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Eric: My life, in a nutshell. And it's cramped in here.

I have passed through to insanity. It's official. My mind is blown. Blown.

I was constitutionally incapable of writing after a couple of weeks of multiple car trips a week, each at about four hours a go. Plus... well, my time was pretty occupied even when I was in my apartment. I didn't much look at my computer. So, consider this my summer vacation, followed by... er... well, it was like jet lag, only I didn't fly anywhere.

My intention was to post an apology and mea culpa on the Fourth, while wishing everyone a happy... well, Fourth. Only....

Well, let's put it this way.

You know that part of the computer that stores things? Like RAM, only long term? It's made out of a spinning platter that spins? Holds like seventy gigabytes if you're lucky?

Yeah. I don't have one of those any more. No utility would touch it. And it turns out that I haven't had a single thing... well, effectively back up... at all... since the upgrade to Tiger. In effect, I have completely lost the months of May and June. (Well, I should still have backups of all my e-mail. I use a different system for that.)

That, for the record, includes weeks of work on two different paid projects. And a significant amount of other writing.

This is, in a word, devestating.

Needless to say, I haven't read any webcomics for the past couple of days. In fact, I'm typing this into my server, while I wait for my two month old backup to churn. And I'm looking for a better backup method, in the mid-term.

So... life has been better than it currently is.

On the bright side... before she left, Wednesday gave me a notebook.

It's a moleskine. It's really small, and nice, and takes ink well.

And writing in it makes me feel good. For, well, many reasons.

If you want to draw inferences from that, you may feel free. And that is all I am going to say on that subject.

Thanks to the astoundingly good people at Comic Nation, I am able to start reconstructing my trawl and figure out the additions and changes that... well, got lost. And sometime by 5 pm I should have a working powerbook again.

I've missed you guys. And the month of July should get better from here.

Did I miss any drama?

Posted by Eric Burns-White at July 5, 2005 11:35 AM


Comment from: Thomas Blight posted at July 5, 2005 1:02 PM

That's terrible, to lose all of your data like that.

Comment from: siwangmu posted at July 5, 2005 1:03 PM

Welcome back! We missed you! Some of us wrote poems out of snark-deprivation!

I know you posted in the comments before, but this is your official welcome back for officially posting.

Also, I am so, so sorry to hear about your troubles.

Comment from: Dave Van Domelen posted at July 5, 2005 1:20 PM

Well, at least with that much work on it, there's no dilemma involved over whether it's worth taking/sending to a data recovery place. You DO it.

Comment from: Tangent posted at July 5, 2005 1:23 PM

And here I thought it was just something in the air. I've had the toughest time writing as well of late...

Good luck with data recovery, my friend.

Rob H., ready and willing to send the Kittens on a ribboning rampage against the twit who hacked GC and KSpace...

Comment from: alienpriest posted at July 5, 2005 1:48 PM

Sometimes there's nothing more inspiring than a new notebook/sketchbook given to you by someone. I've never gotten that feeling from a new HDD. I think its something in the paper, or the way it's been bound. I've also never had an elegantly bound pad of paper crash on me, an I've dropped them from second story balconies before.

Comment from: Aerin posted at July 5, 2005 1:50 PM

Oh man. No utility recognizes it? Not even something like GetDataBack? That sucks. I know that there are places that will recover dead hard drives, but they'll also charge you an arm, a leg, and your firstborn. Don't give up, though! I've seen lots of dead hard drives, but very, very few that couldn't be recovered somehow, and I'm sure the Snarkoleptics would be happy to pitch in if it becomes a financial issue.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at July 5, 2005 2:05 PM

I have a surgery thing coming up. If there's anything I'm going to go to the Snarkoleptics for help with, it's that. I can rewrite the paid stuff.

The novel... well, I wasn't happy with those last two chapters anyway.

The short stories... well, I have hard copies of the two that are done.

The scripts for Gossamer Commons in the p60-p72 block....

...okay, losing those just plain sucks.

Comment from: Kazriko Redclaw posted at July 5, 2005 2:41 PM

One thing you may want to try for your writing is a revision control system. I use Subversion with Tortoise SVN on windows and the plain command line client on linux to keep a backup copy of all my old work. Once you have such a system, you can throw new stuff on it just by hitting Commit, and you can also go back to any previous commit in case you want a bit you deleted out. It saves it on a server so that you have multiple copies of it at all times. If your word processor saves in a text format like XML rather than a binary format you can even edit it on multiple systems and sync it all back up.

I'm sure there's a good client for Tiger too.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at July 5, 2005 3:18 PM

Seriously, dude, you want from now on to keep your working files on the hard drive and backups on USB plug-in (or vice versa), and at the end of the day you copy over every file you modified (keep a list). And back it all up from the hard drive biweekly to zip disks or CDRs which you keep at the office, or if this is a work computer at home - the operative concept being offsite. No high-I.Q. lowbrow is ever taking out Arthur, King of Time and Space. (Which is disappointing sometimes. There are days when I'd like to start over.)

Comment from: quiller posted at July 5, 2005 3:22 PM

It is really amusing to me, that you hand out a line about drawing inferences that would normally spark a whole bunch of amused comments, but you tack it on to a tale of personal tragedy, so instead you get a bunch of technical replies regarding backup recovery.

In any case, I will protest being given permission to draw inferences by not drawing any! Hah! Umm, except that it is nice to get a real thoughtful gift from someone.

Sorry about the hard drive, it has happened way too often to me, but I generally only lose emails and saved games. It would suck to lose real work in progress.

Comment from: Aerin posted at July 5, 2005 3:38 PM

One of my senior friends had her thesis backed up in no less than nine different places, including two different thumb drives and her Gmail account.

You know, I work at a college helpdesk, and we do drive recovery stuff all the time. My boss suggests removing the hard drive, putting it a USB enclosure, and hooking it up to another Mac to recover the data that way. If you can't do that over there, I'll bet we could find some way to recover it if you send it out here.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at July 5, 2005 4:08 PM


This might simply imply that while I am dumb, I am perhaps not so dumb. ;)

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at July 5, 2005 4:09 PM

I've thought seriously about Subversion, actually. And now I see the abject necessity of it.

Time to start thinking again.

Comment from: jpcardier posted at July 5, 2005 6:01 PM

Oh Eric, you poor bastard. I am so sorry. I have been there in a small way (lost two weeks worth of work on one project with no backup).

It always stings you. You think, "I've been meaning to backup. But it's a pain. And it takes time. Besides, I'm a computer professional. I can always recover data."

It hurts. It just hurts. Hard Drives MTBF is no joke. They do fail. I really feel for you, Eric. Good luck.


Comment from: Phil Kahn posted at July 5, 2005 6:12 PM

Let me know what I can do to help, the minute you think of it.

Comment from: quiller posted at July 5, 2005 6:14 PM

Eric -

And I imagine that when the wind is southerly you can tell a hawk from a handsaw, as well. Yes, there is a method to this snarkness...

Comment from: kirabug posted at July 5, 2005 9:04 PM

A few months ago I lost my entire writing folder when I thought I'd had it backed up in two places, I reformatted the drive to install Tiger, and then a few weeks ago I discovered that neither place had valid backups. Had to go back to a two-year-old backup of everything I've written except my novels, which I obsessively back up to a 512mb Sandisk along with my classwork and my website. I couldn't even tell you what I've lost at this point, but it was too much.

My .mac backup runs nightly now, and I've started backing up to my husband's server on a regular basis... but Lord knows how long I'll be this good.

Eric, if you're not doing the .mac backup thing it's a nice way to protect yourself from short-term catatrophic failure, but even it's not foolproof so I strongly recommend a second method.

Subversion has caught my attention. Thanks, guys!

Comment from: gwalla posted at July 6, 2005 1:03 AM

Hard drive failures are why my next computer is gonna be rockin' a RAID-5 array. NEVER AGAIN.

Comment from: okaynowa posted at July 6, 2005 1:15 AM

Moleskine notebooks ARE great, aren't they? Just the right size so they're always there. I'm on my third now, and the little pockets in the back are filled with ticket stubs.

Comment from: toddandpenguin posted at July 6, 2005 8:54 AM

Man, that sucks. Deepest empathy.

However, I have a feeling that you've got other things to be very happy about right now which will lessen the blow :)

Comment from: nkuvu posted at July 7, 2005 11:50 PM

I really like Subversion, but I'm also used to configuration management tools (software developer by trade, so I use a CM tool at work). So I have been using Subversion from the command line. A quick Google turned up the following links.

A plugin to integrate Subversion into the Finder

Quick directions on how to set up said plugin

I just installed the plugin on my system (Tiger, 10.4.1) and it works well. Very similar to the TortoiseSVN client. Seems pretty straight forward to use, though I don't know how much of that is from prior experience with configuration management tools.

Insert the standard "sorry to hear about your data loss" statement here, but word it in such a way that it doesn't sound like I'm offering condolences at a funeral.

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