Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flying the bird

Yesterday morning, my main hard drive failed. Booted up and [gebleep gebleep] Disk Drive 0 not detected. After a long talk with tech support, it would seem that the hard drive is simply dead to my computer. Fortunately, I had had the forethought to back up all my important business and research files before my vacation last week. So, I lost only a couple days worth of work. I suppose it's more like three and half days if you count the time I spent yesterday and today reinstalling all the software and restoring backups. Frustrating, but not catastrophic.

Since I recently joined the Microsoft Partners Program and signed up for the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription (MAPS) the business now has 10 licenses for a whole slew of MS software for about $300 year! I took the opportunity to upgrade the computer from Windows XP to Vista. I gave up on my earlier plans to migrate to Linux, at least for now. Sometimes, running a business means making a judgment call re: priorities. I might like to see a marketplace where software providers are more fairly diversified. But I've been seduced by the fact that Windows is far better supported for plug-and-play functionality. For now, I can't justify the effort to make the change.

I had quite a bit to install and reinstall. On top of trying out the latest offerings by Microsoft, I'm giving the new IBM Lotus Symphony a whirl. IBM doesn't include email and calendaring as part of their free offerings though. I've been using Thunderbird, but thought I might give Outlook a chance again. I started using Thunderbird about the same time I quit using Microsoft Office. But I've realized migrating my emails would be a near herculean feat. I'm not convinced it'd be worth it. Outlook may be more broadly integrated (I noticed even Quicken 2009 offers a "Sync with Outlook" box-though I haven't the slightest idea what it does).

For now, I think I'll stick with Thunderbird, with the Lightning add-on for calendaring. I've experienced some odd problems now and again with saving and editing events... but they're transient and minor. One reason I had left Outlook was that it was such a memory hog, slowing everything down. My guess is Thunderbird is still sleeker in that regard. And it works. What more could you need?

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