Saturday, May 17, 2008

Of bugs, Cheetahs...and cheaters?

First of all, while I recognize that your lives don't revolve around SHAMblog—especially on weekends—one or two of you has asked me off-blog "where I've been." Where I've been, for the most part, is engaged in mortal combat with my Firefox browser. Among other things, it did an auto-update the other day that summarily wiped out all of my Favorites and Saved Searches, many of which I rely on as back-up when facts in my work are later questioned by editors or, post-publication, by skeptical readers and the subjects of those articles. (Am I alone in my Firefox affliction? Or have others been similarly blighted? I wasn't able to find anything in Google News about a widespread outage.) Ergo, over the past few days I've been painstakingly trying to reconstruct hundreds of hours' worth of critical research, going all the way back to SHAM, if you can even believe it. As you might imagine, it's quite an undertaking.

Just quickly today, you may have heard that double-amputee runner Oscar Pistorius (shown), whom we covered a few items ago, has now won his appeal and will have the opportunity to test his set of Cheetah Flex-Foots against "able-bodied" athletes (as the news story puts it) in an attempt to qualify for Beijing. So, whether you consider yourself a purist or a progressive, whether you're yea or nay on such developments—I'm decidedly nay, at least on gut instinct—there's no longer any question that we're speeding down a course that's bound to have serious repercussions in the near term. And not just for sports.

That's about it for today. Firefox permitting, I'll see you Monday.


Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

I'm procrastinating on updating my Firefox myself. I'm still using I'm very slow and careful with the updates and installs on my PC. I only update or add anything one thing at a time, and only if the PC has had at least 2 days of functioning without the slightest hiccup. So far, other things have taken priority of Firefox. (And I never, ever let any program auto update. I don't have the bandwidth for it anyway.)

However, on two occasions with this browser, my entire history has been wiped out a couple of times, which wasn't a big deal, it was just inconvenient. Rather than use my bookmarks (because I have a ridiculous number of bookmarks and they are in serious need of re-organizing), I often type in the first one or 2 letters of a website into my address bar and then select from the drop down list that auto-completes. So when the history gets scrubbed, I have to go to all the danged trouble of using the bookmarks again.

Firefox creates backups of the bookmarks so if you can find one of those files on your hard drive, it should be just a matter of using the browser to import them from that location. My computer has backups of my bookmarks going back to May 13 and the file is called bookmarkbackup. It should be in your Documents and Settings\Administrator\Application Data\Firefox\Profiles\(the name of your profile, probably some letter/number combo with "dot default" in it)\bookmarkbackup.

Good luck!

Jim said...

Are you sure the bookmarks are gone? There are a number of firebox bugs/issues that cause the bookmarks to disappear, but they are still there. Check this out:

Apparently firefox makes backups of your bookmark files.

It might help, and they probably have a support forum you can post to.

Good luck!

Steve Salerno said...

It worked! Much thanks, people.

Anonymous said...

Hello Steve,

Isn't modern orthopedics amazing? That is surely the one area in which the medical field excels.

Not only that, but surgeons can attach a new face!

It reminds me of just a short 90 years ago during World War I, which is just the blink of an eye in the big stopwatch of the cosmos, that my grandfather wrote in his war diary, "Jones got his arm got blown off went to hosptial screaming." Or "Smith took a grenade in the face. Goodbye face."

War is still a filthy business, but at least those returning may stand a better chance of living a more normal life.

I don't know the circumstances of this fellow's amputation.

Maybe someone will originate the "Prosthetic Olympics?"

Anonymous said...


Also, I use POWERMARKS to save favorites, nothing can touch it.

Keyword-string search, you can find anything in seconds...

Mike Cane said...

Ow. Sorry to hear about the Firefox disaster. It's no comfort, me telling you that you are the *only* person to have experienced that! I've not read it on any of the tech blogs I (unfortunately!) frequent.

You should look into bookmarking sites. I use FURL. But it is SLOW and would drive you crazy. I still use it because I have about SIX THOUSAND items socked away there.

A friend uses magnolia and keeps bugging me to switch. If I could find a way to import all my FURLs to it, I would!

And as you can see from my blog, I've been trying to get all my Bookmarks OUT of Firefox:

Bookmarks v0.5.5

Another reason for you to use a Net-based site is that in the rare instance you need something, you don't have to phone home and ask the wife to find it for you!

Steven Sashen said...

I like that they gave Oscar a green light, if for no other reason than the important conversations it'll bring up (there's really no chance he'll medal). And, as a guy who is trying to become a seriously competitive 46 year old sprinter and is having recurring calf pulls, I think I might get me a set of them there Cheetahs.

Jim said...

One more thing - you obviously need a backup strategy for your computer. Use the time you are not spending recovering bookmarks and the memory of the anguish of thinking you lost everything to come up with an effective backup strategy for your files. At a minimum, you should identify your pertinent files and data, copy them to an external drive, and burn those same files to a CD/DVD and put them in a safe deposit box. There are also offsite backup programs like you can use. Verify you can actually recover files from your backups when necessary. Hire a neighborhood kid to help you get it working if you have to. But never let this slide. You MUST take this seriously. Trust me, computers blow up once in a while. Especially if you use Windows. And every hard drive dies eventually.

And considering what you do for a living, if your house burns down, you basically lose your job too.

Alternatively, you can do what everyone else does, and focus positive thoughts onto your computer and trust the Universe to keep your computer and data safe. Your choice.

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks Jim et al. Thankfully, I've already got a "backup strategy" for my computer, with redundant safeguards...but in a sense, you're right: If the Law of Attraction counts for anything, then my expectations of data-security-everlasting should be enough to protect my precious files.

Right, Rhonda?

RevRon's Rants said...

I'm late to the party, but have been using Firefox since its first beta release, with only a few little glitches.

I regularly export my bookmarks to a separate file, which is then backed up on a daily basis to an external drive (the one thing I'd grab if the place were on fire). To date, I've not had to restore my bookmarks.

One interesting feature on the current beta is that all one has to do in order to access a link is to type a portion of the address in the address bar, at which time, a list of history and bookmarks containing that portion of the address (or even a keyword in the description) appears in a drop-down list. Select the one you want and your browser goes directly to it.

The one caveat against using the current beta is that some of the add-ons don't function yet, most conspicuously, the one that allows flash media to play. When the final version is released this month, I'm sure that such glitches will be fixed. One very significant improvement in the beta is that it isn't as memory-hungry as previous versions have been, so your computer won't get bogged down after leaving the browser opened - even with multiple tabs - for an extended period.

Anonymous said...

Just read your letter to the editor in June's Harper. You have been giving this great thought.

Steve Salerno said...

Yes indeed.