Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Computing keeps getting more bizarre

At home I’ve retired my six+ year old XP machine. It lives on in a cloned Fusion VM [1] on my iMac. The dead hulk of the machine waits for anyone who might make use of it, but it’s most likely headed to recycling.

It’s a relief to be done with it. It worked well enough to the very end, but it was a flaming security hole (no antiviral software – that cure is worse than the disease) and it howled like a demented banshee.

At home the four Macs and three iPhones are quiet. So quiet I now notice the ever running fan on my G5 iMac, a fan I never heard when the XP box lived. OS X is kind to me. It all just works.

At work though, I still live with XP. Not just XP, but XP layered with monitors, automated maintenance systems, encryption software, automated backup software that isn’t useful, misguided and aborted security layers and only Satan knows what else. At work, computing is bizarre. I don’t think my workplace is atypical; I suspect this is true of many large publicly traded companies.

Consider this.

I reboot a Windows 2003 box after a failed disk cloning attempt to discover the boot disk is hosed. [2]. So I take a look at my personal backups (since the corporate backups are effectively useless) and find the disk has no files.


But Retrospect Professional (Windows) shows the backups have been working.

Nothing will show any files. Chkdsk reports no errors. But 325 of 350GB are in use.

So I try a restore from Retrospect – and it works.

The files are there, but invisible to cmd.exe. (No, not marked as hidden, truly invisible).

I suspect some side-effect of an cryptic corporate attempt to secure/encrypt USB peripherals. It’s not worth trying to debug this – I don’t have enough control over the pieces.

I have to assume we’re reaching some nadir of corporate computing – that things will improve somewhat with a migration to windows 7. It is ever more clear, however, that those of us who are cognitively dependent on our computers will need to have our own computers and network access at the workplace.

Which is good news for the iPad.

[1] Which is periodically slow and awkward on my quad core 10.6 machine compared to Fusion 2 on an older MacBook. Fusion 3 on 10.6 quad core needs work.

[2] Could be a side-effect of the Acronis disk cloning, but I doubt it. I suspect it would have been hosted on any reboot – that machine hasn’t been restarted for weeks.

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