They say pride comes before a fall.
A couple of weeks ago, I was laughing at a certain "low-life" that was backing up data on an external hard drive. I called her paranoid. Look who's laughing now.
For, just a couple of days ago, I came to turn on the computer for the good ol' evening surf. And when I turned it on, I was greeted by the following words "Boot sector not found on internal hard drive". For a moment, I thought Wowbagger was pulling a fast one on me. (Wowbagger is an insult generating program which curses you every half hour. I wanted to get insulted every half hour, so I installed it). A cursory investigation exonerated wowbagger, thankfully - because a future without insults every half hour is just, well, unimaginably dreary.
Rather than panic for more than a couple of hours, I decided to see if I could recover data using Linux. The Tux has been always been there for me when windows dies. And believe me, windows has died on me on numerous occasions. I did hear a friend use something called Knoppix, which is essentially a Linux which runs off a CD-ROM drive. I downloaded it in the lab (the XP in the lab did not die yet) - and after the necessary combustion onto a CD, ran it on my Dell.
I was intrigued to see that Knoppix DID actually work! I did manage to boot up (in German, but something is better than nothing - even if that something is in German). After some forumming, I managed to get onto the wireless internet and read everything in English. But the Knoppix experience was wholly unstatisfying. I was unable to listen to music on Pandora; I was unable to watch videos on youtube.
And then I came across something they call PCLinuxOS. I was not put off by the obscure name. I downloaded it, and here I am, listening to some nut called "John Eddie" on Pandora (apparently he sounds a little like Knopfler) having watched a cat play the piano on youtube. A few fdisks off the command prompt give me the dire warning that the partition table on my hdd if as corrupt as the average Indian policeman. (This analogy breaks down when I try to offer my hdd Rs 50 or $1.10 to let me through. Maybe it is because I don't know where to stuff in the money. I could buy one of those vending machine type financial transaction thingamajigs - and somehow fit it onto my computer.)
It seems quite likely that all my data has reached the land of no return. Fortunately, there was nothing of importance on the computer (which I cannot find elsewhere). My programs are all on CDs - so is my thesis. No office work is done on my home computer - or whatever there is of it is already backed up in the office. And almost everything important is backed up on Gmail.
I did lose all my firefox bookmarks - which Included lots of interesting sites that I had encountered over two years. But that's not such a big deal. It just points the importance of using internet based bookmarks.
Right now, all hopes of data recovery lie in some talented Indian in some Surat computer shop. Failing which, I will give into this temptation of just formatting my hard drive and installing a robust version of Linux (perhaps Ubuntu?) on it and using LaTeX instead of word.
And, yes, I am off to India tomorrow FINALLY. Looking forward to those amazing restaurants in India.