Half way into the flight, after responding to about a half hour’s worth of e-mail, my laptop hard disk crashed. […]
On the plane and afterwards in my Vancouver hotel room, I went through the predictable stages of grief that accompany data loss. First you assume that the problem is software and then after employing several disk utility programs you begin to realize that you are really in the soup.
How was I going to write the three articles I had promised without a computer?
[…] I considered a number of stopgap measures. There was the possibility of asking the paper to ship out a replacement laptop overnight. (My call to the paper’s computer support hotline was answered three or four days later). And there was the possibility of resorting to the hotel’s $15-an hour business center.
Then, while hunting through my bag for some elusive stopgap measure, I came across a CD disk with a copy of Ubuntu Linux. A number of versions of Linux now come with a demonstration feature that makes it possible to run the program without actually installing it on a hard disk.
Inserting the disk, I was able to restart my computer, this time it was running Ubuntu, instead of Apple’s OS X version of Unix.
What I discovered was that – with the caveat of a necessary network connection – life is just fine without a disk. Between the Firefox Web browser, Google’s Gmail and and the search engine company’s Docs Web-based word processor, it was possible to carry on quite nicely without local data during my trip.
Seriously… I find I care about which computer I’m using less and less. This is awesome.
P.S. The NYT’s Bits blog is terrific.