Monday, May 14, 2007

Plugging Along

I wanted to be able to make this post all about celebrating that I had finally gotten one of the pressing tasks I've been talking about done. But with less than a quarter hour to go, before midnight, I can see I won't make it. I am speaking of saving two years worth of AOL email correspondence off the PC. It covers between January 2004 shortly after news of my Dad's cancer thru September 2005 as I was walking out the door to catch the bus up to be with my family as my Dad's passing drew nigh. That also covered the year I put up my three web sites and thus all the emails relating to administrating them were involved as well.

I keep thinking I am about done and then find something I missed. I had kept folders for each 'conversation' labeled with the name of the family member or friend and saved into them each of the emails both from and to them. If I had been diligent about always putting the proper email in the proper folder, this job would have been much easier. But I kept coming across a side of an exchange that did not have it's predecessor or its followup. At first I thought I was out of luck, but then discovered that a lot of those could be found in either the Incoming Saved folder or the Sent Saved folder where they had automatically been saved as they were opened or sent. But those folders were full of everything. Since I had never even peeked in them, I had also never cleaned them out of the junk--the newsletters, ads, silly forwards, spam, admin related to my websites etc.

When I was dealing with a folder that contained only the exchanges between me and one other person which were listed in chronological order, it was easy to just keep clicking next and then copy and paste the dateline to a Word Pad file and then copy and paste the body of the email. Unless it contained photos or active links I wanted to save and then I would have to use an appropriate method to save that info in another format. But even with occasional extra steps like that involved, I zipped though folders at the rate of about two per session except for the ones for my parents, my sister and the web admin stuff.

I finished the last of said folders about 3AM Monday morning and was about to dance a little celebratory jig in my chair when I spotted those other folders in the tree. I don't know why I hadn't noticed them before. Probably because I was leaning too close to the screen and not looking above the part of the folder tree I was interested in. It wasn't that I had never known of their existence, just that I haven't worked with AOL mail since last September and the folders on the PC since December 2006.

So I took it into my head to start looking through them and seeing if any of those missing parts of certain email dialogs were in there. But now instead of working with one Word Pad document at a time I have to keep going after the one that pertains to the 'conversation' in question, then scroll through it until I find the time stamps that match, see if it was missed and if so, paste in the time stamp and then the body. In the process, I ended up with five or six Word Pad documents open at once and several times I got confused and pasted the wrong email into the wrong conversation or the right conversation into the wrong place in the queue. Like once I put a whole string of spring 2004 emails into the middle of a spring 2005 conversation.

Meanwhile the fonts in the AOL folders--the links to the emails with their address and subject etc--were probably 9pt and really hard on my eyes. And I am so out of practice with a mouse!!! It only took me a few minutes the first session to get versatile with the mouse again but after a couple hours I was up against the old problem of hand and wrist pain and fatigue which had been such a part of my life before the laptop and its touch pad.

Well, it looks like I have a couple more hours worth of weeding though the saved incoming and outgoing folders before I can call this project done. Once it is done that is the last of my personal files on the PC that I have left to organize to prepare for backup, which is the main project this is just a small piece of. I am waiting on completing the collection of AOL email off the PC before I start the same project for the laptop as I don't want to have to create the same set of files and folder twice. I am going to send the PC folders over to my laptop via the WIFI connection I can access the shared folder on the PC from any desktop on either computer so that is where I have been stashing the copies of the files on the PC I need to back up.

This project was set in motion when it began to look like we were going to have to reformat the hard drive on the laptop. There is hope now that won't be necessary. We are holding our breath after two full days with no further evidence of malware behavior. We shall see. But I am not going to let that hope slow my momentum on this project to back up my files. But you can see why I have been procrastinating on it so long.

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