Well, we got the first of the two laptops back from the-man-who-knows on Saturday. We had been told that installing XP would get them running again and preserve the data though we would need to re-install any software.
I spent a while sorting through the old CD-ROM discs from the various computer magazines and decided I could find most of what I needed without trouble - AVG, Ad-Aware, Spybot, Audacity, Nero, Real Player, Opera and Word Web. All the usual stuff for everyday use. (It's amazing what you can do with free software.)
The laptop booted up with no problems, but all the data files were missing -- word-processing documents, pictures, sound files... I had done a back-up in November but it was unfortunate to lose so much stuff.
Julie was very hesitant about taking her laptop in for similar treatment. She had hundreds of photographs stored on her hard drive and was unhappy about the possibility of losing them all.
We spent the next 36 hours fiddling about with the machine. To complicate matters it kept shutting down every few minutes. When it was on, I did a Google search for the error message that Julie had noted down and discovered we had the infamous Blaster worm. A quick download of the necessary security patch fixed the problem.
Julie ran a search for pictures and we were surprised to see all the pics I had on my hard drive come up in the results. That meant they were still there, we just couldn't see them.
Via the Control Panel feature I tried turning the "show hidden files" on and off a couple of times. Finally I went to My Computer and fossicked through the C drive. And -- yes! -- spotted a ghostly folder marked My Documents. It contained all the data that had been on the machine when it failed.
I thought there was probably a simple way to reconcile the old and new My Documents folders, but it seemed quicker just to click and drag the files over to the current folder. In a couple of minutes I had full access to all my stuff again.
A great relief.
Especially to Julie, who is now less concerned she's going to lose months of work.
We're used to the television networks going into "silly season" mode at the end of the year during the summer holidays, but this year is the first time I've seen them decide to do the same thing over Easter. Suddenly we started hearing announcements after popular shows that "this programme will be back in three weeks."
The week before and after the Easter weekend was a parade of repeats, mini-series and so-called specials (dreck like Outrageous Celebrity Lookalikes!). No wonder our minister grumbled to me that he'd shifted his television set out to the garage.
Is this going to be a yearly occurence from now on?
The Coodabeens were musing on the etiquette of when to serve chocolate eggs and Hot Cross buns on the radio on Sunday night. These days Easter is more or less a non-stop orgy of chocolate, and some supermarkets started selling Hot Cross buns halfway through January!
One pundit in the weekend press advanced the theory that the current generation are the first ones to grow up with no idea what Easter is about. Depressingly, recent surveys in Britain seem to back him up.
The consumer society has been trying to hijack Easter for years. Look at the greeting card industry.
The shops are full of colourful cards expressing vague "feelgood" messages about friendship, family and having-a-happy-easter. The Christian-themed cards are shoved away into a sort of ghetto, probably because people with strong religious convictions feel that Easter is about more than sending out cards.
So on Monday I was out walking Julie's dogs and looked up at the sky. The sun was shining, Christ was risen and all seemed well with the world. It looked like being a good day.
We ate at the new Art Hotel on the waterfront, walked down Salamanca Place (past the finish line of the Three Peaks race) and bought some fresh vegetables before heading home.
Not a bad day.
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Why is the animal population going crazy? I know it's a full moon, but everyone is off their heads. The cats are tearing around madly, the geese are honking their heads off unless they're fed double rations, rats are running about all over the town and possums are leaping from tree to tree every night.
The equinox was last week, but that usually only causes disturbances in the weather, not in the animal kingdom.