JVO vs. Technology

I want to take you back to last Sunday night, arguably the darkest point of my post-firing experience.

I was getting annoyed with my iTunes folder, which had three separate iTunes folders within it–duplicate MP3 files in each one. I decided to go through the painstaking process of consolidating everything, a process that took me until about 12 a.m. Monday morning. Once I was done, I realized that the main iTunes program couldn’t find the files that remained from my purge. I then went and dumped all the MP3 files from my music folder back into iTunes, thinking that would fix the problem. In fact, I made things worse–doubly so. I now had duplicates of every song in the library. I figured the best way to fix everything was to dump everything out of iTunes and reload the MP3 files once more. I did, and everything seemed fine until I started browsing around. “Hey,” I thought to myself, “where are all my book interviews?”

Almost every interview I’ve done for my book has been recorded by my iPod/iMic combo. Once I sync up my iPod to my hard drive, it automatically drops the voice files into a special folder in iTunes. Pretty cool, and a great way to deal with the volume of interviews I’ve been doing.

As I was browsing around, I realized that I had somehow deleted all my interview files. I looked in my main music folder–gone. I scanned the hard drive–gone. I still had about 30 interviews waiting to transcribe. Panic set in. As “on it” as I’ve tried to be with my book, it’s physically impossible to stay ahead of the transcriptions, especially when there are 3-4 interviews happening a day.

By about 1 a.m., I realized that they were gone and not coming back. I thought about crying, but what would that solve? I decided that the best course of action was to find some sort of data retrieval software. I figured that this sort of thing happens all the time to rubes just like me, surely there has to be something I can use online. I ended up downloading a program that sounded like what I needed. But, in order for it to run, I needed to have the current Mac OS loaded on to my external drive, where the downloaded program would be housed. Fair enough. I got out the startup discs and loaded them on to the external drive. Or so I thought…

When the OS was done loading, close to an hour later, I rebooted and learned that the OS installation overwrote my main hard drive. Everything was gone–my Microsoft Office, my documents, every finished transcript for the book, and my internet connection–toast. The DSL connection was another major setback. Before I could re-download the data retrieval software which had disappeared with the OS reload, I had to reestablish an internet hookup. That’s when I called the Ameritech support line. And, after talking with them for 30 minutes, I was good to go. This was at about 2:45 a.m.

I again downloaded the data retrieval software, which ran slow and frustratingly as I tried to work my way through it. Finally, after about an hour of messing with it, it began the task of looking through my computer for the lost MP3 and .wav files. “Time Remaining: Approximately 6 hours” is what the program told me. At 4:30, I went to bed, nervous, stressed, and generally hating myself for creating the most numbskulled digital house of cards imaginable.

I woke up just 2 hours later, and groaned when I saw the program still churning through my hard drive. I left home to take care of some errands, and became disgusted wth the program’s interface, which was incredibly difficult to wade through. I gave up, and dumped the program. I then unplugged the computer from the wall and brought it to an I.T. friend of mine. Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, he ran a handful of programs and diagnostics to retrieve my files. No luck. I know he was trying everything to help, probably at the expense of his legitimate work responsibilities. Unfortunately, that effort didn’t seem to be enough.

Finally, as of this morning, he found something. Not just something–a lot of somethings–dozens and dozens of wav files! I refused to let myself get excited about the possibility that the interviews had been retrieved. It seemed too impossible to actually happen.

I got my computer around 6:00 this evening, and practically wet myself as I clicked through and found every missing file. Every last one of them–retrieved. Beyond that, my friend fixed my OS mistakes, restoring my hard drive to its original state with all the documents and transcripts just as they were before “the incident.”

My stomach had turned into an acidic pit over the past couple of days. In a more upbeat moment, I was able to joke that “it’s not like this book is the only thing I have going for myself at the moment.” Yeah…ha, ha, ha. Now, with my files back and the book steamrolling ahead, I’m relieved and emotionally exhausted. I suspect that when I do go to bed tonight/this morning, I’ll be sleeping one of those deep, can’t-be-roused-with-an-airhorn, sleeps.

I got my I.T. friend a nice gift card to the Apple Store. I know it’s not enough. I’m thinking of giving him my car and CD collection, too.

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