When It’s Gone…

You don't know what you've got til it's gone.

It's a well known phrase made popular in a musical lament, triggered by the slamming of a door and the departure of a big yellow taxi. I didn't need a taxi to remind  me of how much I take things for granted - just the demise of my smart phone.

Regular readers will know of my love/hate/frustrated relationship with technology. I'm mostly old-school. Much of my writing starts in handwritten form. I love interesting and beautiful note books and enjoy filling them with new stories. I prefer to draw with pencil and nib pen over digital work on the computer and I still prefer to watch television or DVDs over streaming (well, that's not that low tech but makes me a dinosaur in the modern world of streaming and on-demand internet viewing). I need to touch an item, feel it in my hands and interact with it.

I'm not totally inarticulate when it comes to technology. I'm learning and, though sometimes it's a struggle (and frustrating to my Dearheart who works in IT), I use technology to edit videos, design covers, format my own books, do research (huzzah for access to far flung libraries and museums), communicate via social media and write my blog. It's been a slow process, but I inch forward.

I must admit I've grown accustomed to the convenience and speed of the digital age. I let my guard down.

And got a bit slack.

It was Thursday. Sun was shining. I was taking it easy, as I was recovering from gastro, and checking my social media accounts on my smart phone. One of the apps was acting a bit screwy so I did what I had been told previously by the phone tech - I restarted it.

Except it didn't, restart that is.

After a few minutes of furiously pushing buttons, I looked up the manufacturers webpage and asked: How do I restart my phone when it won't turn on? I followed the instructions, and pressed the reset button. A faint buzz gave only short relief. The screen remained dark. No flashing lights. No familiar tune to accompany the hoped start up.

I tried a two minute reset and plugged the phone in to charge, as instructed. While I waited, I downloaded the official back up program, plugged in the phone into the USB port on the computer and crossed my fingers. A sharp bing on the computer advised me that the computer could not find my device.  Certain words wafted through the house.

I rang my provider. Perhaps they had some words of wisdom for the technically un-inclined and very much frustrated? The helpful young man talked me through his book of fixes - a repeat of the processes I had just performed.

You guessed it. They didn't work second time round either. I was advised I would have to bring the phone into the store. Their techies would need to work their magic. But - they stressed - a reset would wipe anything on the phone itself, so I should back up the information.

Um... not happening. My computer refuses to play ball.

Did I have my photos/videos (etc) on the SD card?

It didn't automatically do that?

No.

Well, I'm screwed then. (Dang, dang, dang, dang, and dang!)

I now have a loan phone - sans the following:

  • calendar appointments
  • photos not transferred to computer (I should have used my SLR!)
  • videos (see above)
  • recordings of talks, events (again, many not transferred) and notes for stories (next time I'll try not to be so clever and I will write them in one of my many notebooks strewed around the house and in my handbag)

I can hear the thunder of head slaps from the more tech-savvy readers: What! Didn't you back them up?

(Insert heavy sigh and shaking of head here.)

I shall learn from my mistakes: Back up. Back up. Back up.

Yesterday I backed up my stories onto not one, not two, but three USB sticks -  just in case the computer decides to go on holiday as well. There is no way I am losing all that hard work. I'm trying to recreate notes, checking appointment dates and requesting friends and contacts send me their details. Then I shall back them all up - digitally and on paper.

This entire episode reminds me of how much I (and we) rely on technology. I do have a (paper) address book but unfortunately I've been rather slack in adding new contacts to its pages. I still put some appointments on the family calendar (a steampunk version hanging on the wall). I'll be more diligent in this from now on.

Yes, this is a first world problem to be sure. It only serves to reinforce my wariness of technology, and curse the extra time spent (time I am still assured it should save me) to ensure it does not negatively impact my life. At times like this I feel empathy for those facing the dawn of the twentieth century, experiencing new (albeit low tech compared to our gadgets) technologies and struggling with the changes wrought in the name of progress.

Perhaps that is why I love writing steampunk?