Death of a Hard Drive

This has been a pretty horrible week. Shortly after I saved the notes on starfest my main hard drive started to tick. This drive started life on an early G4 and made the transition to the current mid???production-cycle machine. It was about four years old, or roughly 100 years in computer time, and so it’s demise (the tick is that of a death-watch beetle) wasn’t, or shouldn’t have been, unexpected. Still, it was a shock to find the drive had scrambled some of it’s directory tables. But no problem! Tech Tools will restore it, right? Wrong! The head had crashed, scraping bits and pieces of a disk platter and totally trashing the drive. I took it to CBL for recovery, and they couldn’t recover. Damn!

OK, at least my trusty backups will restore everything. Um, trusty backups. When did I do one last? It’s been a while, like maybe six months, right? Three years. THREE years. Three YEARS! Oh. heh. heh. heh. Excuse me, I’ll just go off and shoot myself. Quietly.

I’ve been recovering and rebuilding ever since, and it looks as though most of the last two years is gone forever. I did have some viable backups for a few files and folders, but since the major backups weren’t done there are many crucial files which can’t be restored, including some software which was installed from downloaded purchases and apparently never save to CD. Thought I had, but hadn’t.


I feel a little better now.

Starfest 2004

I booked Friday off so I could go to Starfest and see what the fuss was all about. I figured I would drive up Thursday night, after work, and leave with lots of time to pick a site, set up, and start observing.

Instead I putzed around before I got the car loaded, and it was just after seven when I finally hit the road. I needed gas, so that ate up a further 10 or 15 minutes, and I didn’t really get going until about 7.30. I didn’t have the official instructions on how to get to Starfest, but in any case I didn’t want to take the 407, which is what the MS map site recommended. Instead I went up the 400 and got off at Alliston – which was a bigger town that I had realized. It took a while to get through the town, and according to the GPS unit I was still about an hour away when I finally got back to the highway. Drove through Sherburne (memories of Bruce Beach) and looked for the turn-off which MS said to take. I didn’t see it – either I missed it, or the road I eventually took – same number, but further along – was right. That road ended in a ‘Bridge Out’ so I wound up back on 89 driving under the guidance of the GPS unit, which was supposedly pointing out the way. Ultimately I got to the site at about 10 o’clock. I had to tape my lights before I went in, which chewed up more time, and I finally set up my tent – on a slope – at about 10.30. I started to set the mount up, but eventually I gave up and pulled a pair of old binoculars out and stared up at the star clouds. After a walk in the dark I turned in around 1.30.

I spent the night rolling down hill – tent on a slope, remember? – and climbing back up again. Every now and then I stuck my head out to look at the sky. Venus was a pretty sight, and I eventually got up and walked over to the Red Light Cafe for a coffee – which was only lukewarm by then.

At breakfast Norm Folkers hailed me, and I spent part of the morning talking with him. I was still sleep-deprived, so I moved the tent to a more level spot, took my morning meds, and dozed off. I caught some of the talks, including two of Robert Gendron’s and Nagin Cox’s talk on the Mars rover missions, but the fresh air must have been hitting me hard because I dozed off again when I took my late meds. I didn’t check my glucose levels, so it’s possible they were out of whack.

Friday night was a write-off unless you like fishing sucker holes, so I turned in around 12.30. Up the following morning and met up with Norm again over breakfast, where I also chatted briefly with Terry Dickinson. He thought he recognised my name, but it’s been 30 years since I had a public presence in astronomy – and that only from the RASC Toronto Centre, so it seems unlikely to have been anything significant. He must have good associative recall….

Saturday was clear from the start. I spent most of my time around the commercial outlets and the swap table shortly after that was opened – though I apparently missed a Coronado Solar filter for $800 which I’m kicking myself for – it was offered before the official opening bell. I stayed for the dinner and draw (dammit, I didn’t win the Denk!) but was too tired to go on, and drove home to collapse in peace.

Good sessions, but next time I need a better tent and more rest.