2007.03.08

Adventures in Tech Support Land

23.59.28 - Mark

As a geek, there's some sort of unwritten law that dictates that to maintain geek status we have to respond to the technical woes of friends and family, especially when those individuals think that we have the technical knowledge of Bill Gates (which is wrong in several ways). Usually these are simple problems and can be resolved by running spyware and antivirus software, or reinstalling a couple applications.

Then there are the real problems, like massive catastrophic hardware failures, or today's gem - recovering and modernizing database files made with an application that's 16 years old.

Now, it can be a little challenging to recover a word processing file made with a program that old, but it wouldn't be to bad since text files are more or less standardized. Databases on the other hard are wildly incompatible, even different versions of the same software will change significantly. Microsoft Access won't deal with Filemaker Pro and neither plays nice with MySQL, while Filemaker 7 will damn near refuse to work with files made with Filemaker 6. Yet, that's to this user's decision not to keep the database software up-to-date I had the pleasure of getting the information from a Filemaker 1 (circa 1991) database file working in Filemaker Pro 8.5 (circa 2006). To make matters worse, the data structure was pretty bad (read: horrible)

I got the job done, but it makes me all the more thankful for comma-delineated text files and TextWrangler

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