Back in business

Sydney HarbourFor some reason that I still can’t really explain my blog has been out of action for the last couple of months. I’ve tried to fix it but didn’t really have time to get into it properly when my small attempts didn’t work. In that time I’ve updated my Social Media for Family Historians book and written a new one called Land research for family historians in Australia and New Zealand.

I’ve just had another go, and when what I tried to do didn’t work I put it back the way it was and started installing another one, with the intention of loading it up with a backup. For some reason I can’t explain doing those things has caused it to work.

It’s a mystery to me, but it’s good to be back!

I don’t love my new Toshiba netbook any more

Early last year I bought a Toshiba NB200 notebook. It was just what I wanted. I bumped up the RAM to 2GB and installed Dropbox, and I never looked back. I could take my work with me and have it synchronise with my main laptop at home.

About a month ago it became unreliable as to starting up. Now it won’t start up at all. Not happy.

I’ve checked forums and so on. If I press F2 or F12 while it’s trying to boot up – nothing happens.

If I press 0 (zero) while it’s booting up to restore it to its factory condition – nothing happens.

If I do nothing when it’s trying to boot up, I either get a black screen or the Toshiba splash screen, and there it stays.

The forums also say to use my system restore disk. I have no system restore disk, and I don’t have a portable disk drive to run it on, so to buy these things will cost more money. I thought that’s what the space being taken up on the hard disk by the factory system restore was for.

I know we’re supposed to be replacing our netbooks with iPads or other tablets these days, but I use mine to work. I need a keyboard all the time. I don’t want to have to mess with a virtual keyboard, and I don’t want to have to carry a portable keyboard around and have to connect everything up when I get to the place where I am researching. I just want to open up my netbook and go.

I can’t afford to buy a new netbook every year and then upgrade the memory, and then spend the time loading everything back on it that I need. I would pay more for a netbook with a longer guarantee, but it seems that netbooks are on the way out, in favour of tablets.

OK, I’ve had my rant, thank you for your attention!

By the way, if you are interested in Dropbox, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, you will do me a favour if you sign up using my recommendation. That way I get more space, and when you are as hooked as I am you can recommend it to your friends and get more space above the first free 2GB.

What wasn’t backed up after all

dreamstimefree_594My old laptop died a sudden death on Good Friday, 22nd April 2011.

My new laptop arrived on Black Friday, 13th May 2011.

Are you detecting a pattern here?

The death of my old laptop was not the catastrophe it could have been, thanks to my many backups. I only lost a morning’s worth of emails since my last backup had run overnight. I had backups of all documents, photos, music and databases in various places, including online.

I had a few issues with the software I had to use until my new one arrived, but these are mostly resolved. The main issues I still have are lessons you can learn from:

  • Is your Application Data (in Windows XP) or Appdata (Vista) folder backed up?
  • Some programs keep their data in the same folder as the program files, under Programs rather than Documents. You may have to consciously export a backup regularly rather than relying on it to be backed up with other documents. If you didn’t, it will be lost when you computer dies.
  • All my browser extensions and bookmarks have gone missing. I need to find out how to back these up too.
  • My download limit is being pushed by having to download a lot of software at once, and re-establishing with Mozy, my online backup service. I’m getting better at organising these things for offpeak times.

I have ordered an adapter for my old laptop’s hard drive. Since it was the motherboard that died I am hoping that the hard drive can still give me the data that wasn’t backed up. It will look like a portable hard drive, only I can open it and put the hard drive into it. Stay tuned!