My Life Online

I suffered this week, for the first time in 23 years “in the business,” a hard drive crash on my desktop computer, rendering it useless, and in need of repair. That’s a pretty good record.

So, for now, I’m working on my laptop, which normally gets pulled into use only when I travel.

What’s amazed me is how much less dire a circumstance this is than I expected.

My email’s all stored on an IMAP server in the basement.

My address book, calendar, and bookmarks are stored in my .Mac account.

The Mac software I’ve purchased is mostly delivered electronically, and is easy to re-download and re-install if required.

The stuff of my work — scripts, programs, web pages, and the like — is all stored elsewhere, on servers that are backed up by others.

My desktop is obviously, in the end, really just a slightly souped terminal, and the data — which is what we used to think of as the reason for having a computer in the first place, is scattered around everywhere from my basement to Boston to New Hampshire to California.

If my desktop had crashed 10 years ago, I would have been out of commission for at least a week, if not longer. This week, after spending a frustrating 5 or 6 hours trying to diagnose and solve my desktop problem, I dropped it off at little mac shoppe, plugged in my laptop, and picked up where I left off.

Decentralization good. The network really is the computer.


Wayne's picture
Wayne on September 25, 2003 - 12:38 Permalink

My Vaio harddrive failed a few weeks ago, and fortunately, my stuff was backed up — but on floppy, and cds. I Had great service from my retailer who had my system repaired (New, bigger harddrive-everything under warrenty and no charge)and back in my hands in 5 days. But, I was another 2 recreating my enviroment and personal settings. It was stressful to endure, but a great learning experience that backup is so important.

Steven Garrity's picture
Steven Garrity on September 25, 2003 - 13:00 Permalink

These same concepts also start to make us less locked-in to one particular computer (both hardware or software). I’m in the process of experimenting with linux as my main OS and the fact that much of my work lives on the network makes it a lot easier.

Alan's picture
Alan on September 25, 2003 - 15:25 Permalink

Remember the 1995-96 talk of the Oracle “toaster” and Corel web-based word perfect. Pretty much where we are heading today.

Walter's picture
Walter on September 25, 2003 - 17:27 Permalink

Perhaps iDisk and .Mac are not quite “Toaster”, but they have in past kept me from becoming … toast. I have lots of my critical data on iDisk and my imap .mac mail is easily read from anywhere. And while my Palm regulary loses it’s juice and no access to critical informatiom ,iCal and Address Book comes to the rescue.

Isaac's picture
Isaac on September 25, 2003 - 17:46 Permalink

A couple of years ago I went through a month of hell with my computer — in where my windows installation died about once a week. Turned out in the end to be some particularly bug filled drivers for my cdrw drive, that wouldn’t come into play for a while — so it took me forever to figure out what was going on. Looking back, I should of caught on far faster. But I never lost any data as it would only toast the windows installation, but not the data on the drive.

It did teach me how to get my computer from formatted, up, and running with all the software, and preferences I like in a surprisingly short time. It’s really amazing how little time it can take once you’ve done it so many times.

As well, I realize I was lucky to not lose my email (I save everything, its a compulsion — my archives currently go back to 2000 — would of been 97 except for an unfortunate reformat where my brain seized, and I forgot to back it up first). Anyway, my point is I now back up religously (for all those windows users out their — I’m a big fan of Norton Ghost), and don’t mind pulling the whole fresh install trick every six months or so to get my computer back up and running like a new machine (its really amazing how much windows starts to bog down after dealing running for a while).

Ken's picture
Ken on September 25, 2003 - 21:57 Permalink

Wayne, I too lost a VAIO hardrive, not recently.

One great idea is to set your email app to leave messages on server for at least 10 days, then they are safe too, unless you are a super geek and keep your messages in your basement.