Another brief note -- to remind everyone who cares about the content of their electronic media to backup, backup, backup your data. If not all 3 times, then twice. I have learned the hard way that reliance on a single backup and/or the usual integrity of your computer manufacturer is not always sufficient.
The story is that I had finally caved in and ordered the upgrade to Apple OS 10.5.1 (Leopard) for my iMac. The machine's internal drive configuration required that I do a full upgrade process, including erasure of everything on my hard drive (after backing up to my external 500 gig backup drive). All went well until it came time to restore the stored components (program, data, and image files for the most part) -- at which time my computer no longer even recognized the existence of the external media. Using the disk utility "first aid" repair and verify feature I was duly informed that my nodes were bad -- fatal error. The guys at the Apple store confirmed it.
Six months worth of images gone (thankfully I had secondary backup on DVD for earlier work), not to mention programs, address books, calendars, email, software license agreements with verification codes, and on and on...
I have been a techno-centric person my entire life. When IBM introduced the first PC, I had one on my desk at work, doing development work in Lotus 1-2-3 for health care business application. Then came the IBM PC-XT with that massive 40 mb internal hard drive... you would think I would have learned by now. And I suppose I have. Heading out to buy two new external drives. These will be rotated on a weekly basis - with one being kept in my office so that I can never lose more than one week's worth of data (I know, never say never).
So the punch line here is that I will view this as an opportunity to start over in some regards. The 200+ photos from my trip north last week were safe in my camera, and are now downloaded (the one above was taken in the Greenlawn Nature Preserve in north Delaware while I moved the camera intentionally left to right). The vendors of my downloaded software have, so far, been universally cooperative and service-oriented in supplying me with license codes and fresh downloads (many thanks to Adobe, Pzizz, Photomatix, and Apple).
Now go BACK UP YOUR DATA!