windows 7 profile change vs. dropbox sync

One for the "that was a lot fucking harder than it should have been" files...

My PC has just had some problems with blue screens which I am pretty sure are down to some RAM giving up the ghost. Sadly one of the crashes screwed up my user profile, leaving me with the dreaded "temporary profile" problem.

There really isn't a decent solution to this yet, Microsoft's "solution" basically being "give up and make a new profile". Their process will save your data but only about a third of your settings and config. This will of course teach me to buy a new OS before the first service pack (I migrated from XP, which is frankly rock solid these days what with all the patches ;)).

Anyway, Dropbox choked on the move. I'd moved the files across, they were about 99.9% up to date so basically no sync should have been required beyond an index and check. But Dropbox slammed away at it for ages, with errors about "Cannot sync (filename), permission denied". Huh?

So, I realised what had happened. Win7's file permissions meant my Dropbox files were "owned" by the old user account; so a lot of new files were set to read-only and I couldn't change that. Dropbox couldn't change the read-only files so it couldn't sync them - which I should point out is precisely how Dropbox should handle the situation it was given. It was inconvenient for me but not a fault in Dropbox.

So, to sort this out here's what I did...

  1. Find your Dropbox folder - the real one, not the link.
  2. Right click and go to Properties.
  3. Go to the Security tab, then click Advanced, then Change Permissions. This should bring you to the Advanced Security Settings for (folder name) dialog.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Type in: yourcomputername\yourcurrentusername then click Check Names.
  6. Now give your current username Full Control permissions; making sure the Include Inheritable... and Replace all child object permissions... options are ticked.
  7. Apply, and be patient...
  8. OK your way out and close all properties dialogs.
  9. Right click your Dropbox again and remove Read Only, then when it asks make sure you apply the new settings to all sub-folders etc.
  10. Apply, and be patient...
  11. Dropbox should now be able to sync everything.

Of course this might not work for you, but it sorted out the problem for me.

If I'd realised the problems this would cause I'd have done this before installing Dropbox. Cest la vie, and thank goodness for LAN sync and my up to date checkout on the EEEpc.

BTW, this issue does not change the fact Dropbox is awesome :)

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half a thought on the writings of william gibson

As the last few years have come and gone, Web Directions (nee Web Essentials) has been a sort of yearly watershed, a tick of the clock, the end of my web year and the beginning of the new.

Every other year, though, I make a session choice I later regret. This year I missed a talk by James Bridle, who apparently discussed the writings of William Gibson. I was in the next room, fate having a sense of humour.

At any rate, from what I'm told James pondered where Gibson could go next... his novels having shrunk from a far future to the present. (Sidenote: I haven't read Gibson's latest novel yet, although I'll be doing so very soon. However the receding timeline has been obvious long enough that I think I can grasp that thread in the meantime.)

I wish I could have been there to hear another view on this. I've long pondered the real place and significance of time and technology in Gibson's writings.

Logically the settings had to be in the future (usually "near future"), but the time is not the key to the stories; just an implication. His later works are logically in the present, dated mostly by the appearance of contemporary technology rather than anything else.

I think technology is part of the setting rather than the point of the story. Particularly as his works evolved over the years, I think the theme - if there is one - in Gibson's work is the interstitial. The in-between.

Characters are regularly stripped of normality, isolated, in a strange space and time between what they knew before and where they will stabilise. Literary theory suggests all narrative follows this path, that is equilibrium → disequilibrium → equilibrium. But I mean this in the more immediate sense of what's happening to the character.

Characters are torn out of their world, or their death spiral, and given an immediate and urgent assignment by mysterious figures. Items and targets given a value understandable only to those paying for it. People are between times, yet with a task to complete under various forms of motivation.

They live in temporary places. Couches, hotels, company-owned houses. Borrowed beds, vehicles, weapons and allies. Momentary tribes. The unfamiliar rapidly becomes the safe, although it often becomes dangerous again before the tale runs its course.

Many of Gibson's characters have very few items in their immediate possession, usually demonstrating a razor focus on the present task. These items become significant in a variety of ways, brands usually noted even if just in passing.

Also, many characters live in unusual places and ways. Warehouses, both in urban and wasteland locations; space stations; reclaimed bridges; entire high-rise floors converted to communal space. Communities built around circumstance, religion, drugs, technology and music.

All of this serves to pull you, the reader, out of the usual and into the interstitial with the protagonist. You are invited to feel the loneliness of of an empty hotel room; or the warmth of a connection found when a character was dropped into a new place.

Or maybe that's just how I read the books. Reading is such an individual process of creation.

Anyway, it's half a thought I suppose. It doesn't really matter what I think the books are about right now, I'll probably change my mind by the time I've re-read them all (which I will inevitably do).

But I do regret missing the chance to discuss it at Web Directions... I look forward to listening to the podcast :)

Update 2010.10.26

James Bridle has blogged on this topic as well - Network Realism: William Gibson and new forms of Fiction | and the podcast of his talk is up at James Bridle – Wrangling Time: The Form and Future of the Book | Web Directions. I'll be downloading that just as soon as my net connection recovers from its present bout of dialup speeds. Ahh the future ;)

Also, I realise now I didn't really address the otaku theme, obsession with detail and the way brand awareness feeds into this. I find this point harder to articulate, but basically pattern recognition and brand awareness seem to highlight the sense of isolation around the protagonists - even within their own tribes.

One character is so pattern-aware they end up homeless in a train station. Another is so brand-aware they are compelled to have the brand marks ground off the studs on their jeans. Awareness of detail dovetails with pared down existence of the protagonists - when they have very few immediate allies and possessions, what they have is brought into sharper focus.

Obsessive attention to detail (and to the task at hand) drives characters further into their strange, in-between days. So I don't know that patterns and observation are really a separate theme so much as motivation for the characters.

So, anyway, the half thoughts continue...