Saturday, April 11, 2015

Digital Maturity


The last two weeks, oh, please do not visit yourself on me again. Ever. Well, not the rough parts, really, the good parts can stay. And the laughs can stay. And the moments when I was presented an opportunity for patience and I took that opportunity. Yeah, that one can stay. But the part where all my digital content -- the entire guts of my laptop, including all photos and writings -- were hanging in the balance while the I.T. guy at work looked puzzled? Uh, no. 

That's never a good sign. Never make the I.T. guy look puzzled. Especially at the moment you are simultaneously wondering when you ran the last backup, while that little voice in your head is whispering, "How could you have been so stupid?" (It's the same voice that tells you not to buy a shirt with a big flower on it, but you do it anyway only to regret it, just like the voice told you in the first place.)

After a battery of tests, the hard drive on my laptop was diagnosed as terminal. Kaput. Toast. Done. Over. And worst of all, inaccessible. All its contents? Irretrievable.

That was my opportunity for patience.

I decided that getting upset would not help the situation and if I truly wanted to be the person I wished I could be (calm, centered, balanced) then I had to actually be that in the tough times. This qualified as a tough time, and so, I sat back in my chair and just breathed. I had made some backups, though, I wasn't sure how recently, but a backup is better than no backup. Anger would not bring anything lost content back. Anger would just be the worst version of myself.

I could sit and stare in utter disbelief, though, which I did for a good 15 minutes. Me, staring at the wall of my office, wondering how I could have been so lax. The pseudo-grief had to stop and I returned to work.

That night, I began looking for a replacement, online, while finding nothing that suited me. After hours of research and online browsing, I just could not think one more thought and went to bed, willing to take up the thought in the morning.

Speaking of mornings, the next one was pretty darned good because that same I.T. guy called and said, "By some act of God, your laptop rebooted, and I'm running a full backup." Sweeter words were never said.  I could have hugged him. 

Over the next few days, I spoke with a couple I.T. guys who advised me on finding a laptop to suit my needs. I came away with a lot of information -- perhaps too much -- and I put off finding a replacement until I could sort it all out. It was just so very much information to digest for someone who just wants a laptop to work -- I don't care how or why, just work.

While brushing my teeth that weekend, I had a revelation (as all the best thoughts come to me in the bathroom, usually the shower): I have to stop buying laptops like a college student. Boom! For years, I bought what was on sale and looked "cool." However, the information that I needed to manage now (and computers are about information management) is much more valuable. I'm not saving term papers and weekend photos that will eventually get deleted, I'm working on articles, spreadsheets, finances, essays, writing proposals, creative photos -- things that cannot be recreated easily and things that can seriously impact my life if lost. 

With that, my view on the issue changed. My information management -- the way I view my computer and its role in my life -- had to mature. It was time to grow up.

Not only did I buy a better quality laptop (and not that much more money, really), but I now have three layers of backup systems, each automatically scheduled to work without prompting from me. Now I do not have to remember to backup (like previously), it remembers for me. My mindset has changed as I learned to actually value my digital content like I would a car or a house or health -- with research and insurance!

With the new laptop in hand and working beautifully, I attended a workshop today in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, regarding improving your blog. Walking in the door, I felt like a champ, having recently "matured" my computer viewpoint, only to realize that my blog also needs to get spruced up. I left the workshop armed with about 400 things to do, mostly in the background. Hopefully, some positive changes will be coming to this little site here. But after some sleep. My brain has spent a lot of time the last two weeks in thinking-overdrive. We're tired (but secretly inspired to boost this blog into something even better.)

Come along for the ride, my friends. The laptop, and soon the blog, have matured, and we know all the best places to go.


  1. Ooooh, I can't wait to see what changes you have install for your blog :)

    When I started reading this, before you got to the bit where the IT guy retrieved your files, I could barely breathe for the horror of your words being lost. I think you need to stand aside now, while I give that IT guy a hug! Yay to you for getting those back-up systems in place. It was only late last year that I got onto that myself. I'm a loyal Mac user and have been for ages but last year I finally replaced our external hard drive with a new one (with larger storage) which "Time Machine" back-ups up to automatically and I also use "Backblaze" for 'cloud' storage (also automatic). What are the 3 methods you have decided on? Do you back-up your blog posts? I've been wondering about that for my blog as I haven't been doing my own and to date I'm just relying on their systems not croaking it. I think I may have to take charge there just in case.

  2. Before now, I had used thumb drives (USB) to back up the basics for me -- photos, documents, finances, and music. That required me remembering to manually make a backup every so often, with a thumb drive for each. Trouble is, I wasn't diligent with some of those categories. When this debacle happened, I discovered I had backed up the finances one week prior (that's good), photos three months prior (eh, not too bad considering how often I take photos), but documents -- my writing -- six months. Six months! Horrible. I just forgot to do it and time got away from me.

    I have implemented two cloud storage methods -- Microsoft, since I'm on PC, and another through my internet provider that is included free in my service (who knew?!?). I also bought an external hard drive, something I am a bit ashamed I had not owned before. All three are set for automatic backups. I've also begun saving the larger/better writing projects to Google Docs, like Christine suggested in our class.

    The class yesterday was wonderful, and I realized I have so much to learn. I am ready to take this to the next level, though. I learned that I should backup my own blog posts because a blogging website may not be reliable, and it's good to have a second system. I've decided to write my posts in Word, save on my computer, then cut-n-paste them to my blog site. The Word version will be backed up through my other channels. Since I do not have hundreds of past blog posts, I'll go back and do this for those I've already written.

    Oh, my to-do list grew ten-fold yesterday! I will likely write a few posts on my new information!

  3. Yes I think backing up blog posts is a good idea too - I'm going to get into the habit of doing that and I'll make some time to go back and copy all my ones to date. Writing them in Word is a great suggestion - I will follow suit with that too. Easier than writing them within the blogging interface and then copying into Word for backing up after. Google Docs is another great idea - I forgot that Christine had suggested that. Thanks for these tips, Rita. I think my to-do list just got longer as well! Looking forward to you sharing more of your new info :)


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