Fate Plays IT…

Things have been a little bit dead around here. Mostly because Fin and I have been hugely distracted from other activities. My main PC was knocked out by a thunderstorm a few months back. Not long after, Fin’s mom lost her computer as well.

Apparently, 2014 wasn’t a good year for the SuburbanReject family’s electronics.

Hardware

Fin and I discussed things, and decided on building a new PC.

Parts Picture

 

At this point, I’ve FINALLY finished building / rebuilding / installing / reinstalling and tweaking the system. This was the first PC build I’ve done in a long while. I stopped using custom built PCs roughly 4 years ago, when I decided I had better things to do with my time. Not sure why, but my nerd took over again and I wanted to tweak and customize. For the nerds out there, PCPartsPicker is a fairly cool site that does a good job with organizing a build and finding good prices. I easily saved $200-300 off the retail costs of all these parts over the course of the build through a combination of careful shopping and using that site. I’ve posted the gory details / nerd porn over in a review and write-up at the same site.

Software, Software, Software

Given the death and rebuild of two computers, it seemed like a good team to evaluate software choices and find new / better solutions based on my previous tried and true solutions.

Backup Solutions

CrashPlan

I played with multiple different backup software solutions. Previously, my go-to has always been a simple clonezilla image of the post-install computer, and then attempting to burn regular DVD backups.

Loosing my last PC, I discovered that:

  • I don’t make backups nearly as often as I thought
  • Backups are worthless if you lose them

Currently, somewhere within 3 different family houses, there is a DVD binder with years worth of pictures and digital archives. This DVD binder is missing. I’ve been working through multiple old hard drives, saving off backups, and looking for new/old files and trying to restore my previous archive of my digital life.

At the same time, I’ve bought-in to the idea of backing up to the cloud. After looking at multiple vendors, I’ve landed on CrashPlan. It’s got a couple cool things going for it: cloud storage at a decent price and the ability to backup to personal cloud / other computers. The only real gripe I have is that they don’t really give a good method for whole-PC backup / restore. For that, I’ll keep using ClonezillaĀ and burning to BlueRay BDR.

Anti-Virus

With Windows 8.1, I’ve been a little bit irritated at Microsoft’s Security Essentials package. Not to mention, there’s a lot of knowledgeable people advising against using just that. While I’m generally careful with browsing, I do leave a bit open to the internet (for remote access), and like the idea of at least a basic antivirus program.

After some experimentation and playing with trial software, I landed on BitDefender. There software gets good reviews for detecting malware and the system load is minimal compare to majorĀ freeĀ  antivirus programs.

I purchased the solution from Herman Street and saved a bit of cash. Transaction was smooth / easy.

Data Recovery

I’m not sure what sad circumstances caused it, but I’ve never seen a data drive quiet as toasted as I received from Fin’s Mom. At first, it appeared to be a lost cause. While physically fine, I’ve not seen the data on a drive so well and truly shredded before. After creating a mirror, I ran the volume through multiple data recovery tools, both free and commercial. Usually, testdiskĀ can work some serious magic.

In the end, after trying multiple system recovery tools, including: Recover My Files, Restorer Ultimate, Recuva, and others I can’t remember, I found *one* just *one* that didn’t resort to raw signature based recovery: Stellar Phoenix.

Stellar’s software works for data recovery. While the UI looks like it’s designed by a two year old, the option selection sucks, and the whole thing feels *clunky*, it managed to process and restore gigs of lost family photos, tax records, and more. And that’s *without* going to the effort of raw data recover where you sort through endless files named Image0001.jpg, Image0002.jpg, many of which are browser thumbnails or mis-matched data.

So, if you have managed to toast a drive without killing the hardware, give it a shot.

Back to your regularly scheduled program…

I don’t make any promises on posting while Fin and I are working an extra job, but… at least I’ve got our computer situation sorted out this week. Next week? Well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed nothing new dies.

 

 

 

Ambition, Drive, and Burn Out

It’s been a bit since I posted anĀ actual update here. I set a goal to post regularly here at the beginning of the year. The weekly updates proved an easy way to do it.

Over the past few years, Fins shouted, repeatedly, that I was running myself into the ground. I didn’t realize it for a while, but 4 years ago I left a frustrating job for an even more stressful one. I wanted out of corporate America to do something more interesting. The opportunities for advancement seemed endless.

I’m not sure when the new gig took a turn for the worse. The first year or so centered around building and releasing a cool product. For the longest time, I’ve defined success in my profession as “getting products out the door”. When company tasked a team to build a new product, but failed to create an environment to build it, the end result was a slow, lingering, failure.

They’ve since tried to address several of the perceived root causes, but, I feel, in negative ways.

In the end, the new job proved both stressful and frustrating, and that was too much. I’ve left and gone back to corporate America. Funny enough, my current big company allows me to talk a bit about working there (with a few caveats). They do require me to add a disclaimer though.

The opinions of this blog are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions, business practices, plans, etc… of my employer.

I’ve changed it slightly from the HR mandated version on account of not actually acknowledging who they are here. If you figure it out, then there usual disclaimer applies. In any case, this blog isn’t about whizz-bang ultra cool electronic gadgets.

Fate & Fin are entering yet another “building year”, but with a renewed focus. The past several months have been hard for both of us. On the positive side, I spent some time analyzing whats important, where Fin and I want to go, and how we’re going to get there.

Fin has informed me that I’m not allowed to make any new big plans right now. So, I won’t promise to more interesting / better content here. However, I’m now working toward a new priority: getting healthy. I read multiple times about burnout, and never really figured it could impact so many different areas of my health the way it has. Until it did.

In the past I’ve had goals along the lines of ‘get up earlier’, ‘work out more’, ‘eat healthier’. Little did I realize that those goals would be difficult or impossible without asking why I feel a need to sleep in more, why do I have little desire to work out, and why do I crave constant junk food.

So, for the time being, I’m focused on… “being”.

— Fate