Negative productivity and learning from oopses

So I accidentally blew away my self-hosted photo gallery because I overwrote the directories by copying them instead of using rsync. I attribute that to being slightly out-of-sorts, but the truth is that I might’ve made that mistake anyway bright and early on a well-rested weekend.

As it turns out, I back up my WordPress blog, but not my Gallery2-hosted photo album. And I hadn’t enabled server-wide backups before. You can bet I turned that on after I realized that.

It’s no big deal. The key thing I wish I hadn’t deleted was the sketch I’d made of the highlights of 2008, but that’s in my paper backup of my blog, and the rest of my sketches are probably somewhere in my files too. It’s just stuff.

The trick to dealing with negative productivity is to catch yourself – ideally, shortly before you mess up, but shortly afterwards is fine too. Do not make things worse in the process of trying to fix things.

It’s better to detect your periods of negative productivity on non-critical operations than to, say, accidentally corrupt the source code repository for the project you’ve been working on. In addition to remembering this general feeling of out-of-it-ness, it might be a good idea for me to come up with some small test for full attention/alertness before doing anything possibly irreversible. Then I would need to make it a habit, because it’s precisely when one’s tempted to cut corners and go ahead that one shouldn’t.

Hmm, checking for patterns…

Sleep 8.8 hours per night – normal (if not a little over)
Work 10.2 hours per workday so far – well above normal, and pretty high-intensity work, too
Work pattern current, 45.9, 56.9, 40.1 – current week is third of more intense period

Anyway. Dealing with oopses. Instead of beating myself up about it, I’d rather fix what I can fix, learn what I can learn, and then get on with a restful evening so that I can prepare for more awesomeness. Why beat myself up over a mistake? Better to figure out how to minimize the chances of making a similar mistake in the future, and to get on with life. =)

(Well, after wringing a blog post out of it first…)

2011-04-13 Wed 20:36

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  • Hi Sacha, if it is pictures you may be able to recover them using testdisk. That’s one of the recovery tools I use when my friend’s corrupt their SD cards or hard drives. It has a function to locate JPG files.

  • @sachac On archiving my photos on the web (in public, and behind passwords), I think MySQL databases are a pain, and FTP upload into time-sequenced directories following a lifestream makes more sense. Thus, I prefer Qdig for the private archive, and Zenphoto for the public downsampled web-friendly copies.

    I had tried (Menalto) Gallery some time ago, and looked at Coppermine. My decisions to not have JPEGs (and now MP4s) in a database is a deep architectural decision that others seem to assume away. I have immediate access to every photograph that I’ve deemed worth keeping accessible (behind a simple directory password) back to 2002. Archiving images is simpler than publishing.

  • I don’t really archive per se, I use off-site backups. i.e. Mom. Everytime she comes over I just burn a new set of images using Picasa (since it provides a simple viewer as well for them). The files are just standard files so they can be accessed anytime.

    Though I don’t always use DVDs, (since it gets bulky now). I use their netbooks or the media player hard drives that I get them to store a copy of the personal pictures and videos.

    It benefits all parties, my parents get a copy of “our memories” and I have an off-site backup. I also have on-site sync to my NAS as well.

    Archiving isn’t a good idea unless there’s a backup of the archive as archive media gets damaged over time even if there was no use (e.g. floppy disks or old CDROMs)

  • As for my negative learning experience, realizing that Perl does not support unicode filenames in Windows without ridiculous hacks. So that gets added to the stuff I won’t do list (that’s my way of handling negative experience):

    * IE 6 client development (copied that from you)
    * Internationalization in Perl, C and C++
    * Python development (just didn’t find it conducive to write from brain to code as I had to worry about indentation way too much)
    * Off hour work

    Of course “won’t do” is not really 100% true, push comes to shove I may be the only person “practically” available to do the work.

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