Every year around early to mid July in southern Australia, the oncoming gloom of winter is offset by the bursting into glorious golden bloom of wattle trees (various acacia species). Indeed the suburb that I live in takes its name from this genus of trees. The profusion of gold on a green background makes me feel really good.
Computers, in all their forms, can be quite wonderful -- while they're working correctly. Depressingly (and expensively), I've had to replace both the automatic transmission computer and the engine management computer on my car. Then a month ago in early June, early one afternoon I had a major system crash on my main desktop system. Despite very intensive attempts delving deep into the innards of Windows XP over a number of days, things got steadily worse and worse, until finally I decided the only clean solution was to completely reinstall Windows XP (I still refuse to install any of my copies of Vista).
I hadn't taken a full system backup for some months, and naturally enough (as anticipated by Murphy's Law) this crash happened the very day before I had scheduled another full backup!
Rebuilding the system from scratch has taken me weeks, because I have such a vast amount of software to reinstall. For example, I have five different versions of Lotus Notes installed, so as to be prepared to support any of my customers running these releases. Just the rebuilding of my Copernic Desktop Search index over hundreds of gigabytes of data (I now have over two terabytes of hard disk on the system) took four or five days by itself.
In the attempted recovery process, Windows System Restore failed to work on each and every restore point that I tried (a problem regularly reported in forums). All sorts of weird error messages cropped up all over the place (indicating that the Windows registry had some gotten itself badly corrupted. Software that had worked flawlessly for nearly two years began playing up in all sorts of inscrutable ways.
Anyhow, after much sweat and tears for the last month or so, I'm more or less back in control of the system. I've vowed to make more frequent system backups of course, and am now turning my mind toward writing again for iTWire. In later articles, for examples, I plan to write about my research on various Windows desktop search products (some free, some that I've purchased), and on the vexing problems of backing up and restoring such vast amounts of data that are becoming possible even on inexpensive commodity PCs nowadays.
Just as I find the bold gold colour of wattle blooms to be quite uplifting, to get me back in the swing of contributing to iTWire, I'd like to introduce you to Wordle, a fascinating bit of software that I'm sure you'll find uplifting too.
PLEASE READ ON...