Whenever anyone complains about the challenges of today’s technology, I always reboot my memory back to my first social work job when I had to fill out forms by hand…in triplicate…using carbon paper. For those of you who are too young to remember carbon paper, just imagine a piece of paper that’s slick on one side and has sticky ink on the other. When you inserted it between two pieces of paper, it magically copied what you wrote on the first page to the second. Of course, if you made a mistake while using carbon paper, you had two not-so-simple delete options. You could shift to a new form or you could paint White-Out on the form to cover over the error thus allowing you to write on top of the error. White-Out worked great unless your form was any color other than white. In that case you’d need to search for a bottle of Mauve-Out or Salmon-Out.
While technology does have its challenges, I’m quite certain I don’t want to revert back to an earlier generation of our technological age where carbon paper and mimeograph machines were the default.
A couple of months ago, I had a user error with my Macbook. It made an escape from my hands and downloaded to the floor. It seems that the crash took a byte out of the computer’s charging system. Apple replaced the battery but its function was never the same. I had to jiggle the dongle (I know, that sounds wrong) repeatedly to get it to work. Eventually, when it took nearly thirty minutes of dongle jiggling before the charger connected, I knew I had to return it to the repair center. So, I made the hard drive to our local Simply Mac store where they shipped the device back to Apple—knowing full well that the technicians might have to delete my data to get the computer online again. I was told that the repair process would take 5-7 business days.
After a week, I decided to dialup Simply Mac to see if they had a bit of news on the repair. They reported that Apple needed a part that was on backorder but they had no additional information on how long it would take to get the part. After twelve days without any progress, I contacted AppleCare, Apple’s customer warranty service. However, it seemed that I may have dialed the wrong number because the customer support representative with whom I spoke sounded like she worked for AppleDon’tCare. She told me that since I had used Simply Mac rather than an Apple Store, there was nothing she could do for me. Then, after I convinced her that my computer was in fact at an Apple facility, she said that since it was at a remote repair center, there was nothing she could do for me. She never apologized for the delay nor offered any other option to help me. So, I took a slight shift in my approach and told her that for the prices Apple charges for their computers and phones, they should upgrade the way they treat their long-time customers, like me. Then I double clicked off the phone just to make my point.
Now, I’d like to believe that the Apple customer service department does screen their calls and that word of my bad service experience had traveled like a virus through the company. Whether that happened or not, I did get an email from Apple a few hours later offering me a new computer since they couldn’t guarantee a window of time when my backordered part would arrive.
Then it was time for me to crunch some data on my own. You see, if my old computer was repaired, there was a slight chance that my files would be intact when the computer was returned to me. But if I chose a new computer, there was a zero megabyte chance that I would get my files and folders back. I had to decide if I would take the chance on the old computer or just purge it and choose the replacement option. Luckily, I did have a backup of my files. But I worried that replacing all that data would take several days and I may have forgotten to save some files.
Thankfully, I learned about backups early in the era of computers when a friend of mine had a hard drive crash. She did not have a backup and lost years of files. That incident impressed upon me the importance of keeping important files safe. In fact, I used to have a button on my computer that was given to me by a church friend. It said, “Jesus saves, do you?” That is not necessarily one of the command-ments but it is a good idea.
So, I opted for the new computer and scanned my brain to see if I had forgotten to backup anything important. I also reviewed my menu of apps to determine which ones I would need to purchase a second time since I did not back up the actual program files. Most were easily accessible so I felt a sense of control.
My new computer arrived and amazingly, I restored my files and emails. I’m sure a few things were lost in the peripherals but for the most part, my downtime was relatively minimal and I’m now up and running. However, since we live in a rural area, our internet speed is only slightly faster than someone walking the data to me. So, it took quite a while to restore all of the files. However, after a couple of days, it seems that everything is back to normal.
I could fill a massive spreadsheet on what I’ve learned during this process but the keystroke here is this: We will never return to carbon paper. And in this world of CPU, RAM, and ROM, we must maintain a backup of our stuff or we will be SOL.
Now, input that in your pipe and smoke it.
We all hate computers, but what would we do without them? Great article Ron, thank you. Love Patti T.