Thursday, March 11, 2021

My two-day mission

Yesterday and today I was occupied with what has to be the most exciting thing that any computer user can be engaged in: Manual back-ups of files. While it’s tempting to make a joke about what I star I am for having done that, the larger truth is that it was at least somewhat unexpected. And now, it’s also done.

The story begins when I got my new Mac mini. In that post, I explained why I bought the new Mac, and added:
In September of last year, I replaced the window coverings in my office and the spare bedroom, and that meant moving my desk away from the window. Somewhere in all that I managed to break my Hackintosh: It would no longer connect to the monitor. That meant that it was useless, and it also meant I didn’t have a clue how to fix it. [Link in the original]
That was true then, not so much now.

I opened up my Hackintosh case and removed the hard drive in it. My idea was that if I couldn’t start up the old computer, then at least I could retrieve the date on the hard drive, which was the main thing I wanted to do. I knew that I’d added files—and not backed them up—before the Hackintosh stopped working, so I didn’t have them anywhere else.

I knew there had to be an adapter to do what I wanted, and while I knew I’d run across a cable to connect a SATA hard drive to USB, I, first, have no idea where it is, and second—and more importantly—a 3.5 inch hard drive generally needs to be powered for it to work, especially if it’s larger. The drive in question was 4TB.

I found a place that sold them—the same computer store that I went to recently—and then went there and bought it on Monday, along with two new monitor stands. I brought it home and set it up, plugged in the hard drive, and copied the files onto my server. One slight problem: There were hardly any files on that hard drive.

I realised that there had to be another hard rive in the machine, one that had the operating system, but especially the documents and downloads I was after, and especially the desktop folder. I looked in the case. It had computer stuff in it—but nothing that looked like a hard drive. I put the hard drive I’d copied back into its bay, looked some more, and was just about to give up when I noticed something: There was a second HDMI port near the bottom of the case (I’d always used one near the top of the case to attach my monitor). I figured I had noting to lose by trying that.

As luck would have it, I’d been tidying stuff and ran across a still-sealed-in-the-bag HDMI cable, which means I knew it was in good condition, with no faults. I hooked it all up and, yes, it started up perfectly. I could see the files I wanted, some on the desktop, some in downloads. I copied them to my file server, then backed them up to a removable external hard drive, too (just in case). Then, I deleted them from my Hackintosh.

All of this took two days to do, mainly because it took a long time to transfer that much data to my server. Actually, even backing it up to that hard drive was painfully slow (it was over ordinary USB). The important thing, though, is that all my files are backed-up—there’s nothing missing (including numerous podcast files that were nowhere else).

This evening I made sure some more obscure files had already been copied (they were). Next, I’ll either need to start deleting Apps on the Hackintosh, or else reformat it into—well, something. I think it has a usable life yet, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it. I may ask my IT people for advice.

Meanwhile, now that all the files I want access to are on the server—united for the first time in many years—I can go through them and delete the duplicates. I’ve had many upgrades and computer changes over the years, including a few years using a Windows PC. The many changes meant duplicating files endlessly, though not the last two times I bought Macs because Apple makes it easy to migrate files from one Mac to another, meaning nothing is left behind (the problem I had was because I added files to the Hackintosh well after I’d, migrated files to my MacBook Pro, which, in turn, I migrated to my new Mac mini).

That’s the story of what I’ve been up to for the past two days (among other things…), but it tells a larger story. I’d never have had the patience to do all this if Nigel was alive: I’d have relied on him to sort it all out. I have to rely on myself now, so I used the methods I saw him use: Research the problem, find solutions, and fix the problem. The fact I was able to start up my old Mac and retrieve the files I wanted is because I also did another thing he’d have done: I observed carefully, and from that worked out what I could try to do.

Nigel would be surprised at all the times over the past 17+ months that I’ve solved technical problems all on my own. He’d be surprised, but also impressed that I’d paid attention to his example, learned from it, and benefitted from it. This is a good example of why I say people should model behaviour they would like to see reflected back by others: In this case, I learned from Nigel without him ever teaching me anything, and that’s enabled me to help myself.

If I’m honest, it’s been a trying, sometimes frustrating couple days, but I got there in the end, which is what matters. And now this two-day mission is complete. Time for the next adventure.


Roger Owen Green said...

I'm proud of you too. But I've never had anyone to teach me most of that stuff.

So I try to do stuff, and it just doesn't work. I bought a device, specifically for my type of computer, to create more ports, and it does, but it mutes the sound. One problem fixed, another one created.

Arthur Schenck said...

There are plenty of times I've done something only to have a new problem pop up as a result of what I did/device added. Having said that, I've seldom had a problem with Mac stuff.