Marsha Canham's Blog

October 19, 2010

Woo hoo, it worked

Filed under: Uncategorized — marshacanham @ 3:58 am

I’ve been delaying, putting aside, staring at, trying to conjur warm spirits, thinking nice thoughts….well okay, maybe that’s pushing it a bit, but I was truly dreading finding out whether, after more than a decade of sitting around all kinds of magnetic things, if the floppy disc that had my only digital copy of TWATS on it was going to STILL have my only digital copy of TWATS on it.

I’ve moved since my good friend Gaile painstakingly typed out the whole book for me (and stab me with a fork if I can even remember why I asked her to do it way back when digital books weren’t even on the horizon).  Not only moved, which entailed packing up two 18-wheeler trucks with boxes and stuff and more stuff, but gone on cleaning rampages that saw me cleaning out my office and throwing out innumerable green garbage bags full of *stuff* that was once considered necessary fodder for my muse, but turned out to be just dusty papers and old files and disjointed ideas that didn’t quite hold their earth-shattering brilliance through the years.  My office, like my whole house, went through another massive purge a few months ago after Stupid was ousted, and eight…count em, eight…bags of *stuff* was hauled out of the desk and shelves and cupboards in my office.  I’m NOT a hoarder, but I do tend to think better when surrounded by familiar clutter.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, amidst this most recent purge, I came across piles and piles and piles of floppy discs.  I even had the original 14 disc set for uploading WordPerfect 1.0.  Since the new puter came without a floppy slot,  and since my old puter was taken over by the Mini-Clone,  stripped of most programs not required to view Nascar pics and play video games…I couldn’t see the point of keeping many of the floppies and so…tossed them all out.

Along came the initial email from Julie Ortolon asking me what I was doing…if anything…with my out of print books.  She and a few other authors were starting up BacklistEbooks, exploring the whole new world of digital rebirth and because, as I think I’ve mentioned one or ten times, I had no computer files for China Rose or Bound by the Heart, I spent the next three months painstakingly retyping them into the puter.  Swept Away was modestly easier, since I actually did write that one on a puter, so it just needed some Eagle Eye editing.  The third typewriter-written tome was, of course, TWATS (The Wind and the Sea), and I was NOT looking forward to having to retype all 531 pages into the puter.  I was, you see, almost certain I had tossed out the floppy that Gaile had made for me so very long ago.

Girding my loins to expect the worst, I searched the one drawer in my desk that still had some remnants of the good old days in it…as in all the floppy copies of the originals for Through A Dark Mist, In the Shadow of Midnight…etc etc etc.  Somehow could not bring myself to toss those away.  As the room started to glow and a chorus of Hallelujah filtered out of the woodwork, my grubby fingers flicked through the stack of plastic and….saw it.  The only one with a red striped label.  The only one with the neatly printed title on the sticky label.  The only one NOT in a protective plastic sleeve.

I put it on my desk, in plain view, and contemplated the next hurdle.  Beside it, at  Mini-Clone’s work station, was my old puter, silent, nothing blinking or beeping, screen black, just crouched there…waiting.  Or smirking, I couldn’t tell which.  I had watched Avon Boy make magic a couple of months back when he slid in the floppy for Swept Away and clicked a few keys to produce a zip file, which could then be emailed to my new puter. (he tried loading the files onto a flash drive, but the speed at which the flash wanted to suck out the information threw the old puter into such a spin it crashed in two seconds flat.)

A pause here for a small confession.  Zip files make my eyes go crossed.  Back when WinZip was the bomb and the evaluation copy lasted for a decade despite each warning that it had expired, I used to frustrate myself almost to tears trying to figure out how to unzip a file.  I would, therefore, have swum with a piranha rather than try to figure out how to actually zip a file.  Call it zip envy.  Whatever.  The new puter just opens the damned things without even having to ask half the time.

So there I was.  Staring at a floppy.  Staring at an old puter with a floppy drive.  Contemplating the necessity of having to *pause to clutch the throat and squeak*  try to zip TWATS into a small file that I could email to myself.  I wasn’t even sure there were still files on the disc; there could have been all manner of magnetic things flung into the drawer beside it throughout all those years of neglect.

Loins girded, I turned on the puter.  And sat.  And sat.  And sat while it buzzed and beeped and took nearly two minutes to bring up the screen asking for a password.  Helloooo.  Was not expecting that.   The Mini-Clone had changed the password!  Took me three tries before I got the right one and another three minute wait for the screen to come up and all the little do dads that run silently in the background to sort themselves out and come to attention.

Slid the floppy into the slot…

Now I don’t know if it’s just me, or my inherent dislike for technical stuff, or if I just flat out forget things my brain considers to be no longer relevant.  (I’m hoping Stupid falls into that category soon).  For whatever reason, I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to open up the stupid A file.  Not until I clicked on Programs looking for something remotely familiar or miraculous, and saw the little RUN box.  aha!   Clicked on RUN and after fumbling around with a few more things managed to open up the floppy files!!!  Woo hoo!   They appeared to all be there…28 chapters and a prologue!

I consulted the email sent by Avon Boy, which said…click on all the files to highlight them, right click, then send to a zip file.

Uh huh.  I clicked, I highlighted, I right clicked to send to a zip file…and the puter just blinked at me, smirking, I swear.  I clicked again.  It smirked through another blink, added a few whizzing noises but not much else.  I clicked something else, which actually brought up the WInZip box thingy, but when I clicked on “zip”, it buzzed and whirred for a moment then told me I needed to insert another floppy cuz the one currently being zipped was full.  That…made NO sense to me at all, but I dutifully slid in another floppy, told it to erase whatever was on it (no label, no mercy) and watched while it buzzed and whirred for another minute then ground to a halt and tossed an error box at me.

Impasse.

Right about then, the one thing I did remember about that puter was, if you pissed it off, it would shut down. You didn’t have to do much to piss it off either…send too large of a file, open more than three windows at once, wave a flash drive in front of it….

So I interpreted the buzzing and blinking as a precursor to the Blue Screen of Death…and gave up trying to zip anything.  However,  the files were there, teasingly close, and just because I never think of the easy things until I’ve frustrated myself over the hard things… I very nonchalantly opened up my email and simply started attaching the files.  Hah.  Like I couldn’t have thought of that an hour earlier and saved myself from zip angst?

Anyway, it worked.  All 28 chapters and a prologue came through like a charm, although Gaile did give me one more moment of minor sphincter-clenching concern.  Apparently when she was typing it out, she must have thought she needed to type out the SPACING too, because the beginning of the file was blank until halfway down the first page when the title appeared.  All I saw was blank page at first, and for that little out of body spasm where I imagined the files all to be blank, she can buy the popcorn at the movies tomorrow. *snort*

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1 Comment »

  1. OMG, you are becoming such a computer whiz. I remember Winzip…drove me nuts. This is great news! I opened a current file recently, found nothing until paging down for a mile to find it…there is was. In the meantime, had minor heart failure, figuring I’d killed all my work. Working with computers is a constant battle of wills. I’m really happy this turned out so well, Marsha!

    Comment by jillmetcalf — October 19, 2010 @ 4:19 am | Reply


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