Protection of the digital variety

Famous last words: no rush, I’ll do it tomorrow or even worse, it’s a new computer, I don’t need to worry about backing up the OS. I’m a smart, sensible person, so why are these jobs so difficult to get started.

This morning I awoke to the ‘ASUS black screen of death’. I didn’t realise such a term existed until I scrolled through message board after message board looking for a solution. Turns out that my problem could be hardware based or it could be some dodgy software. I usually wait before downloading the upgrades that come through; after all it’s not that unusual to hear about patches being published for long-awaited upgrades.

I’m quite certain there was nothing of that sort last night. I published a post over at one of my other blogs (Heather’s Helsinki) and then spent some time checking out themes. I want to update the theme over there, I’m just not sure what I want. As inspiration didn’t strike, I logged off, shut down and every so gently closed the lid (I specifically remember this because I didn’t want the dog to hear the ‘click’ and think that some treat was on its way).

This morning I open up the lid fully expecting that the sign-on screen will appear. Instead I was faced with a black screen and the mouse pointer hovering in the centre. I move  the mouse in slow circles to start with, in the vain hope that this motion will somehow, miraculously kick-start my computer. No such luck. My tea suddenly tastes bad and I remember the message that has hovered in the bottom right hand corner for the last couple of months. The one that baldly reminds me that I haven’t backed up my OS and it would be a very good idea to do it now. I didn’t even check the box that said ‘don’t show this message again’. Good thing, I’m quite sure I would never have found the back-up without it.

However there will be nothing to back-up if I can’t get the computer working again. Files and pictures are all in the cloud, and I’ve done practice recoveries to get them back, so those things I wasn’t so concerned about. Having a pretty silver box with a black screen that does absolutely nothing was something that was concerning me BIG TIME.

I commandeer the tablet and type in what I think is an appropriate search time. The search engine disagrees and gives me results that are close in a vague sort of ‘dogs are close to cats because they’re both pets’ way. I change the order of the words and the results start making more sense and also scare me much more. A third try hits the target and after reading those message board posts I’m feeling decidedly queasy. An appointment allows me to put off making any sudden moves and I head off into the morning determined not to let my ailing computer disturb me any more than it already has.

I return home and find a couple of small jobs to do before opening the computer again. No change. Absolutely no change. Black screen and the mouse pointer hovering ever so calmly. I track down the mornings search results and start reading them word for word. One instruction is repeated a few times. Hold the power button down for 20 seconds, release and restart. It was as good a fix as any. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. I did as instructed and tried not to hold my breath as I heard the start-up sounds.

Success was close at hand THIS TIME. it would seem. Alas there were no DVD’s handy to run the back-up there and then. My food shopping trip on the way home from school turned into a hunt for DVDs. Twice the computer went to sleep over the course of the afternoon and both times I was afraid the black screen would reappear. Thankfully, what ever issue there was, it seems to have passed. There have now been three restarts without issue. Maybe this was an isolated incident. Either way, I’ve no interest in a repeat occurrence and can report that the back-up has been run and I’m now 100% protected.


I’m new at this, some help please!

If you work from home, how do you do it? Get the balance between home and work I mean?

For the length of my ride this morning this question was foremost in my thoughts. I dress properly in the morning, as if I am heading to the office. Yet somewhere early in the day, especially so if there is no reason to leave the house, my eye gets distracted by the house and so I think, 15 minutes won’t hurt. Or the blog takes longer to write than I’ve allowed on the clock. Then the research material doesn’t fit together or a crucial part is missing. Let’s not even mention email.

Now that the young man of the house is on summer holiday there is an additional distraction.

Presently my set up is:

Shared desk space with my partner (in life, not business!), shared printer, own computer. Paper in boxes, paper in folders, paper in plastics bags, paper in paper bags: by paper I mean printed stuff, including yet not limited to magazines, letters, brochures, trade info, ideas, reminders, application forms etc.

Should I think about renting an office space? There are plenty of office suites around the city, with rents charged according to size and location. Financially, this was a step that I was anticipating 18 months – 2 years down the track. If I’m not getting anything done at home, it could well be better in the long-term.

Space wise we do not have the luxury of a dedicated office. Our current office takes up one corner in our open living / dining room. A desk in the bedroom is out of the question from a space point of view, and also for my own piece of mind. Now if I wake at three in the morning, I’m not disturbing anyone if I sit at the desk for an hour or so.

There is one other alternative: I could buy dedicated ‘Heather only’ filing cabinet. My ‘favourite’ furniture store has quite a nice unit called Alex, 9 drawers and stands a little over one metre high. Times 2 would be 18 different lockers that would more than cater for my needs at the present. Although space is at a premium, and I’m reluctant to bring more furniture into the house, the paper situation is driving me crazy.

Now that I’ve thought out loud for a little while, I’d like to know what you think about my situation and if you work from home, how do you do it? All comments and ideas eagerly anticipated. If you know of someone who works from home and has a good set up, please pass this on and ask them to comment. Even if you enjoy the luxury (IMO!) of a separate room to work from, I still want to hear how you cope with putting on the ‘office’ hat as opposed to the ‘home’ hat.