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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Can you hear me screaming across the globe? Lost work.

I back up my files. I email copies of work to myself. I make duplicates of everything. I really do.

I lost my entire master's thesis a week before it was due, back in 1993. Back then, we used 1.44" disks and a megabyte was BIG. Like, as in, MEGA byte. Now it's a quaint notion that you stack thousands of in a two year old's toy phone so the device can light up and talk and do math.

But in 1993, my life was in that disk, and in the hard drive of the Apple IIe in the grad school office. And, somehow, I lost both.

All I had was a hard copy, well-marked from three different professors' comments. 70+ pages, plus bibliography. All painstakingly written and developed long before it was due.

OCR scanning was miserable, so when the wonderful folks at ITS helped and scanned it, it read like this:

"WH&i~le Sen543ederiiiiio Lumi*&^!!@~noso @rem@~`ins popular !n"

Oh, you get the point. I just retyped and reformatted (1993 software for graphs, tables, and footnotes was archaic) the entire document and got it in at the very, very last minute.

So two days ago, I was working frantically to finish a piece for a contest (The Golden Pen). I'm working on a regency historical (who isn't?) for the contest. Needed 11,000 words or so, plus synopsis. Was down to my final 1,000 words. I'd just finished writing some of the BEST work I've done in ages and hit "save."

Two seconds later, my laptop's battery died.

When I rebooted, it was gone. 0 bytes in file. My software developer husband gave me a highly technical explanation for what had likely happened.

Basically, gnomes ate it.

Well, um, ok. So I'd lose 500 GREAT words, but it wasn't the end of the world...until I learned that my backup system hadn't been working.

And that email I sent myself? It was only the first 5,000 words.

So I've lost 5,000 carefully-honed, beautifully turned words. I know I can "recreate" but it's not the same. And not with a deadline tomorrow.

My message? Back up, back up, back up some more, and don't trust your laptop battery!

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