Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Molehill, Mountain, Meaning: An Encouragement To Ecstasy.

This post is about a computer issue. And about an approach to dealing with computer issues. And about approaches to life.

It's 7:43 p.m., and I have spent hours today - HOURS - trying to solve a problem that isn't truly important. At no point did I consider it truly important. On the contrary, it seemed so trivial that I was slow to realize that it could take, and was taking, HOURS.

Here's the deal: I have an old 2GB flash drive that I wanted to place in service as virtual RAM, using a program built into Windows 7 called ReadyBoost. I had learned about ReadyBoost in a Tech Republic article, "10 Ways To Speed Up Windows 7."

Using ReadyBoost involves having the computer write information into a cache file on a flash drive. The program offers the option of dedicating the flash drive solely for that purpose, and that's what I wanted to do. Doing that would involve moving any information that I cared about off the drive, then formatting it - a process I executed with four other flash drives with no problems (ReadyBoost can support up to eight devices to provide up to 256GB of cache memory).

And this is who I am: I'm not the true geek, the guy who would have read up on ReadyBoost back in 2010 (assuming that he was dealing with Windows at all in 2010, as opposed to OSX or Linux). I'm the guy who discovers it five years later, and thinks, "Cool! I can finally do something with all some of these flash drives I have lying around." (Don't even ask me about floppy drives).

So, I get four flash drives up and running with ReadyBoost, adding some 28 gigs of cache to my machine. Then I get to this guy:'s a no-name drive that I picked up years ago as a piece of swag at some event or another. At some point, I used it to back up some files, which still reside on it, and which I was prepared to delete.

Except that I couldn't. When I tried to, I got an error message saying that the drive is write-protected. 

I have no idea how it became write-protected, but I thought that would be a minor issue. Surely, when I switched over to my administrator account, I would find a software toggle - a button, a check box - that would let me turn off the write-protection, right?


After poking around everywhere I knew to look, I launched into the Web to see what wisdom it would yield, being certain that others had encountered and solved this very issue. (And that, friends, is what the Web is good for. Truly.)

Turns out, there's tons of info about this issue. First up, a piece that appeared on PC Advisor's website just days ago, by +Jim Martin, clear and nicely detailed. It essentially offers two options: first, editing the Registry; then, if that doesn't work, using a command-line utility called DiskPart that has been long been a part of Windows.

The geek wannabe in me got something of a thrill from the opportunity to dive tiptoe into the Registry, but was frustrated when the tweak didn't work, but then got a new warm fuzzy from opening a terminal window with cmd.exe...

Ah, the joys of the command line - the sense of power, the call to precision, the...

Wait. What???

"DiskPart has encountered an error"? How in the world can a lowly flash drive defeat DiskPart??


This story is getting long in the telling; imagine how much longer it was in the living.

Back to the Web, then. I came across a recommendation for a program called Restore, from Patriot Memory. I downloaded it, ran it, and it responded with, "Device Not Found."

Then I saw that someone else had a good experience using WinZip to clean a write-protected flash drive. I followed that person's steps. I did not get that person's results:



And this is where it stands: I spent something like four hours today on a problem that I expected to solve within 10 minutes. On the one hand, a pat on the back to me for persistence, and for taking a fairly disciplined approach to seeking a solution by simply walking through a series of options. That's a geeky, hacker-ish way to go at it, and as a geek wannabe, I'm kinda proud of myself for taking that approach.

More than that, I think today's activity provided me a good example of how to deal with problems generally. I have always tended to avoid problems, or to operate in denial of them, or to let them paralyze me, or to get upset about them - none of which responses helps to solve them. I consider the approach I took today to be a step in a better direction - one that I would do well to replicate in future.

But I would have done even better to have stepped out of my own head sooner. Since ecstasy, as I've said before, is the state of standing outside oneself, I'm going to give us all a verb for the act of stepping outside oneself: ecstasize. I would have done better to have ecstasized sooner, to have stepped out of my own head enough to say, "This problem is not worth this amount of time right now."

By not making that evaluation, I allowed a molehill to become a mountain today. I started off not considering the problem to be truly important, but ended up acting as if were. And now, at 9:21, the sun's long gone, and I want to dredge the most useful meaning I can from that mountain before heading up for dinner. And I think it's something like this:

The ability to ecstasize - to stand outside of oneself at any given moment - is hugely valuable. Once you're outside of yourself, it becomes easier to evaluate, not only your circumstances, but your own behavior and thoughts and emotions. And then, to change direction instantly.

Or, to render alliterate advice: ecstasize your mind, evaluate your circumstances, your actions and your state, then excercise your will to choose change.

All of that can happen in minutes, if not within seconds, with no physical effort, and with who-knows-what potential benefit. Today's meaning, today's lesson, is that I need to start, now, ecstasizing more - indeed, to begin forming the ecstasy habit. Because...

...better is never more than a thought or two away.

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