The end result was that I lost ALL my files. This included about a zillion digital photos of my dogs, including great pics of the late and beloved Felanie, adolescent Dozer, and our old foster dogs. I had taken all these pics with a digital camera, loaded them onto the computer, and kept them there without printing them, so I didn't have a hard copy.
Thus, my actual photo record only goes up to about 2001 (printed photos in photo albums), then there's a gaping hole from January 2001 to December 2005.
This is the oldest photo of Felanie that I have on my computer, from February 2006 (she was almost 8 years old):
Still, even though I swapped out the dead disk drive for a nice shiny new one, I held on to the old one, determined that some day, I would scrape up the money to send my poor drive to a disk-recovery service and beg them to salvage my precious memories. At the time, I think the disk-recovery people were charging anywhere from $1K to $3K to save dead drives; I don't have any idea what it costs nowadays.
I held on to the dead disk for three years. I clutched it in my arms and shrieked when Byrd suggested throwing it out. "Never!!" Some day, I would revive it! Byrd sighed and told me that when I threw out his broken computer equipment, I was applying a double standard. Preposterous! His stuff was broken. My disk was only sleeping.
Last week, my dad started chatting about his new computer setup at his house. He'd gotten some sort of thing called a Drobo that could hold four drives and ghost each other and blah blah blah about something or other. It clicked: "Hey, my dad's a computer scientist. My dad is a doctor of electrical engineering. Maybe he can fix my disk!"
I totally interrupted whatever the hell he was yapping about, ran upstairs, and dug out my dead, I mean sleeping, disk drive. I pressed my precious cargo into his arms and begged him to save it. "You can rebuild it. You can make it faster, better, stronger! Or at the very least, get my pictures off of it! Use your Drawbot or whatever you were just talking about."
"Er... Well, that's not what a Drobo is for..." He studied the naked, dusty disk drive dubiously, but he took it home with him.
That evening, he sent me this photo of my dead hardware, which he dubbed "Frankendrive."
At first I thought he was making some sort of ransom demand ("Pay me now and your precious drive won't get hurt anymore!"), but then he explained that the complicated getup was necessary in order to hook up my old-fashioned drive to a modern computer. Its three-year coma was apparently enough to leave it out of step with current technology.
Dad said he had made a first attempt to access the drive with his Windows machine (my drive had originally been running Windows XP), but it kept crashing and complaining about corrupt command files. Instead, he was downloading files from it without much trouble using his Linux box as the go-between.
And though it took all night, Dad got everything off in good shape.
So guess what that means? I gots me some photos!! (Well, not quite yet; I have to go over to his house and copy them onto a flash drive or something.) I don't even really remember what's on there, but hopefully there will be some good pics to share here.
The first photo that Dad got off my old disk drive:
Hmm, well, okay, this actually isn't from the 2001-2006 time frame at all. This is a scanned photo of the backyard of our house in Pittsburgh, where we lived when I was four and five years old. This is where I was bitten on the hand by a squirrel (I was trying to pet it by luring it with a tasty walnut), which at that age felt just as awful and scary as if the squirrel had bitten my entire hand off, thus instilling a terrible fear of the furry-tailed rodents for the next fifteen years.
I did finally decide to drop the fear when I started as a freshman at UT and realized that there was just not going to be any way to avoid squirrels if I wanted to survive on campus. This point was driven home when a campus squirrel--I kid you not--tried to BEAT ME UP for my peanut butter sandwich one day. I am dead serious--this squirrel punched me in the back, threw acorns at me, jumped on my leg, and hung off my arm until I lobbed half my sandwich at him. When he came back for the Fritos, I crammed as many chips into my mouth as I could and fled into a nearby building, leaving the spoils for the victor. Peering out the window at the little mugger, who was looking quite pleased with himself as he dug into the abandoned Fritos bag, I vowed to never waver in the face of squirrel hostility again.
Anyway, my Dad totally rocks.