Realizations from Endless Reformats and Dual Boots

Sometimes we take on a new hobby out of sheer curiosity and interest. Other hobbies are borne of necessity. In my case, I needed to learn more about computer beyond posting my thoughts on my blog and basic mapping tricks because I need it for my job and also for my personal life. It’s a stressful and busy time to embark on a new hobby, but this hobby begs to be learned at virtually all digital aspects of my life.

Today, I learned a very hard but memorable lesson on reformatting. Before, it was all about Windows operating system (OS). My computer was laden with a bunch of .exe files from video splitters and converters to personal planning devices. All my accounts were linked to a single email system and so my world came crumbling digitally when it got attacked out of the blue by a random dude in cyberspace with lots of time in his or her hands.

So I start appreciating reformats and dual boots. At first, I wiped out my original exe-laden Windows and partitioned it to accommodate another operating system. It was at this very distressful time that I got acquainted with the beautiful Linux. Beautiful and difficult, like a patch of roses with a lot of thorns. I never really thought about tinkering with another operating system, but well, well, well, I ended up surprising myself. I am actually fascinated with Linux and the nuances of computers that we usually take for granted in this lazy executable culture of give-it-to-me-now and let’s-run-it-even-when-we-do-not-know-exactly-how-it-all-works-behind-the-scenes.

Linux unveils what goes on behind the scenes and allows you to tinker with it, even. It’s amazing. I never knew how unsafe Windows is until I had a taste of Linux in my day-to-day activities.

Even with dual boot, the unjust attacks persisted. And I had to wipe out Windows again, to the chagrin of my boss.

As an engineer, my work is heavily dependent on Microsoft Windows for ArcGIS and AutoCAD software that allow me to make maps and process raw data and plot points depending on the project at hand. Imagine the hell of having to reinstall everything from scratch.

It was with this painful reinstallation and lost hours of sleep that I began to toy with the idea of putting up a VirtualBox inside Linux. This is a virtual machine that allows you to run another OS within the main OS. In this case, it’s a Linux OS for main OS with Windows or Mac as guest OS. Through the magic of Virtualbox, you can run two operating systems at the same time. Isn’t that lovely?

After Virtualbox, of course, I still needed an independent bootable Windows OS somehow, one that no longer has those useless and dangerous executable monsters and internet keylogging attacks. The OS is supposed to be the engineering OS where I had to install my work software in case Linux fails.

The problem began there and we had to solve it for a while. When the new Windows was installed, it erased the old dual boot configuration. So whenever I open my computer, it just goes straight to Windows, hiding Linux.

After a lot of research, we found that we just needed to upgrade the GRUB initializing file in the root folder of the Linux configuration. So, it helped that Linux is open source. We downloaded the installer in a hard disk and recovered the old Linux installation by means of a seven-step command that I found online. Many thanks. I still do not understand the exact syntax and nuances of the seven-step command line prompts but I somehow grasp what it was for.

What can I say? I am so happy when it was all done. It worked.

Both of them (virtual machine Windows and main Windows installation) worked and I no longer had to slash my wrists. Of course, I had to work very hard to set it all up, but I emerged out of it very proud of myself. Few people will understand the level of difficulty of learning things at this rate while being under attack on a daily basis, but I just know deep inside that I have accomplished something in the last three months that are not going to merit me awards but have given me a lot of fulfillment amidst the frustrations.

I learned about file partitions and I just realized how much I still don’t know about the wonderful world of computers, how little I know about the rest of the world and how it works. It’s all so painful and beautiful, all the easy and hard parts of it. Like the segments of my mind, I have divided my assigned work laptop into various segments that represent the multi-faceted person that I am. Like clothes and shoes, I have learned to fashion and personalize my own digital life to express who I am: a bullied online addict with little time but lots of challenges to overcome.

Fortunately, there are some good people who are excellent in programming and have the good mind to share what they know to a complete newbie like me. It’s like in Star Wars where there are jedis as much as people who cross over to the Dark Side.

I know that this phase of my life is not going to be easy. Friends, family, and co-workers will misunderstand my level of distress and my level of discomfort given my condition. But I don’t mind anymore. All I want now is to just keep working until the worst is over. I am still here at an office that is not mine, after having sought help for the nth time. And I am happy even though I feel shy that I am always pestering these people whenever I don’t have the answers to something. This will always be one of my places of comfort. And I am grateful that despite the hardships, despite the incessant urge to burst in tears, I still have people who are willing to help me. They’re many, they’re intelligent, and they’re very encouraging. Thank you, and you know who you are. I wanted to mention you but the evil attackers might attack you next just by mere association to me.

It’s a humbling experience, being driven to this new level of digital helplessness and finding the ropes with which I was able to slowly but surely regain my footing.

With this, I know and I am fully convicted that when somebody asks me for help and a similar thing happens to someone (stranger or very close to me), I know that I have this duty to pay this generosity forward. Always, I will pay forward whatever useful things I have learned in life because it’s the right thing to do.

It’s interesting that a very technical procedure of revamping my laptop can bring about so many realizations and even led me to reconnect to a pretty spiritual aspect of my life, the aspect that I thought I have lost forever.

I don’t know everything. But I have been able to do much today that a few people will be able to appreciate.

I am happy that I have done it, and for that alone, it means a damn lot.

Sometimes, you just have to learn to be fulfilled on your own, because that’s the only kind of fulfillment that will drive you no matter how much outside help you try to get from other people. 🙂