Wednesday, April 30, 2008

back from being MIA

Current work: new nonfiction (written 20k of it in the last week plus half my talk for the RNA conference in July)
Listening to: Whitesnake’s new album (waiting for it to grow on me and as they’re one of my favourite bands I feel quite bad about that)
Reading: Carol Townend, The Novice Bride (enjoying hugely as I’ve just finished researching/working on my local area’s history in Norman times– the setting’s perfect)

Thank you to everyone who emailed me while I was MIA. I have just about caught up with replies… and I’m pleased to report here that, no, it wasn’t anything lifethreatening to me/my immediate family or my dad being rushed back to hospital.

In fact, the problem was rather mundane.

My computer blew up last Thursday. (Well, it didn’t blow up exactly. Just refused to connect online and everything else was running like treacle.)

And I’ve learned how over-dependent I am on my computer.

I backed everything up – and because I was panicking about getting the PC into the tecchy shop early enough to maybe get it back the same today, I backed up a lot of things to SD cards and memory sticks instead of burning CD-roms. Which would’ve been fine had my laptop not been so ancient that it still uses floppy disks and only recognises my oldest memory stick – everything else came up with the ‘cannot find driver’ message.

So then I decided to be clever over the weekend (most of which was spent loafing with DH and the kids because I had no computer) and copy files from one memory stick to another. Except... very stupidly, I did it the wrong way round (because I was rushing to get it done – yep, there’s a moral there) and managed to overwrite my latest set of accounts with ones I did last July. I could resurrect things with invoices, but could I remember every phone call or research trip I've made in the last nine months? Er... no.

Cue two sleepless nights. Called lovely tecchies first thing on Monday to see if they’d started fixing the machine (I was envisioning loss of data here and a real mess to give to my new accountant). They hadn’t, and yes I could come and fish my data off the machine. Phew.

But still.

No computer back Monday.

No computer yesterday.

So it’s been practically a week without internet access or email. Had to pay my credit card bill via phone instead of online (and explained to the bank that no, now was not the right time to talk to me about house insurance – I needed industrial quantities of chocolate). Grocery shopping delivered this morning has lots of gaps because I couldn’t do what I normally do and review my order Monday morning (sigh, will have to take the kids shopping after school – think I need more chocolate). Lots of gaps in my new book (square brackets with CHECK THIS and RESEARCH THIS covered in yellow highlighter dotted all over the place). Couldn’t check if my Amazon order was on its way when DH started nagging me. Couldn’t look up stuff for my stepmum when she rang me needing some urgent info. Discovered half my friends’ contact info is on computer not hardcopy, so I couldn't get in touch.

No man is an island, according to Donne. Well, I was, last week. A big, fat island.

Anyway. It’s fixed now. DH is nagging me to buy a laptop as my ‘backup’ computer. I know what he has in mind: sitting on the sofa in the conservatory with his feet up and a cold beer by his side, looking up Deep Purple and Nick Drake on YouTube and looking up every so often at the garden… So far, so rosy. Kids are backing him up: ‘We need it for school…’ (Eldest, possibly in September – and we know he wants lots of animation software too. Youngest – er, no, she’s trying it on.)

But after a week of having to type on an uncomfortable keyboard (my ancient laptop is too old to install Dragon) and swearing because said keyboard was really unresponsive and missed out half of the letters I’d typed - not to mention how difficult it is to cut and paste things on a laptop (at least, it is on mine!) – I am very, very anti the idea of a laptop. Plus there’s the issue of laptops being easy to drop, sit on and squabble over and play tug of war over (certain people claim they wouldn’t, but that’s what happened to one of the DS-Lites and I don’t believe they learned their lesson: when in a strop, my kids lose all rationality).

So my vote is for another desktop. Though if we have net access on it then I want it in a very, very visible place so I can keep an eye on what the kids are looking up. Currently arguing that with DH.

But, lord, it’s good to be back. I am never going to take this for granted again.


Diane said...

Had you not posted today you would have had a WHERE ARE YOU comment from me too. Pesky computers, eh? And yes, we are far too reliant on them.

Welcome back. :o)

carolwarham said...

Welcome back, I was getting concerned, so not like you to be out of touch. Glad all the really important things (family) are OK.

Liz Fielding said...

Haven't recently been there/done that, I really feel for you, Kate. It's great to have you back!

Amy Andrews said...

Welcome back to cyberspace, Kate.
We missed you.

Ellen said...

Kate..... been there, done that.....had to buy a new computer...was a week without one and I'm not a writer and don't keep a lot of info on my computer that I urgently needed....PS I have a laptop and love it.

Melissa Marsh said...

Isn't it frightening how much we've come to rely on these machines? I stop and think of all the things I do online and it terrifies me.

Glad you're back!

Anonymous said...

On the subject of file backup, sharing and storage ...

Online backup is becoming common these days. It is estimated that 70-75% of all PC's will be connected to online backup services with in the next decade.

Thousands of online backup companies exist, from one guy operating in his apartment to fortune 500 companies.

Choosing the best online backup company will be very confusing and difficult. One website I find very helpful in making a decision to pick an online backup company is:

This site lists more than 400 online backup companies in its directory and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.

Nicolette said...

Glad to have you back, Kate. Was getting very worried about you. At least it was 'only' your computer and nothing else. So now you're back why don't you go order something off of Amazon. You know...just to make sure the computer's working properly again!

Jan Jones said...

Very glad you're back, Kate.

No reason you shouldn't have a family computer downstairs. Kids do need it more and more these days for school. Even littlies.

And really, you KNOW how well you've brought them up. How likely is it that they'll go off looking up dodgy sites??? Have faith in yourself, hon.

Kate Hardy said...

Diane - sorry, should've texted you. (I was a tad stressed...)

Carol, Liz, Amy, Ellen, Melissa - thanks.

Anon - thanks for the tip. I had considered my ISP's digital vault, but I believe it's the equivalent of my (paper) "to be filed" box (i.e. everything chucked in together) rather than something with easily retrievable directories, and it's a pain to retrieve stuff and replace with a new version of the file.

Nicolette - what a GOOD idea :o) Thanks

Jan - thanks. They wouldn't look up dodgy sites on purpose, but you'd be surprised what comes up when you type in Nintendo... Just need to agree where we're going to put it!

Ray-Anne said...

Isn't technology a wonderful thing? I have tried to use laptops in the past, but sorry to say I find them totally frustrating and too limiting, and will always come back to my desktop any day.
On the other hand, I work from home and have no inclination to type in coffee shops and on trains on the commute, where I CAN see how useful a laptop could be.
I prefer paper and pen when travelling.
Each to his own.
Best of British....

Kate Hardy said...

Ray-Anne - with you all the way, there.

If I'm in a coffee shop, I'm there to loaf (either with the kids or with friends); and if I'm in the library, I'm either using my PDA among the microfiches or on a proper laptop with my memory stick (lovely, lovely library).