Technical trouble

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The lack of posting the last few days is the result of business busyness, lousy access to WiFi at my hotel, and, most recently, the apparent failure of my laptop hard drive. (Can anyone suggest a good data recovery service? I had a fairly recent backup, but not recent enough.)

UPDATE: The drive (a Seagate 40 GB drive) seems to be OK, but not the laptop. I put the drive in a USB enclosure and was able to power it up, connect it to another computer, and copy critical data off of it. When I tried to reinstall it in my ancient (5 year old) Dell Inspiron 4000, the BIOS still couldn't see it. The BIOS had also stopped seeing the aftermarket DVD+RW I bought a while back.

Here's what I think happened: Thursday during a break at the convention I was attending, I headed over to the WiFi hotspot to check e-mail. I had the laptop set up to standby when the lid is shut and restart when the lid is open. I put it back in the backpack, thinking I had the lid shut all the way. It must have bounced open just enough in my laptop backpack to restart, and surrounded by all that nice padding, it overheated and something fried. When I pulled it out to use it during a session, it was already restarted when I opened it, and there was an I/O error dialog box in the middle of the screen. The laptop was non-responsive to my inputs. When I reset it, it refused to recognize the DVD+RW. So I popped that out and tried again, and it refused to recognize the hard drive. The BIOS init process seemed to hang at about 95% on the progress bar.

This laptop, which I bought for $700 second hand in June 2002, has had a new video cable, a new and bigger hard drive, new and more memory, a new motherboard, a new DVD drive, and a new keyboard installed at one time or another. Plus I bought a WiFi card and a USB-2/Firewire combo card to make up for the absence of those features. In other words, I've spent as much keeping it running as I paid for it in the first place. Still, it's been a good machine, it's been with me all over the country and across the pond, and it's been cheaper to pay the incremental costs over time than to buy a new machine in one fell swoop. Plus, I haven't yet faced the problem of reinstalling everything.

So if I do buy a new laptop, should it be another Dell? And should I stick with XP, go with Vista, or chuck it all and make this one a Linux machine?

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Mark Burleson said:

I don't remember a good recovery service, I know we used one in town before though. For future backup, I'm recommending They are really cheap and quite amazing.

Penny G said:

Unfortunately, we've had the use the recovery services of Aktec Computer at around 41st & Yale a couple of times. The good news is they did a good job.

Scott B. said:

If you like XP , stay away from Vista. And go see Steve @ OARS computers at 5th and Sheridan.

Don Author Profile Page said:

Stick with Dell, stick with XP, get a portable Western Digital USB hard drive and B-A-C-K-U-P and FWIW, I used the consultants my work uses when my home hard drive failed and I couldn't get anything off of it and they were able to recover 100% for cheap. Email me if you want details.

manasclerk Author Profile Page said:

There's no real reason to not run both. I've dual booted for years, but with the better VMs these days, there's not the need. Buy lots of after market RAM and a fat hard drive, install both operating systems and go at it.

I use Codeweavers Crossover Office on my Intel Mac with some limited success for the Windows apps that I still need. Primarily Visio. Beats firing up an entire operating system when it works.

If it weren't for some great X11 support in Mac OS, I'd be running linux now.

OBTW, running Linux natively is great for security but the wireless support still stinks. There's a lot of reasons for this, mostly due to hardware manufacturers' changing chipsets without changing product names. And I never found an easy way to select a new wireless system when I was traveling, once I got the Belkin PC card to work.

That's some pretty impressive usage out of that old box. Not only do you bang on it a lot, but I get the impression that you lug it everywhere.

Let me know if you're going to be in town over the holidays any. We have to do the OK pilgrimage with the new baby.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 30, 2007 1:20 AM.

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