The Benefits of Forethought

A line of thunderstorms rumbled through northern New England late this afternoon, knocking the power out in our town (among a whole bunch of other towns) for over four hours, right about dinnertime.  The only place on Main Street with power was the local video rental, ice-cream shop, and pizza joint, because they had at some point invested in a generator.  And they were doing a land-office business, selling pizzas and sandwiches and ice cream to a whole bunch of people — including us — who didn’t want to open their refrigerators until the power came back on.  At the point we got our pizza and took it home, they had seventeen pizza orders stacked in a holding pattern waiting for oven space, and were down to their last five foot-long sandwich rolls.

And thus we see the virtue of having a good backup.

Backup plans and equipment are a good thing in the writing business as well.  Don’t throw out the old computer when you upgrade; you never know when you might be facing a hard deadline and looking at a dead machine.  (We had to drop back once from an Atari ST to a nearly-antique Atari 800, under just those circumstances.)  Don’t forget to keep backup files of completed and published works (otherwise you may find yourself laboriously rekeying something you wrote a long time ago; and yes, I’ve done that, too.)  Don’t forget to keep backup copies of works in progress — save in multiple places on your hard drive, save to the cloud (Microsoft Skydrive, Google Drive, Dropbox; or what the heck, all three), save to removable media.  That way, if two weeks before a hard deadline the state police start knocking on doors all over your neighborhood and yelling, “Get out now, the water’s rising,” you can, if need be, finish your work-in-progress on a library computer a hundred miles down the road.

3 thoughts on “The Benefits of Forethought

  1. I love Google Docs, except that I haven’t figured out how to make it do special characters unless I copy-paste. But I definitely ought to invest in a nice big external hard drive, because this laptop’s not going to last forever and I can’t be sure it’ll be in shape for FireWire when I have to replace it.

    And, my God, an Atari 800. I had one of those. It was a bat mitzvah present.

  2. Those old Ataris were built like tanks.

    We stuck with Atari pretty much all the way to the bitter end, even when the nearest Atari repair person was an Apple dealer in Boston who would sometimes work on Ataris if you were one of the people who remembered that he’d used to be an Atari dealer before he gave up and took the Apple pledge.

    When we finally gave in and gave up on Atari, we switched to Windows, because nobody ever expects you to have an emotional relationship with a Windows box.

    1. I think the next thing we had after my Atari 800 (with cassette tape drive!) was a PC-AT. My main interest at that point was playing Hack and the Infocom Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game. Stuck with PCs until 2005, when the one I was using gave up, and a friend said, “I’ve got a spare iMac around here.” Yes, one of the Bondi-blue ones. Rather like my first car (a 1981 Chevette I got in 1990), it didn’t last very long, but I was hooked. Next was a secondhand G4, whose hard drive I still use as an external one, and my current machines are a Mac Mini and a 13″ Macbook, named Toaster and Panini, and the two iPods are PopTart (the 30GB Video one, whose battery died about two weeks after they stopped making the battery for it) and Gaufrette (the 64GB Touch, which is wafer-thin), and my recently-acquired iPhone 3 (a discard from my housemate) is HotPocket.

      Yes, I know most of them are outdated. They still work just fine for my purposes, though, and I don’t have the money to spend on updating them. And I know that replacing them is expensive, and even replacing their parts can be a shock — don’t ask what a replacement power cord for the laptop cost.

      But I’m hooked now, and I don’t want to go back.

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