Why I Use a Test Mule

One good reason not to load beta operating system software on a computer with real data on it.

Today, while working with a certain beta operating system, I managed to lock myself out of my user account.

Well, I didn’t do the locking. The computer did. An error occurred as I was logging in, right after disabling its heavy-duty file security feature. It decided it didn’t like my password, and although it liked the master password I entered for the computer, it didn’t like the idea of me changing mine to one that would work.

Result: I couldn’t log in as an administrator, so I couldn’t do much of anything with the operating system — including accessing my files.

This brought my entire workday grinding to a halt. Thank heaven I pulled those screenshots off before I clicked that button. They’d be goners.

Now if this were my main production machine, I’d be going bonkers right about now. I’d be freaking out. I’d be so glad I’ve been faithfully backing up all my important files all over the place. But I’d be really POed that I had to reinstall everything from scratch.

But it isn’t so bad when you’re dealing with a test mule. That’s a computer that exists solely to run software in a test environment.

Like beta operating system software.

The computer has hardly anything on it, so losing the hard disk contents isn’t a big deal. Just reformat and reinstall. I’ve already installed betas three times for this book and I’m sure I’ll be doing it again before the software is finalized. Not a big deal.

As I write this, the installation DVD is starting up the computer. I had to fool it into booting from that disc, since I’d normally need to enter my password to restart with the boot disk inserted. (I got to use that Option key trick I wrote about earlier today in an emergency situation.) I figure that just before bedtime, the installation will be complete.

Tomorrow, I’ll pick up where I left off.

What do you think?