What a month June was!

I have been suffering recently from a series of disasters.

Early this year I had the horror of a computer failure. Before anyone says (again) that I ought to back up the damn thing, I do. I routinely back up to a local second disk, and to remote disks, and to the cloud. However, once in a while things go wrong. I clearly remember with horror the time some years ago when a backup failed. I saw that there was some kind of glitch, so I hurriedly backed up the disk to my Zip files (remember them?) and the result was, I copied the virus to all my back ups. That cost me about two months of work.

This year it was more disastrous. That failure cost me because it wiped out my current work in progress. This year was worse.

My "vintage" Apple and an old leather chair. Both defunct!

My “vintage” Apple and an old leather chair. Both defunct!

In February I saw that there was a minor problem with a mail file. I tried the usual, turn off, turn on again etc, but there was no joy. So I decided I’d use Apple’s backup. Every day for years I’ve used my Time Capsule with Time Machine to backup every keystroke. All one need do is recover to the most recent copy of the computer, and hey presto! Life can continue. However it didn’t for me. Time Machine works by overwriting the entire disk with the data it’s stored on the Time Capsule. I restored, and then lost everything – because my Time Capsule had a fault. It had nothing stored on the disk, and as a result when I restored it wiped my disk – completely.

It’s been much more catastrophic than the earlier failure, because not only was my WIP affected in February, I also lost all my photos. 13,000 of them. Now they mostly still exist. They are on Flickr. My work in progress tends to be safe on remote sites, too. But I did have plans, notes and essential records on the computer. They were all lost, and that cost me a month.

In June, however, things went much worse. Another glitch (pink squiggles all over the screen) and after getting the machine in to the menders, I was told that my machine was “vintage” at eight years old, and therefore there were no spare parts. My graphics card was blown, and that meant the computer was, basically, so much junk. But, at least I had the disks still. Helpfully the menders put the disks into a cabinet so I could use them again.

Except I can’t. The latest update of OS X means those disks don’t work with my new machine. So a bunch of work was again lost.

The worse thing about this second failure was really the lost time in setting it up. In the past, when I’ve bought a new Apple, I’ve stuck a wire between the two and left them to get on with things. Somehow, they chat for a while and then my new computer has all my settings there ready and waiting. With the new machine this time, there was nothing. It took me a total of two and a half weeks to get the new machine operating as I expected it. I still don’t have my mail folders working as they should – that’ll take a while to get fixed – but at least I now have all my essential software.

However, the first day I sat at my desk, the chair broke. Oh, it wasn’t a critical breakage, it was merely the blasted height adjuster. Since the chair was a rather special sort, there was no way to mend it. Perhaps it should also be called “vintage”! In any case, I suddenly had a need for a new chair. So off I toddled to the usual shops.

Now, here’s a thing. There are great chairs to be had. You can buy leather chairs for really very little. I was surprised to find really very good chairs for £70-80. I tried them, and some were very comfortable. I rocked (one essential for my chairs is that I can doze in them!), I swivelled, I twisted and raised and lowered the mechanism – and was very happy. Except, when I checked, the damn things weren’t leather.

This may sound daft, but if you’re sitting in a room for 14-16 hours in a day, plastic just doesn’t work. It may look, feel and sound like leather, but the smell and the overall experience are not right. They grow uncomfortable. So, after thinking about it for a while I went to first principles and figured out what I wanted.

I wanted a good tilting mechanism. I wanted it to be good and ergonomic. I needed an adjustable back, squab and arms. I needed a head rest. Oh, and I needed the lowest possible budget, especially having had to buy a new computer already.

The only ones I found were approaching £1,000. I couldn’t get close to that.

One salesman (?) wrote to me with the details of a couple of £500 chairs and when I asked if they had any seconds or slightly soiled models, got a sniffy response that if I wanted cheap chairs, many shops sold Chinese imports, but he personally wouldn’t touch them. A nice way to tell a prospective client that I was a fool for thinking about such chairs. He didn’t win my vote.

My new computer, new chair, new working environment!

My new computer, new chair, new working environment!

However, a quick check led me to a Humanscale Freedom chair. It’s superbly comfortable, almost infinitely variable, and has all the flexibility I need. And I was fortunate enough to find one for only £160 second hand. Except that I had to drive to Oxford to collect it, a round trip of some six hours. It was worth the money. I can recommend them!

But it does mean I’m even further behind. My poor, long-suffering editor must be fed up with hearing my tales of woe. All in all, this year, because of computer failures, chair failures and other issues, I’ve lost about two and half months of work. It’s horrible.

So, if you’re wondering why I’ve been a little quiet for the last few weeks, now you know!

Hopefully normal service will return shortly.


18 Responses to “What a month June was!”
  1. HI Michael, I feel you pain – been there and done that. That’s why I say that computers (on which I’m HIGHLY dependent) are devices for the systematic losing of information and wasting of time. Glad you’re back!


  2. Jack Eason says:

    It sounds like 2015 has become your annus horibilis my friend. ;)


  3. My macbookpro is eight years old and counting. The keyboard is playing up with certain letters. The keyboard from my iMac (nine years old) worked for a while with it and then sulked. I know I need to bite the bullet. Out of interest which new Mac did you get? I’ve done the reading around and pretty much decided what I want when I can bear to part with the cash.

    Computers have us sucked in. Maybe best to get out the old tripewriter.


    • My two typewriters are beside me as I speak. If it weren’t for the fact that editors demand electronic copy now, I’d be back to it full time, I reckon. As it is, I got the stupidly expensive iMac with 27 inch screen. The smaller size just didn’t work for me. I did wonder about a second Macbook Air, but that seemed silly. The screen would be too tiny for my declining eyesight. So, I ended up with the horribly expensive machine, but I seriously believe this is my last. I can’t justify the expense any more, and the next box will hopefully be a great deal cheaper! Good luck with your choice. I actually bought a 21 inch and brought it home. It was only when I unpacked it that I realised I’d have to go back and change it for a larger machine!


  4. ouch sounds horrible, I try and change my mac’s after 5 years as that’s when the troubles seem to start and I can save up in that time! I love my 27″ and it’s serving me well as both my job and hobby depend on it, hope yours does the same!


    • Thanks for that, Fragglerocking. It has been absolute hell for the last month or so – not how I expected to spend the launch of my latest book. But hey ho! At least things are more or less back to normal now!The 27″ is a lovely machine, and I am enjoying writing on it with my software packages, but just now I’m having to try to catch up with the next book that was due last month!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. annswinfen says:

    Oh, Michael, this was really, really awful! A couple of years ago the hard drive of my laptop packed up and stupidly I hadn’t done a recent backup. Luckily our local computer guru had some magic machine which rescued almost everything as the hard drive went into its final death throes. I now backup religiously every evening, but your backup failures are a true horror story. I had three days of intense anxiety, but you have had a much worse time. Sending you huge sympathy! And your new workplace looks great!


    • It’s been horrible. Yes, there’s no justice, is there, when you back up like a good computer user and the damn things still go wrong! Still, at least I’m back at the desk now. Thanks for the sympathy!


  6. lorsplace says:

    Such a sad tale of woe… All I can say is, sit your butt down in that glorious new chair, raise a glass o’ Scotch and be thankful it’s all behind you now. :) Soldier on!


  7. Clive Mullis says:

    Nice catalogue of disasters you have there…a bit of research? ;)


  8. D.G.Kaye says:

    That was horrible! I feel for you. I’ve had 2 computer crashes in the last year. As writers we try our best to have all our backups in working order. Besides a hard back up, backing up to a cloud (Dropbox) has been my savior when it comes to my manuscripts. :) Glad you’re back in action.


    • Hi – sorry for the slow response. Been a tough last few weeks. I do appreciate the comments, though. Ruddy computers. The more efficient and appealing the technology, the more we grow to depend upon them, don’t we? I’m enjoying the thought of returning to pen and paper!


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