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November 2, 2003

Hardware failure.
Posted by Patrick at 04:11 PM *

Patrick writing here, not Teresa. We’ve been at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington, DC. It’s been a good weekend, with one exception: overnight, while powered up and connected to my iBook, Teresa’s external FireWire drive, her main personal mass-storage device, suffered some kind of catastrophic failure. While there are backups, naturally they’re neither as complete nor as recent as one would prefer. As a result, while we won’t know exactly until we get home, it’s very likely that Teresa has lost all of her email from the last several weeks—possibly longer—and quite a bit of other recordkeeping and work.

Hardware techie Jordin Kare did pry the drive out of the case in order to check whether the IDE-to-FireWire bridge was at fault. This doesn’t appear to be the case; in fact, all the signs point to the worst sort of random disk crash, the sort where the drive clicks repeatedly while trying to power itself up. As best as I can tell, some or all of the data might be recoverable at a cost we probably can’t afford. When we get home, first I’m going to buy her a new drive, second I’m going to restore as much as I can from various old backups, and third I’m going to figure out what we can afford in terms of easy home backup systems. Then I hope to put some energy into inquiring in detail as to whether there’s any hope of prying data off of the crashed drive. To this end Teresa and I may be appealing to our many readers who know much more about hardware than we ever will.

To say that Teresa is upset about all this is an understatement. Jordin said a good thing: “I’ve known people who’ve suffered this level of data loss and life does go on, although it feels for a while like it won’t.” Teresa will be back here to post when she has the heart to do so.

Comments on Hardware failure.:
#1 ::: Mike Scott ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 04:33 PM:

Have you by any chance recently installed Panther on the iBook? The net is full of reports of Panther corrupting external Firewire drives.

#2 ::: qB ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 05:05 PM:

I'm so terribly sorry. There are some lovely crystals to look at here, if that would help soothe the pain.

#3 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 05:11 PM:


The cheap, simple solution is _two_ external firewire drives, really, so one can be the backup at any given time. (That many CDs are impossible and tape drives are awkward and expensive.)

Having said that, I've set this up for a friend and the drives involved failed within hours of each other, considered in terms of operating hours; just got the backup off the second one before it, too, died, and the first one died just before the backup script would have copied a pile of newly transfered and otherwise unreplaceable stuff off it.

Sometimes one just gets whacked in the shins by the hardware gods.

#4 ::: Claire ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 05:11 PM:

Oh guys I am so sorry. Good luck in getting back as much data as you can.

#5 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 05:38 PM:

I'm sort of a big technical dopehead, so I'm wondering if you already tried to mount it through Norton?

This sucks. I'm sorry.

#7 ::: Alan Hamilton ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 05:56 PM:

Unfortunately, the internal clicking sound is almost always a mechanical failure in the hard drive. The click is it trying to realign its heads, hoping for a better read. But if it keeps clicking, it's not succeeding.

The typical data recovery for this is taking the platters out of the drive and putting them into a different mechanism. Yes, this is expensive.

The "keep two drives" scheme is probably the easiest and cheapest way of backing up. I have a Linux box at my house with some big hard drives on it, and I back up my other systems to it. If the Linux server fails, I'll just recreate the backups from the originals. I realize this isn't completely foolproof, as something that hits both (like the house burning down) will take them both out. However, it does insure against the all-too-common hard drive failures.

#8 ::: BethB ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 06:13 PM:

Hugs and sympathy.

#9 ::: Seth ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 06:24 PM:

That's terrible. Condolences, and hopes that you'll be able to recover as much data as possible.

#10 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 07:03 PM:

Ouch. Been there, done that, hurts like a son of a bitch. Recently, in fact-- had been down for a while, and we're still limping back up.

FWIW, the Malibu list has archives she can get, lest she fall behind on miscellaneous minutiae...

#11 ::: Rachael HD ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 07:27 PM:

So sorry. Good luck in the recovery.

#12 ::: language hat ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 07:44 PM:

That's awful. Treat yourselves to something nice and give yourselves time to get over it.

#13 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 07:45 PM:

Sympathy and best wishes - obviously in better hands than mine hardware wise - considering that priorities may be reset when it actually happens I might consider not 2 drives but 1 or even 2 cages for swapping out (possibly laptop) drives.

At home I use a Maxtor - (nominal decimal 200 gig formatted at 189 gig binary with NTFS) with Firewire and USB 2 both - for extra storage off my docking station - but I don't kid myself it is ruggedized for travel in addition to everything else. IBM no doubt among others is IIRC offering some drives ruggedized for travel.

I wouldn't knock the Plextor 708UF external firewire DVD all formats and CD too recorder for traveling either.

#14 ::: Pamela Dean ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 07:49 PM:

I'm awfully sorry. That kind of thing has some of the emotional resonances of a house fire, sans the risk to life and limb, but sans insurance as well.


#15 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 07:49 PM:

I'm sure that Jordan would have suggested it, but you should check with DriveSavers -- they aren't free but I have seem them do amazing things.

My condolences -- it has happened to me.

#16 ::: Danny Yee ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 07:51 PM:

This kind of thing sucks bigtime; I hope you get over it soon.

One of my users wanted to mirror two external drives on his Mac, so I automated an rsync to do that daily, whenever both drives were connected. That's a short shell script run out of cron. For an easier to use front-end, this might be useful (I haven't tried it yet).

Just remember that while mirroring will save you from disk failures, it won't help you if you acidentally delete something and don't notice till the mirror is overwritten, or if data becomes invisibly corrupt. You still need to do backups to tape or CD every so often.

#17 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 08:01 PM:

Sympathetic shivers. I was burgled three years ago - the toerag who did it stole my laptop. Fortunately - I have no idea what hardware god was smiling on me - I had recently done a backup (my first in months) and I lost only a few days worth of work.

#18 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 08:20 PM:

Already mentioned but to save a few minutes:

Apple has identified an issue with external FireWire hard drives using the Oxford 922 bridge chip-set with firmware version 1.02 that can result in the loss of data stored on the disk drive. Apple is working with Oxford Semiconductor and affected drive manufacturers to resolve this issue which resides in the Oxford 922 chip-set.

In the interim, Apple recommends that you do not use these drives. To stop using the drive, you should unmount or eject the disk drive before doing anything else. Please check this web page for further updates.

#19 ::: Laurel Amberdine ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 08:20 PM:

Ugh, I hate computer failures. It's like suddenly going dumb and deaf in the middle of a really good conversation, while losing all your notes.

My only assurance against data loss is to never have anything worth keeping, but I realize for most people this isn't reasonable.

Hope the data can somehow be recovered. Good luck.

#20 ::: spacewaitress ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 08:29 PM:

My only assurance against data loss is to never have anything worth keeping

Heh. That's mine, too.

#21 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 08:59 PM:

Taking the platters out and putting them back in isn't as difficult as it sounds.

Years back I had a computer problem and was given the (bad, in this case) advice that my hard drive had developed "stickage" and was told how to open it up, spin the platten around, and put it back together.

Unfortunately, the true problem was that my CMOS battery had died, and in trying to fix the stickage, I had inadvertently caused it. Once that hard drive warmed up (ran for more than two minutes) it developed the "stickage" and couldn't read the data. However, in the minute and a half before this, I could read the data.

The computer was dubbed The Titanic, and if I needed any crucial files, I turned it on and loaded them onto floppy disks. This was done in DOS.

Long and the short of it, this may be the same trouble with Teresa's drive. If you know the name of the mail files, by use of a DOS boot disk and some quick copying, you may be able to get the files off before the platten warms up enough for the metal to expand and cause the stickage problem.

You might also try leaving the laptop somewhere like a cold garage overnight before turning it on, so the cold will contract the platten and allow it to spin better.

#22 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 09:07 PM:

If the computer's an iBook, then the drive probably isn't FW800, so it probably isn't the Panther problem, and rather a regular case of terminal disk gremlins.

(iBooks only recently got FW800 support, and there probably would have been a blog mention of the acquisition of a gleaming new firebreathing G4 iBook. If it's an older iBook, there'd be no point shelling out for an FW800 drive instead of a regular FW400 drive. I could, of course, be wrong.)

For what it's worth, I've had no problems with Panther and my own external firewire drives (FW400).

#23 ::: clark e myers ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 09:30 PM:

Not going to diagnose anything not in my hands and better men than I (or at least better poets and singers/filkers) have had their hands on it.

Off Topic However quote: "One storage vendor, WiebeTech LLC issued a firmware updater to address the issue on Friday. According to CEO James Wiebe in a prepared statement, the problem usually cropped up with older, slower Macs running the new software and when a FireWire 800 drive is connected to a FireWire 400 port....The company "strongly recommends" that its FireWire 800 products not be mounted with a machine running the Panther OS, even to update the firmware" I like that word usually.

On the other hand, I myself would take seriously the admonition to stop now meaning now as opposed to continuing until convenient to stop while continuing to pull any data off using the suspect configuration.

I think I will be buying an external case which external case will accept laptop drives and 2 laptop drives for travel as a good combination of space and ruggedness rather than mirror 2 external drives on the road. Given a highspeed connection I like to image daily to a company server when that's an option for configuration control and recovery to a standard configuration laptop - none of which applies here.

Nor do I have any friends with a useful cleanroom setup. IIRC correctly Alex Pournelle had some connections to data recovery as a business but he doesn't owe me any favors. Maybe somebody does have a useful industry connection. I don't.

#24 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 09:52 PM:

If you're looking at actual data recovery, these guys are good, and don't charge you for the discovery phase if you decide you don't want the full recovery performed. You're unlikely to get away for under 500 CDN, though, and it can go considerably higher.

#25 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 09:55 PM:

Oi. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your data. I know I'd be pretty upset if I lost all my work and files....Best of luck recovering the information.

#26 ::: Menolly ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 10:49 PM:

Found somewhere, and copied on to my PDA:

It's painful when a special piece of data leaves the magnetic plane: an irreplaceable database without even partial hardcopy records; the first pornographic file you downloaded off the internet; a Star Trek simulator that invoked nostalgia for your teenaged years.

System crashes are part of life - there's no Saving without Deleting. Old data passes on, leaving free sectors for new data to frolic on. It doesn't make it less painful, though - all wisdom seems hollow in the face of a loss this profound.

Some people go through a denial stage, followed by frantic attempts at undeleting and recovery. When that doesn't work, many have deep felt feelings of regret, moaning bitterly about backups that should have happened and hardcopies that could have been made.

No, the new data will not be the same. But day by day your computer will accumulate more and more data - the sound of a whirring hard drive will once again be heard. Data flows in, data flows out, it's the way of the world. There's no one to blame. And if there were, the help line would be eternally busy.

-- Jim Munroe

Alas, I recorded the author, but not the source. It was a magazine, maybe AdBusters?

#27 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 11:23 PM:

I'll leave it to others to put odds on the mechanical-versus-software-failure issue. However, my first reaction in such cases is always to run Alsoft's miraculous DiskWarrior and see what happens. In my years as a Mac techie, I saw DW recover drives we never thought would rise again. Norton can't hold a candle to this thing.

Hell, if you are in the mood to accept offers of free help from random strangers I'd be happy to swing by your offices on my lunch break and give it a whirl.

#28 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 02, 2003, 11:44 PM:

Oh dear. Sincerest condolences, Teresa.


#29 ::: SLViehl ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 04:52 AM:

I can personally recommend DriveSavers. They recovered 100% of the data from my hard drive after the exact same type of failure, and they did it in five days. It is expensive ($1900 for my meltdown) but when you're faced with losing eight years of correspondence, notes, reserach, and retyping 28 novels from hand written legal pads, money pales in comparison.

Contact info:
400 Bel Marin Keys Blvd.
Novato, CA 94949
(800) 440-1904 Phone
(415) 382-2000
(415) 883-0780 Fax

Whatever you decide to do, good luck.

#30 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 07:25 AM:

Condolences -- been there, done that.

I can't recommend a data recovery outfit, but I can burble on for a bit about my backup strategy ...

First: you need to identify the data that you really, truly need to back up. This does not include the operating system, or software you use (unless there are specially written scripts). But if you're using an iBook or similar, as a writer or editor, it does include anything you've written, or your partner has written, or anything irreplaceable that someone else has emailed you and might not have a copy of, or your email folders. Stuff that you can't buy in a shrink-wrap from a vendor, in other words.

(Yes, I know that's stating the obvious. Bear with me?)

In my case, it turns out that the preserve-at-all-costs data is quite small -- about 2Gb of personal files (that's fifteen years' worth of output, including things like screen shots for magazine articles to bulk it up), 900Mb of email folders, and maybe 1Gb of miscellaneous kipple on top of it.

Secondly: you can use an external hard drive, or an external computer to back this stuff up. The UNIX command-line tool rsync is excellent for this purpose -- it can run locally or across a network, and only copies new files, or changes within files, across from the source to the destination. Because it's parsimonious it runs fast; it typically takes me 7-8 minutes to do a raw copy on a 2Gb directory tree to a firewire disk from my iBook, but under 30 seconds to use rsync to freshen up an existing backup image.

Frequent is good. Because rsync takes so little time, I can do it frequently. As in: every day, after I finish editing a file (I don't bother if I'm not actually working), I run a shell script that uses rsync to freshen the Documents directory on my #2 laptop (i.e. the last one I bought, which I keep basically as a hot spare). I also use rsync to freshen a document tree on my iPod. It's a 20Gb iPod, and stores about 15Gb of music and 4Gb of vital backups. Because I use it as a walkman it goes out of the house with me. If the house burns down, all I need is a second-hand iMac and I can be back in business with all my data.

I also back up to an old Linux box about once a month. Belt and braces. (What if all these Macs stopped working simultaneously because of a weird operating system bug?)

I rent a colocated server. Early next year I'm renting a newer one -- with a bigger disk. The bigger disk will allow me to start hosting an offsite backup 400 miles away. So my flat could burn down and I could lose the iPod and I'd still have my data.

I am not too worried about data recovery from incidents that kill me, such as a thermonuclear war, but as long as I'm alive I want to get my hands on my data. Which means: make backups easy and fast, and back up often, to a variety of media.

#31 ::: Edward Liu ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 09:10 AM:


If you don't already know about them, Tekserve on 23rd St. in Manhattan ( for directions and services listings) is also very good about recovering data on seemingly lost hard drives, and they specialize in serving the Mac community of New York City.

When my brother was in China, he found mold growing on his PowerBook (as well as nearly everything else) due to an unfortunate mis-communication with the cleaning staff. Tekserve managed to recover the lion's share of his data and replaced his drive with a bigger one for a pretty reasonable price when he got back stateside.

Oddly enough, his wife's Windows laptop was one of the only items in their apartment which was mold-free, proving that even mold won't touch Windows.

-- Ed

#32 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 09:57 AM:

Condolences, Teresa. As someone who has saved all her e-mail since 1996, among other things, just imagining this kind of data loss gives me waking nightmares.

#33 ::: Cryptic Ned ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 10:09 AM:

To this end Teresa and I may be appealing to our many readers who know much more about hardware than we ever will.

I can assure you that you are appealing to all your readers.

#34 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 10:11 AM:

The kind of scripting Charlie is talking about (if you want something to be really reliably frequent) can be a bit intimidating to undertake from scratch. (At least, I find it a lot like wrestling with two octopuses and a squid, and that may well mean other people do, too.)

There's a fellow done most of the work already, if you don't have an allergy to Perl.

It's called flexbackup and I find it very useful. It supports direct copy (and rsync) as well as compressed archives in a variety of formats.

#35 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2003, 06:12 PM:

I'm very sorry about this, Teresa. I had a hard disk crash in April, and discovered (long story short) that while I thought I had complete backups, it turned out that huge portions of my data was not backed up.

As it turned out, most of that data wasn't really important. I lost some important stuff, but not much, not really. I hope your situation has a similar outcome.

I do recommend redundant backups, one offsite, over the Internet, into a highly secure datacenter. I use a services called Connected online backup for my offsite backup, every night at about 3 am it sweeps my entire hard disk for changed files, bundles it all up, encrypts it, and uploads the package to the Connected datacenter over the Internet. Doesn't take much time at all -- even when I'm traveling and using a dial-up connection. Unfortunately, Connected doesn't seem to support Macs.

My other backup is an external hard drive.

For any Windows users out there, I've been playing with software called Karen's Replicator for my local backup, it seems to work quite well and it's free.

#36 ::: Jim Flannery ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2003, 06:51 PM:

Some additional information from yesterday's Tidbits:

"If you were unfortunate and did lose data to this problem, there's at least some hope of recovering your critical data. We've heard from several sources that Prosoft Engineering's Data Rescue X has had some success in recovering files, sometimes after erasing the disk with Disk Utility (which just clears the directory, scary as that seems). Jay Nelson at Design Tools Monthly also tells us that Prosoft is offering $10 off to people suffering data loss due to Panther; use code PAN911 when ordering.

"Alternatively, our friends at DriveSavers tell us they've been successful in recovering data from drives that experienced this problem. Better still, DriveSavers is offering a discount to customers who have lost data as a result of the specific Panther and FireWire 800 issue. If you plan to send your drive in to DriveSavers or a similar company, _do_not_ attempt to restore data using disk utilities; that could exacerbate the problem and make it less likely that your critical data will be recovered. (I can personally recommend DriveSavers, which once helped me recover a failed hard disk; see "DriveSavers to the Rescue" in TidBITS-495_)."

They also note that this has bitten some folks with Firewire 400 drives with the Oxford 911 chipset.

Good luck.

#37 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2003, 06:25 PM:

I'm lazy, and didn't read all the latest in this thread, but yesterday Apple posted a message for FW 800 disk users. There's an issue in the Oxford 911 chipset (whatever that means).

Your drive may just need new firmware. The message, with links, is here.

#38 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2003, 08:18 PM:

Everyone is being so kind. Thank you all.

Hamletta, I'd like to hope so, but Jordin says it shows all the signs of a hardware failure. Not only do I trust Jordin, but if he were charging, I couldn't afford him. (Come to think of it, I can't afford most of my friends. Good thing they like me.)

Mitch, do I remember you writing about that data loss? I think I do. Something about your backup system not actually backing up, which you only discovered when you needed to restore the data? Seriously lamentable.

I like the idea of backing up to a distant site. The last year I worked on Minicon programming, Erik Olson and I were doing the last round of changes and adjustments in one mammoth chat session. Just as we were finishing, Erik suddenly popped up with "whoops, tornado, radar shows it on my side of the river --" and vanished. I thought he'd gone to Oz, accompanied by the only extant copy of the Minicon program. Later he reappeared, sounding chipper, and explained that his "save" routine includes sending his data to a university site miles and miles from his home.

Kate, I save all my e-mail, and hardcopy mail as well. I hate losing any of it. I feel for people like Doyle and Macdonald, who lost all their early computing records -- years and years of stuff, including all their early fiction -- to tropical insects.

Edward, we know Tekserve very well. They're just a couple of blocks down the street from us. They peeled what data they could off my storage medium in the wake of my data disaster before last, and have fixed various other glitches. I haven't been there since they moved into the new offices, but I always thought the old offices were perfect. You could sit there in the porch swing, drink one of the ten-ounce ten-cent bottles of Coke out of the vending machine, and watch The Way Things Go play on infinite loop: very soothing, very Mac-ish, just the thing when you're feeling the acute anxiety of an ailing computer.

Charlie, I know exactly what I want: My mail. After that, my drafts and my research. Then, Patrick's recordings. Everything else is follows after.

Andrew, would you really be willing to have a look at the poor sick pup? It's at home in Brooklyn, but we could bring it into the office with us.

Menolly, that's an oddly profound piece. Data isn't just data. Data is us. But the world does go on, and new data takes the place of the old.

Graydon, I like the fact that those guys don't charge for the discovery phase, and it helps that they have so many locations -- getting stuff back and forth over the border is always a pain -- but I'll have to wait and see on those recovery charges.

Clark, I'd known Alex Pournelle was in the data recovery business years ago, but not whether he was still doing it. In any event, neither he nor his owe me any favors.

Kevin, we tried the fridge thing, but it didn't work. I'm not sure my computer even speaks DOS. It's a big G3 Power Mac.

Yonmei, Tor's old offices were burgled at one point by a malfeasant or malfeasants who stole the Managing Editorial Macintosh and its screen -- but left the hard drive behind.

Danny, we're looking at mirror drives, but I'm also going to burn the lot of it to CDs, because you never know. Maybe two sets of CDs, or three. And in the meantime I've exported my entire Making Light and Particles archives from MT, because you never know what's going to happen.

Alan, "Unfortunately, the internal clicking sound is almost always a mechanical failure in the hard drive. The click is it trying to realign its heads, hoping for a better read. But if it keeps clicking, it's not succeeding. ... The typical data recovery for this is taking the platters out of the drive and putting them into a different mechanism. Yes, this is expensive." is almost word for word what Jordin said. I take it you guys wind up explaining this a lot?

qB, thanks for the crystals. They are indeed consoling. Right after I got the news about my hard drive, Mary Kay Kare and I went as planned to visit the Sackler and Freer galleries. We got done an hour earlier than expected, so we went across the Mall to the natural history museum to look at the mineral specimens. One of the things on my hard drive was a large collection of mineral images from the web, saved for my own amusement only. Many of them were from the Smithsonian's collection. Poor Mary Kay had to listen over and over again to me gleefully identifying some rock as the exact one I had a picture of -- then swearing a blue streak as I remembered that I didn't have it any more.

#39 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2003, 09:00 PM:

Action Front isn't cheap, but they also have a wall (in their Toronto office) covered with thank you notes from airliner crash investigations, lawyers whose malicious secretarial temps ran format c: when not hired full time, large corporations whose RAID boxes gacked the Friday before a Monday product release, and so forth.

Plus clean rooms and some truely serious geeks.

#40 ::: Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2003, 08:11 AM:

Yes, I really would. Check your email.

#41 ::: BW ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2003, 03:52 AM:

This might be something some folks use a typewriter and then enter your data into the computer.
Typewriters do not crash, they do not need upgrades(except a new ribbon)and are much more reliable than any computer ever made.

I would never think of putting original material on a computer. Best of luck in recovering your material.

A devotee of the typewriter.

#42 ::: S Lynn ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2003, 06:14 AM:

My whole iMac went blooey in August with a manuscript a month away from submitting on it (thank god for backups but they don't really help when there's not hardware to do the stuff on in the house) so I know EXACTLY where you're at right now, especially the part about the PayPal button; since people were so generous to me that I ended up with $$ above and beyond my needs, I've just PayPal'ed a bit of that $$ along to you -- since it's for a fellow Mac, and all! :) (I started a site to help Macs in distress, as well: Griff's Kids is a place to post calls-for-help like this, for future reference...)

#43 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2003, 08:54 AM:

BW -

Typewriters have two very serious drawbacks.

Firstly, they can't run vi, and if I don't have vi my productivity plummets.

Secondly, they don't provide for trivial replication. If I have to re-type my manuscript, it eats heaps and bunches of time which (I think) is much better spent on better things.

Compared to those two things, spell checking, multiple output format tool chains, and emailing for comment are but fripperies.

#45 ::: Lee Hauser ::: (view all by) ::: November 08, 2003, 11:50 AM:

Oooh, I hurt for you. But I do have a suggestion for future email protection -- find a provider who hosts an IMAP server (such as, with whom I'm very happy). I don't know which Mac mail clients support IMAP, but its versatility can be a lifesaver. You can get mail locally through the client, but leave it online for permanent storage and view it over the web as well. I zip up my novel chapters now and then and email them to myself there. The monthly cost for a lot of email storage is quite reasonable. It's the best way I've found of having my cake and eating it, too.

#46 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: November 12, 2003, 01:30 PM:

Teresa, yes you remember correctly - I did discover that my backup provider, Connected, was not actually backing everything up. However, I think it was my fault - I think I'd configured things incorrectly, which is why I'm cointinuing to use Connected - and also why I'm now doing redundant backups.

#47 ::: Dan Blum sees vast quantites of spam ::: (view all by) ::: October 29, 2004, 07:29 PM:

Here, there, and just about every old thread, looks like.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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