I tend to be rather impatient when tech doesn’t do what it’s designed to do; I’m not so bothered if it all goes pear-shaped when pushed to extremes or made to do things it was never designed for – and I have a terrible habit of doing that sort of thing – but when something is designed for a particular purpose and fails to achieve it, I do feel somewhat aggrieved, especially when the end result conspires to cause me problems beyond reasonable limits.
And, for some reason, it’s the simplest things that can give me the most grief. Take the ubiquitous and unassuming USB port – the problems it’s caused me are frankly ridiculous, and I’m not talking about how a plug that can only fit into its socket in one of two ways will always take three attempts to get right, either!
If I could beat the same odds at doing the lottery as I manage to do with USB, I’d be writing this post from the beach, whilst sipping a mojito; but sadly it seems I’m fated to experience the incredibly rare and unlikely in terms of tech failure, rather than seeing my numbers coming up. Who else in the world, for example, has had a hard disk fried as a result of a USB cable suddenly, and without warning, catastrophically failing? /me puts my hand up grumpily.
And then, last night, I experienced a sickening sense of deja vu, as it all started to fall apart again. At first, my PC began a frantic chorus of bing bongs and bong bings, as my hub decided to randomly and furiously disconnect, then immediately reconnect all my peripheral devices continuously. This included my two month old 2TB external hard drive, which after a restart and removal to another port, stubbornly refused to do anything other than click and buzz, which – as anyone who has ever been in this situation will tell you – is bad, very bad… It’s never going to work again bad, in fact.
Well, I’m not one too give up that easily, so I did all the usual things, fiddled about with the disk management console, consulted the accumulated wisdom of the interweb, prayed and so on… But I knew it was hopeless. So, driven to desperation – after many hours of fruitless effort – I fell back on that old standby – more urban legend than scientific principle – and the drive went into the freezer for a few hours.
It didn’t work… I never thought it would. So, with nothing to lose, I did that thing you should never do: I unplugged, gave it a good hard tap on the underside, and plugged back in. It was nothing short of a miracle… The disk burst into life and I leapt into action, copying the precious data I thought I’d lost forever to a place of safety. Sometimes, when all else fails, it’s the low-tech solution that saves the day.
Now before you start berating me about not backing up my work, I should say that I do. I routinely back up once a month, a process that ties up my resources for a good three hours – it’s not something I’d contemplate doing any more frequently and, as luck would have it, I hadn’t got around to this month’s run. Of course, this was also the one month I’d done masses of work on several gigs of photos, along with an inworld project requiring a pile of research and textures; and you can guess what I’d bought the disk for in the first place… Yep, photos and SL files! So whilst it wouldn’t have been the end of the world to lose a month’s worth of data, the amount of work I’d need to do as a result was pretty substantial.
Now I have to buy a new USB hub and a new hard disk, and the whole sorry story highlights for me that you simply can’t plan for everything: There’s always something that can go wrong, no matter how robust your systems and processes, in fact it’s incredible that some things work at all.
It’s made me think that, just maybe, I’ve now an inkling about what it must be like to be a Linden Lab technician, and I think, to be honest, it’s really not a job I’d want under any circumstances!
A billion balconies facing the sun
A billion faces turned to their screens
The perfect answer to camouflage our screams
A billion lies becoming the truth
An ecstasy of the eye
As wide as eternity tonight
Manic Street Preachers – A Billion Balconies Facing The Sun