Thursday, 26 December 2013

Boxing Day

I had a very jolly Christmas Eve down at V---'s in Brighton, and an equally jolly Christmas Day at my sister in law's in Gosport, and a post on it all may follow, once I have processed the many photos. Lots of pix always indicates an enjoyable time!

But Boxing Day has been a comedown. Most Boxing Days are. This one is no exception, despite a cheerful exchange with a family walking their dog this afternoon, while I was getting some local fresh air, and some light-hearted texting just now with J--- my next door neighbour, who, with husband and two dogs, has been spending Christmas (and will be seeing the New Year in) on their narrow boat somewhere in the Midlands. Perhaps J--- and K--- have a romantic stretch of canal all to themselves, like this:

Or this:

But I expect they are actually moored with a lot of other like-minded boat-owners, and making a party of it:

These pix are from my own archive: I quite like narrow boats, and canal life has a certain appeal - provided that you can keep snug and warm. My neighbour J--- assures me that their boat is presently so warm they are roasting.

In the distant past - I mean in the mid-1970s, when Mum and Dad still lived in Southampton, and I was still at home - we would drive out to the New Forest on Boxing Day, almost always to the The Old Beams pub at Ibsley, near Ringwood - a thatch-and timber-frame sort of place - and have a drink there, sometimes a meal too. It was practically an annual ritual. I liked doing it. The Old Beams is still going strong, and seems unchanged externally from how it looked forty years ago. Here's a summer shot, taken off the Internet:

Now why am I really not so joyeuse today?

Well, the social life has been turned off for the next few days, partly to preserve funds. It's expensive to party every other night! But I'm already starting to miss seeing friends. I'll almost certainly relent by Saturday.

And there's precious little to interest me on TV. We did watch Toy Story 3 yesterday in Gosport, but as usual I found the storyline hard on my emotions, tears running down my cheeks at the end. My niece was very sympathetic! Well-loved toys do seem to have an inner life of their own, and whether that's completely imaginary or not, it feels true, and I can't understand people who sneer at the devotion children often give to their favourite toys. You hear of people throwing themselves into rivers in spate to rescue a dog. Well, I'd do it for my teddy bear. Anyway, if a toy comes to harm, I personally find it upsetting; and my goodness, the toys in this latest Pixar tale have a lot to contend with before the happy ending!

The only other film I have watched on TV was a bleak and scary Vin Diesel thing the other night. Set in deep space, it was called Pitch Black, and like all these attacked-by-unseen-aliens films, it goes too far and isn't at all within my definition of 'entertainment'. Tonight's film was Independence Day, which - OK - has a happyish ending, in the sense that the aliens get defeated, but the devastated cities and zillions dead can hardly be overlooked. Are the TV companies trying to depress us all?

But the major issue today, the one that got me down most, was my Sony tablet not accepting an SD card in the slot provided for it. It was time to backup my important files onto an SD memory card, something I do every three days; and if home I then copy the backup onto my PC as well. Call me 'backup mad' if you will, but these are essential Word and Excel files which I fear losing.

The SD card slot is obviously a key element in the backup. It must work. But for some reason, the card wouldn't stay in when inserted. I couldn't believe that the slot had suffered mechanical failure. After all, the SD card slot on my camera has been used hundreds of times without trouble. I've never heard of one going wrong. I struggled with the problem for two hours, and then suddenly the card slot was functional again. Just like that. The delayed backup then went smoothly. The problem was somehow solved, although I do not know what exactly made the thing work again.

But, being a Thinking Girl, I reflected on the episode and found much to feel unhappy about.

I thought it was sad that the Digital Age had made making backups so essential. However achieved, it was vital to copy and preserve one's data. Modern life depended so much on it. Losing all one's data was a calamity, and I had a lot of it to lose. And yet, my parents hadn't had such worries.

I was surprised how panicky I felt when my usual backup method - not the only one I could use, of course, but the one that was the most convenient - seemed to fail. Panicky with real emotion. I was upset. And actually, it was only the backup that couldn't be done. I hadn't lost the data itself! What a state to get into...

I had actually wondered (after two fruitless hours of trying this and that) whether I should immediately junk the tablet - an expensive one, incidentally, that had been working faultlessly since purchase in 2012 - and buy another tomorrow. And to hell with my New Year Savings Plan. Well! I thought I was proof against hasty impulse buys! Not so! That really is awful.

It's now time to cook something, so I'm not going further with these reflections, but honestly it says something very disturbing about myself and/or modern life, that a temporary SD card slot malfunction can transform the mood of the day from mild anti-climax to outright panic. That's bad.


  1. I've taken to backing up my essential files on Google Drive. Since, when it's been set up, it all happens automatically, I don't have to remember to do it regularly.

    This doubtless means that GCHQ can browse them at their leisure, but it's a risk I'm happy to take. Much good may it do 'em!

  2. Got to agree with you about getting upset with not being able to back up data. A lot depends on what that data is. For myself it isn't pictures as I hardly ever take any and those I have taken are not really important to me. On reflection I am not sure what data on my computer is that precious I would be upset at its loss. My poetry and songs I keep stored on paper as well as on the pc and storage sticks and many of my songs are on YouTube too. Sensitive data isn't stored on my computers but in a ledger.
    I think you can take too many photographs Lucy. I know you like to take many so that you can relive special times and remember people and places you have encountered throughout your life but how many is enough, 5000, 10,000, more? It's a little like having thousands upon thousands of stored songs, you will never be able to listen to them all. I think there are more important things to concern yourself with and probably meeting with friends is one of them.

    Shirley Anne x

  3. Actually the SD card backup is only for Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. Their prime home is the tablet.

    My photos, whose prime home is the PC, have a quite different backup regime, and the tablet isn't involved in it. I currently have about 90,000 photos in my collection, and I disagree that you can have too many. The trick is how you file them away, what your hierarchy of folders is like. Mine gives me quick access, which is why I'm able to locate so many shots for my posts from my own photo archive.


    1. If you spent just 30 seconds viewing each of those photos without a break it would take you just over 31 days.

      Shirley Anne x

  4. There has been a welcome rest to socialising today and we have been quite relieved. Just waiting to see what happens before our turn to entertain on new year's day.

    I see twin horrors in this digital age. The first is the extremely short life expensive electronic toys have before they fail or become hopelessly obsolete as far as linking with peripherals or software is concerned and the other is the complete lack of digital security provided for those devices.

    looking back five years my computer was my magical portal to the world and fellow sufferers. If it all failed now I am not sure that I would rush to replace it as I have not rushed to buy a tablet...

    The analogue world may be old-fashioned but it does not waste hours just trying to get the darn things to work. As for the cost, new ink cartridges and still we only get black and magenta, it is all a con...

    The internet sensed my displeasure and froze my comment! As if I have not learned to copy comments before publishing after countless lost words in the past.

  5. By the time my comment was posted sows your last one Lucy. The latest internet nasty is a ransom blackmail which appears after all files have been scrambled, a quarter of a million machines have been blanked unless $300 is paid quickly netting criminals £40,000,000 so far and nobody in the industry or governments has done anything to stop the Russian and East European criminals. Only off line disconnected backups are safe at the moment but it has been suggested that the creepy criminals may use a time delay to catch out even those more thoughtful workers! Modern life, don't you just love it?

  6. Yes, I've heard of this 'ransomware'. That's why my documents and spreadsheets are based on the Android laptop, and not on the Windows PC. The PC, tablet and phone are all protected by F-Secure. The laptop is for photo-editing only, and is never connected to the Internet.

    What a state of affairs: advanced electronic devices full of important stuff, interconnected over the supremely-useful Internet, but beseiged by criminals.


  7. Had a laptop die on me so careful about backups now. Various options are available. For free the "cloud" based solutions like Dropbox and Skydrive only require Internet access. For £60 an external hard disk drive can take 2 terabyte. If you want to be ultra careful a NAS box of several hard drives for several hundred pounds would be the gucci option.


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Lucy Melford