Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Data Dump

There are things you just don't want to hear if you're a writer. No, not "While I'm not the right agent for this project, I'm grateful you sent it my way, and I'm wishing you the best of luck." Not that. We're used to that. That is, at least, a response.

No, what you really don't want to hear is the guy at the Apple Store, where your laptop has been quarantined for five days, ask "How important is your data to you?"

...Whuh?

How important? You mean, everything I ever wrote? Those data? I would really like to keep those data. Thank you so much.

And in the future, if there is some possibility that everything I ever wrote is no longer among the living, you really need to work on your communication skills. Work up to it. Don't say my data is dead. Say it's up on the roof, and you're getting a ladder, and you're sure everything will be just fine. Tomorrow, say it looks like my data is trying to jump off, but you're pretty sure you can bring it around with a can of tuna.

Everything I ever wrote
As it happens, I have all my data on a little external hard drive the size of a deck of cards. It's embarrassing, but probably everything I ever wrote and ever will write will fit in that thing. The Library of Congress will fit in that thing. I bring my deck of cards to the Apple Store and hand it over, and the boy behind the counter, who talks very fast and doesn't know how to speak in Elderly, whisks it away behind a curtain. He plans to empty out my entire laptop and shove a new system in it. "It's really something," he explains. "I no sooner get rid of all your infections than they just keep pouring in." It was fine until about three weeks ago, but apparently it's the worst case he's ever seen in all his, what, twelve years of life. They're setting up a ventilator.

One-half of one novel
The next day I pick it up. He says everything is fine. My data are back relaxing in the living room, and all my passwords have vaporized, but everything should run real smooth.

Well. Except I can't get any mail. Last mail was five days ago. Can't send mail. Can't find out who rejected my query letters. I was poking at everything and suddenly an Apple Support page popped up with a chat robot that actually put me online with a human within a minute. He was wonderful. Got my browser working, checked things out, but couldn't get me my mail without my email password. What is it? he asked.

I don't know. I don't even know whether to call the outfit whose domain I'm using, or my internet provider. They're not the same people. I decide for the time being to go to my 11-year-old desktop that's been sludged up for a year and see can I find any mail. It wakes up like a drunk. Press any kind of button on it and you can hear it whirring around like one of those lottery tumblers being cranked. You can hear all the little zeroes and ones banging around in there for minutes before it poots out a possibility, and you have to check it against your stack of tickets to see if there's a match. Wal, shit, it drawls. Ah dunno.

It's now too late to call the domain people, and the internet people aren't people. They're chat robots, and when I type in my email address, they claim they've never heard of me. And I pay them way too much for that.

The next day I call the domain people, who are real people and who answer the phone in two ringy dingies, and I will be DAMNED if they don't turn out to be the people in custody of my passwords! They update them and I write them down and I type them into a box on my laptop and my mail comes whooshing through! For one of my accounts. Not the writing account. Same procedure doesn't work at all for that one.

And all morning my mail in the one account works, except when it doesn't, and my cursor disappears and then shows up again later, and I can't comment on my own blog, and I'm afraid to go into that whole thing in case the entire Blogger site slams a door in my face and I can't post a new piece for the first time since 2008.

"How's it going?" Dave asks, keeping enough distance that I"d have to use a gun to kill him, which  he knows I don't own.

I don't answer. He reads my face and springs into action. Brings beer. Hides the razor blades.

38 comments:

  1. Sigh.
    Painfully familiar.
    My email downloads emails very, very happily. It allows me to read them. It does NOT allow me to reply. Ever.
    I have to got to my ISP's webmail browser for that (and am unable to read attachments there). A clever person probably could. I cannot.
    So I bounce between the two, sending the air around me particularly shades of blue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw man. There has to be an answer. Are these things just sent to us to give us humility?

      Delete
  2. So, now we know what happens to a computer that comes down with COVID-19. I'm so sorry. Would have sent you a ventilator had there been one available in the lower 48.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've learned to not do any more updates on my Mac. The last one deleted all address book data back to decades earlier when I only had about 12 contacts. It will not transfer the missing date from the cloud, even though I have been on the phone with a real Apple genius and done everything he said to do. My phone and iPad have the full address book contacts and information, so I gave up and stopped trying to fix it. Good luck with yours; sounds very diseased and I hope there's a cure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I've never figured out how to climb on the cloud. I only have two devices (my smart phone is functionally stupid) and if I need something that's on one I go to it. For instance, all my photos are on my desktop. Sooner or later they're going to get stuck in the mire over there and that will be that. (Although I do have backup...)

      Delete
  4. I love the way you describe hell. But the hell itself ... not good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amazing how painful it can be, when I can so clearly remember a world without it.

      Delete
  5. THIS is why I printed out all my important passwords and keep them taped to my laptop.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only recently realized they were on my browser's Preferences tab.

      Delete
  6. They are all secret passwords. That's why I don't remember them and can keep a secret so well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't even want to mention how often I've used one non-safe password. Now that I know my machine remembers them I'm opting for the crazy ones the machine recommends.

      Delete
  7. I feel your pain. I just hate it when I know that something is in my hard drive or the cloud, but I just can't find the right label or password to coax it out. And oh golly, when your old desktop starts "whirring around like one of those lottery tumblers being cranked" -- well, to me that is literally a death rattle, something that makes my blood run cold.
    I think your solution is to take some of that fat gov'ment pension of yours and buy yourself some new equipment. Before that data jumps off the edge of the roof, tuna can or no.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well...theoretically my laptop is now brand new again!

      Delete
  8. What I have trouble with are the questions they ask you to verify your identity. One would think that the answers would be fairly straightforward, but one would be mistaken. Questions like "name of your first pet." Well, I was really young and had several pets simultaneously. So I can never remember which one I typed in. Or first boyfriend. Um... first date or first kiss? What constitutes a "boyfriend"? Sometimes my answers take up more space than they allot to it, like for first school attended (Catholic schools tend to be wordy.) Sometimes I forget if I typed my answers just in lower-case, or did I do it the non-lazy way. Thank goodness most of these sites have a button for "forgot password", and then I can use a new one which I will eventually forget.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? The security questions are not satisfied by answers like "It depends on whether you mean my first pet that was either named Duffy or Duffie and I can't remember, or the first one I had as an adult."

      Delete
    2. I usually slect the security questions I know I will never forget the answers to, like 'mother's maiden name' and 'favourite teacher'

      Delete
    3. Unfortunately, the easy question of my mother's maiden name is one of those answers that is too long for the space allotted to it. She was Polish, and the name had 14 letters in it.

      Delete
    4. My maiden name was also Polish, from my Dad's side, with ten letters and only one of them a vowel. Mum's German name was easier.

      Delete
  9. "Brings beer. Hides the razor blades."
    Dave's a smart man.
    I do hope you get it all sorted though and quickly too. There's nothing worse than a computer that doesn't behave itself. I need to do another back-up too, it's been a while since the last one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's working now. Except I still have to use a different browser. I don't understand any of this. But it's working.

      Delete
  10. I am so Tech Challenged that if I didn't have Grandkids living with me, I never even would have known what a Blog was or have one set up by my then 9 Year Old Tech Genius Grandson, whose now 20 and I have to call him in Washington State if I want to know what I cocked up when something goes on the fritz. My computer is ancient, I like it that way... new Technology would be more Drama and a Headache than I could handle... and then I'd be drinking Beer and cutting a Bitch!

    ReplyDelete
  11. My gmail stops coming through every now and then for several days. I have learned that the computer gods just like to have a little fun with me. I am old so I keep passwords written in a notebook next to the computer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm reading a novel right now that just had the scene of the old person with the passwords written in a notebook next to the computer.

      Delete
    2. My password notebook is locked in my safe. Can't have every Tom Dick and Joe getting hold of it. Besides I have three variations of the one password and I remember which is for what so the notebook isn't really necessary except it has all the email contacts in it.

      Delete
    3. I keep ALL passwords on a spreadsheet, but I never ask any site to "Remember me". I think of it as a free Luminosity account--can I remember the password to this site without relying on the spreadsheet?

      Delete
  12. I don't believe in the computer gods. The computer demons are another matter. Those little bastards I believe in.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Remember the data guy in Jurassic Park ? The humongous guy who died horribly in the jeep in the rain...Yeah. That guy. He lives. And he's in charge of our datalives. Totally screwing w. us.

      Delete
  13. I think i'm probably beyond help.Beyond hope, even.I write things down, but have difficulty in deciphering my scrawl...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh for real. I've left myself notes and had no idea what they say.

      Delete
  14. "Sometimes, when I reflect on all the beer I drink, I feel ashamed. Then I look into the glass and think about the workers in the brewery and all of their hopes and dreams. If I did not drink this beer, they might be out of work and their dreams would be shattered. I think, it is better to drink this beer & let dreams come true, than be selfish & worry about my liver.”
    Babe Ruth

    ReplyDelete
  15. Speaking Elderly: it was less than a month ago that I told a supermarket manager, "I'm sure you're speaking English, but I can't understand a word you're saying!" My other fall-back is, "You're talking faster than my ears can hear."

    I've also had to correct youngsters, leading me through a labyrinth of medical hallways, and request that they speak to ME, not to the direction they're leading me. When it comes to the medical profession, I'm not going to let them get away with shoddy customer care!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll let them get away with anything. They scare me.

      Delete