Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Damned Awful Cussedness

with 6 comments

Sometimes Sacrosanct Sundays don’t happen because I have too much work to do, and sometimes they  happen because…well, because.

This morning we had a power outage just before seven.  It was a very short power outage, lasting not much more than a single minute, but in that minute it shut down the computer, lost me a page and a half of work, and made a complete mess of my digital devices, or at least the ones that were plugged in.

One of these was the device on which I play my music, which often decides it wants to be unplugged for a good half hour after an electrical event.  On the other hand,  it doesn’t always do that, so I got it ready to go and it looked fine,  no blinking lights, no–

Well, no audio. 

At first there was no audio at all.  Then t here were crackling noises.  Then there was no audio at all.  Then…

Then I unplugged the thing and put the Beethoven on the X Box to play through the television.

This was not the best solution, of course, but at least it was a solution of sorts.  The sound isn’t  the best, but it’s doable.

The big problem is that the son whose X Box it is has the thing set for infinite loop, and doesn’t remember how to turn that off.

So that, at the moment, I not only have Beethoven’s 9th playing at the back of my head, I have it playing over and over and over again.

Which is, of course, what everybody wants first thing on Sunday morning.

Okay.  That will be the end of sarcasm for the morning.

Or maybe not.


Written by janeh

August 18th, 2013 at 9:36 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses to 'Damned Awful Cussedness'

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  1. It does sound awful. Sometimes those things have a mind of their own.

    When I decided to engage in some of the rather more expensive technological luxuries than I had been in the habit of indulging in, I got, among other things, a system whereby any voicemail left on my home phone, which is the only number I give out to doctor’s offices and actually to anyone who isn’t a close personal friend or relative, is emailed to be as a voice recording. This has actually been quite useful, since I now no longer wander home to get messages to, say, pick up something at the library I passed on my way home. However, when I play the messages on my cell phone, it also goes into an infinite loop, and I have yet to figure out how to stop it, short of shutting the cell phone down entirely.

    I hopr your son finds another solution.


    18 Aug 13 at 11:37 am

  2. You make your living on your computer and suffer power outages often enough to have a behavioral history of how your digital music player behaves when power goes out — and you don’t have a UPS? [ not recommendations, but examples — http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=UPS ]

    And while I’m on a data security roll — Dropbox. Or Google Drive. At least a thumb drive. Please don’t tell me you have your entire Gregor and research saved only on the single hard drive on your computer.

    I’ll leave you with these two thoughts:

    1. Computers eat data for all kinds of reasons, loosing power at just the wrong time being one of them.


    2. Any data you haven’t backed up at least three different ways is data you don’t want.

  3. I will add two critical items to back up somewhere other than your single hard drive:
    1. Your business accounting (Quickbooks or equivalent)
    2. Your household bank accounting.(Quicken or equivalent)

    I use Crashplan, which does two things, one of them for free:
    1. Lets you set up, for free, a back&forth backup among any of the computers in your house.
    2. For a reasonable yearly fee, backs up designated folders on any computer to the cloud. These files are encrypted, so no one else can access them, and once set up, is seamless to you. You don’t need to do anything, but save documents into the designated folders.

    #1 is for when you have a hard drive crash. #2 is for fire, flood or comprehensive theft that destroys all the computers in the house.

    I also recommend Google drive or google docs for work sessions. If you’d been working on google docs when your power pitched, you would have lost nothing, not a character. Many writers will work on google docs, then save to their hard drives in Word format after they finish for the day.

    Plus if your work is in google docs, you can access it anywhere there is a computer, like at school. If that is attractive.


    18 Aug 13 at 2:11 pm

  4. Uh, guys? So far, the paper ledger in my checkbook has never been lost in a power outage, nor even been inaccessible, and the 3×5 cards on which I keep addresses and phone numbers have gone more than 20 years without an outage. My 3.5″ diskettes, on the other hand, are one with the Betamax and the laserdisc.

    Paper: the most durable storage medium since clay tablets.


    18 Aug 13 at 4:11 pm

  5. True the access time on paper can be quite quick.

    But it’s the first thing to go in fire or flood, unless you keep those records always in fire and waterproof safe. Few people do.

    Plus, I appreciate that if I enter everything correctly, the arithmetic is also correct. Not something I can say for my own figurin’.

    And for my business, I need to shortcut the process of preparing invoices, entering payments and informing my accountant of my yearly follies, which hand-entry does not do for me. I prefer not to spend what might be billable time in administrative tasks. Computers rule there.


    18 Aug 13 at 5:02 pm

  6. The only thing I know for sure is on Jane’s computer is her writing, since she specifically mentioned losing some work. I doubt she want’s to go back to a typewriter or notebooks, especially as she has specifically mentioned in the past what a relief it is to be able to submit manuscripts electronically.

    “Crashplan” as described by Lymaree is more secure than a free dropbox account, but the free 2Gig dropbox account is also seamless and can be set up on any computer you have sufficient rights to install programs. Dropbox also has paid plans available which include encryption and much greater storage capacity – but 2 gigs is far more than enough for a novel and some research (unless you’re writing an epic on the scale of “War and Peace” and include a bunch of jpegs and/or video files in the research).

    I also think Jane is the last person in the country still on AOL dial up, and I’m not sure how well Google docs would run over a 56K modem. Technically when writing it should be just text. The only way to know would be to test.

    Finally, a UPS not only gives you time to save your work and shut down gracefully, it also works as a surge protector. The more upscale UPS actually convert the incoming AC to DC full time to feed to the battery or if the battery is at full charge to the AC inverter which then produces a perfectly clean AC output for the computer and any other devices connected, so there is not only zero transition time but complete isolation from noise and surges.

    So, a basic UPS, with shipping 60 – 70 dollars from amazon. A small thumb drive, available for 5 – 10 dollars damn near everywhere now. A Dropbox account, free.

    So, with a UPS, anytime power goes out, there’s time to save work to the computer (where the file should be kept in the dropbox folder) — and then save a copy to a thumb drive. Then every time Jane connects to the internet (dialup, remember) the dropbox folder will automatically synchronize with the cloud, no matter what the reason she’s connecting for, and since it’s just text it will be quick, even over the dialup.

    So so long as she can remember to backup to the thumb drive, then even between internet dialups there’s always at least one back up copy of the work. The data on the computer itself as well as live work sessions are protected from power surges/drop outs. And every time she connects to the internet for any reason, the Dropbox (Or the Crashplan or any of about a dozen others) folders will synchronize so there’s a backup in the cloud.

    Having seen people have near hysterical breakdowns when their data has disappeared, I assure you that learning to routinely backup to a thumb drive, while working out of a *free* folder that will automatically synchronize to the cloud, and hooking up even a basic UPS is way cheaper and much better alternative than having all your data disappear — just because that’s what computers do sometimes.

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