Welcome to another Jecks wittering.
There are times when I sit at my desk and type and think about all kinds of happy things. There are times when I happily wallow in blood and guts in my mind – which is why I, like most crime writers, am such a well-balanced, pleasant, amiable fellow. I get all my violence out on the page, rather than in the street. I remember someone making the observation that someone had brought murder back into the home, where it belongs, but I tend to have my killings in fields, backstreets or other places. I don’t think homes are suitable for murder.
But I was working happily on Saturday night, when murder entered my heart. Family dispute? No. Litigation? No. The price of beer? No, not even that.
I was infected with computer blues.
Put it like this. There I was, happily playing with three new paintings (and I was quite pleased with them, too), when I took a call from my parents.
They’re both quite old, and they don’t get to travel all the way to see me too often, so I like to keep in touch. And on Saturday I painted a picture of my brother Keith on a walk over Dartmoor. They’d like that, I thought, so I sent a copy to my mother. However, it never arrived, so while speaking to my mother, I said I’d post it again, this time to their other account. Easy, huh? Done similar things loads of times.

My brother Keith out walking the Moors

My brother Keith out walking the Moors

So, I went to the computer, fired it up and forwarded the main. Or would have, but Mail suddenly quit. So I fired up Mail again, only to be told that there was a problem and Mail would have to import 152,000 emails to the newer version.
Hmm, I thought. Perhaps it was a glitch. So I closed Mail, and tried it again. Same result. So I restarted the computer (you can tell I’m computer literate, huh?). Same result.
This was time for some head-scratching. In the end, I hit on the only logical answer. You see, some years ago I spent £100 buying a special back-up drive from Apple. This Time Capsule was a clever device. Together with Time Machine, it would allow you to automatically backup your computer as you went merrily along. Then, in the event of a disaster, you could call back your computer’s state at any day. So I could go back to Saturday morning, say, or Friday. In my case, all I wanted to do was bring back my emails, so I fired up Time Machine to see what it would do.
It told me it could recover everything. Fine, I thought, and hit “go”.
Bad mistake.
As a result of that happy keystroke, I now have no computer. The machine started to work, but then the damn thing died. Apparently, the first thing Time Machine does is wipe the old disk. Then it tried to reload with the backup. However, it decided that the files I wanted to backup weren’t good enough. So, fine, I thought. I’ll go back and fix it some other way. Except, I couldn’t. Because of that first stage I mentioned. The disk is now wiped.
So, tomorrow I’m off to Apple to chat politely about backups and things, and see if they can save anything from my blasted backup drive. I hope they can, because there are some photos I cannot replace, and some work (not much, because I have always been keen to backup everything). But it is a massive irritation in a week that is already full of children on holiday, time off for Easter and deadlines.
Computers are essential, of course, but they are also the bane of my life.
For example, my daughter is now studying for her GSCE exams. She needs a computer. She has been able to use my laptop in the past. This one which I am using today! She ain’t having it back for a while, sadly. If I can’t fix the desktop, I’ll have to think about buying her a small notebook or something similar. Or should I get myself something like that? I don’t want to throw out my Apples, but replacements are hellishly expensive, so I don’t know what’s going to happen.
Just now, I am hoping the old machine will be mendable, and that the backup drive will work so they can rescue my backups. Wish me luck.
Anyway, at least I got three good paintings out of the weekend!

Dartmoor walking in winter

Dartmoor walking in winter

And now, having got that out of the way, what is good? Well, this week I am sitting down with a large book all about the Poitiers campaign, ready for the third and final book in my trilogy about the Hundred Years War. The first, FIELDS OF GLORY, has got to be enormously popular (I can recommend it) and the second, BLOOD ON THE SAND, has been great fun to write, if hard work. There is a lot to fit in with that book, but it works well. Hopefully it’ll sell well. To help things along, my publishers are sending me on some mini-tours. I’ll be wandering around the country, with luck, in June and July, so keep your eyes open or call publicity at Simon and Schuster UK if you want a Jecks visit.

There is also going to be a short story available for free (oh, I hate that word!) for those who want to find out a bit more about my characters, too, so there’s a fair bit for all readers who like my books. And I am hoping to get more books written this year. I am hoping to write  series of shorts involving Sir Richard de Welles, and a new Baldwin/Simon story, although whether or not they ever get into print is hard to tell.

All in all, I have a busy year, this year. I am intending to write four novels. That would always be hard, of course … without the damn computer, it’ll be harder!

Have a great week. Don’t forget my YouTube channel. It is called writerlywitterings, oddly enough. There’s a new video every Thursday, and there are now a good 55 up there, covering my books, my writing, and hints and tips for aspiring writers or students. Hope you enjoy them!

The lovely Chateau Poinsouze

The lovely Chateau Poinsouze

9 Responses to “Technology”
  1. Oh Lordy, I’m sorry to read about all your computer hassles. A few years ago my machine just died on me for no apparent reason and the chaps at the computer hospital told me that it would never boot again. I lost a lot of work. It was a devastating experience. Since then, I now back everything up onto two external drives and, if it is a finished piece of important work, I print it out. There’s nothing like hard copy!

    Well, I’m glad that Fields of Glory is doing well. I think the first of your books that I bought was way back at the end of the 80s when you were published by Headline and the covers were all like illuminated manuscripts – yes, it was The Leper’s Return, that was it. Baldwin and Simon have been busy cracking crime for a long time. Ye gods, I was only 21 when I bought that book. I must’ve still had hair on the top of my head and, if I could yet grow a beard, it must’ve still been chestnut brown, rather than the (I like to tell myself, distinguished) shades of grey that it is rapidly becoming.

    I may be one of your most long-standing fans, you know. How about that?

    Incidentally, I wouldn’t go the netbook route. I did that for my son when he started his GCSEs and they’re just not up to it. I mean, lord knows, he may well have been using it for things he shouldn’t, but even so. There are some very good deals, I’m told, on reconditioned laptops for students. If you know anyone on the staff of Exeter Uni, they may be able to advise regarding a reputable company that provide said gadgets.

    You’re familiar, I suppose, with the concept of the Digital Dark Ages? That in some future time, when our civilisation is done and gone and all our digital records faded forever into virtual nothingness, historians will regard this as a new Dark Age because there will be so few written records to learn anything by.

    What you can print, print. Forget the idea of the ‘paperless office’ (remember that?) it ain’t never going to be so.

    All the best of luck with it.


    • Hi, Long-Standing Fan!
      Thanks for the comment, Austin. I’ll survive, even if it means I have to resort to a typewriter (got three of them – manual and electronic). It’s just bloody annoying that the iMac died in the way it did – recovering from a back up file. That is what I call frustratingly ironic. Everything was backed up several times a day, using the Apple Time Machine software, but when things went wrong, it was the back up that failed. It overwrote the disk, I think, but overwrote the software first, so the machine now is so much dead metal! Thanks for the advice on the netbook route. I don’t know whether they’ve improved in recent years or not, but I do know several friends who use them routinely now. Worth looking, anyway, because the cost, compared to any form of Apple laptop, is so much better.

      Thanks again. Wish me luck with Apple tomorrow and happy writing!


      • I wish you luck! Undaunted by fate, with the fizz and pop of Apples exploding all about him, the noble writer snatched up his faithful Olivetti and pushed forward against the odds …


  2. Jack Eason says:

    Reblogged this on Have We Had Help? and commented:
    More from our Michael :)


  3. D.G.Kaye says:

    I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of having THREE hard drive crashes in one year! Maddening, to say the least. I am ever-grateful for my friend ‘Clickfree’ which is a great little back up gizmo you attach to a data port how often you like to back up, up to 3 or 4 computers. After each crash, I reload my program, put in my ‘Clickfree’ and after a few hours, everything is back in its place. :), and no, I don’t work for them, lol, but they sure work for me.


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