parallel paths into oblivion
Saturday, May 7 2005
I played an extended game of bluestone Tetris today with the bluestone path part of the project and made substantial progress. But I wasn't really happy with the "library" of flat rocks I had to draw from. I'd need a triangle about six inches in length, but the closest match I'd have would have an angle that was off by ten or fifteen degrees, introducing additional small triangles into the tiling pattern.
This evening I was backing up and restoring data to a hard drive when I experienced a small sort of disaster: I accidentally dragged and dropped a folder in the wrong direction, overwriting the one having the correct data with the one that didn't. Unfortunately, there was no other backup of this data in existence, and the only thing that kept the disaster from being worse was the fact that the copy stopped halfway through with some sort of "this file is being used by Windows" error. I've complained about these sorts of errors in the past - why doesn't Windows copy every file it can and then report the problems with individual files in list form (complete with options on how to proceed) at the end? But in this case the interruption, unnecessary and boneheaded though it was, had the side effect of saving some of the data.
It's very rare that I lose data without having a backup immediately handy, and it's virtually unheard of for me to lose data through a copy operation. I figured the lost files must have been simply "deleted" and thus still recoverable. In the past, at least on a Macintosh, this was easily done using a program like Norton Utilities.
But as I was about to discover, Norton Utilities is a pale shadow of its former self. No longer does it have the ability to enter a disaster scene and resurrect deleted files. With Norton you have to install the program proactively, before you ever have any problems. You have to live with its ponderous overhead and infuriating helper applications (such as LiveReg and LiveUpdate) on the off-chance that one day you'll do something stupid. But anyone who will takes such proactive measures is probably the sort least likely to ever use the program, because they also religiously make backups! Norton and AOL seem to be following parallel paths into oblivion, making increasingly irrelevant application suites with every "upgrade."
I did finally find a powerful program with the ability to enter a computer after a disaster, scan a disk surface, and find lost files. It's called GetDataBack and it's freely downloadable. (You have to pay to get a key if you then want to resurrect your files, but of course valid keys can also be found for free with a simple Google search.) Unfortunately, though, not even a thorough surface scan could recover the files I'd lost. Evidently when Windows overwrites a folder with one having the same name, it actually overwrites the files that the old folder contained. It seems like strange behavior for a modern file system like NTFS, but there's nothing I can do about it now.
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