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It's not often that I'll get up on my metaphorical soap box - not publicly anyway - however lately I've been seeing a lot of something on FA, dA, several forums, and most recently the very office where I work, which has started to get to me...Simply because it seems so massively widespread.

If this sounds harsh - I apologise, it's not intended to, nor am I pointing a finger at any one person - if someone reads this and then thinks "That's a good point..." and does something about it, I've achieved my goal.  It's a bit of a ramble as my journals tend to be I'm afraid.

Something I seem to have been seeing everywhere lately is the following:

Posts from people who have recently suffered computer problems and are now facing the problem that they've lost "x" years of work as a result.  Not some documents, not a few days, weeks or anything - but EVERYTHING.  The surprising thing here is that we're not just talking about the likes of me who does the odd scribble - we're talking in some cases well known artists, people writing Very Important (TM) reports for their work, people writing university theses and the like.

Backups.  They are your friend, people.

So...If your computer died tomorrow rendering all data on it irretrievable - what would you lose?  Are you prepared?

I learned the hard way a few years ago that the "oh, it'll never happen to me" mentality can come back to bite you when it did just that.  Windows XP fell over in the middle of installing a service pack and made a right royal mess of the file allocation table on the harddrive.  I did have backups of most things, but they were by no means comprehensive, and while I did manage to get quite a bit back off the drive (not before spending the best part of $100 on data recovery sofware and then sinking several tens of hours into the recovery process), there were quite a few things - most notably digital photographs, which were lost forever.  Only a few months after that, I had problems again when a harddrive - I might add one that was less than a year old - failed with virtually no warning.  Luckily on that occasion I did have enough warning to copy everything off it.

That was the point where I realised that spending the money on the resources to carry out proper, regular backups was no less essential than spending the money on the replacement for the dead main harddrive in the PC was in itself.  So much of our lives only exists electronically these days that keeping it backed up properly simply is not optional.

If (and I sincerely hope it doesn't!) my PC were to fall over an die now, I would lose anything saved since about 21:00 on Sunday.  A double backup is taken twice weekly.  Once on Wednesday evening and once on Sunday evening.  This consists of a copy of my /home folder (which has subfolders in which contain all my junk) on two other drives being syncronised with the local one on my main harddrive.  

No archives, nothing like that.  The majority of the "space" on here is actually taken up with JPEG images, MP3s and videos...all things which don't compress well, so that would just slow the whole process down.  Let's be honest as well - storage space these days is so cheap per gigabyte (or terabyte for that matter!) that it's really not worth it.

I will confess to having my life made far easier by a Linux program called Rsync (and its Gnome based graphical front end, GRsync) which resides in the standard repositories I believe if you're a Ubuntu user.  This is what allows me to syncronise these folders - and it IS a proper sync - it scans through and only copies things which have changed, rather than copying everything.  This cuts the time involved in my backup process down from "a few hours" to about ten minutes.  A Windows version of this software does exist now it appears - at first glance though it looks rather more complex a program than the Linux version!  The simplicity of this thing is what I like - my whole backup process involves about five button clicks.  Windows developers...take note!

I implore of you...please, before it's too late, if you don't have a proper backup process in place, please fix it.  

I know from personal experience what a heart wrenching feeling it is to realise that you've lost things you've created from scratch, or to lose memories like photographs.  I really, really don't want to see anyone else going through that.  Especially when storage these days is so cheap, and all of the tools to safeguard all of these things quickly and (relatively) easily exist.

Trust me, doing the backup is easier than picking up the pieces.
  • Listening to: John Powell - Coming Back Around
Figured it was about time that I actually put something up here...As I'm having one of those evenings where my thoughts are actually staying on more or less one track for a change, figured this was a good time for it.

Lately I've really wanted to get back into the habit of drawing and/or writing again.  My other hobbies have been basically halted due to a lack of space - and I'd like to actually start doing something with the little bits of spare time that I occasionally find that I have.

A few years back - more years than I'd care to admit - I wrote a novel, in the space of only a few months.  It was terribly badly written, in many places you could see clear as day where my brain had taken chunks of things from what I'd read/watched recently and just used it in its raw form; the characters had two dimensions for the most part at best; and we're not even going to start on the timeline.  Still, it wasn't started with the intention of it being a novel - I just had these ideas in my head, and they demanded to be put on paper - initially it predated my having a computer, so it was in paper form only, in the back pages of an English class notebook actually - as it started out as a classtime creative writing assignment which then spiralled out of control!

I was around 14 at the time, so it being less than a polished product was forgivable I think!  The end product was a far from finished 100 odd page (A4 pages of 10pt Times New Roman!) stream of consciousness.

I also used to doodle a lot, haven't done that in forever...

Was 1999 that I started the novel I mentioned above...and I've not managed to get anything more than a few paragraphs down on paper since...One of the things I'd really like to do would be to rewrite it - but with 11 years worth of extra grasp of the English language - and a plan of action.  I actually know roughly what I want the plot to do, who I want the various characters to be etc.  Figure that with at least a loose framework there's some chance of there being something resembling continuity this time!

However I'm finding it all but impossible to actually get going on anything.  While every now and then, especially if I've just seen a good movie or been reading a good book, have these bursts of "oh my god, I really need to write something!" - they never seem to last long enough to actually do so - usually ending up with me a couple of hours later, hands poised over the keyboard and a sad, clueless expression on my face as I realise that while the willpower is there - the inspiration isn't.

It's a bit of a shot in the dark - but can anyone give me any tips on trying to get past this ten year long bout of writer's and artist's block?
  • Listening to: James Horner - The Destruction of Hometree
  • Reading: This post for about the third time
  • Watching: My blinking cursor as I type this
  • Drinking: Irn-Bru