address just for sorting out this mess is kwbATyarnharlotDOTca

2. If you have EVER donated (from the beginning until now) and I did acknowledge it please resend me just your name. Please put "Name" in the subject line of the email so I can sort things easily. I don't need to know how much you gave because I have already added you to the total, and we're all working together. The email to send your name is the same one, kwbATyarnharlotDOTca.
(Change the bold words to the right symbols, @ and ".")

Rebuilding the database is going to be a mammoth undertaking on my end. I don't mind, I'm happy to do it, but as I navigate the thousands of emails, it would really help if you guys tried to stick to the two formats above as much as possible. I'll send you each a note as I work through the emails. Please be patient. When I'm done, we can start with the gifts. (I also lost the emails from anyone who was offering a gift. Feel free to resend those too...) Please spread the word to anyone that you know gave as well.

Got it? Questions? Let 'er Rip.

By the way? I have backups up the whazzo now. Automatic backups, cd backups, keychain drive backups, big drive in the basement backups. Never again my friends. Never again.

Posted by Stephanie at July 9, 2007 1:24 PM