09 July 2008

The ultimate re-install

A couple of weeks ago Firefox started misbehaving, claiming that it couldn't find various files and refusing to start, closely followed by Internet Explorer coming out in sympathy and eventually even the portable applications gave up the ghost. Usually, when something goes wrong I find myself in good company and someone somewhere out there has experienced the same symptoms and published some nice instructions to get it sorted. Not this time. Whilst there were some posts here and there on similar lines, no-one was offering any helpful suggestions. So there was nothing for it but, for the first time in all my years of computing, wiping the thing clean and starting again. (I did have to do my daughter's laptop a couple of times when a trojan simply refused to budge but she had little on it she wished to keep but mine was a different story.)

This used to be a complete pain because you'd have so much data by way of documents, photos and music files etc. that it was really difficult and very time consuming to back up everything before it all got wiped. Now we have SD cards and USB drives and wonderful gadgets for transferring files in an FTP-like manner from one computer to another and several gigabytes were simply moved somewhere safe for a while.

It still took an age, a couple of hours just for Windows, and all the extra programs I had have to be re-loaded or downloaded which is a long evening's work but well worthwhile as things do zip along afterwards.

It's so good not to have to worry about e-mail in the process as, of course, Gmail is all on-line and stuff now stored in Google documents and similar places is unaffected. I guess it won't be long before the whole pile of applications themselves are running on-line and all we need is a computer that accesses them with nothing being stored locally at all. More drops in the price of 'normal' computers too and we may well find ourselves just buying a new one when they stop working! I mean the screen seldom gives up, nor do the keyboard or other peripherals and components so it could be that we'll see a sort of plug-in thing that does all the processing work which will enable manufacturers to make smart, trendy designs that last for the bits that don't go wrong. Some programme or Windows not working? Unplug that bit and chuck it away. The ultimate re-install?!

You read it here first, possibly.

That reminds me of an argument I had in a College staff room in 199something. "Google?" they said. "That'll never catch on. Yahoo! Ask Jeeves and MSN Search (or whatever it was then) do all we need already."

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