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Tech Tips
Calibrate NXT Motors
Maintain Program Paths in NXT
How to Manage Files and Folders
So You Don't Lose Your Work

How To Avoid Unlinked Files in Your NTX Programs (esp with MyBlocks)
Featured on thenxtstep.blogspot.com

 
Very Important Technical Points
Always release your USB devices using the "Remove Hardware" function in your Windows tray.

Why? Because it makes sure that your files are closed and full saved. Also, make sure you've quit the NXT software before removing the USB stick.
Try To Teach Your Team to Name Files and Folders in a Logical Manner. We fight this battle every year with programs named "Our cool whacko program" or "Third box test" etc. I suggest you download have them read the articles on "File Naming So You Can Find Your Work" and "Folder Naming and Versioning" available in the compilation at http://www.enktesis.com.   Download the document "Mundane and Boring Subjects that will Change Your Digital Life" or read it on this site.
   

The Problem with NXT File Storage

THE NXT Software does what many Windows programs do and creates a variety of "My" folders or other profile-based data storage points that are often lost by users.

This frequently happens if a computer crashes, a profile is deleted, or if  you simply logon as someone else. In addition, NXT software has it's own set of 'folders' etc. which makes the entire file management effort a nightmare and backups impossible.

Why is this a problem?

When you program in NXT the programs store various relationships between elements, particularly MyBlocks, as Windows paths like this:   "C:\ Documents and Settings\John Doe\My Documents\My Pictures"  However, you do not have access to these stored paths so if you do a complex program, and then try to open it from a back up on another computer, all the paths are wrong and the program fails you you have to painstakingly re-link everything.

Move the files from one computer to another, open in a different user account, and everything breaks and even attempts to re-link file often doesn't work.

Most of our programs never recovered.

The Solution: USB Memory Sticks

USB Memory sticks solve the problem. The key is to make SURE the memory drives load on each computer you are using as the SAME DRIVE LETTER (for PCs). This will typically default to the next drive letter (usually E or F). But you need to force it to a high alpha drive letter that will not be used by any devices (I suggest "L" for LEGO, or "X" for NXT).

By using a memory stick, for which the same drive letter is assigned to each computer, and the opening all NTX programs from this path the programs are transportable from computer to computer.

The Advantages

  1. Your programs will work from any computer with the same driver letter assigned.
  2. It's easy to manage them because there are one drive.
  3. They are easy to back up to the local computer. Just drag them over.
  4. It allows students to work independently on their own computer and then combine programs with no loss of relationships.

First: Identify Each Memory Stick

The first thing you should do is label the memory sticks.

One should be a MASTER set where all  final programs are stored.

The others should be named per independent programmer.

Each should maintain the same folder and file name conventions chosen by your team.

See our article on this topic here.
TechBrick.com: Tech Tips: File Folder Naming

The Process

This looks like a lot of steps but it's really quite easy and you typically only need to do this once since Windows remembers the registered device and drive letter.

Do this for each computer on which your students do programming and for each memory stick used if students work independently and then combine programs.

How do you do this?

  1. Put the memory stick in the computer. It will typically choose the next drive letter. In this case: Q:

     
  2. Right click on "My Computer" and choose "Manage"

     
  3. Choose "Disk Management" then scroll down on the right to find your USB Stick (look for the name). Be very careful here not to change anything else and especially your primary drive (typically C). Choose "Change Drive Letter and Path"

     
  4. Then click "Change" and the "Assign the following drive letter:" then choose a letter (in this case "T") the click "OK"
    NOTE: You can choose any drive letter not already assigned. We suggest choosing a high alpha letter "T" or above so in won't conflict with any network mappings or USB card readers.

     
  5. You can click "YES" to this warning since you have no programs associated with this drive.

     
  6. Then close the management window and check the drive in Windows"

     
  7. From the Mindstorms software choose "File > Open"

     
  8. Browse to your USB Drive

     
  9. You'll then be able to find your programs.

     
  10. And open your program.

     
  11. From that point on the NXT software will default to your drive letter

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