Tricounty News

If it ain't broke, don't upgrade it

If you haven't seen me out and about much lately, there's a reason: this month has been really bad for me and technology.

Normally, technology and me are best buddies. That's changed drastically.

First, a hard drive just stopped working more than a month ago, the one on which we save and share all our files. Just got that back this week, finally, and it looks like they were able to recover everything. (We were very lucky!)

I did a lot of fast-thinking and work-arounds. You won't find anything different in our papers over the past five weeks because I worked a lot of extra hours making sure everything still worked, somehow.

Then it seemed that one-by-one much of our equipment and software simply turned against us, all last Tuesday (the day we get everything ready to go to press). Software crashes, file incompatibilities, wi-fi server failure, and the pièce de résistance, power outage at the press just as we should have been sending files. (Dang thunderstorms!)

Not all of it was on our end, either. Seems it was just a bad week for technology in many corners. A good friend and newspaper "guru" lost everything on his computer's hard drive, and then found out his automatic backup had been full and hadn't backed up for about a month. Ouch!

Having survived all that, I was feeling a bit cocky. Impervious even. Nothing else bad could happen, right?

So last week I did something really stupid. Supremely stupid. I updated the operating system on my computer thinking it would help all the other relatively minor problems. DON'T MAKE THIS SAME MISTAKE!

About 80 hours later, all is better. It was so bad that I erased everything on my computer and restored it to last Thursday. (That still freaks me out just a bit.) A few little blips here and there, but we're back to how it was when everything worked.

Three lessons can be learned from my pain and agony:

1. Back up, back up, back up. All computers, drives, disks and any digital medium will fail; it's just a matter of when. Back up everything, even if you don't think it's important. Trust me, it will be. And then back up your back-ups.

2. If it's not broken, don't fix it. Seriously.

3. The rule of thumb is that you shouldn't buy the first version of anything (software, smartphone, car, etc.). There's a reason for that! Let others discover the bugs in it, and wait for the manufacturer to fix them. A few months won't kill you. Dealing with bugs and fatal errors just might.

Just a few more little kinks to work out now. It's so wonderful to have everything back and working again, even if it might be working in a slightly different way. We're used to that. We're nothing if not adaptable.

(We've been a day late three times in the past 13 years, and for none of these reasons. No matter what, the paper must get out!)