Computer idiot

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On 3/14/2016 5:23 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Oh, Jeez! My condolences! I won't let SWMBO even *sit* at any of my workstations! Need something? OK, I'll build you a laptop with that <something> for you to use (she currently has two such laptops in addition to her workstation).
[Her replacement workstation is sitting in the living room waiting to be built -- as is her replacement laptop. Her old workstation will get discarded (pull and sanitize disk) and one of "my" laptops will be restored to its original image -- the other discarded. Just need ten or twenty more hours in the day... EACH day! :< ]

The laptops I build for students restore in less than 5 minutes. But, there's just Windows, some tools and MSOffice, there. The point being it is really NOT very painful to do a restore -- so, it becomes a viable way of working through any problems!

I had one lose the boot sector to a hardware failure. Simply would not restore. And, apparently the sector remapping software wouldn't accommodate it.
<shrug> No problem. Slap another disk in and restore the image to that!

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Per Don Y:

Yeah - that's what I have come around to: once have the procedure down pat, a re-image is just too simple and takes too few clock hours (actually minutes) for me to even consider anything else.
The whole business with Windows' backtracking the registry to "Restore Points" becomes, IMHO, sort of silly - especially because then I have to trust that process and assume that nothing else is amiss.
--
Pete Cresswell

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On 3/15/2016 6:12 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Exactly. Entropy is very apparent in any MS system!
For students, having to "live without" the machine while it is being "repaired" is a big disincentive to NEEDING it repaired.
IME, people would much rather the convenience of being able to have a "working" machine than they would fret over the potential of "losing something" (and needing a manual "recovery and rebuild"). Esp if you can give them a way to keep their "precious stuff" someplace that isn't corrupted/lost in the process.
[Of course, this also works great for *me* -- as I have no desire to be recovering lost files for all sorts of careless users!]
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On 03/14/2016 03:30 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I keep my data backed up to at least two or three separate hard drives.
No matter how much of a PITA reinstalling the OS may or may not be... it can be done.
Lost data?
That's a whole different scenario.
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On 3/14/2016 6:14 PM, philo wrote:

My "live repository" sits, in duplicate, on multi-TB spindles. (I have a *lot* of stuff archived!)
I have offline copies on optical media (which have to be treated gingerly lest they give up the ghost).
And, really precious things are on MO and tape. It may take me a while (a LONG while) to recover a lost spindle. But, I *can* recover them!
I have several COTS NAS's that I spin up, as needed, so I can "push" a copy of a work-in-progress off to another spindle if I fear I may screw something up with the local "working copy".
Biggest hassle is retrieving big objects from the archive. E.g., when I build multimedia presentations, I often have to pull hundreds of GB of audio/video "templates" off the archive to explore, "live". Even at gigabit speeds, it takes a fair amount of time!
Biggest *headache* is keeping track of "little projects" that may have been pulled out for a bit of touchup -- and then forgetting which copy has the most current set of changes.
E.g., I spent a few hours revising a paper pulled onto a laptop while sitting in car waiting for SWMBO. If I forget to merge those changes back into the original, I may find myself wondering "Didn't I change all this, already?" at some future time...

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Per philo:

And, for the insufficiently-paranoid who may only have one backup device: consider the scenario where a flaky USB card or some other weird failure fries drives as they are connected.
Once I cooked 2 or 3 backup drives before it dawned on me what was happening. Since then I make it a point to always keep at least one drive where I cannot get to it too easily - in hopes that I will come to my senses soon enough in a similar situation.
--
Pete Cresswell

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On 3/15/2016 6:15 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

I had that happen on one of my servers. Kept wondering why I was having problems with USB devices (e.g., external disks). Swapped out USB hubs, cables, etc.
Of course, I'd been deligently ignoring the "warning light" as it was a hassle to hook up an IPMI client to query the machine ("What's wrong?").
Discovered a bad USB/FW card was the cause of all the problems. Pulled that and everything played nice together.

I keep backups on different spindles on different machines. My newest approach connects external USB drives to little headless machines (Optiplex FX160's) and mounts them remotely. Pull whatever files I want over the network -- knowing that there is nothing else "running" on the FX160's that could hiccup.
Other copies of the files on any particular volume reside on other disks. I have a database that tracks where each is located (disk, directory, filename -- a file can have a different name and still be the same file!) along with information that helps me verify its integrity (checksum, date, etc.).
Another program just walks through each disk's contents (on the FX160's) verifying the checksums of each file against the STORED checksums in the (remote) database.
So, if something is remiss, I get notified that the file is experiencing bitrot and I have to arrange for a "backup copy" to be mounted so the rotting copy can be restored.
[I don't want this to be an automatic process as a hiccup could wipe out ALL copies of a file!]
This ensures that copies exist on independent media, controlled by independent CPU's, is *verified* regularly (just HAVING a copy doesn't mean that copy is still accessible!) and can be LOCATED easily (with literally MILLIONS of files in my repository, there's no easy way to KNOW where a copy of a particular file might reside: which USB disk? which CD? DVD? etc.)
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On 03/15/2016 08:15 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Yes. I had a bad USB port too.
Also, of the times I've needed to restore from a backup only a few of those have been because of hardware failure, It's usually software failure, which may not be apparent until after making a backup. I've needed that older backup a few times.
BTW, I have has a failed HD. I was glad to have a COMPLETE backup, not just the (currently useless) personal data that some people recommend.
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.us/
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On 3/14/2016 11:15 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

It has been for a long time! But, not all apps play by the rules. And, most folks don't realize that you can "move" the "My Documents" hierarchy.
E.g., on the SteadyState machines, I move MyDocuments to D: (which isn't "preserved" by the SteadyState) so data files are persistent without inconveniencing the user.
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On 3/14/2016 8:39 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Keep an image of the machine "as built". Update it when you add a new application *or* undertake some major reconfiguration. With 1, 2, 3 and 4T external drives, you can create a buttload of images and never run out of space (you're only imaging executables, not "user files")

I've not included that requirement. It's all or nothing (on a partition by partition basis). The imaging and restore operations are done without the help of the local OS. So, you want it to be a turnkey operation -- not one where the user (who RARELY interacts with that software) has to remember how it works and what to "click", "drag", etc.
For the laptops that I build for a local non-profit, I build a custom "restore partition" that lets the user wipe the system and restore it to its original condition (no special media required, etc.).
In the past, I would install SteadyState so the user's "system" would be immutable -- leaving any "data" on a separate partition (or thumb drive, external drive, etc). Coupled with the above, I would never (?) need to see a machine again after having delivered it to its end user.

I do that during the initial build: Installation.txt sitting on the desktop. But, people aren't good at maintaining that sort of document.
When building a machine, I'll typically install the OS, then take an image (0_OS). Then, add the drivers and take another image (1_Drivers). Then, updates/patches and another image (2_Updates). Then, basic utilities (WinZIP, PowerToys, etc.). Then, core applications (web browser, etc.). Then, more advanced/specific applications.
The last image is the one that gets saved for the machine (the other images are there in case something goes awry while I am building and I need to roll back to an earlier stage).
I keep track of *everything* that I do in the installation log. E.g., every "preference" setting, license codes, etc. I will also include snippets of REGEDIT files (e.g., to disable Autorun the way I prefer to have it disabled; put Administrator on the login screen; etc.).
So, the first thing you do when recovering a system is copy the "final" installation log onto the desktop so you can follow it to move from <whatever> restored image to the next step, forward.

I find folks moving to external "data" drives instead of having to remember to "backup" (to an external drive).
I use a similar approach with my machines: executables on C: (for windows machine) and other volumes for "working files". So, only one "project" resides on the machine at any given time (but, for me, a project may involve a few hundred GB of "stuff"). In that way, I don't have to keep track of which parts of which projects have been backed up recently...
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Per Don Y:

That's pretty much what I was trying to describe... Except, for the truly-paranoid like myself, I tend to restore from the last image and apply the changes since, and then create the next image. Cuts down on the chances of picking up something nasty-but-hard-to-find between images.
--
Pete Cresswell

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On 3/14/2016 5:25 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

IME, most people don't install much after a machine is built. So, the "as built" image is usually "good enough" for a restore. They may have to go through and re-tweak settings and configuration options that have "evolved" to suit their tastes. But, that's usually not a big deal.
[Most people don't have lots of "applications" on a machine. By contrast, I will typically have more than 100G of apps on each machine -- and, aside from some "core utilitites", most of those are *different* from machine to machine! So, it's important that I get the configuration stuff folded into the initial image...]
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wrote:

That's been my practice for many years. Same with your other good advice. It's not paranoia, just sound practice for the PC. About the only thing you didn't cover is system partition size. Keeping it as small as possible increases the speed of restoring and imaging, making doing it almost casual in terms of effort. IOW, it gets done.
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Per philo:

Dunno but after a few years of mainframe user support at a major utility company, I learned that the first question to ask (tactfully...) is "Is the device powered on?"...
--
Pete Cresswell

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On 03/13/2016 03:32 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Yep!
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On 03/13/2016 04:16 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:
[snip]

And plugged in to something other than the power strip that's plugged in to itself.
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On 03/13/2016 06:41 PM, Sam E wrote:

Funny side note:
I was over at a friend's house and there was a certain woman there he was making fun of.
Right in front of her he said she was so dumb he had to go over there late at night and fix the speaker wires on her stereo then drive back home.
I knew as a fact the woman was pretty bright and hooking up speakers would have been laughably simple.
She leaned over to me and said. "I was trying to seduce him, guess who the dummy was."
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<stuff snipped>

Great story! Reminds me of the comedienne who put on her sexiest negligee and stood leaning seductively in the living room doorway. When her husband noticed he said: "What's wrong honey, did you hit your head?"
Men often don't get subtle cues . . .
--
Bobby G.



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On 03/14/2016 07:32 AM, Robert Green wrote:

It took my wife a while to get my attention at first.
One evening she showed up wearing fishnet stockings and a leather miniskirt possibly 4" long and an exceedingly low cut blouse.
I figured out that she was dropping a little hint.
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