July 18, 2004

No Boom Today

Disk Warrior just saved my laptop.

Yesterday, I was finishing a marathon refactoring in Tinderbox. Deep down inside Tinderbox, there was a simple class called NodeBundle that held a bunch of notes, and that Tinderbox used whenever it needed to represent a bunch of notes. It was built on some Mac-specific technology, so it needs to be generalized for Windows. It's easy code, but hundreds of little things need to be tweaked, and tested, one by one.

So, I'm thirty hours into this, and the end seems to be in sight. Then, just at the end of a test run, my hard disk goes "click....click....click..."

"Uh-oh", I say. Restart. Kaput.

I had a backup only four hours old. Reassuring. But I also have no time in the schedule this month -- no slack at all -- and I really, really didn't want to go through the last four miserable hours of this refactoring twice.

I spent about five hours, doing fragmentary backups because the machine would stay up, for a while, as a Firewire disk. It had all the trademarks of a sour disk. Noises. Intermittent behavior. Gradually worsening, intermittent behavior.

With no slack in the schedule, I was already pricing replacement laptops and trying to figure out how much restore-and-test I could do while grilling the leg of lamb this weekend and how much sleep I could skip without danger when I tried Disk Warrior as a last resort.

It ran, "Piece of cake!", it said. "I can fix this easy -- it's not even badly broken."