Visio ate my homework

· Best Practices, Book News

I’ve been drawing wire frames (also called virtual blueprints) depicting schematically how a number of different page views and portlets and popup windows show look and function for a portal project, and I’ve been drawing these pictures in Visio. It’s an old version of Visio (2000) and I’m running it on a fairly old Dell laptop issued me by the consultancy that hired me to do this project, and between these two old geezers of hardware and software my life today has been a bleeding nightmare.
First, the Dell freaks out if I move it around, and I’ve had the blue screen of death four times today. Worse, this old version of Visio has a special file-corrupting problem that renders the doc I was just working on (and sometimes even earlier versions that should not even be open anymore) unreadable by Visio.
In hunting around with some help from a very smart systems guy, I learned that this is a known bug, there is a Microsoft patch (but it’s for SR-1 versions and later only – the Visio I have is actually pre-Microsoft acquisition), but all it does is minimize the error in the future. It does nothing to help recovered the munged files.
A discussion on an info-arch website convinced me that this is a common problem and that it’s exacerbated by keeping a large number of drawings in a single file (I have over 50 drawings in the file in question). A google search on “recover corrupt visio” however helped me find a shareware product called RecoverMyFiles.
Man is that thing good. They claim they can find things you never saved, things you’ve already emptied from your recycle bin, and even files from a disk you’ve reformatted. I set the little bugger to work checking cluster by cluster and it found 47 lost Visio files on my machine! (Many of them are iterations of my work in the last few days, especially since I started obsessively saving backups and moving on to copies to try to put interim files beyond the clutches of the diseased application, but some go back years.)
The recover tool is very smart: Once it finds your files for you, it requires you to buy it ($59.95) and enter a registration key to actually save the recovered files. I had my credit card out in no time flat.
You also need a separate disk to save to. I’ve actually had to upload over 10 files of nearly four megs each through a VPN connection over DSL to a network-mounted drive, but they’re almost all saved now, so I’ll be able to drag ’em back soon and get on with my work.
Yep, looks like it’s done now. A small test file opened just fine. Now it’s time to go for one of the meatier ones. … Shazam!
Best $60 I ever spent.