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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Thursday, January 19, 2006

techie avoidance tactics

Time whizzes by. This morning passed mainly in trying to get myself up and running with Mozilla Firefox as my new browser and, in particular, Mozilla Thunderbird as my new e-mail client. The process was complicated by the fact that the Import command in Thunderbird brought only some e-mails from three or four years ago. I had to open up Windows Explorer and go hunting for the e-mail messages I wanted to import to the new e-mail program. Not so easy, since different filing systems had been programatically set up on my C-drive with the installation of different versions of Netscape, which I have used hitherto.

It all came about yesterday when Netscape 7.2, my browser for the past couple of years, suddenly couldn't remember where any of my bookmarks were: my hundreds of bookmarks were lost. I switched to Firefox, which I downloaded last year or so, and which had all the bookmarks from that time. I had to hunt down the missing bookmarks, again via Windows Explorer. Then I had to merge the bookmark files, and go through deleting duplicates--time-consuming.

I got Firefox set up to my satisfaction, but found myself having to launch Netscape to use Communicator, its e-mail client. Hm, might as well download whatever Mozilla's e-mail program is, I thought. That turned out to be Thunderbird, which I downloaded and installed. Very nice: I'm happy so far. It has a few features that Communicator doesn't seem to have. It took me a couple of hours to hunt down different folders filled with e-mails (each subfolder appears as only a single file in the folder, combining all the messages together) and try to get Thunderbird to use the right ones, without wiping out or otherwise losing years' worth of filed e-mails. Finicky, learn-as-I-go work, but successful.

Oh: and while installing Thunderbird I got a message that my C-drive had run out of space. I was able to wriggle through by letting the program delete some redundant files. But I saw that I would have to make my C-drive bigger. Not as bad as it sounds: I had partitioned my hard drive about four years ago into a few "virtual" hard drives using an application called PartitionMagic (very good). (I see that it's been bought out by Norton--used to be a company called PowerQuest. Too bad.) This was after my PC crashed--and I mean deeply, deeply crashed--in 2002. After a few experts tried to resuscitate it, unsuccessfully, it was a neighbor who managed to get it working again by changing some stuff inside and reloading the operating system (this was all while I was away at Gampo Abbey--Kimmie had to deal with it). I got PartitionMagic as a way of trying to keep chunks of the hard drive separate from each other, in particular the operating system, the other programs, and my data. Each of these now resides on its own virtual drive, theoretically safe from disasters in neighboring drives.

But C-drive ran out of space today. So I launched PartitionMagic and had it resize the drives, a bit spooky, since it shuts down Windows and does its operations in DOS--about a 20-minute process of laborious clicking and copying on the hard drive, moving gigabytes' worth of data to and fro. "If there's a power failure now," I thought, "I'm probably hooped." I sat there looking vaguely around for a while, or staring at the "percentage compete" counter slowly tick upward, before deciding to open up Communitarianism and Individualism to read further in that.

It worked like a charm. I am now a user of Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird.

Writing? Who's got time for that? Yes, with chapter 20 drafted, I'm finding it hard to ramp up for yet another new chapter.

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