Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cyclone Sandy and the Library of Alexandria

By:  Kimberly Hitchens is the founder and owner of Booknook.biz, an ebook production company that has produced books for over 1000 authors and imprints.

So, today, like the rest of the nation, and even the world (which I know because I had concerned emails from many international clients today) I watched the progress of Sandy, the Storm that Ate Manhattan, snacking on Atlantic City on the way, as if it were personally aiming to make Donald Trump's life as miserable as possible.   While watching, for some reason, I was reminded of the fate of the Library of Alexandria, which arguably perished either due to Julius Caesar's careless smoking or Aurelian's attack some 200+ years later, and was finished off by either, or both, Theophilus, carrying out his Pope's decree against "paganism," or Muslims attacking sometime during the Crusades.  (Equal Opportunity Destruction, it seems).  I suppose I was thinking about it due to the possibility that  paper libraries across the Coast could be badly damaged--their books, at least--due to rising flood waters, storm surges, etc.

Not very cheery to think of the last copy of a beloved book being lost to Sandy, is it? If you had a book in paper, on the first floor of a library in Manhattan, your book would be lost.  However, if you had an ebook, you could simply download a new copy of the file.  I know, I know, it is self-serving, isn't it?  But that does not make it any less true.  And, yes, computers can drown as well, or rebel, go on strike, crash, kill off disk drives, and the like. 

"The Computer Ate My Homework"

Some folks will reply with the horror stories—I lost 60k words on my computer, and all that—but nonetheless, a few simple precautions can save your keister.  If you are using certain pieces of software to write with, you can automatically save backup copies of your WIP ("work in progress"), or any other documents.  Liquid Story Binder XE does this; has a built in auto-backup that you can set to backup wherever you want.  My big recommendation has nothing to do with software, per se; it's simply this:  The "cloud" is your friend.  And if you're too paranoid to use the Cloud--think about your thumbs. ;-)  In any event, the message is this:  backup your work to someplace other than your own computer.  It's all well and good to make "backups," but if you backup to the same computer that's going to crash...well, give that some thought.

"The Cloud" is geek-speak for nothing more than servers on the Internet.  That's it.  Nothing sexy, nothing fancy--but it's a computer somewhere else.  Someplace unlikely to suffer the same fate as your computer, whatever that is--crashing, flooding, fire, and the like.  Booknook.biz, for example, has backups in Ireland, Seattle and the East Coast.  I figure if all three go, it's the Apocalypse, anyway, I'm looking for the Four Horseman, and the computers can fend for themselves.  A girl's gotta have her priorities.   

"Oh, Yeah, Sure, Spend More Money"

Ha!  Not only is the cloud your friend, it's free.  You can get free space from Box, Dropbox, SugarSynch or, for big-name companies, how about Amazon?  Amazon will give you up to 5 gigabytes—that is 1,000 megabytes of storage for every gigabyte.  5,000 megabytes.  Given that the average book manuscript is about 250-400 kilobytes, which is 1,000th of a megabyte...suffice it to say you'd have to write the Encyclopedia Britannica, replete with pictures, to start worrying about running out of space on your Amazon Cloud storage.  (Did I say, FREE?) 

"People Will Steal My Stuff If I Put It On The Net!"

Don't trust the Net?  Well, hard to blame you. 
In the alternative, you can buy (and, for that matter, wear if you wish) thumbdrives.  For a few pennies, you can load up 16gigs on a thumbdrive.  I like this one, myself:  Kingston Digital Data Traveler, 16gigs, (with the hole in the end) but to each their own.  I like that one because it's small, not bad-looking, and you can wear it around your neck on a chain if, like me, you misplace "stuff" all the time.  Or a keyring.  This one (pictured, black) is tiny, tiny, tiny: SanDisk Cruzer Fit 16GB.  If it were me, I'd lose it but you more-organized folks might love it.  Unobtrusive, too. Complete peace of mind for under $10.00.  Woot!

See ya next time.



  1. I like your thinking! I use DropBox, a backup hard drive, and a thumbdrive. But the idea of having backups in other geographic places didn't occur to me. I'll look into it.

  2. Good advice. You never know when stuff will strike.

    I use DropBox between my iMac and Pro, and backup hard drive for my iMac, but I really should figure something else out. I only put a few things on DropBox.

    Recently, Apple notified me they wanted to replace the hard drive in my iMac. There's a built-in Time Machine on the computer, but my backup hard drive is what brought my computer back to the very same place it was when I turned it off. I need to find something offsite that will do the same.

  3. I just discovered that DropBox isn't able to access the files I share with my editor at Amazon. I wonder if the storm is causing problems for the site.


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