Locking the Barn Door After the Horse is Out

Here’s a glimpse into the kinds of things that are happening in Carl’s and Fran’s world…

  • We’ve issued fraud warnings with the credit bureaus, closed Fran’s checking account, and placed warnings on my and Rhiannon’s accounts (because the thief got our information due to my doing the taxes with TurboTax, and also helped himself to four books of Fran’s checks);
  • We are shopping for a safe.
  • We are shopping for a home security system.
  • We’ve signed up for .Mac so that we can use its web-based backup feature.
  • We’re setting up a professional account with Flickr so that we can archive Fran’s photos (the ones that we still have, thanks to having them archived on CDs; we realize that CDs are vulnerable to a fire, so we want a more secure way to archive them.
  • From here on out, we will be scanning receipts and barcodes of new major purchases and archiving the PDFs of those items on iDisk; we’ll also be meticulous in saving receipts with owner’s manuals (let’s just say that up until now we have been very casual — read: disorganized — about this kind of thing).

Fran and I are aging hippies. Up to now we have gone through life with a rather smug sense of pride that we were not so gripped in the jaws of materialism that we had to armor ourselves with a safe, alarm system, etc. etc. Well, that pride now has been painfully purged away.

I’m writing all this not just to beat the breast of my own shame, but to shout out loud and clear: we suggest that you lock your barn before your horse gets out. I spoke with Linda, my agent, yesterday, and she said she would be telling my story to all her other authors — especially about having an offsite backup — because I’m living proof that an author’s worse nightmare really can come to call. Thankfully, I was in the habit of emailing files I was working on to myself at work, using Gmail: so my loss is by no means complete. But I’ve lost a lot of my most recent work, and I have the hassle factor of going through Gmail, downloading the various files (often the same file in different permutations) and piecing it all together. Kind of a literary archeological dig.

So do your backups my friends — and don’t just use a memory stick, which is what I was doing (and which like a fool I left plugged into my computer Friday morning, and now it’s gone). Do it. Every day. To an online destination.

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  • Andre Powell

    Carl:

    My heart goes out to you and your family for your losses. No one who hasn’t gone through such a loss can relate completely. Recently, I inadvertently left my brief case and laptop in the car as I ran into my house to make an urgent phone call. One thing drove out another, and I forgot they were still in the car by the time I went to bed. Needless to say the next day they were gone, a trail of broken car-window glass in their wake.

    My brief case had all my professional papers in it: credentials, professional growth hours logs, personal student info and various addresses and data. My laptop had all my writing and manuscripts on it. The computer bag had all my jump-drives and one external drive with back ups on them. Luckily I’d had a computer crash some years ago and had learned a hard lesson about backing up, so I had others in the house on the main PC and as CDs. Thus, most, BUT not all, of my writing was saved.

    I did exactly as you have proceeded: fraud warnings, credit checks, home security. I haven’t looked into the online back ups, and the scanned receipts is a great idea, but with your story pouring lemon juice into the paper cut, I am looking into it now and will start scanning majors. Though most of it was my fault due to my own forgetfulness…if one does not want to be a victim, one should not act like a victim…I too felt it wouldn’t happen to me. We had just moved into a “nice neighborhood” after living on the VERY rough side of town for 20+ years and felt safe…too safe it seems.

    Thanks for posting your experience. I hope others avail themselves of its advice before it happens to them and they have to refill the empty stalls.

    Yours Aye,
    Andre’

    P.S. At the risk of sounding dramatic, the sense of violation and anxiousness will eventually subside and become more manageable, unfortunately it will never completely go away.