Friday, November 14, 2008

Back on Line….. and Ready for VSN

Whew! I'm baaaackkk!!!

First of all, let me start by extending a very big and very sincere "Thank You" to everyone who sent me a PM through SplitCoast Stampers or a personal email to inquire as to my absence not just from my blog, but from the threads I usually post to on SCS, and from my gallery, where there have been no new cards posted in a week. I’m incredibly touched – and honored – by your concern. Although I did lay low for several days following my last chemotherapy treatment, the reason for my recent “absence” has been a trip to Italy. JUST KIDDING!!!!! (But, oh, how I wish! Maybe next summer….)

Actually, the real reason has been entirely technical: Since early last week, I've been stymied with some major computer issues that are well on their way to being resolved. What a nightmare this has been!

Not only did we have a catastrophe with my computer, but we've also been contending with a network disaster. Our previously fabulous in-home network was dismantled when “upgrades” were installed to bring my husband's home medical office on-line with the local hospital. The Reader's Digest Condensed version is that my husband joined an electronic medical record collaborative, a national pilot project funded by the federal government and BCBS. Under the guise of "improving things", our own network was ripped out, replaced with one that served only half of our home, and this essentially shut down my studio. They networked my husband's office to the hospital but made no provisions for restoring our existing network in the rest of the house and left the kids and me floundering. The frosting on the cake was someone's misguided effort to program my computer to back up to a tetradrive as an extra (and redundant) back-up. Why they did this, I'm not even sure; but they programmed it to set multiple restore points on it's own D drive (instead of on the tetradrive), totally filling both internal hard drives. It then crashed and could not be revived. To say that I was unhappy is a bit of an understatement!

A new computer was no longer in my future – it had instantly become my here and now. Of course, the one HP notebook that DH and I both agreed would be the best one for me – especially since it was on sale everywhere for a fabulous price and we could actually afford this unplanned expense -- was also out of stock in all of the local stores. We collected rain checks and promises of delivery for the end of the month. That did little to appease me.

Finally, one store came up with something workable: DH was able to get the next computer up the technology chain, a step up from what I originally wanted at a similar discount. And to sweeten the pot, DH was also able to negotiate a fantastic price for a printer that he’d also been planning to get for me eventually. They tossed in a goodie bag full of extra printer cartridges and several reams of paper and for $100 more than we had originally expected to spend on just the computer, I have a beautiful HP notebook with what DH says is more memory than I’ll ever need and an Epson WorkForce 600 which does everything short of blow its own nose. Well, it will do all of that if I can ever find my way around Vista and get around to reading the printer manual!

The company that set up the new network had made numerous unsuccessful attempts to restore Internet access to my studio and the faily room where the kids have a computer they use for school. This was a pressing and serious frustration. My studio and DH’s medical office are at opposite ends of a long house. For me to have to go between his office and my studio when I needed to be on-line was not workable at all given my physical disabilities. But our home is built into a hill, with lots of walls, cement, and dirt for a wireless network to have to penetrate through and work around.

We were told that our only alternative was to run cable to the other side of the house and that meant going through finished walls and ceilings, not something the collaborative was willing to cover or that we could afford right now. (Never mind that our house has only recently undergone a major renovation and we were not eager ourselves to rip out sections of walls that were recently wallpapered, or bore holes in cathedral ceilings, or run unsightly cables along the walls of an open concept home.)

This week, the network company finally heard my desperation and they sent someone in who was able to work some magic and expand the wireless network to the entire rest of the house by simply boosting one access point, moving another from one side of DH’s office to another, and with the simple addition of a 25 foot CAT5 cable, I am delighted to report that at this moment, I am sitting at the desk in my studio, typing this post on my new computer and I’m going to upload it momentarily with a few clicks of the mouse!

But the best news of all is that despite the loss of my “old” computer, I have not “lost” all of my files and work. A year ago, I had the foresight to subscribe to Carbonite, an on-line back-up service that I highly recommend. (I have no financial interest in the company – I’m simply a very happy, paying customer.) Although I lost everything on both of my hard drives when the other computer failed, all of my files were safely backed up off-site. As we speak, Carbonite is slowly but surely restoring all of my files onto the new computer. The complete download is a slow process – it will probably continue through tomorrow – but when it’s done, all of my files will be retrieved from Carbonite and this past week and a half will be little more than a bad dream.

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