A Cautionary Note

“Blessed are the Pessimists, for they hath made backups.”
— Spotted years ago on the bulletin board of an IT guy at a company I worked for

We hear it all the time: “Back up your data.” It’s not something most folks think about until that fatal moment when you go to find something – and it’s not there. I had that lovely experience recently; I we doing work on the blog after not looking at it for, well, we won’t go into that, and discovered that five years of posts had disappeared.

Cue panic.

Now, much of it was recoverable thanks to the Wayback Machine, which crawls the web and takes snapshots of publically accessible sites that allows such robots, but a good deal wasn’t. Nor could I find the backup files I’d made and downloaded to my computer (I moved this summer and many things are not where they should be, including computer files following the set up of the new network). There was a backup file on the host server – but it also omitted the last five years worth of information.

I was lucky; a phone call to my host’s tech support solved the problem. Seems my site was moved to a different server early in August and somehow the database got pointed to the wrong copy of the file. Since I was able to tell them that a week before the move, the site had still been correct (thanks again to the Wayback Machine), they were able to find a correct copy, restore that and point my site there. Yes, I lost the flailing post I made when I discovered the problem, but I can live with that. You’d better believe I made backups and loaded them down to the hard drive (where they’ll be backed up onto my Time Capsule as well). Reminder on the calendar now to make backups, as well as when to delete all but the last one from each month.

Do you have your website backed up?

That Was Surprisingly Nice

My internet was out last night, along with the internet of a good part of Southern California. After beating my head against the wall and finally managing to get an answer via my iPad, which is a 3G model, I settled down for a quiet evening without instant communication with the outside world.

Maybe I should do this more often. I watched some DVDs, knit on my Diagonal Jacket (I’m almost to the point where I’ll be dividing for the sleeves — woot!), and played a little on Scrivener with moving some plot elements around on one of my projects. Asked a “why” and the answer I got is going to have a major impact on where certain things are going. That impact changes a number of plot elements and told me exactly why this project derailed itself the first time I tried to write it. But I also think the answer makes things more interesting and removes the risk of my heroine wandering into “too stupid to live” territory. (Any time you re-read something you’ve written and start thinking “Why doesn’t she just say something?” you’ve got some trouble.)

But it was nice without the noise, without the notices of incoming mail or new posts on my Live Journal while I was writing. In fact, when the internet did come back, I stopped my Google notifications which came up every time I got new mail. One distraction gone. This weekend, I’m probably going to be looking at my other notifications, see if I really need them popping up all the time. Yes, I want to be able to handle things in a timely manner, but do I really need instant notification while I’m at home?

Now, off to set up the work laptop since I’m working from home today — and you’d better believe I’m happy the internet is back up because I did not feel like sitting in the office today.

Blessed Are the Pessimists…

Autumn Leaves by eyesthatslayI’m writing this on a computer I didn’t intend to buy. Earlier this year, the money I had originally intended to use to replace my laptop (which was going out of Apple Care), ended up going to do some work on the house that needed to be done. Life happened, we had the family crisis this summer and then I ended up getting sick for much of September and October, First, it was sheer exhaustion, the body releasing the tension it’d held for well over a year and saying, “You are going to slow down and relax.” Then, because I was so exhausted and worn down, I caught the flu. (Be glad this is a blog and not a podcast; the cough still lingers.)

Public Service Announcement #1: Get your flu shot. Trust me, it’s better than getting the flu.

Then, there was the laptop incident. I won’t go into details, but let us just say my husband managed to knock over a glass of water on a shared workspace and it managed to fry the logic board on my MacBook. He’s still alive, by the way, and we’re still married, but there were a few moments that night when it felt like it was touch and go.

Public Service Announcement #2: Don’t keep liquids where they can spill on your laptop. Better, don’t let your significant other have liquids anywhere near your laptop.

So, there was an emergency rearrangement of funds and I lived and wrote on my iPad for about a week. (Seriously, this device is a lifesaver for me.) If there was something that I needed to do on-line that wasn’t really practical to do on the pad, I used the husband’s laptop. Fortunately, I’d been copying my active manuscripts onto my iPad, which meant writing (such as was happening) kept on going. As far as the data on the laptop itself, I invested in an Apple Time Capsule shortly after they came out and had been using it to do regular and automated backups. This included a backup just before I went to work that morning. Once I’d purchased my replacement laptop, I was able to do a full system restore. This is second full system restore I’ve had to do with this Time Capsule because my hard drive turned into a brick just after Christmas last year. (That, thankfully was when it was still covered by my Apple Care.)

Public Service Announcement #3: Back up frequently. Not just your manuscripts, but your system. You never know when the day will come you need to do that restore.

In addition to the new laptop, I’m now in possession of a new Time Capsule which gives me more storage and providers a stronger signal for my wireless home network. It didn’t hurt to discover the life cycle of the first-generation Time Capsules was approximately 20-24 months; I’d had mine for 30 and it was definitely time to replace.

Public Service Announcement #4: Your tech doesn’t last forever. Keep an eye on it and try to replace before disaster happens.

With the my computer problems solved for the moment and the flu (hopefully) behind me, time to start looking ahead to NaNoWriMo. A few years ago, I did a month of inspirational quotes and I’m thinking of trying to do that again. If nothing else, helps keep me going for those 30 days.