Hold The Phone!

Posted: 28th October 2017 by Robyn Jane in Blogging, History, writing rules
Tags: ,

Ignore my previous post. My banking issues have been resolved, I’ve paid my bill, and the domain is saved! That almost sounds like the plot for a fairy tale: the princess paid her taxes, thus saving her domain.

If I haven’t done so already, allow me to share Robyn’s First Rule of Computing with you:

BE PARANOID AND COMPULSIVE

I devised this rule back in the ‘70s, during the heyday of MS-DOS, as a reminder to always make several copies of your important data. The corollary to the First Rule is this:

IT ISN’T A MATTER OF IF YOU LOSE YOUR DATA; IT’S A MATTER OF WHEN.

At the time, I worked in a state government office where personal computers were just beginning to make an appearance. Since I was one of only two people in our entire division who knew anything about them, I was tasked (along with my regular duties) with the additional responsibility with making sure that everything functioned smoothly.

One of the first things I did as to enforce Robyn’s First Rule. I did this by location a free program to back up data. It worked like this:

  • On installation of the program, it added a line to the AUTOEXEC.BAT file. That displayed a text message that said “You last backed up your data x days ago. Do you want to back up now?”
  • If you answered yes, the program then prompted you to insert the data diskette marked “Backup Diskette n,” where n was the current disk number. It then copied to that disk any files that had been modified since the last backup.
  • Once the diskette was full, the program prompted you to remove the diskette and replace it with a new, formatted diskette to be labeled “Backup Diskette n + 1” and continued until all the files had been backed up.
  • If, however, you answered no, the rest of the instructions in AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS were executed and the system continued to boot up.

I can’t tell you the number of times I got a panicked call from someone who had lost a file and needed help. Invariably, when I’d check the backup log, I discovered that their system hadn’t been back up for weeks—meaning there was no way of recovering the file, except at the byte level with a disk editor, a slow and complicated process that was rarely successful.

All of the above is by way of explaining why I am going to continue cross-posting to both this site and the new blog on WordPress.

I just wanted you to know that.