Urgent Request For Back-Up!

The last two months have reminded me of how fickle technology can be.  Right now, I can exchange messages with someone halfway across the world, I can publish my thoughts and feelings for everyone to read at the push of a button and I can research just about anything in seconds.  But technology does have its failures.  Anyone who has done an office job that involves use of a photocopier knows that the blasted things break down on at least a weekly basis.  If I could invent a photocopier that didn’t, I’d be a rich woman.

Back in December, I was on campus and decided to utilise some free time I had to work on an assignment.  Being efficient, which is not usually like me at all, I had a USB stick to hand so that I could save my work and take it home with me.  After spending a couple of hours working on the essay question, which troubled me anyway because I had struggled with my research for this particular question, I got out my USB stick yet could not find anywhere to, er, stick it.  Nothing on the monitor, nor the keyboard.  These were new computers, and the desktop boxes that used to be there were gone.  Eager to get the hell out of the library and get home, I saved a copy to the desktop and emailed it to myself.

Upon my return home, I had dinner then resumed with the question.  Around 11pm, I finally finished it, and with great delight, I took myself off to bed, safe in the knowledge that the next day all I had to do was to print it, and submit it to the Faculty Office.

The following morning I met a friend for coffee, and on the way home, since I had time, I decided to do some Christmas shopping.  Arriving home about an hour before I would need to leave to go deliver my paper, I was finally feeling the Christmas spirit.  Sadly, it would not last.

My completed assignment was nowhere to be found.  I had the first question, previously saved to my hard drive, but all that could be found of the second question was what I had done in the library, not the finalised piece of work, which composed of the rest of question two, merged with question one.  I called the IT Helpdesk, who, after some instruction, told me that it obviously was not saved.  After putting my head in my hands, I emailed my tutor to make him aware that I would miss the deadline.

What I realise, is that upon opening the email at home, I must not have saved a copy to my computer.  Schoolgirl error, that having been something that occurred many times, not just to myself but to others during the twelve years I worked for the National Health Service.  My tutor knew of the difficulties I have had with my depression and told me not to panic, that we would submit a form for Extenuating Circumstances in the New Year which would give me more time to re-do the assignment, leaving me free to concentrate on the remaining assignment due that week.

Before you ask, no, that piece of work could not be found!!  I had IT experts and all sorts of people suggesting places it may be, but it had vanished from the face of the earth.

So, at the back of my mind, I knew I would have to re-do the paper.  What I didn’t count on, however, was my external hard drive finally giving up the ghost last week, and losing all my documents from the last three years, including all my assignments, including those I did whilst studying abroad (which were some of my best work) and many pieces of my creative writing.

Compared to losing a couple of hundred words, I have now lost what I see to be my life’s work.  The IT helpdesk were able to retrieve some photos, music and videos, but no Word documents, with the exception of the iTunes User Agreement in about 19 different languages.  My hard drive is now with a friend, who is going to see if it is at all possible to retrieve any of my documents, although I take this to be a long shot, much like my application to the Fulbright Commission for a scholarship.  I can hope but right now I’m not expecting too much.

An email from my tutor today has confirmed that I will need to re-do the whole paper if I want to pass this class.  I have now gone from having to re-write a few hundred words to re-writing the entire paper.  Ironically entitled American Dreams, American Nightmares, its title is an ironic reminder of the complexity of life.  And perhaps a reminder that I should be grateful when things don’t go too horribly wrong.  Because, as I always used to say when I worked for the NHS, the one thing you can count on is that things can always get worse.



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tehkelsey
    Feb 11, 2013 @ 19:40:02

    Well, I can say I’ve been there before. And so have my friends. Over the summer, one month before our dissertations were due, the IT dept and lecturer in charge of the publishing computer suite decided to upgrade all the computers (which I guess was nice), which then were unavailable for a week. They also deleted any content we had saved on the desktops there which, because we were dealing with large photos and documents, was a lot. They didn’t even apologize when we told them wed lost parts of our dissertation. Uggh. So I feel your pain! Try using Google docs or dropbox to save copies of your dissertation… just a hint for the future 🙂 good luck rewriting your essay! At least you have the chance!


  2. Trackback: The Twelve-Week Challenge: Day 3 « 33andlostinlife
  3. djmatticus
    Feb 12, 2013 @ 21:57:13

    Ugh. Computer malfunctions for classes are the absolute worst. I had a programming class in college where I could work on the code at home and then once I had it working properly I could just submit the code for verification. They always worked fine when I ran them on my computer but when I submitted the code they never worked – but due to the way they were graded I didn’t find that bit of information out until a week before the final. So, I had to get an A+ on the final just to pass the class. When I told the instructor what had happened they said – tough luck. Awesome. I did ace the final, which was further evidence that I knew what I was doing, but they still wouldn’t do anything about my zeros on the coding assignments.

    It seems like there should be a way to recover most of the items off your hard drive. If they can get it to spin at all, I know I’ve used some software before to retrieve data from fried drives before. Plus, there are companies here that offer recovery as a service – they can be pricey – but if it’s 3 years worth of work, it is probably worth it. Hopefully, your friend was able to help!


    • 33andlostinlife
      Feb 13, 2013 @ 01:28:36

      I should be seeing my friend tomorrow to receive my hard drive and find out what he was able to retrieve (if anything). Technology is such a fickle thing and sometimes does cause a lot of problems, but I wouldn’t be without it. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here in the middle of the night replying to blog comments. Which I’m very happy to be doing 🙂


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