Thursday, August 20, 2009

Computery Goodness

I've been tinkering with multiple operating systems on my laptop. This is nothing new, but rather something I've been doing for going on four years now, with various OS's and laptops. Today, however, I achieved a new level of geekiness.

Today I restored my installation of Windows XP. Rather than reinstalling and reconfiguring the twenty-some-odd programs I use on a daily basis, I did the following:

1. Made a copy of the entire windows xp partition to an external harddrive (while in Linux, because Windows will get sticky about certain system files)
2. Reformatted the original harddrive, creating an empty partition for Windows to reside in, and installing the operating systems that required the reformatting of the hard disk.
3. Copied the entire windows partition back onto the blank partition.
4. Used my original windows installation disk to go into 'repair' mode to execute the following command: 'fixboot'
5. Voila, my windows xp works exactly as it did yesterday before I made the backup, in a fraction of the time it would take to reinstall everything.

But I bet right now you're wondering what sort of practical use this has for your life. Well, should you be one of the masses using Windows XP in your personal life, you can easily download a thumb drive version of linux (such as Puppy), install it on an old flash drive you have lying around, and then use it to make a backup of your entire hard drive. Then, should you ever get a virus, have a hard drive failure, or whatnot, you can have a new disk up and running with all of your old programs installed in a fraction of the time.

And believe me, hard drive failures happen to everyone. You don't want to spend your days looking for spare hard drive parts on ebay so that you can squeek one last read out of a dead harddrive.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Living in the City of Beautiful People

This fall I'll be starting a doctoral program at UCLA. Aside from the obvious issues of graduate study, moving to LA has been full of other things as well. For instance, our apartment falls pretty squarely between West Hollywood and Hollywood proper. If we walk four blocks south, we find ourselves in a transitional neighborhood of aging Russian Jews and young, fashionable gays. If we walk four blocks east we are surrounded by tourists and highly manicured fashionistas trying to make it in the entertainment industry. Every day I feel like I'm in some sort of strange movie set, and then I realize that I am.

Then there are the little things that make life so colorful. Like not having power for 5 days. I guess the previous tenant was enough of a deadbeat that I had to show up in person at the LA Dept. of Water and Power with a copy of my lease and photo ID. It wouldn't be such a hassle if they were open on the weekends...

But being a technophile without power leads to the question of what do I do with myself when the technology fails me. I like to listen to music, watch movies, cook, listen to the radio, read, all of which become more complicated with no power. No fans, no refrigerator, no stereo, no lights, no wasteful hours of internet surfing, but then again, I can't remember the last time I ordered take-out for a candle-lit dinner, so perhaps I shouldn't complain.