Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Don't Give Me That Static by Andy Scheer

The past couple weeks, I've had some shocking incidents with my computer.

Colorado seldom has much humidity, and this winter has been dryer than usual. I try not to scuff across the carpet, but almost every time I first touch my keyboard, I feel the discharging static.

Usually my Assus EeePC takes it in stride. But three times it hasn't. The screen flashed to black, then asked if I wanted to restart Windows in safe mode.

I'm grateful that each time, the automatic file recovery has worked flawlessly. I haven't yet lost a word.

But I've sure had some scares. So I'll keep Open Office set to do an automatic save of files every five minutes. Whenever I break for lunch and at the end of the day, I'll continue to back up that day's files onto separate devices. And every so often when I'm working, my fingers reflexively type Ctrl + S.

Yet my work depends on a medium that's inherently fragile, more the realm of magic than mechanics. I think of these words by old-school journalist and writer John Dunning:

Unlike a computer, a great old manual typewriter is an honest machine. You do your work, it does its work. There's no sneaky nonsense, no hidden screens that pop up and won't go away, and at no time in my 35 years as a writer have I ever “lost” anything because I hit a certain key, failed to hold my mouse right, or sneezed at the wrong moment.

I'm not sure my fingers could standing the pounding of a full day at a manual typewriter. But maybe it wouldn't hurt to check Craigslist in case someone is trying to sell a Selectric. Or a humidifier.


Terry Burns said...

I know of what you say. My problem is my Brittany Spaniel - I have my feet up and he'll walk under me and give me a jolt, usually where my thumb is near the space bar. It hasn't affected the computer yet but it's coming. I usually get up and spray the carpet with some anti static stuff. Maybe I should be spraying the dog with it.

Meghan Carver said...

My hard drive crashed last week. I had all my writing saved on a flash drive and in my email account, but it did make me wish for that typewriter I used in college.

Davalyn Spencer said...

Rather than a big plastic slab as a carpet protector for my desk chair, I have an old sheep hide I bought years ago thinking I'd make a sheep-skin coat for my cowboy husband. Yeah, right. Anyway, I've never had a static issue. I wonder ...?

Linda Glaz said...

Just touch the wall next to it first, you shouldn't have a problem.

DenaNetherton said...

I'm getting better and better at being tech savvy. However, since I've "lost" some things to outer-cyerspace, I still print out my latest chapter and put it in a binder, just in case. Probably silly, since we back up all of our files. But it makes me feel safer.

Rick Barry said...

I've finally joined the Dropbox crowd. By storing my WIP off-site in Dropbox, I can access it anywhere I can access the Internet, and even if a meteor crash takes out my whole house, the manuscript is still safe. (Although, if a meteor strike flattens my home, chances are I won't be concerned about my novel anymore!)