Data (HLD 410)

31 May 2021

Data has been on my mind recently, for a couple of reasons.

Firstly – keeping control of it, and secondly – learning from it.

I have a L.O.T. of photos on my computer. And a lot of photos on my phone. And my iPad. There is a cloud setup whereby a few of these devices all know what each other know, and are backed up in the magical mysterious cloud so they will never go missing.

But we also have an external hard drive attached to our computer, where the hundreds of thousands of photos that I have accumulated are also contained. These photos are scanned from photo albums, negatives, slides, and movies that are part of my family’s history. Photos taken by my grandparents, my dad, and me. Heaps and heaps and heaps of photos. Anything I scan or photoshop to tweak, ends up on the external hard drive.

Which gets backed up regularly too.

Until it doesn’t. 

We recently discovered that we hadn’t backed up the external hard drive since August last year. This would not be an issue, all things being equal. Simple

matter to back it up and store the copy away in a safe place.

Unless the hard drive attached to the computer just so happens to have a mid life crisis. And poops itself. Catastrophically.

I don’t know about you, but when I’m tasked with trying to remember what I may or may not have done, computer-wise, in the past nine months, my brain immediately starts doing that little swirly ‘thinking…..thinking….’ pattern that computers do when they really have no idea what you’re asking for. You know straight away that the computer is filing that in the ‘too hard’ basket.

I do know that  I had recently completed scanning a bag full of photos for my nephew, saved nicely on the hard drive ready to hand over to him shortly. There were a bunch of photos from my Mum’s photo albums that I’ve scanned in the last year – quite likely within the past nine months. There’s definitely been photos that I’ve edited for printing purposes. All saved on the now kaput hard drive.

It brings to mind an old joke about computers and Christianity, and how “Jesus Saves”.

Heather didn’t. Or at very least, she didn’t back-up.

And getting stuff from a kaput hard drive is sometimes possible, very expensive if it can be done, and often doesn’t give you back everything you’ve lost.

If you can remember what it is that you’ve possibly lost, that is.

Data entered my swirly whirly brain again today, in a comment from a health professional in one of our Australian states. This particular state is currently embroiled in a COVID outbreak. Again – outbreaks of the virus in my country do not even register on the scale of what others in the world have to contend with – but an outbreak it is.

When this happens, regions of the country go into lockdown, lots of people get sticks shoved up their nose, toilet paper becomes a hot item in the shops once again, and we all get a little bit more serious about the personal hygiene and mask wearing scenario. 

The quote from the health professional was that they are “interrogating the data”.

My swirly whirly brain delights in comments like this. I imagine doctors lined up, shining a bright torch into a computer terminal. Yelling at reams of paper filled with numbers, asking very pointed and angry questions. I imagine the data just sitting there with a determined look on its face, refusing to even offer up name, rank and serial number.

Kind of like the stony silence offered up by my hard drive when we try to locate all the missing photos.

Maybe my hard drive got a COVID infection???

Maybe I need to shove a stick up its’ nose.

Photo by Markus Spiske on

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