the importance of documentation

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Jul 13, 2010
10:47 PM EDT
Twice in less than a week, I've re-learned the lesson about the importance of recording information for future reference. In two completely unrelated situations, no less.

The first was a failed attempt to regain control of a Windows XP system. The owners are family friends, and they are the only people for whom I'll work on Windows. It was ugly; the only usable desktop to be had was in Safe Mode. A virus scan turned up eight suspicious file names in the Windows directory, but the manual tricks I knew for cleaning them out didn't work. I couldn't find any workable solution online, so I wrote down the file names as a starting point for a "real" tech, collected a small payment for time (including a full tank of gas/petrol), and went on my way.

The "real" tech took one look at my notes, gave them the definitive diagnosis, and said there was nothing to be done, short of a wipe and re-install. Then he sat down and poked around on the system, just to make sure. Since it's getting old anyway, they're just going to replace it. So I had gathered the right information, but I didn't know how to interpret it.

(Before anyone asks, Linux is not an option, due to a farm reports subscription that works ONLY in MSIE. Oh well. They're not as bad as this chap: They're much more clueful, at least. And don't worry, Ken, I'll see to it that the system finds a good home.)

The second is an upcoming party, for my parents' golden anniversary. One of the last-minute ideas is to have a little slideshow going, with photos of my parents through the years. The task will be much easier thanks to the article I posted 2-1/2 years ago explaining how to do it.

Taking notes has proven very useful this week.

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