The dreaded rebuild

I don’t know about you, but I am rough on computers. In the course of the weeks and months I spend doing geeky shit, I tend to load and overload and reload and reconfigure and rebuild and reinstall a bunch of different kinds of development tools and platforms and language interpreters for different purposes and projects, most of which are over.

Anyway, after enough builds and rebuilds and reinstalls, I start losing track and the computer starts losing its mind. Because of the 17 different places and versions of python I have installed, it doesn’t know which one I mean when I try to run python.

So yesterday I ran up against and overcame a bunch of related problems while trying to pursue my Data Science studies. And then I ran into the last problem that I couldn’t overcome.

(For you geeks out there, that problem is that because of all these layered installs, despite using a python virtual environment – which is supposed to be a clean start – I can’t get scipy’s misc.imread() method to work properly in a locally-installed Jupyter Notebooks server. Yes, I’ve Googled extensively, and installed the Pillow library, as well as other approaches, and none of them so far work. I think reinstalling is my best shot and I’ve seen it coming for months.)

It is now time to rebuild the laptop. It’s been doing pretty well. It’s 4 years old, and one of the reasons I buy Apple products is that they support their products through a huge number of upgrades (compared to PCs). My 6 year old Mac Mini Server also upgraded successfully to macOS High Sierra a week ago.

The nice thing about this is that so much of everything is stored, not locally, but in the cloud.

And for me, not just the cloud, but I have backups in a secure cloud. I also have a bunch of files in cloud storage (and in Google Drive, and in other smaller services). And Apple made us, in the past upgrade, put all our documents in iCloud too. And Steam (my game installer/manager) also saves progress in its cloud. And and and.

So the task before rebuilding is to either clone the drive (so I have something to go back to if I need to recover something I missed, that is not on the cloud, etc.) or be finicky about tracking down the stuff I might miss, or maybe I could do it old school and trawl through all the places where I keep special files and make sure I have them all. But I think I’ll probably clone the drive. (I use SuperDuper, but I should make sure it still works with High Sierra, since Apple changed up the filesystem with this upgrade. Indeed they have a Beta for High Sierra’s new filesystem.)

Then I will use the installer USB stick that I created from the High Sierra update to do a clean High Sierra install on a newly formatted disk on my laptop, and then start the installs as I need things.

Also I’ll try to keep better track of the things I install and configure things responsibly to try to avoid this problem coming up again.

But who knows.