D.O.A.

The day was Friday October 5th. The time was approximately 9pm Pacific Time. The sound that could be heard in my house, well above the noise of the TV, was “NO, NO, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! “

My wife and Willow ask within a few heartbeats of each other. “What happened?” My wife probably was worried that I was maybe having a heart attack. Willow was worried that I had deleted an important piece of dialogue. Tells you where their priorities were.

My laptop screen that had been vibrant in its 32 Bit true color at 1366 x 768 resolution was now BLANK.  One minute I am plugging away writing another chapter in my novel and then the next moment it reminded me of the new TV series Revolution – A Blackness sucked the outer edges and the screen into the center and the high resolution true color quickly faded away.

“Holy Shit!” Willow has such an eloquent vocabulary.

“My exact sentiments” I couldn’t disagree with her. It was hard to keep the tears away. I could almost live without pretty much everything on the laptop, but my book – the Writing software I use, Scrivener was on the hard drive. I had saved all the data on the drive a couple of weeks ago before I had gone on vacation, and was (naturally) planning on backing up the data on Saturday. So I had most of my Chapters on my flash drive, except for the last four chapters I had written. But also ALL my research (and there was a ton of it) was on the dead laptop.

I spend a couple of hours doing everything I could think of to get the laptop to move again, but I couldn’t get anything to come up. The laptop was getting power, but nothing came up – screen just dead.

“So what are you going to do now?” Her tone was accusing. Not very supportive. Not my wife, she was very supportive and concerned. Willow on the other hand…

“I don’t know.” And I meant it. How much time and effort had I put into doing all that research and I could always rewrite those lost few chapters, but they would not be the same. The inflection, the dialogue, everything would be different no matter how hard I tried to recreate them.

“DO SOMETHING.” Willow was freaking out.

I sent e-mails to a bunch of repair shops. Naturally it was Friday night so I didn’t even know who was going to be open on Saturday. So you can imagine I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night. What if it was ALL gone?

In the morning I was standing at the entrance to BestBuy as they opened. I turned my little friend over to the Geek Squad Agent (yes they call themselves Agents – that alone should classify them as Geeks). He ran some test while I sat in the waiting room (well  at the chair by the long counter while he was in the backroom performing his magic). Would it survive or were we looking at DOA. Did it need to go into Intensive Care? I got up and paced the floor. I could almost see the dark specter, with its deadly scythe, standing over my old friend (well a good friend for at least the last five years).

The Agent (I still laugh when I look at their name badges) came out of the room. His expression told me everything I needed to know. I would be parting ways with my old friend. I couldn’t hear what he was trying to tell me. I was thinking of the old keyboard that had half the letters worn off and the L key that would get stuck and the A key that I would have to bang three or four times sometimes to get it to work. Finally I focused to his droning voice.

“The connections are fried. It would cost more to repair than to buy a new one.” He was saying sympathetically. I never realized that almost anything electronic I have ever had that broke down would cost more to repair than to fix. I think it is some sort of conspiracy.

“But…” The famous BUT. I held by breath. What could it be? What hope could he give me? Willoe had come to me and was looking over my shoulder. I could tell she was as anxious as I was by the sharp intake of breath. I could even feel the tears dripping on my collar.

He gave me a little smile. He knew with the bad news he had already give me a grin would not be appreciated. “The laptop is a total loss, but it looks like we can save the data on the hard drive.”

Hope springs eternal (lots of clichés today). When he told me he could do a C-Section and pull my old friends hard drive out and transfer the data to a different device I nearly kissed him. Well not really, he had a really big mustache and, well, I have an affection for lady’s parts.

But I nearly groveled thanking the Agent (there I said the word without a big grin on my face).

Two days later (long time for an operation in my mind, but It Is What It Is) I received an external  hard drive with all my data on it.

My wife (life saver that she is) has loaned me here laptop until I replace mine. I reinstalled my Scrivener software and reloaded the Scrivener database from the external drive. I clicked on the software and held my breath while the hard drive whirled and the newly installed software came up. Right after my chapters popped up on the screen. I quickly checked a couple different ones to make sure it wasn’t some trick of the Computer Killing gods and they were all there. Then I clicked on different Research folders – still didn’t trust those gods – it would be just like them to fool me into thinking it was all there. But it was.

Willow punched me in the arm then gave me a big hug. My wife gave me the sweetest smile you could ever imagine and I can tell you I felt like I had just been given a second chance at life.

I know I will never replace my old friend, but maybe I can make a new one. I have my idea on a sweet little new model. Petite, skinny and lightweight, with a real attractive and smooth exterior, but can do pretty much anything I could ever want it to do – sounds like my wife J You would never guess I love her.

But I am waiting until Black Friday (for those across the big pond, it is the Friday after Thanksgiving when there are some of the biggest sales of the year). Then I can transfer everything from my wife’s laptop to my new friend.

Oh, and the other thing is that I am putting on-line backup software on all the computers in my house (something like Carbonite or Mozy) so that all the data will be constantly backed up to some place probably halfway across the country. It may never happen again, but you can’t image the shear fear I felt that Friday night.

To any of you Writers, or actually anyone else that has important data on their old friends like pictures, letters, ancestry research, the speech you are giving at your club next week, or anything else that would not be easy to replace – BACK IT UP. And I don’t mean once a month (which probably 90% of you don’t even do anyways – no offense, but just facts) – because if you are 25 days away from your last Backup then you may have to live without that one of kind picture you uploaded two days before that. And if you backup your computer to a device that is sitting in your house – if you have a fire/tornado/hurricane/flood/alien attack – you may lose your computer and your backup device. Then what?

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