The Importance of Being Earnest
Somebody who is described as “earnest” is generally thought to be very determined and purposeful. I have always been this way in some areas of my life but, recently, I had to learn a very hard lesson in “over-confidence” which has made me more earnest than ever.
The ever patient and forgiving folks at Focal Press (you know who you are!) recently had to come to terms with a little “mishap” that I had, the effects of which fell somewhere between “devastating” and “apocalyptic”. It has completely changed my attitude towards my daily work routine and is something that almost cost me dearly. The event in question was a hard drive failure.
I was literally just days away from submitting my manuscript to Focal Press when my laptop unexpectedly crashed on me. Whilst this was annoying it was certainly nothing new and I have, over the years, come to adopt an “oh well, it’s not worth getting upset about attitude” so I duly took a deep breath and restarted my laptop while I put the kettle on to make tea. A couple of minutes later I came back expecting my Windows logon screen to be there but there was just a blank screen and absolutely no noise at all, so I wondered if I had actually not pushed the “power” button fully. I tried again but, after a few seconds, I heard a strange “beeping” noise coming from the underneath of the laptop and still no hard drive noise or anything on the screen. At this point I started getting worried.
Half an hour later panic was starting to set in because after a number of different attempts and even removing the hard drive from my laptop and putting it in an external case to see if I could get it to work it seemed like my digital CPR wasn’t doing so well! And, of course, it was 5pm on a Sunday so there was nobody I could even take it to to get it checked out. No, I didn’t sleep well that night.
The next morning I took it to a local PC servicing company who put it in their “test rig” and very soon confirmed my worst suspicions: it was dead. Not “corrupted”, that I could have dealt with relatively easily, but dead, deceased and utterly bereft of life. So clearly this wasn’t good, but at least I could just go to my backups and get my manuscript back and have only lost a little work…right? Well you would hope so wouldn’t you… but the last backup that I had done was six months earlier and, you guessed it, was stored in a different partition on that hard drive! (Sometimes I miss floppy drives on laptops…but that’s a whole other story).
Now fast forward two months and we will see a (relatively) happy and smiley Simon because I actually managed to get about 95% of my data on the hard drive back but it involved sending the whole hard drive to Norway to a data recovery specialist who has a “clean room” to work in and who took the drive apart and somehow managed to work some magic and pretty much save my a**! Of course, they did me the honour of emptying several hundred pounds out of my bank account for the privilege but, to be honest, it was more than worth it.
But the whole point of the story is that, while you can never predict massive hardware failures, you can (very simply and very cheaply) take measures to ensure that when they happen (and don’t kid yourself, over the life of you owning a computer of some kind it almost certainly will) you are at least already in massive damage limitation mode. This turned out OK for me in the end, but I could have been writing a very different story for you right now… so don’t delay…backup today!!! And tomorrow. And pretty much any time you do anything of note on your computer. Am I perhaps being a little paranoid? I guess it’s possible…but do you want to risk it? I certainly don’t. Oh, and I will be backing this up just as soon as it’s finished too!
Simon Langford, author of The Remix Manual is a professional music producer and remixer, with close to ten years of experience. He has worked on over 300 remixes, and has had tracks of his own in the UK National Top 20 Singles Chart and the US Billboard Dance Chart. Simon has remixed artists including Rihanna, Robbie Williams, Sugababes, INXS, and many more. He has written a series of articles for Sound on Sound magazine on remixing.