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Friday, 30 January 2015

FUCKING IDIOTIC WRITER MODE: A REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.

This takedown of a fucking idiotic writer won't be pleasant.
   Is there such a thing as a pleasant takedown of an idiotic writer? Yes. There are sugar sprinkles and unicorns and rainbows during a nice takedown. This story does not feature unicorns. Or sugar sprinkles. There is no rainbow at the gold's end, and no bloody gold anyway.


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Bloodied gold would be a fucking luxury. At least you could wash your hands with it. Er. Right, moving on...

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I've written about backing your work up. The best form of doing this is still publication. Shove your stories out there.

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For those who came in late, here are a few posts on archiving. I'll wait for you.

AN ARCHIVAL REPORT.

YET ANOTHER ARCHIVAL REPORT.

A SCINTILLATING REPORT ON MATTERS OF COMPUTING.


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Shit flows uphill if it is runny and the wind is strong enough.


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Okay. Back up your files. Save copies in multiple locations. Publish. Have several profiles running on your computer, in the event of profile failure. This much we know, based on the reports listed above.


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Of course I'm the fucking idiotic writer being taken down.


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I did something unbelievably fucking stupid when it came to creating and saving files. It doesn't fucking matter that this only applied to three items.
   They were images and not stories. Doesn't fucking matter.
   We aren't talking about screwing up an entire novel, massive bundles of text, or tax forms. Doesn't fucking matter.
   It was all still fucked up, just the same.


*

Shit flows downhill. That's a system. I use it. The system works. I only deviate from the system to improve the system. That's what I tell myself. Usually, it's true. I do the right thing.


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What I don't do is switch to FUCKING IDIOTIC WRITER mode.


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And now, to our story.
   It wasn't a stormy windswept potato-mashed night. The system worked. Save everything and copy everything to multiple locations.
   But wait a bit. How do I generate files? Where is the source of this digital Nile? On a computer that is not connected to the internet, that's where. That computer sits next to an external hard drive.
   Or the external hard drive sets next to the computer.
   Microsoft Word creates its own backup files. Beyond that basic level of automation, the extra hard drive is usually the first port of call when it comes to backing things up.
   That is, unless I back things up on a USB device before reaching for the external drive. Or, for reasons technical and strange, I might make a copy of everything and store that archive on the same computer. Temporarily.
   Anyway, there is no internet at the SOURCE.
   The internet computer lives a short walk away from the SOURCE. A device must be carried along the hallway to the other place, to reach the shores of the internet. That device unloads its data after a physical journey involving footsteps.
   Whirrr, click. Now there's ANOTHER copy of the material, on the internet computer's hard drive. Hooray. A few more clicks, and that new archive is saved yet again - to the cloud.


*

Copied archives are special. They are only added to from sources generated in another room.
   Water flows from the SOURCE.
   If an archive stands in the way for technical reasons, the whole archive is blasted and replaced - though even outdated and outmoded archives survive: you never know. The last file that went all corrupt on me was the profile mentioned back there in my scintillating report on matters of computing.
   The rule...
   I don't generate new files and store them solely in the copied archives. That way lies madness. New files must be housed at the SOURCE and cloned to other locations.
   Always.


*

Everything was backed up.
   Move on. Year's end. Time to create the final back up copy - a DVD, set away in a fireproof safe.
   And that means it's time to check the files, in case there are bullshit items - definitely no longer required.
   I've grown more careful about that final check down the years, not less careful. The process takes longer each year. Well, true, there's more content. But, even so.


*

This year, I sit down and have the strange sensation that I created files and dropped them solely into a copied archive. In the wrong territory. Not at the SOURCE.
   I mean I walked into another room, created files, and dumped items in the archived copy there.
   Are you sure?
   I'm not sure. But if the hunch is right, then...
   These files don't exist in the ORIGINAL archive. If I lost all the back up copies, and kept the original archive, all would be well in computer land, right...
   Except.
   Wait.
   I created some files.
   Yes.
   And I dropped them in the archive when I was done.
   Right.
   Just checking this.
   Sure, sure.
   But. I was sitting in a different chair.
   No.
   Facing a different way.
   Are you certain?
   So I must have been in the other room.
   Come on. Shit doesn't flow uphill. You wouldn't generate new content and dump it in one isolated copied archive. All copied archives are the same. Those containment barrels never turn radioactive. Clones are each other.
   But...
   Seriously. The last time you messed with files, this way, was NEVAH!!!
   There's always the outside chance that I've screwed this up beyond all recognition without setting off a single alarm until now, here, at the year's end. Based on an inkling of a twinkling of a hunch.
   Well, you'd better fucking check more than the mere memory of which fucking way you were sitting when you made shit up.


*

I checked. There were all sorts of warped possibilities. I wanted to avoid adding problems to the mix. After checking thousands of files in countless folders, using a few sideways moves and arcane detection that I'm not even sure qualifies as a computer technique...
   There.
   Three blog-related files, all images, jumped for my throat. Well. Fuck.


*

Narrative.
   I was seated at this computer. Files were required. I summoned those files from the back up archive on this machine.
   And then I generated new content from those archived files. I mashed a few new pictures together out of old photos, basically.
   AT THAT POINT, I should have copied the new files to a USB device and marched them along to the original depository at the SOURCE.
   But I didn't reach for a USB drive. I stared at three new files on my desktop, and slotted them into the right folder in the back up archive.
   No big deal? They were in the right folder, right.
   Oh, yes, big deal...


*

Until I found those three files, and realised what I'd done, I was convinced that I'd written new story material on the wrong computer, and sidelined important content into a dusty file folder that might never see the light of day again.


*

Where the fuck is that story I wrote, and what the fuck was it anyway?
   It wasn't quite real. Didn't exactly exist. Reaching for one big folder, three thousand files later, I knew that as truth.
   The story material? Was real. Stored at the SOURCE, as well as in the cloned archives. Same as fucking usual. I just mixed the creation of a tale with the generation of a few images, and lost myself in the shuffle.
   Digital sigh.


*

The story I wrote was safe. Three minor blog-related pictures laughed at me. I know echoes of them laughed in my e-mail in-box, for the published blog is sent there as another form of archiving.


*

Same shit every fucking January. Throughout the year, files are saved, peacefully, and all is right with the world. Come year's end and year's start, there's this business of picking through bones in the fire, looking out for quirks, mistakes, and fucking stupid computer moves.


*

To my knowledge, that's the first time I violated the inviolable rule concerning archives. The archives are for dumping copies in, not for losing original files in.
   I could have fucked that up spectacularly. Luckily, I didn't screw anything around too badly. The potential was there.
   Lesson. The old one. Don't just archive. Check your archives.


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I'm going to leave out a detailed description of all the possible combinations of wrongness I waded through, in checking files.
   It isn't enough to count folders and files and think, when numbers tally, that the main vault and the archive copy somehow magically match.
   No. I checked file-creation times and data-sizes. Yes, it's a lot of fun and I recommend having a go. Mm.
   Haven't lost a file yet. Ditched plenty of files and folders that deserved to die. I killed them with fire, and citrus-sprayed the remains.


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The end? It never ends. The fun keeps funning. Even organising your files, regularly backing things up, a few items drift. Generally, drifting equals needless duplication of material.
   Better to have too many files than too few. All files are copied. Precaution is nicer than caution.
   As I sit here, the three troublesome items are duplicated. But they were automatically copied on blog publication, when the blog posts went to my e-mail.
   I didn't know, when my spider-sense tingled, what the problem was. Could have been Doctor Octopus, for all I knew. I thought a story went astray, and not a mere three images.
   The creation of three wayward files represented the evil tip of a satanic iceberg. That's the awkward lumbering point I faced. Real or imagined, the iceberg was checked. Coffee featured heavily in my plans.


*

There's not enough coffee in the world. After writing this blog post, I decided to REALLY check things. Conclusion? My archival vaults are part of a strange cosmic joke.
   These cloned files don't quite match up. Year on year, variations sneak in. My solution is to stagger march in there and standardise everything.
   Much of the information was in a standard format. But much is not all. I changed this thing one year and that thing the next. Only at a distance of several years, coffee to hand, do I detect the remains of the tangled path I walked.
   I may squeeze another blog post out of this. Or not.


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