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Gotcha!

Gotcha!

A "gotcha," in computer-speak, is a surprise event, perpetrated by a computer, in full accordance with Murphy's Laws.

This Gotcha happened because I began to trust the process of backing up my 95LX too much.

I'd been using a 1 MB RAM card for about three months, during which time my 95LX had crashed on several occasions. More than once I had to completely reformat the C drive. (Thank goodness I'd written those backup routines!)

Not once, in all that time, did the A drive ever lose any information, so I began to put all my critical files on the RAM card. This included all the grades for the six courses I was teaching. Of course, being a believer of Murphy's Laws, I kept a backup of this information.

Then, on the last day of the semester, just as I was about to enter the last set of grades, I turned on my 95LX and was greeted with the following message: CARD BATTERY LOW.

That was hard to believe. After all, the battery was supposed to last for a year. I ran the BATTCK.COM program (available on the Subscribers Disk) and, sure enough, the voltage on the RAM card showed 0.7 volts. I ran DOS CHKDSK utility on the RAM card (type CHKDSK a: from the DOS prompt and press (ENTER)). The disk seemed to be working fine. I turned the 95LX off and went to class.

Before going across town to get a new card battery, I took the extra precaution of turning the 95LX on and backing up all my files to a micro disk. The "Card Battery Low" message did not appear this time and the backup proceeded normally.

I was able to find a replacement battery and a clerk with long, hard fingernails. Together we were able to extract the old battery and replace it with a fresh one.

Once the new card battery was installed, I ran BATTCK and found that the RAM card was now operating at full voltage. I started to run my 1-2-3 Automated Grade book Program and the "gotcha" struck. Lotus reported that there was some data missing from its files. I pressed (ESC) to override the error message and saw an empty grade book. I ran CHKDSK a: again and was presented with a series of messages telling me that every other file was "cross linked" to some other file. Oh-oh! I tried the DOS Copy command (copy *.* nul) and was immediately told "Data error reading drive A: Abort, Retry, Ignore" I switched to the C drive and then tried to switch back to the A drive and was told that A:\ was an "Invalid drive designator." Say what?"

The only way to recover was to reformat the A drive and start over. I thought to myself: "thank goodness for backups."

I tried to use APP95 to transfer the files from my backup disk to the A drive of the 95LX. That's when the "gotcha" landed on me like a Sumo wrestler. All of the files on the backup disk were corrupt, the File Allocation Table of the disk had been blown away. APP95 could not transfer the files.

Apparently, my last backup had transferred files that were already corrupt. The backup disk was corrupted and unusable. All the programs that I been working on for the past three months were lost. Worse yet, the entire semester's grades were blown away. That's tantamount to a banker losing the combination to the safe.

After recovering from a panic attack, I spent a sleepless night reconstructing all the grades.

I won't go into the details, but it involved some tricky operations with DEBUG and the Norton utilities, and digging through printouts of midterm grades.

I consoled myself with the thought that I had only lost 1.44 MB of files. Disastrous as that was, it was better than losing 40MBs, which could have happened if the backup of the bad RAM card files had corrupted my desktop's hard disk. If I had backed up my 95LX onto my hard disk instead of a micro disk.... No, I don't even want to think about that!

iPhone Life magazine


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