Spring 2020 computer catchup, part 2

May 22, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 22, 2020

Earlier this month, I went online and bought a new scanner, a Xerox Duplex Combo, a lightweight machine that features both an automatic sheet feeder with two-sided scanning and a flatbed that can accommodate larger or irregularly shaped documents. I had it delivered to my Durham residence, where I spent time from the 5th through the 20th.

I let the box sit for a few days before opening it up. Evidence indicates that the chances of catching Covid-19 from mail or boxes that have been contaminated by the novel coronavirus are extremely low, but I’ve been trying to extremely diligent about limiting my exposure.

Setup was pretty easy. So was software installation. I had to fiddle with the software settings a bit, but it was pretty easy to begin scanning with the new machine. This meant that I could upgrade my MacBook Pro’s operating system and still be able to scan documents. I was almost ready to get my computer on board with MacOS Catalina.

There were still a few other steps, of course. I made multiple backups with Carbon Copy Cloner and verified that they worked.

Then I made sure that copies of my main photo library were stored in multiple places.

And then I deleted my main photo library. That opened up nearly 90 gigabytes on my hard drive, more than enough space to update the operating system.

Back in late December or early January, I’d downloaded the MacOS Catalina installer to an external hard drive. I pulled out that storage device, hooked it up to my computer, and began the upgrade process.

After a while — I no longer remember how long it took — my laptop was the proud owner of Catalina. The MacBook seemed to run fine, so in a little bit, I returned my main photo library to the internal hard drive.

This turned out to be a mistake. I still had a few spare gigabytes on my hard drive after restoring the photo library, but my computer complained so frequently about the lack of space that the machine bordered on being unusable.

I tried opening up my photo library to go about the arduous task of weeding out a significant number of photos without permanently deleting them. The plan was to export pictures that I didn’t need but didn’t want to delete permanently to a separate photo library and then store that library on an external drive. Unfortunately, Photos wanted to update the library file, and my computer essentially froze up while trying to do so.

I was stuck again. I decided that I had to delete the main photo library again.

To make sure that I didn’t accidentally lose the library, I decided to copy it onto my networked drive. This didn’t go exactly as planned: Transfer speeds to this storage device are a lot slower than transfers to drives that connect to my laptop by cable. Initially, the file-movement window that popped up told me that it would take a day to make an entire copy.

This turned out to be a bit of an exaggeration; ultimately, the process only took about 12 hours. But that was half a day when my laptop couldn’t be moved, because it was connected to a drive that needed to be plugged in to a power source, and couldn’t otherwise be used, because I was afraid that any additional activity would further slow down copying the file.

Once the file was safely ensconced on the network drive, I did once again delete the main photo library. And now I’ve got space on my laptop hard drive again!

However, this is not an all’s-well-that-ends-well situation, because things are far from over. I’ve got to further winnow down the main photo library and then get it back on to the laptop’s internal drive. I’m going to try working on the file with my parent’s computer.

Also, my laptop isn’t that happy about running Catalina. The fan seems to come on a lot more than it used to. I’ve taken to placing an ice pack underneath the machine.

I got this computer in September 2015. I would love to get to 2021 before having to buy a replacement, which would make for two laptop purchases in 11 years and change. The way things are going, I may not make it.

Please wish me luck, dear reader.

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