Another One of Those Weeks

Final, assembled Antec Veris case, with my 1TB backup drive inside.

Final, assembled Antec Veris case, with the drive from the OneTouch inside.

It’s turning out to be another of those weeks, when I get very little accomplished. I completed a couple posts scheduled for the next couple weeks, and tomorrow will be posted the first part of a 2-part humorous series, a roast of the Boston driver. And I also picked up writing a novel I began several months ago, which I had shelved because of an irreconcilable plot issue that I needed to resolve. Having resolved the issue, I updated the story outline, began revising the zero-draft (the extended outline), and I may even work on this novel for NaNoWriMo this year.

But other than that, I spent the week doing lots that accomplished very little:

I finished reading C.J. West’s A Demon Awaits (to which I give 4½ stars) as well as John Stossel’s Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel—Why Everything You Know is Wrong.

I began reading The Silver Door, Holly Lisle’s second Moon & Sun book, because the Little One and I both enjoyed The Ruby Key, the first book in the series.

I also began reading Happily Domesticated a collection of humorous sketches on family life, by Kevin Cummings, who I talked to recently on BeTheStory.com.

And I’ve been watching Babylon 5, rented from NetFlix. I adored this series when it was first aired, and this is the first time since then that I’ve been able to watch the episodes through in order. In the interim, I became a fiction author, and now I’m having a first chance to analyze the B5 storyline from a writer’s perspective.

The Apple Store had ordered a new optical drive for my MacBook Pro, and it came in… just about the same time that my backup drive, a Maxtor OneTouch 4 USB drive, gave out. That is, the drive itself still worked, but the power connector stopped working. It had been flaky for several weeks. I guess it got stepped on one too many times. And I didn’t feel comfortable handing my laptop over to the Apple Store, even though they shouldn’t need to touch the hard drive, without a working, up-to-date backup of all my data.

The Maxtor OneTouch 4, disassembled

At first, I groaned that I might need to dig up enough cash to get a whole new external backup drive, and then spend God-knows-how-many hours copying the data from the broken one to the new one… assuming I could keep the old one going long enough. I lucked out, though. On the way back from dropping the Missus off at work Wednesday, I stopped at Staples to look for a replacement computer mouse—

Remember when computer mice used to last more than a year? On my old original-Athlon 850MHz box, I have an old, three-button, PS/2 mouse, the kind with a rubber ball that rolls against a mousepad. (You can see it in the photo above.) So, a 10-year-old computer using a 20-year-old mouse, which costed only $10 or $20 in its day, and I’ve been able to keep that mouse going strong with nothing more than an occasional cleaning. Today’s mice don’t even have any way to clean them, not that they have a chance to get dirty. Since I got my Apple laptop, I’ve gone through an $80 Mighty Mouse, a $50 wireless Logitech mouse (with a dongle that sticks out from the side of the laptop and that got whacked one too many times), and one of those $20 retractable mice (whose cable inexplicably gave out).

Anyhow, I stopped at Staples; didn’t find a suitable replacement mouse (though I did later find one at a nearby Office Depot); but I did find that Staples carries a $60 external drive kit, the Antec Veris MX-1 “Actively Cooled Hard Drive Enclosure.” (That’s what they call it, anyhow.) That’s way cheaper than a whole new backup drive, and it let me get my hands dirty with computer components. (Figuratively speaking.) Which is something I haven’t done in years.

The first step was to disassemble the OneTouch 4, easier said than done, but I found a good description of the procedure online. (And yes, that did void my warranty, but I didn’t care, because I really wanted to preserve the data on the drive.)

Magnetizing a screwdriver

Magnetizing a screwdriver

The next challenge was translating the instructions for the Antec box. No, they weren’t written in Japanese. Rather, they were written without any words whatsoever. Just a series of diagrams. A good idea in concept, but a few short descriptive sentences would have helped a lot, just to let me know what I was looking at.

I also needed a magnetized screwdriver, because that was the only way to insert the two screws that held the drive in place inside the box. And before you complain that I shouldn’t be using a magnetized screwdriver with a disk drive… Let me assure you that the magnetic field of a screwdriver is much too weak to damage the data inside a hard drive. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a magnetized screwdriver, but I did have an old speaker from a dead-and-gone car stereo, a piece from my I-gotta-get-rid-of-this-junk pile. And I swiped one of my screwdrivers across it to magnetize it.

Once assembled, I hooked the drive up to my laptop using a USB cable, and it worked perfectly. The Antec case’s connectors also will be easier not to step on, so I hope they’ll last longer than Maxtor’s did.

I know I’m rambling my way through this story. But that’s been the story of my life this week. A mass of distractions and little focus and motivation. Tomorrow, I expect the pattern to continue, as I take C to a doctor’s appointment. And the last time we were at this particular doctor’s office, they made us wait for an hour before the doctor could see us. (Or was that a different office in the same building? Well, I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.) And then I need to drop my laptop off at the Apple Store, which means first backing it up anew. And between all of that, I expect to get nothing done, but I’ll probably have plenty of time to read another book or two.

At least I can hope next week will be more productive.

-TimK