Saturday, March 3, 2012

Back Up and No Sweat


Scott D. Parker

My Mac died this week, and I didn’t even sweat it.

I have a MacBook Pro, late 2007 model, and it’s been a workhorse for lo these five years. As a child who grew up as computers grew up, having all my music, picture, home movies, docs, files, applications all in one, compact little metal box that I can take anywhere is really like science fiction. Like all of us in this year 2012, basically everything of importance is on our computers.

And mine, apparently, gave up. From all the troubleshooting things I did, it appears that my logic board—i.e., memory board—might have failed. Or it may be a power thing. What it is not, however, is a drive failure. So, despite the fact that I experienced that awful sinking feeling when the Mac would not wake from sleep, all my Stuff is safe and sound. Well, it is now, once I copied it all to another hard drive. Sure, I had to crack my laptop, but I’ve done it before and it’s no big deal now.

The biggest drawback is my music. I can’t access it or listen to it throughout my workday. I’ve still got the music on my iPod, but I dislike having ear buds on for long stretches. I’m going to reassemble the Mac and take it up to the Apple store and let the experts give a look. As odd as it sounds, I partially dread their verdict. I’m not a guy who must have the latest and greatest. I prefer to have my few tools, be they electronic or analog, that just plain work, that work so well that I don’t have to think about anything other than my task at hand. That’s what my Mac was for me: the perfect tool that I could use to write, edit movies, listen to music, watch videos, and I didn’t have to think about the tech specs, the RAM speed, or anything. It just worked. What I dread is that the costs of repair might be too steep, that leads to the inevitable conclusion: if I’m going to pay that much for a repair, why not just buy a new machine. For some, this would be exciting. And, to be honest, it is a bit exciting. But, if I have to choose that route, the day I most look forward to is not the purchase date, but the date in which the machine is set up To Just Work.

What isn’t a drawback, however, is a writing tool. A little over a year ago, after reading a lot about minimal computing, I saw the upside to working with text files. Just about any application can read a text file, no matter the OS. I’m not tied to a particular document type that may only be readable with a respective application. And with syncing via Dropbox and my own obsessive backup system, I can easily port my text files anywhere, including this, my work PC. Now, the one application I do miss is Scrivener. It is my go-to application for story manipulation—the moving around of scenes, timelines, etc.—but not always story generation. I write anywhere and on anything, paper, plastic, or pixel. In fact, my iPod, with a Bluetooth keyboard, is often all I need. Heck, I’ve written more than one of these posts on my iPod without a keyboard.

What am I saying today? Backup all your stuff, and do it on a regular basis. Pretty obvious advice, but sound advice. It’s not a matter of *if* your computer will crash, it’s when. Get into the habit and ingrain it in your computing life so much that when your machine fails, you won’t break a sweat (unless you just wrote “The End” and hadn’t saved yet). Also, if you can, be application agnostic. Don’t be tied into only one writing application. Remember, back in the day, the writers with typewriters had only one, basic method: enter text on paper, the analog equivalent of a text file. It might just save you some heartache.

Song of the Week:

John Legend and the Roots performing “Dancing in the Dark”. In advance of the new Bruce Springsteen CD dropping next week, Jimmy Fallon has been having Springsteen Week on Late Night. Monday and last night, Springsteen himself showed up. The middle days had three performers—Kenny Chesney, John Legend, and Elvis Costello—cover the Boss’s songs. Legend’s jazzy, piano-laced, slow burn rendition of one of Springsteen’s signature tunes is incredible not just for its restraint, but for the emotion he wrings out of the lyrics. The electric piano solo section of the piece reminded me of The Bad Plus and their reinterpretations of modern rock songs. Fantastic.

Oh, and for more Springsteen stuff, check out Jay's post from Thursday.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

We use Click Free or something like that since a disaster last year. I still have no confidence.