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Infrastructure - The Mad Schemes of Dr. Tectonic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Beemer

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Infrastructure [Sep. 22nd, 2011|01:17 am]
Beemer
So the minivan is fixed, hurrah! Apparently what happened is that there was a bad tensioner on the serpentine belt, which let the belt rub against something, and the belt started to fray and managed to get itself up inside where the timing belt is, whereupon the timing belt became Sad and the engine stopped working. This was, according to both the counter lady and the mechanic, "one of the most bizarre things I've ever seen." It cost eleven hundred bucks to fix, but I'm actually happy about that, because the minivan (a Dodge Caravan) has an interference engine, which means that when the timing belt goes, it's possible for bits to smack up against one another and cause engine damage that costs many thousands of dollars to fix.

And I've gotten my laptop back to about 99% of where it was before its disk started freaking out. Ignoring all the sidetracks and blind alleys of figuring it out, what it basically came down to is that I had an imminently-bad hard-drive in the laptop, and a shiny new blank hard-drive from Best Buy. And I figured out how to swap them (which was far, far, FAR more trivial than I expected). The tricky thing was that my laptop came with Windows (Vista) on it, but I didn't have any install disks; instead, there's a hidden partition on the HD with all the data, and the recovery CD-ROM just uses that if you ever need to do a reinstall. So the question is, how do you copy that setup from the old HD onto the new one? And the answer is, "use linux". Stick a bootable Knoppix CD-ROM in, plug in the new HD via a SATA-to-USB adaptor, use fdisk to make the new disk match the old one and dd to do a byte-by-byte copy of each partition and the MBR, and boom, done. You don't even need Partition Magic anymore because Vista & later Windowses let you resize partitions from the Control Panel! Of course, I then had to spend hours reinstalling all my old software (not quite done yet; I'm now deep in the "what the hell does this program do and why did I have it installed?" stage of debating what to reinstall), and I still need to sort through, rename, and put back all the recovered files, but in general terms, it's back to where it was. But OH MY GOD so many Windows security updates! And still more to go!

Also noteworthy of late is that Netflix is splitting into two pieces, and the Facebook UI got a dramatic makeover. And of course everyone is up in arms and the complaints and protest images are being posted left and right, and in a week we'll all be used to it but right now, Change Is Bad and everyone is very Fizzgig about it. Neal had a good comment thread over there about how despite that, they're probably doing the right thing. The Netflix split probably is very smart business (though only time will tell for sure), and it's mostly botched PR and one particular feature loss (no sharing queues between services) that has people unhappy. And Facebook, well, it's Facebook. People are gonna complain. (And I'll be honest: so far, the new feed seems to be less annoying than the old feed, and, Xzibit meme notwithstanding, I kinda like the embedded mini-feed in the upper right -- it seems to be corraling all the updates I don't care about into one place so I can ignore them more efficiently.)

The thread that ties all these things together is the fact that we build our daily routine -- our lives, really -- atop this complicated pyramid of systems, and whenever some piece of that infrastructure stops working, or even just changes how it works, it feels massively, massively disruptive. Sure, we can usually adapt pretty quickly (although not knowing whether you need to start changing or can maybe put it back is its own flavor of cranky-making, as I noted last week), but when it happens, when you're still figuring out that everything suddenly stopped because the power went out, it's tremendously disorienting. Your mind is still trying to hang onto whatever high-level activity you were focusing on when suddenly you get dropped into some lower level of reality where some thing that should just work is demanding attention. Man, LJ is still down? How annoying. I should blog about how annoying-- oh. Right. It throws off your groove.

I don't really have anything to say about what to DO about it, I just thought it was something worth nothing. Change isn't bad, but change that disrupts the quotidian infrastructure makes people crabby all out of proportion to the change itself.

I guess "beware the groove" is what I'm sayin'.

Groooooove.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: drdeleto
2011-09-22 01:24 pm (UTC)
When my laptop is broken (even just acting weird, but working--although recently it was kaput for weeks), it bugs me so much. Everything feels wrong and the thought of it being out of commission gnaws at my mind. Stupid groove.
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[User Picture]From: annlarimer
2011-09-22 02:38 pm (UTC)
The grooooooooooooove!
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[User Picture]From: srotu27
2011-09-22 10:54 pm (UTC)
I love the meta portion of your post. I think it's exactly the right strategy to switch to meta when change happens, and instead of saying "But wait, where's that button? Gaah!" say "Probably worth reserving judgment for the moment--- natural aversion to change does not mean change=bad." The groove is a good thing, but there are no implicit guarantees with it, and resistance being futile, the less energy you waste freaking out about it, the better.
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[User Picture]From: pekmez
2011-09-23 02:24 pm (UTC)
When LJ changed its tabbed browsing icon from a little pencil to a little person (the same icon that appears next to my username in a bunch of places), I noticed for a week or two that I kept losing my LJ tab and would find 2 or 3 of them open in my browser eventually. Change is disruptive! But really, it was icon, and who cares in the scheme of things.
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[User Picture]From: bryree
2011-09-25 04:59 am (UTC)
Knoppix is soooooo handy. I keep two versions of it close by.
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[User Picture]From: jforbess
2011-10-01 02:39 am (UTC)
way to channel my zeitgeist. my bf lost his job in an incredibly public political nightmare. (woo solyndra!) and about a week later we found out that either we have to buy our apartment or move out in 2 months. if i hadn't just changed my job, we'd be sailing to mexico for the winter, but it's pretty poor form to quit within 2 months of starting. particularly since the last quarter of the year is crunch time for solar.

whee.

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