March 2011 Archives

I authored Orcmid’s Live Hideout pages using Windows Live Writer.  Windows Live Writer will retrieve previous posts from blogs it is configured for.  Because any retrieved post can be saved as a Windows Live Writer local draft, this is a way to preserve the content of posts in local files.  At any future time, those drafts can be opened and repurposed.  It is a way to migrate to another blog that is also authored via Windows Live Writer.  It works amazingly well.

Although one can recover blog posts by scraping pages from a browser window into Live Writer, retrieving posts as drafts is more reliable and more complete with regard to formatting and other features.

Retrieving the Live Hideout Posts

The Open Dialog in Windows Live Writer allows retrieval of previous posts from any blog for which Live Writer is configured

Using the Windows Live Writer that I had configured for authoring Live Hideout (among other blogs), I could obtain a directory of all existing posts via the Open from: Orcmid’s Live Hideout dialog.  I opened each one, individually, bringing it back into Windows Live Writer for editing.

[Note: This is the Open dialog for Windows LiveWriter 14.0, the last version usable with Windows XP.  The preservation was accomplished using Scampo, my Media Center PC, before it was retired.]

 

Retaining Local Drafts

The retrieved post has all of the original formatting and inserts, including images and tags (but no comments).  It is saved as a draft with a single click.

I transferred all of the posts in the list one by one.  Once opened in Windows Live Writer, the posts can be saved into the folder of local drafts with a single click of the “Save draft” button.  As long as that folder (under [My] Documents\My Weblog Posts) is preserved, there is a source of the Live Hideout (or any other) posts for repurposing, including migration onto a different blog.

An easy way to have a chronological list of only those drafts from Orcmid’s Live Hideout is by using the index page that is provided when the blog is downloaded.  Alternatively, one can use screen captures of the monthly archives on the blog:

For Orcmid's Live Hideout, screen shots of the monthly-archive listings provided an alternative catalog.

Opening the Drafts Later

There are two ways to open one of the local drafts for repurposing or simply reposting to a different blog.  The first method is to use the Open dialog of Windows Live Writer:

The Windows Live Writer Open dialog can be used to select a locally-saved draft.

This dialog will offer an abbreviated selection.  There are many drafts as a result of the preservation of all of the Orcmid’s Live Hideout posts as well as drafts from other activities.

The other way to re-open a draft is to go to the full collection of them in the My Weblog Posts folder:

All accumulated local drafts are under the My Weblogs Post folder of [My] Documents.  Double-click will open one in Windows Live Writer.

Double-clicking on one of these drafts will open it in a new Windows Live Writer window.

[Note: The collection of drafts was performed using a now-retired Windows XP PC.  The folder was backed-up and transferred to a new Windows 7 PC and drafts opened with the newer Windows Live Writer 15.4 version.  The unavailability of new versions on Windows XP was one of the “inducements” to upgrade to a Windows 7 PC.  Fortunately, the draft format has not changed in any important way.]

 

Reposting a Preserved Draft

The draft opens up in Windows Live Writer, ready for any repurposing/reposting. By selecting a destination blog account, the styling will be adjusted automatically.  Here I provided a category related to the new location on nfoCentrale Status.   I also specified the original 2007-11-12T21:30 date and time so that the location in time would also be preserved in relationship to other posts on the same destination blog. 

I could have made further changes, as I did for the 2007-08-25 post that was preserved by browser scraping,  In this case I limited myself to addition of a simple entry in the note on updates at the end of the post.

The reposted version is here on nfoCentrale Status.


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When the inventory and backups from Scampo, the failing Media Center PC, were complete, I needed to do some final cleanups.  I had uninstalled all Windows-programs that I could while remaining in operation.  Now I needed to scrub the disk, delete accounts, power down, and remove some parts that I had further use for.  These would be the anatomical gifts to other systems.

Retained Backups

Software installation files, data, and documents, including my inventory document, were all preserved into shared folders of my Windows Home Server.

In addition, the Windows Home Server retained a complete backup-image set as of the point just before I started removing things:

Windows Home Server retained backup images up through the point where I began decommissioning the system.

If I found that I missed anything, I could recover it from the backups.  This was my backstop against not having everything necessary preserved in the shared folders.

Final Removal

The first sense of final decline was removal of HyperSnap-DX, my screen capture utility:

Removing the screen capture utility was much light dimming the lights as part of final operations

The next was removal of the backup software for the HP MediaSmart Server (the Windows Home Server system).  Although I could still access shared folders, it seemed as if I had finally cut off all communication with the SOHO LAN and other machines.  Any subsequent images could only be obtained by photography of the display.

Sweeping Up

With cessation of all further preservation work, I began eliminating any residue on the machine that I could.  I worked through and deleted folders in Program Files, Local Application Data, and anything else that still left me in control of the system.  Since I was not sure what I would do about the hard drive, I ran a defragmentation to obscure as much of the removed information as possible:

After cleaning out as much as I could without dsiabling the machine, I used the disk defragmenter to tidy up

There are more-drastic approaches to removal of personal data and files, but I figured this would be good enough.

Saying Goodbye

Before shutting down for the final time, I switched to the admin account and deleted my main profile and its files, something I almost forgot to do:

I was definitely finished when I deleted my own user account from the machine.

Once that was completed, I shut down the machine for the last time, leaving the single administrator account which is not allowed to be deleted and which also has nothing useful or interesting (it being used for administration and nothing else):

The final shutdown left only an adminstrator account and the bare operating-system on the machine.

Anatomical Gifts

After disconnecting Scampo, I removed the hard drive and the E-MU 1820M PCI and daughter cards

I will recycle the computer, putting it in the original packaging along with the cabling and a keyboard and mouse that I never used.

In packing the computer, I discovered a pair of audio speakers that I also did not need but that I can use for a time with my failing laptop, Compagno, and with my docked Tablet PC, Quadro, after that.

I removed the 250GB hard drive.  My intention is to adapt it as a swappable backup drive in my Windows Home Server.  I think this may be useful for backing up the WHS software and other material that is not protected by duplicate storage and backup onto USB drives. 

The other salvaged component is an E-MU 1820M digital audio subsystem.  The 1820M PCI board has a tap into the power supply (the connector on the left) that powers the separate audio-dock unit (not shown).  There is also a daughter card connected by ribbon cable to the 1820M PCI board.  The 1820M figured into my care in avoiding add-ons to the next machine that might deny room for addition of the 1820M and its power demands.  It remains unclear whether the Windows 7 version of the E-MU drivers will become available and work well enough now that the 1820M is no longer in production.

Afterthoughts

I am not embarrassed to personify an inanimate object, although to portray Scampo as falling into ill-health and decline is a little awkward.  It seemed appropriate because of the fight to keep things running long enough to have preserved everything that could be important later.  And once I adopted that tone, I simply persisted until this end point.

There’s some embarrassment of a different kind.  It seems that I should have kept Scampo running longer than the five years that lapsed before I decided to upgraded to a more-powerful system.  I had managed to keep computers running longer than this (and Compagno is now over 11 years old), with no difficulty about making upgrades.  But there was no way that Scampo was adequate for Windows Vista or Windows 7 and I definitely needed a 64-bit development system that provided substantial performance and expandability.

It still doesn’t seem right, even though the machine’s useful life had definitely ended and I am overjoyed to work with the new system.

 

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Wholesale upgrading to Microsoft Windows 7 on the Centrale SOHO LAN breaks the existing nfoCentrale web deployment model.  Until I can resolve that problem, I must keep a Windows XP PC system operating well enough to sustain the web-deployment model. 

The Problem

Pages can be checked-out for editing in FrontPage-aware client software, but they can’t be checked back in from the same Windows 7 client PC.  The development server reports that the page is checked-out to a different user (e.g., compagno/vicki instead of scritto/vicki) even though the check-out was done using the same Windows 7 client (and scritto/vicki successfully logged into the development server as compagno/vicki).

I do not know what is different between Windows 7 client PCs and Windows XP client PCs that is at the root of this difficulty.  I also don’t know to what degree the use of a Windows XP Professional PC as the development server might contribute to the problem. 

I do have some ideas about what I might be able to adjust and where I can adjust it.   But while I explore that, I must not do anything that puts the procedures that do work out of business.

Emergency Procedure

Because Scampo, my Windows XP developer PC, had to be retired quickly with an emergency upgrading to a Windows 7 Ultimate developer PC, I adjusted my plans for the preservation of web deployment into three main stages:

  1. Urgent Mitigation: I will always have a Windows XP client for web development and deployment until I can remedy the situation with Windows 7 client PCs.  I needed to ensure that while Scampo was being retired and before the replacement machine was in place.  I needed to ensure that my Tablet PC, Quadro, my last-remaining Windows XP PC, was up and running with the necessary client software before Scampo failed completely or was decommissioned.
      
  2. Client-Side Stability: I shall preserve the Windows XP client even even after the web-site development configuration is moved from a Windows XP PC to the Windows Home Server (based on Windows Server 2003 and a later version of IIS).  This is necessary to reduce the number of changes happening at once and have a known successful case as a backstop while trouble-shooting and confirming the move.
      
  3. Preservation of the Model with New Tools: I will solve the Windows 7 FrontPage Client difficulties using the new location of the development IIS, FrontPage extensions, and VSS.  This will include migration to Microsoft Expression Studio if possible.  When that has succeeded, whatever it takes to do that, I can retire use of Microsoft FrontPage knowing that I can accomplish all essential provision of my deployment model with Expression Studio on Windows 7 and beyond.

My Commitment

I am not prepared to give up the current deployment model.  Under that model, all of the nfoCentrale sites and hosted blogs depend on the integration of a Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) development site with Visual Source Safe (VSS) for version-control and backup of development site content.  FrontPage Extensions and FrontPage-aware clients are then used for orchestrating the authoring of static pages.  The public, hosted-web sites are populated from the IIS development site via File Transfer Protocol (FTP) for synchronization between a local extract of a development-site release and the hosted web. 

Certain design-time capabilities of FrontPage and Visual SourceSafe are essential to the model and I will find a way to preserve those essential characteristics by any means possible. 

Minimum First Step

As the result of beta-test usage of my Tablet PC, I no longer have a copy of Microsoft FrontPage on that machine.  I also have managed to discard my install disc for Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003.  So I shall use the copy of FrontPage 2002 Upgrade that had been on Vicki’s machine until we updated to a new Windows 7 Machine.  That secured step 1.

It now occurs to me that I can also use Microsoft Office FrontPage 2002 in Virtual PC XP Mode on the new developer desktop.  This may be an opportunity to troubleshoot the check-out and check-in breakdown as well.

To be continued …

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Another way to convert a blog is by scraping posts and reposting them elsewhere.  I was curious about that as yet-another approach for preserving Orcmid’s Live Hideout before Windows Live Spaces disappear.  It is not appealing, but something I wanted to confirm just in case I needed it.  It worked far better than expected.

Scraping Live Spaces Blog Posts

I chose to scrape my first Orcmid’s Live Hideout post because I wasn’t certain that I could use my Live Writer republishing technique to preserve one that old.   Since this was a post that made sense to preserve here on nfoCentrale Status, I could demonstrate the preservation before I have restored any of my other blogs. 

I used the Live Hideout archive to go to August 2007, open the first post there, and copy the body text to the clipboard:

Scraping the browser view of the post by selecting the page body and copying it to the Windows clip-board

This was done using Windows XP SP3 with Internet Explorer 8.  Fortunately, the formatting of the blog was such that I could select the body of the post without dragging along other material from the page.

I had no idea whether there’d be anything on the clipboard at all and whether it preserved formatting of the post.

Creating the Derivative Post

To recreate the post elsewhere, I pasted the clipboard into the body for a new post opened-up in Windows Live Writer.  I was delighted to see that all of the formatting of the original text was preserved. 

I used Windows Live Writer to set the new post to the same date as the original Live Hideout post.  I also added the new title and additional explanation to the reposting:

Pasting the clipboard into Windows Live Writer preserved the text to which I added updates, a title, and set the date to the original 2007-08-25 date.

The version of Windows Live Writer used for this was version 14.0, that latest one usable on Windows XP SP3.  All of the formatting, including numbered lists, came across just fine.  I added supplemental information about where this post came from and how it managed to end up on nfoCentrale Status under the Orcmid’s Live Hideout category.

Successful Posting

Although I had no idea why it would not work, I published the scraped post with a certain amount of anticipation. 

The post did not appear on my blog’s front page because it was too old.  But it appeared in the archive in a freshly-created August 2007 folder and it appeared under the Orcmid’s Live Hideout category archive as the first historical entry.  The post is fully available here.

Delayed Reposting

I scraped this particular post because I was somewhat concerned that I might have to use that technique.  I also had a place to repost the article here as historical status of Orcmid’s Live Hideout.  If I simply wanted to preserve the material and figure out what to do with it later, I could simply have saved the pasted-up Windows Live Writer post as a local draft. 

Which leads to my preferred way of cross-posting from one blog to another. …


Previous Posts

While the Scampo death-watch continued, it was necessary to organize affairs and make sure that all of Scampo’s estate was inventoried and identified for disposal or preservation.  I organized a review by examining the existing sources of inventory information: desktop icons, the All Programs menu, the Add/Remove Programs Control Panel application, and the directories for Program Files, My Documents, Shared Documents, Photos, Videos, Favorites, and Application Data.

In the course of review, I also created a spreadsheet document that listed different categories of software and provided little reminders for software I needed to replace or check for Windows 7 and 64-bit upgrades.  This long-overdue document will be the basis for a new taxonomy for my software collection and maintenance of current information about software installed on the Centrale computers and nfoCentrale web sites.

I also ensured that the Windows Home Server shared directories of software materials had copies of needed install files, product keys, configuration data, and other materials that would be needed for reconstitution on a different machine, especially for software acquired over the Internet and that lacked install discs.

This was followed by setup of certain critical applications on the Tablet PC, Quadro, as a safeguard and fall-back during migration.  Then I was ready to initiate the final decommissioning of my 5-year-old main desktop PC with all communication and web-/blog-development support on Quadro in the interim.

I took five days to work through everything, adding back-up material to folders on the Windows Home Server, taking screen shots where necessary, and slowly deleting the material that was backed-up to have it out of my way for reviewing the remainder.  Because this sort of thing is tedious, I did not rush.  Whenever I felt fatigued with the work, I would stop until the next day, minimizing the prospect of a careless action leaving me with a mess.

Although I continued to shut down Scampo every night, I succeeded in keeping it operating to the very end of this effort.  I felt that I could recover regardless were Scampo to fail completely before I finished.  It was comforting that I was able to complete my systematic analysis and ensure that I could migrate onto new machines easily and with everything I needed rather than having to fill in the blanks later as they became an issue.


Details

The following sketch is not comprehensive.  It is designed as a reminder of what needs to be looked for the next time I undertake a migration like this.  It might be useful to you when you are considering the retirement of a computer that has been used for a long time and on which there is material you want to be sure to preserve and migrate at will.

This first of four screen captures for listing all of my C:\Program Files directory reveals the amount of material I needed to review to ensure that I had captured everything essential and related material as well.

In addition to the Program Files section of the computer, I also took advantage of the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs applet as another source to work through.

The Actual Progression

Cleaning up the Desktop.  My first steps involved cleaning up the desktop icons.  I deleted those that were irrelevant or tied to programs that would be removed and that I needn’t concern myself about in the future.

I also built a Shortcuts folder on WHS (my Windows Home Server) and moved copies of my shortcut icons into it.  Many of these refer to locations on the Windows Home Server or to external web sites and I wanted an easy way to review and reconstitute them later.

A variety of shortcuts remained on the desktop, for use in deeper review near the end.

To ensure all documents and related materials were backup up, the My Documents were moved wholesale to a preservation location on the Windows Home Server

Saving the My <everything>.  The next step was to preserve the material that had accumulated in the My Documents, My Photos, My Music etc., folders of my primary account.  I had recently begun to keep such materials on the Windows Home Server, but other materials remained and I made sure to capture them.  These materials also appear in the incremental images captured as part of system backups, and can be obtained from there in a pinch.  It is easier to have them in shared file folders though.

F11xx15-2011-01-23-1017-BackingUpOrcmid

I needed to do the same thing with anything in the Shared Documents, Shared Photos,Shared Music, etc., as well.   There were home-brew audio and video files that I had never moved to the server.

The Documents and Settings views also provided reminders of other places that needed to be examined for preservation. 

I preserved the Favorites folder in my account at once.  From previous migrations, I knew that these are easily merged into the Favorites folder of another machine.

In the past, I also had separate hard-drive directories with special material.  But in the time since I have had the Windows Home Server, I had moved all material of that kind to shared folders on the server.  I didn’t have to do anything further in preserving that material.

I also have some Subversion working directories in shared folders of the Windows Home Server.  This is mainly standards-development materials, including mirroring of the SVN repository of the OASIS TC for ODF Interoperability and Conformance.  Tortoise SVN is also installed on Quadro as an alternative and it is in the inventory for restoration on Astraendo, the new desktop.

Saving Crucial Application Data.  There is also material in my account’s hidden Local Data\Application Data\ folder.  I found my Outlook 2007 PST folders there under Microsoft\Outlook and backed them up along with the other material.  I already backed-up those as a matter of routine, and would always do so before moving the PSTs to a laptop for travel use.  During Scampo’s decline, I did this prior to every daily shutdown until I had moved all e-mail and Outlook usage to my Tablet PC.

Cutover of Daily Activity to the Tablet PC.  At this point, I stopped using Outlook on Scampo, moving operation to my Tablet PC.  I set up the Outlook 2007 there with the last-saved PST files.  I also set up Windows LiveWriter on the Tablet PC and moved all authoring operations to the Tablet PC.   I decided to simply avoid using Microsoft Money until I had completed the migration to the new computer.  I did confirm that my Money databases and other financial-application files were all being backed up on the Windows Home Server either already or as part of the backup of My Documents.

It is important to know where there are data records and documents that matter.  Securing that material in a convenient backup is important, especially because it was not known how much longer Scampo would continue functioning.  That is what I undertook as urgent immediate activity.

I systematically went through the Add or Remove Programs to remove those non-Windows components that did not have anything else depending on them.  I also ensured that related data and materials, including disc images, were backed up in shared folders of the Windows Home Server.

Program Removal.  The next stage was to begin removing programs.  My first pass through was to find all of the programs for which there were no dependencies from other programs.  On each occasion, I made sure that I had the discs or files needed to reinstall the software.  I also made sure that data related to the program was also backed up in shared files.  In this case, my Visual C++ Projects were transferred, as well as related materials and scripts.

When there were potential dependencies or I was unsure about how vital something was, I either left it installed or installed after I had removed anything that would depend on a particular removable unit:

A removal that surprised me because the description was different that what I thought I was removing.  It all worked out.

At the end, I removed all drivers that were inessential and part of Add/Remove Programs, not installed as Windows Components.

Scrubbing Program Files and Local Data.  Before I could remove the computer from the network, I needed to look through the Windows Explorer tree for Program Files and see if there was anything that I might need to retain for possible use with the software version that I might be able to install on the new Windows 7 system.  I also examined all folders of Local Data for any additional material that was either my data used with an application or that would be needed in reinstallation on a new machine.

Removing the final utilities.  The final removals were ones that made the system no longer tied to the network and my work could no longer be recorded from Scampo.  I removed the HyperSnap screen-capture utility and the Windows Home Server Connectors.  (Looking back, I realize that I could still have made remote console connections to other machines on the Centrale SOHO LAN, and access Windows Live SkyDrive if it became important, but it did not occur to me at the time.)

At this point, Scampo was no longer useful and I could proceed to the final decommissioning of the machine.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2011 is the previous archive.

July 2011 is the next archive.

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