Day: July 4, 2009

Too Stupid to Multitask

That was me yesterday.  If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that I was inspired by a young man at the NECC Conference to download and install the latest Ubuntu Notebook Remix on my Dell Mini 10V. I was looking for a way to run Jaunty Jackalope on the extremely portable device instead of the Dell Remix that it was originally installed.

So, I fire up my Windows machine and head over to the Ubuntu website and into the Netbook Remix section.  Choose a location … hmmm Canonical is located in the UK although they have a presence worldwide.  I’d like to think that I’m a good online digital citizen so I decide not to take this download from the UK  After all, it’s almost a GB in size and I don’t want to be responsible for holding up trans-Atlantic commerce.  There’s a presence at the University of Waterloo Computer Science Club.  Given the record for computer science graduates from Waterloo, why not support my alma matter?  They didn’t have a Computer Science club when I was there but you’ve got to figure them for fast internet access and reliable resources.

I initiate the download using my Firefox browser and watch the download begin.  It’s crawling.  Now, I don’t have blistering internet access at home.  DSL and Cable are not options here.  Until a couple of years ago, dialup was the only alternative.  ARgh.  However, Xplornet has moved into the neighbourhood and our receiver is aimed at the feedmill in McGregor and we get fast enough speeds to make it happen – technology and patience go a long way.

It’s quite apparent that I’m not going to get this download done on the first night.  I suppose I should have allowed the download to run all night but I just didn’t feel like it.  Plus, Firefox has a pause/resume feature on its downloads so this would be a good test.  I’ve got about 200MB downloaded so I pause and put the laptop and myself to sleep.  Next morning, I wake both of us up again, click on resume and things go nicely and actually quite a bit quicker. I’m checking out the overnight email and Tweets, the download continuing in another window.

Then, the wheels start to wobble.  As I’m killing time waiting for the download to finish (we’re now at 746MB), I head over to Diigo to manually check my bookmarks and I see that there’s an update to their toolbar to better support Firefox 3.5.  Oooooh.  Gotta have that so I download it and, once complete, Firefox needs to restart to complete the installation.  No problem, it will only take a few seconds.

Oh no!

Ah, Magoo, you’ve done it again.  I guess if you’re going to multitask, you should pay attention to all of the tasks and not focus solely on the current one.

Your webpages reload after a restart.  Why don’t downloads resume?  Maybe that’s why they have download managers, dummy.  But, after all this downloading, I have 750MB  already downloaded.  It’s there – I can see it – the parts that somehow get magically put together after a successful download.

Maybe the winds are behind me.  I’ll just start the download again and Firefox will continue from where it left off?

I couldn’t be that lucky.  Now, I’ve got the start of two downloads.  This isn’t looking good.  So, I take the second pair of files and throw them into the recycle bin and stare like a grump at the screen.  Somehow, I feel better that getting rid of the second failed attempt.  After all, out of sight; out of mind.

Just a second here … if it works for me, I wonder if it works for Firefox.  I create a folder on my desktop and put the 750MB worth of files there and start a download again.  I hope that the Computer Science club is enjoying all the downloads that are leaving their site!  I pause the download and minimize my browser and take the two newly downloaded files to the recycle bin and flush them.  Then, I take the files that were in the folder and put them back on the desktop.  Restore Firefox and let’s resume the download.

This actually appears to be working.  After an initial burst of false data about download speeds that would have Xplornet raising my monthly fees, we settle in for the regular pace and the file completes its download.  The disk image is restored and I have this one beautiful looking file ready to be ported over to a memory key.  Ubuntu offers a checksum for downloaded ISO images and so I run a utility to check it out.  While that’s crunching away, I can’t wait so boot the Notebook from the memory key and have the Ubuntu boot screen up at the same time as the checksum tells me that I’ve got a good file.  Maybe the stars are indeed aligned.

A half hour later and I’m configuring and running the Remix and life looks great.  Even better than having the new software, it’s now reporting that my battery will have 30 minutes longer to last than in the previous version.

Maybe there is a cure for stupidity!  Having been through this, I’ve documented it for future reference but I sure wouldn’t recommend this as a generally accepted computer technique.

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