mabfan (Michael A. Burstein) (mabfan) wrote,
mabfan (Michael A. Burstein)
mabfan

PDA Issues

Last week I had an issue with the Calendar program in my Tungsten E. What follows will probably only be of interest to people who know me well, but even if you don't, it'll give you some insight into me.


Last Saturday night (March 5), I was trying to enter a new item into my Calendar program when I got a "Fatal Alert" and my machine crashed. After I reset it, I discovered that it had lost all the records in the Calendar except for the repeating ones.

Fortunately, I keep all the records backed up on my iBook. Unfortunately, I hadn't hotsynced for two days, so there were items I had to reconstruct, but I managed to do so. I synced the PDA and my computer, and everything seemed to be fine again.

Until I got the error again late on Monday night, March 7. I decided to leave it alone because having the Macintosh overwrite the handheld takes about half an hour. Since I didn't want to be up any later, I decided I would hotsync the PDA on Tuesday morning. I took note of the exact error I had so I could search for it on Google, and I emailed my friend Jeremy Lyon to ask if he might have an idea what was going on. Jeremy used to work for Palm, and he is one of the people behind Futurismic, a rather cool blog.

Tuesday morning, I received an email from Jeremy pinpointing the problem perfectly: I have too many records in my Calendar, and the software can't accept anymore. How many records is too many? About 32,000.

I know what you're thinking -- why in the world would I have 32,000 records in my Calendar?

The answer is a simple one, although slightly convoluted. Since I was 14 years old, I've kept a diary. It's more like a journal, really, in which I wrote whatever I did each day of my life. I kept it on paper, in binders, and as late as December 2002 I had about 40 or so of these little notebooks.

But that particular December I started falling behind on keeping my journal. Up until then, if I fell behind, I would take notes in a small paper notebook, and then later write things up more formally in my journal. Since I now had a PDA, I decided to use it instead to keep notes. And then, I never managed to get back to the journal. Instead, I used the Calendar like a diary. Every month, I would save the previous month as a PDF file in my computer, so that I still have a record of my life, but now it's no longer handwritten.

But I found that the PDA's records were useful in other ways. Keeping my diary stored in there meant that I could search it anytime I wanted over the past two or so years, and remind myself just when I last saw someone, had a medical appointment, received a particular issue of a magazine in the mail, etc.

If you've read this far, you can probably figure out why I had 32,000 records in my Calendar.

Last Tuesday I tried all sorts of other things to keep the PDA from crashing. I downloaded a program called dbScan to cleanse the database. I tried deleting old records piecemeal to see if I could keep the rest. But every time I thought I had a solution, the PDA would crash again.

So, sadly, I took my last step. Making sure I had saved all those monthly PDF files, I instructed my PDA to purge everything in the Calendar before a few weeks ago. Not being a fool, I also told it to save an archive copy on my computer. And then I performed a final hotsync, and saw all those old records, those beautifully searchable records, disappear into the ether.

My Calendar program works again perfectly, and I have learned a lesson. From now on, I'll keep an eye on the number of records stored in it, and when it gets close to 30,000, I'll purge it again.

Which may happen sooner than I thought. Purging all those old records still left me with 18,000 records. I leave it as an exercise to the reader (if you care) to figure out why I still have so many records in my Calendar.
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