How Did That Happen?

by - Story: 19796

You know those Windows dialog boxes that ask, “Are you sure you want to…”? It’s pretty easy to get hypnotized into clicking “Yes”, “Yes”, “OK”, “Yes” until your application installs, or uninstalls or changes colour, or vacuums the living room. (Ok, just kidding about that last one, darn it.) Well, I’m here to tell you it’s entirely possible to be completely “sure” and at the same time be really, really “wrong.” Oops! How did that happen?

Here are some silly mistakes I’ve made that you might want to avoid.

Yes, you CAN make it worse

I once had a problem with my keyboard. The “9” key was sticking, which isn’t so bad except that quite a few of my passwords at that time happened to have a “9” in them. I kept on using the keyboard and eventually the “9” stuck permanently in the depressed position. At that point, every time I turned on the computer it would complain that the keyboard failed, and refuse to boot up.

At least I knew how it happened. Just before the problem started I had spilled half a can of Barq’s Diet Root Beer on the keyboard. Easy solution! My PC, including the keyboard, was still under warrantee. I phoned the toll free number, listened to some music for 20 minutes or so, and then was able to satisfy the technician that my keyboard was broken. He had a replacement sent out the next day, and in the meantime I used a cheap spare. Easy irreversible corrective action: Do not spill Barq’s Diet Root Beer on a keyboard. (If you think that MIGHT happen, pick up a spare keyboard at a garage sale or second-hand store and keep it nearby.)

Say the magic word

I used to work for a telecommunications company, and I had logins and passwords to 25 or so different systems. I travelled quite a bit between offices and also used a laptop at clients’ sites. The systems had different rules about when you had to change your password and about how many characters it could be. So there wasn’t any chance I could get away with using one or two passwords and rotating them, and there was just no chance I was going to be able to remember them.

I fired up Excel and created a spreadsheet with all my logins and passwords, including the last date I changed each password. Then I encrypted the Excel file because, after all, it was on my laptop. Next time I was in a strange city and needed a password, I opened up Excel, told it to open my password file and … realized that I had forgotten the password I’d used to encrypt my password file.

I knew how that happened, too, It only took part of about three days to get all the help desks all over the country to reset my passwords for me. It was a bonehead move, and I felt like a real bonehead. I never lived it down. In fact, the incident was mentioned at my going away party.

If you would like a good, free, easy-to-use, secure program to keep track of your passwords for you, try Oubliette, available here.

Well, just heck

In a big hurry one day to upload a batch of pictures to friends and family, I popped the memory card from the digital camera into the card reader, and copied the photos to my desktop.

Then, I blazed through some rudimentary editing and while I was at it deleted the pictures I didn’t like and didn’t need from my computer so everything was neat and tidy. Then I uploaded the edited photos and in a moment of clarity realized that I hadn’t actually COPIED the original pictures to my computer, I had MOVED them. Then I erased the ones I didn’t want from my computer. But…there had been some photos from something else on the memory card that needed to stay on the memory card, and moving them had erased them from there. So they were … nowhere at the moment. And of course Windows had asked me if I was sure I wanted to…

Once again, I knew how it had happened.

PC Inspector Smart Recovery saved the day. This program found all the photos and allowed me to restore them. Apparently it will work on audio and video files, too. Get it here. If you run this program, you will be impressed with just what information is still available on your memory card or memory stick, or simply on your computer. It is amazing.

Thank you for your comments, and thank you for reading. Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

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About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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