Thursday, November 4, 2010

When Life Hands You Lemons...

This month I was all set to offer my version of charting a story ala Myra Johnson, when disaster hit.

The ultimate is a computer crash – mine wasn’t quite so bad, but almost.

I’ve been zapping out computers in our house left and right – literally. It started back in June when my HP desktop refused to open the Internet. Then Word. Then Mahjong. Well, the computer was a fine companion for three years of extraordinary use. I guess I understand we all have to go sometime. Bummer.

So I confiscated a Dell desktop my husband used for Ebay – yes, he loves me enough to sacrifice, LOL! Things went fine and dandy for a month and then that computer went south, too.

Since I’d purchase a laptop for my son as a high school graduation present this Spring, I took the desktop from his room, reloaded all my info and continued on my merry way – for yet, another MONTH.

I’m beginning to think my office is possessed.

My husband is now guarding his laptop – ebay is very important when shopping for sporting equipment, you understand – so I turn to the last vestige of hope…my son’s gaming computer. Of course I asked permission first!!! That computer is so souped up, its boot up time goes 0 – 100 in no time flat.

Ah, I’m on my way.

You have to understand how I write. I can’t write at the desktop because it’s connected to the Internet and we all know what a distraction THAT can be. Instead, I have a many generations old IBM ThinkPad across the room that only has Word, Publisher and Excel loaded on it. That’s where I write. AND I back up to a flash drive just because I’m paranoid. So, okay, I have my Internet fix going gangbusters on my worksurface beneath the window, and my laptop smokin’ on the desk with my newest creation being formulated for Love Inspired.

Life is finally going good…

Until my laptop screen goes black. Oh, the computer is still working, the screen has just taken a break. Good for me I’ve become obsessive about saving my work. I hardboot the computer off (ouch) and walk away.

With tears in my eyes.

I love that computer.

The next day, I turn on the laptop and all my work is there! Thank you, Lord!! About a half hour into my writing, the screen goes black again.

Okay, forget this. I move over to mega computer with Internet. You really won’t believe this…I certainly can’t and I’m living it…the processor starts humming. It’s just a phase, right? I insert earplugs and keep writing. A week later, the entire computer is running slow as molasses. I’m so not believing this!!!

By now you’re probably thinking, doesn’t this woman know about anti-virus programs??
Yes, she does, thank you. I’m protected to the hilt.

Arrgghhhh! What’s a girl to do?

Eat chocolate.

Make chocolate chip cookies.

Buy a fudge chocolate cake.

When all those crumbs have been consumed, I’m ready for my next attack. Drum roll please….

AlphaSmart.

I hope y’all caught Debby Giusti’s post on November 20th. She is the master of the AlphaSmart. I’ve had mine for years, but with computers getting bigger, faster, and prettier, I had shelved Ol’ Reliable for Slick and Multi-functional.

Lucky for me, my AlphaSmart buddy doesn’t hold it against me. For the past two weeks, Alpha and I have been the best of friends. Really, we’re better than friends, we make great partners. Since I can’t edit on it, I’ve been averaging 1500-2000 words a day. I download to the molasses computer each night which gets backed up cyberly (is that a word?) each evening.

Heaven help me if Mozy backup ever crashes…

So, that’s the story of my writing life these past months. It’s just me, AlphaSmart, and Netbook.

Now, the moral of this story??

BACK UP YOUR WORK. OFTEN.

I manually back up my desktop harddrive to an external drive after each use. The thing holds a tigabyte of info so all my pictures, mss, and misc stuff is safe. I also use Mozy to back up all my work in cyberspace.

And flash drives?? I’ve got tons of them each dedicated to separate project.

Oh, and let’s not forget hardcopy.

Some may call me obsessive. Can you blame me?

I’ve asked for a brand new shiny computer for Christmas. Until then, I’m chugging along great in a very minimalistic manner, cranking out words for NaNoWriMo.

Spending very little time on the Internet.

Please Lord, no more calamities…

Okay, your turn. Have any computer disasters you’d like to share?? Any creative solutions? C’mon, let’s cleanse out all our computer frustrations today.

And today, I’m offering 2 – IOUs for Rocky Mountain Hero, my January 2011 debut book. Just leave a comment AND your email address to be included in the drawing. Check out WE to see if you’ve won!!

Happy writing, all!!

115 comments :

  1. Don't get me started on computer woes! We had 4 or 5 brand new Dell XPS top-of-the line laptops in a year and a half and like you there is no known reason for the crashes! My Dell desktop is just fine (knock on wood) after almost 3 years of service but the laptops are terrible and I don't think we'll buy another one even with the extended warranty! I hope you have better luck if Santa brings you a new computer for Christmas!

    I'd love to be entered for the book with Mr. Hunky Man on the cover! ;-)

    XOXO~ Renee
    steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com

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  2. My goodness!

    I don't think I can top that!

    But I do miss my AlphaSmart, gave it to my grand-girl to encourage her to write!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Paul
    aka The Mayor :-)

    awriter2003@gmail.com

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  3. I've been using my AlphaSmart for NaNoWriMo and it is very helpful. Probably because it keeps me off the Internet!

    A few weeks ago, I lost all of my e-mail to a virus.

    But, now I think I need to go and back-up my files, which I haven't done in a very long time. Eek!

    Abbi :-)

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  4. I just subscribed to an online data backup system. Every time I save my manuscript, it saves a backup copy. It's worth every penny of that $4.99!

    Steph

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  5. Oh, I'm so sorry, Audra! That's awful. :(

    I thought I had it bad when Monday night I was studying for my General Psychology test with a friend and decided to take one of those free online IQ tests. I open one of the web pages up and this ad pops up (which I didn't realize was an ad at the time) that looks just like my computer telling me I have a ton of viruses!!! Ahhhhhhh!

    Needless to say, I freaked out. I clicked something and then my roommate told me to scan my computer with McAfee(which found nothing), and I eventually shut it down. (I'm pretty sure my computer was infected with Spyware, but I'll have to clarify that with the IT guys.)

    Well, the next day (yesterday) I took it to the IT people at our school, and within the day they had fixed it all up! :D They had found the defective files or whatever it was that had been planted in my computer (I guess they scanned it...?) and saved my bacon! Plus, I brought it back today and they're putting on a free, better anti-virus software for me! Hooray!

    The IT people at my school are wonderful! :D

    So, my computer is fixed and I am one happy girl. :) But I do hope I learned some similar lessons in all this--make sure to back up all my important files and STOP browsing the Internet so much!

    And, of course, a little chocolate helps, too... ;)

    Phew! Like Dory from Finding Nemo--"I'm glad I got that off my chest." :)

    I would love a chance to win your book, Audra!

    ~Amber

    stokes[dot]a[at]suddenlink[dot]net

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  6. I havent had the issue you have but when I have tried the anti virus protection from my isp it always shuts down the computer. they say its not their program but it doesn't happen when its not on.
    I have been installing my new anti virus today and the computer has been slow as again.
    would love to enter to win a copy of your book
    ausjenny at gmail dot com

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  7. Audra, have you had yourself tested to see if you put off some magical magnetic field?

    I have had the "blue screen of death" a time or two. Enough to give me a heart attack. Reading Amber's post reminded me to remind everyone to make sure you load your updates AND get the new version of your anti-virus program whenever the time comes. I know too many people who don't upgrade only to find out the evil ones have created new viruses that aren't covered.

    Would love to win your book! What a cover! And if I don't, early ordering isn't too far away.

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  8. This post brought back memories of going house to house--sister's computer, friend's computer--during a big project last year because my computer had died. The screen shimmered and sparkled and then . . . I can't even express the trauma . . . but, anyway, it was great to see that book cover again! Please include me in the drawing. Thanks so much! reneeasmith61 [at] yahoo [dot] com

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  9. I've had all kind of computer problems over the years. On average a computer lasts me about a year. This spring I bought a Mac--I'll see if it lasts any longer than my PCs.

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  10. Technology is a wonderful thing...when it works. I've had my share of computer woes, but the worst was when my desktop was fried by lightening. There's no recovering from that.

    Zip drives are the best thing since sliced bread! I love mine. It's like carrying your computer in your purse.

    I've also been looking into online backup services, and will be subscribing in the very near future.

    I'd love to be entered for a chance to win Rocky Mountain Hero!

    --Kirsten
    kanavyhist[at]aol[dot]com

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  11. I am sooo fortunate to live with a computer geek. Even if I did crash I know he could find it somehow.

    But I dream of a Netbook...

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  12. Good morning, Everyone! I've plugged in the coffee, regular and pumpkin spice in honor of the gorgeous fall days we've been having in Colorado, and a stack of hot buttermilk pancakes.

    Weight Watchers, look the other way today!

    Mornin' Renee!

    I've always been a faithful HP girl until my office starting offering refurbished company computers for $50. Now we have Dells spread across the house, LOL!

    Well, not really workable Dells anymore.

    I'm so hoping there's a pretty HP under the tree for me this Christmas!

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  13. Paul and abbi! The Alphasmart is great! I come home for lunch, grab the AS and go sit out on the deck typing away for NaNoWriMo. Amazing how not being tethered to my office let's the the words flow.

    I also don't have to worry about my battery going low. The same AAs have lasted years!

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  14. Audra!

    Don't feel alone, although I don't have as many computers as you do, I've had the same problem.

    It started with my laptop. I'd be using it and it would just shut down. I took it in expecting the worst but it was only a virus(yes, I have update virus software)so I fixed it.

    About a month later, the PC started doing the same thing and it's so old I decided not to take it in and just went and purchased a new laptop to replace it. So far, so good.

    I do have a few old files on the PC but I've gotten better about backing everything up.

    I know I've said tis before but it must be said again....

    GREAT COVER!

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

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  15. Steph, I'm with you. For 4.99 a month, I know all my files are backed up, so when my computers start humming, flashing, and slow down, I know at least the majority of my work is safe.

    What a blessing!

    And Kirsten, I can't recommend the back up services enough. Lot's of them out there. I started with Mozy because they offered a free backup of a small amount of space. I tried it for a year, and loved the reliability.

    Now my whole system gets back up everyday.

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  16. Morning Audra. What frustration. The only thing to save you is keep staring at your awesome book cover whenever you get frustrated.

    My computer life ran like yours until I bought a Mac. Have to say it. No problems since.

    Better go back up now. LOL

    Great advice. You can never back up enough.

    And I love Alphasmart. I get so much more done because I can't stop and edit. I can stay in the right brain creative mode.

    Best wishes all of you on NaNoWriMo

    The pancakes are yummy.

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  17. Hey Audra,

    WOW lady! Testing in spades...

    Glad you have back up, fail safe back up to the back up systems.

    Question on flash drives - HOW do you mark them so you know which one is which? I have ended up putting each in individual zip locks with a note. Must be a better way!!????

    We got an outside hard drive and back up there also.

    I'm again on a laptop myself, just using it for writing though, and not set up for Internet. (Agreed on kanoodling around. Not conducive to words on the page is it?)

    Please enter me - it is a great cover, and I'm certain there's a better story within! may at maythek9spy dot com

    MMM - pancakes...

    And just so I know that He is watching, my "word" is wofat... Sigh. I'll just have a short stack please.

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  18. Amber, I didn't even know colleges offered repair! Makes sense. I'll have to tell my kids to check into it.

    Thanks for the tip! And yes, stay away from those pop up quizzes!!

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  19. Hi Audra,
    I'm feeling your pain, honey!

    My old laptop has the "Go Black" issue. It happens if I move the cover back and forth. Don't know why...but it's scary and the reason--along with a virus--that I got my newer model.

    Amber, I too opened a file that said I had a virus. As you realized, that "help" file WAS the virus! Yikes! Learned my lesson. Also hired a great IT guy who, for a sizeable fee, retrieved all my files. He's fantastic and worth the money, IMHO!

    I should do the backup cyber plan. Stephanie, who do you use?

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  20. BTW, I believe I've changed my Alpha's batteries only two or three times in all the years I've been using it. Trying to remember when I got it...probably ten years ago.

    Amazing!

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  21. Jenny and Julie, I'm so with you on the updating your anti virus!

    My husband has no patience for anything electronic. He came up the other evening from the man cave and started complaining about this notification the McAfee keeps sending him about updates.

    I almost spewed my coffee when he said he just ignores them and goes on his merry way.

    I'll go down and update his system this evening...

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  22. Oh...my...goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You seem to be the Calamity Jane of computers. Maybe you could get a job as a PC tester. You know, if you sat down and worked on a computer for an hour and it didn't crash they know they have a winner. It would be a tailor made job -- you could write and get paid while you do it.

    I have my own horror stories with computers...one dinosaur is sitting in my basement chalkful of stories that weren't backed up. Every so often I go down and turn it on hoping that one day it will recover long enough for me to back up those stories. Though, if your computer crashes because of a virus and you back files up would you not be backing the virus up too and potentially spreading it around?

    I think I need an alphasmart.

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  23. Renne Ann, just know you're not alone...

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  24. Ausjenny,
    Could your virus protection be using too much memory in your computer?

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  25. Cara, how do you like your Mac?

    And for that matter, is it true Macs can't get a virus?

    Tina, I bought my netbook over ebay b/c I didn't want to spend a lot of money on something I might not like. Well worth the investment. If I ever wear this one out, I'll run down to Office Depot for a replacement without thinking twice.

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  26. Thanks, Rose! Hee, I love my cover!!

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  27. Oooooh, LOVE that cover, Audra! Love the story, too, as I was one of the lucky ones to read it in draft form! :)

    I can sure relate to your computer problems, Audra. Although I've never had the multitude of "issues" you're undergoing, right as I raced to complete "Second Chance Courtship" mine caught something deadly and was out of commission--twice--for a total of over a month. I had a trusty AlphaSmart(aren't they great?) for first drafts of remaining scenes, but it didn't much help me as I couldn't access the files I was in the process of editing.

    Soooo, now at the end of each writing session, I back up the project on a flash stick. Also bought a back-up netbook so that if my computer tanks in the middle of another deadline I can continue on.

    Yes, the nice thing about an AlphaSmart is not only are you not accessing the internet, but it's also ideal for first drafts. You can only see a small window of text, so it keeps you moving forward, not going back to play with words or formatting or punctuation. Then when you're ready, you just transfer it to your Word document on your regular computer.

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  28. Hi Sandra and Debby! My kids used my Alphasmart for years when I thought I'd "outgrown" it. Glad they left it behind when they went off to college!

    Funny, you don't realize how handy the little thing is until it's the only option you have. Sandra, you're right about not editing. Without looking back at my work, I can get tons done on my rough draft.

    Batteries, Debby? I don't remember when I changed my last, LOL!

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  29. Amber S & others -- when even innoocent looking "pop ups" appear while you're on the internet, don't select "no" or even "click out" of them. That's that got me in trouble. Instead, select CTRL-ALT-DELETE to bring up a little window that tells you what programs are currently open on your computer. Select & delete the pop-up from there.

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  30. Hi KC! I just mark my flash drives with anything handy from permanent markers to stickies to strings with a little flag.

    Usually, I just leave the flash attached to my USB port since I'm not like Ruthy able to work a dozen novels at one time! I begin to recognize which drive I've used for what book since my flash drives are all different, depending on which one was on sale at what time, LOL!

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  31. KAV, my laptop is my old dinosaur, but usually dependable. I love it.

    Back up your files, lady!!

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  32. KC -- I "color code" the flash sticks -- use a small color circular sticker or trim one to fit. Make sure it's a sticker type with strong 'sticky' -- and put it on the flashstick case.

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  33. Mornin' Glynna! I so remember your pain when your computer went down! You had such awful timing with your computer problems, but look at the end result!!! Dreaming of Home is such a winner!!!!!

    Isn't it funny how we need all these backup electrontics? And hardcopy!! I think we'll be killing trees for a few more years while the IT geniuses try to find a foolproof method for the paperless office.

    LOL! Yeah right.

    Gotta take a break and get ready to go to work, kids. I'll be back...

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  34. Thanks ladies,

    Somebody should "invent" a good way to do this on the flash drives. Gotta be a better way!

    Thanks too for the control/alt/delete - hadn't thought of that.

    Also, we use http://www.safer-networking.org/index2.html and have for years. Spybot.com is how we knew it. It's a good one and came recommended from a friend in a large corporation, and later our IT guy. :)

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  35. I know how computers can be. It seems like our desktop only messes up after I've been on it. And I didn't do anything! Hope you get your Christmas present you want. I would kinda like an ereader but not sure yet. I love all Love Inspired books and know this one will be great as well. Thanks for the giveaway.
    plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

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  36. Ouch!

    I had my laptop start shutting off on me a couple years ago. Finally had to send it in and have a new cooling fan put in. It was less than a year old at the time.

    Then last year, during NaNo, my then-2yo tripped and his sippy cup lid came off and...

    Milk.

    Everywhere.

    Oh.

    My.

    Tears.

    That laptop does actually still sort of work but the keyboard is all stickyish so it stays hooked up to the TV with a terabyte drive full of [legally] downloaded movies and TV shows, etc. I've also used it for editing - put the CP versions of the file up there to see [amazing how much you can fit on a 46" screen!] and then work on my new laptop.

    Fortunately, I live next door to a computer guru who works for free and only charges his cost for supplies if I need them.

    I did get an alphasmart for Mother's Day. I need to use it more. Like Sunday. On my way to DH's Great Uncle's funeral [It is sad - haven't seen him in 3 years, met him like a dozen times in the last 18 and the family drama has begun]. DD9 has used the AS to write on more than I have. I need to figure out how to move the files to the computer.

    I have a external HD I back most stuff up on. I also email myself files to gmail regularly. I may have to considered that 4.99 deal though...

    I'd love a copy of your debut book!

    /shares a stack of pancakes with the 3yo sitting on her/

    Carol

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

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  37. Audra, you poor thing! I crash a computer about every three years. Once was two weeks before my deadline...no problem since I had it backed up to a flash drive.

    Problem was, my husband has a recording studio in our home. I'd set my purse (with flashdrive inside) on the speakers not knowing that 1.) speakers contain magnets and 2.) magnets erase flash drives.

    So I had to rewrite the story inside of a week. I made my deadline but man was that upsetting and stressful. I started using a remote backup service right after that. LOL!

    I hope you get a new computer for Christmas!

    I love my Alphasmart.

    Hugs
    Cheryl

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  38. Cara, I tried to switch to a Mac but found that learning a new operating system was more stressful than a computer crash. LOL!

    Let me know how your Macadventure goes. I hope you love it. Once people start using Macs I think they rarely go back to pcs.

    Cheryl

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  39. Wow, Audra! Did you ever figure out what is wrecking all your computers? There has to be something there that's getting missed by your protection.

    Loved your story, btw!

    My mishaps? I lost two laptops in 2009. The first one my hubby managed to make it limp along well enough for him to use it, but it eventually died. The second one, praise God, was still under warranty. They said to back everything off if I didn't want to lose anything - just in case they have to give me a new motherboard, you see. Well, I took it to Supertechs and asked if they could back it off. I told them that the computer would not boot at all. There was not juice even getting to the system. But, apparently, they have special software that enables them to copy off the hard drive, even of a dead computer.

    I was so thankful I spent that $100 since they did indeed have to replace the hard drive. Now, I have it back and it's working great a year later. I'm not too good at backing up my files, but I'm working on getting better.

    Enter me in the drawing please. :D

    lr. mullin at live .com

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  40. I loved using Mozy as a remote backup system but when I tried to retrieve the files it was a royal pain and they didn't have the most recent copy even though I had it set to back up every four hours and it had been like 8 hours since I'd been on the computer.

    Still it's better than nothing. LOL!

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  41. Wow, Audra, you and your writing are under attack! Just reading about your computer woes is making me edgy. I'm backed up daily on the Internet at Dropbox and on an external drive. I save my wip on a CD. Plus upon occasion I e-mail the book to my brother. Cause you're living proof that we never know what can happen.

    Loved the hotcakes! Perfect for this cool morning.

    Janet

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  42. Audra, I just LOVE the cover of your book! I can just imagine how excited you were to get it and thrilled by how lovely it turned out. Congratulations!

    And I feel for you on the computer front--a couple of years ago, I lost half a manuscript when my laptop and my desktop both died within hours of each other! I learned the hard way to backup my work. And I don't work too well at a desktop either--

    Patty

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  43. Kav, LOL on the Calamity Jane of Computers statement! LOLOL.

    Audra, I'll bet your is going to be very impactful otherwise stupid cyber demons wouldn't be on a Seek-and-Destroy mission for computers you've been on! LOL.

    Glynna, thanks for the great Control, Alt, Delete advice on pop-ups.

    Cheryl

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  44. Uuuuuggghhhhh! My hard drive crashed a month or so ago and I hardly survived. But now I got a nice laptop that seems to like me ;)

    Would LOVE one of those books. Looks GOOOOD :D

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  45. My goodness, you do go through computers. I have some advice--get a Mac. They don't get viruses and amazing!

    Also, I wanted to tell that I had Mozy, and it really messed up my computer. It started working super slow after having Mozy for a while and then locked up and quit working altogether. It was in the shop two weeks, and the main problem was that it had 900,000-yes, that's correct--temp files. Lesson learned - delete your temp files every so often.

    fictionfan1 [at] cox [dot] net

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  46. A few days ago I snapped the doohicky that attaches the power cord to the laptop -- sheered the little plastic piece clean in two. Fortunately it happened two days AFTER I had sent my proposal...

    Sign me up for your book, please! Love the hunky cowboys!

    -Emily
    hendrickson_emily(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  47. Wow! That's quite a streak of computer ills!

    I'm crazy about doing backups. I make backup discs for the business every time I work on the company books.

    I also email my ms to myself often.


    That book cover is soooo swoony! :)


    ericavetsch at gmail dot com

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  48. Hi Patsy,
    I had asked the family for an ereader for Christmas. My heart's desire has now changed...

    Bummer.

    CarolM! The combination of sippy cups, kids and keyboards gave me nightmares! I feel for you!

    So sorry about your husband's uncle. I love my husband's family. All the losses are awful.

    Linnette, I'm so glad you could retrieve your information AND you had the service! My computers are all vintage. My KIDS have the brand new computers.

    Is there really justice in the world??

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  49. Audra have you checked your house for electrical surges? This seems a little much even for those notoriously fickle computers.

    There is an upside. Think of all that pesky electronic equipment you've cleared out of your house.

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  50. My daughter has a laptop she shares with her husband. It's three years old and dying.

    Someone told them 3 yrs is about the lifespan of a lap top.

    The problem? They bought TOP OF THE LINE. They wanted all the toys.

    So, a year later, without knowing it, I bought the exact same computer they had? My only requirement? It had to be the cheapest full sized laptop in Walmart.

    Yep, one year and it went from top of the line, to bargain basement cheapy.

    And now there's is dying.

    The moral to this story?

    Buy a cheap computer and just tell yourself you're buying the fanciest computer in existance...as of a year ago.

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  51. I email my wip to myself at the end of every work day. So I can never lose more than a day's work.

    I also have a file on my email account where I've saved all my completed manuscripts.

    Plus I open them and save them on a second computer daily. So, saved on two computers. Saved permanently online, saved daily new work online.

    I have a hotmail email address, so I can pick my book up anywhere. I don't save them on Outlook Express because that is connected to your phone line. So you can't pick it up from a remote location.

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  52. LOL, Audra! Once my hubby realized I was serious about writing, he was good to make sure I have a good computer. In fact, HE gets the crumbie left overs. :D

    My kids have laptops only because their grandparents bought them. When you have four boys, you can't buy everybody everything, you know? :D Thank God for Grandparents!

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  53. Audra,
    My story can't rival the drama of the cluster of computer traumas you described, but here's what happened to me last year in the final four days before I had to mail my submission to RWA's Golden Heart contest. [I know nearly everybody reading this already understands the pressure of getting your ms. ready for the G.H.]
    My ms. and synopsis were both complete but I'd set aside those final days for tweaking, proofing, revising, magic spells, and anything else I could think of to give G.H. the BEST 55 pages I could stuff into the mailbox.
    Got home from exercising at the local 'Y' and found my desktop computer completely dead. With shock and alarm, I whined to my wife.
    "Oh, yeah," she said, "I meant to tell you. I was on Farmville and it just quit."
    My spirts sank even lower than they'd already plummeted. Farmville was known to destroy computers right and left. The Grim Reaper of hard drives.
    I tried to reach the good folks who had done some computer work for us before, but they were out of business and I had no way to contact them wherever they were now.
    Well, I rushed to action. Un-hooked my hard drive and hustled down to the local Office Depot where I'd seen a sign about them 'fixing' computers in the store. Ha. What a joke, but more about that some other time.
    With considerable reluctance to even TOUCH my equipment, a technician proffered a tentative diagnosis: [some glitch with the power switch assembly that I can't remember the name of].
    "Can you fix it?"
    Nervous chuckle.
    I looked around for the video cameras. Maybe it's reality TV.
    "I saw the signs about repairing computers." I thought a prompt might help.
    He explained, not to my satisfaction, that they merely provided REFERRALS to somebody who could repair computers.
    I wanted to stay and argue about false advertising, but instead I bundled up my unit and headed home.
    The one useful suggestion I'd gotten was to check on the warranty. I was not at all hopeful, as the unit was about 3 years old by then, but what the heck.
    Got the usual run-around with phone menus and foreign voices I couldn't understand. But I persisted and finally reached someone. Surprise: my PC WAS still covered! Evidently I'd gotten an extended warranty for longer than I'd remembered. Hoozah!
    Bonus # 2, the warranty I had purchased was the one where a Dell tech comes to your HOME to fix it!
    Shazam!
    Then the devil returned to the details. No local techs, of course. They were marshalled in a nearby large city. Scheduled in a complex logarithm.
    Bottom line: when can I expect the tech?
    Within 3 business days. "Oops, since Thursday is Thanksgiving, that's not a business day. Bye." Click.
    Well, my heart fell even farther. The brief glee that my equipment was 'covered' was replaced by the doom that there was no way it could be repaired in time for me to finish my work on the entry for G.H.

    See continuation below

    ReplyDelete
  54. [continued from above]

    Fast-forward: I cobbled together my printer with my wife's lap-top. Used my thumbdrives -- like you, I back up religiously -- to load my files. Adjusted to the different keyboard and mousepad thingy. Etc.
    Got the entry ready to go --- all six copies!
    Oh, but the P.O. closed down one of it's offices on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Joy!
    Find the only one in town that's open on Sat. morning, and drive all the way down there to mail this sucker. Plunk down $35 to get it to Texas before the Monday deadline.
    I won't bore you with the part about the P.O. tracking dept. not showing it was ever delivered, or about my calls and e-mails to the RWA staff pleading with them to search among the other 1100 manuscripts which had arrived by the truckload (literally) over that weekend.
    Suffice it to say, the Dell tech did (later) show up, replaced the "motherboard" -- doesn't that have a comforting sound? -- and the power switch gizmo.
    And -- here's the biggest surprise -- nothing was lost from my hard drive.
    So, that's my story.
    Jeff

    P.S. I got the worst scores from G.H. of my three years of entering.

    ReplyDelete
  55. My computer disaster happened at the beginning of the school year right before school started. My husband was transferring my work files onto a new desktop for school. During the middle of the backup, something happened and we lost all of my files for last year. Praise God that I had all the files from the beginning of teaching up to the 2008 school year. I have hard copies of everything I've done last year, but it's still a nuisance to have to recreate some things that I had not done the previous year.

    Thanks for the chance to enter the book drawing.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I now have two laptops that are waiting for me to save enough to have the hard drives restored. Victims of viruses to be sure. Thankfully, most everything I use or want is on my flash drive. But I need to back that up because one day...

    I email the most important docs--my bookmarks, my TBR list, my story ideas doc and my current wip--to myself periodically. Speaking of which...

    I'm in the market for an external harddrive this Christmas. I also recently learned about Dropbox, an online storage service that offers 2 Gb for free.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Oh, Audra, I got cold chills just reading this -- WHAT A NIGHTMARE!!!

    The only way your story could be worse is if it happened to some high-maintenance, super-wired, espresso-caffeinated drama queen. Then it's not just a nightmare for her, but for her saint of a husband.

    One time I labored over a scene I loved SO much, that when I finished it, I sat there with tears in my eyes at my computer just like Kathleen Turner at the beginning of the movie "Romancing the Stone," when she mouths something like "it is soooo good!!" I saved it and went to bed, a happy woman. Next day, not only was that scene missing, but days of writing were all gone ... zip, gone, pffft. I had the shakes and tics in my eyes for days. Worst day of my writing life.

    Correction: worst day of my husband's life ...

    So I totally commiserate and ache and moan for you, my friend, because computer troubles are from the devil. Period.

    Just reading about how calmly you handled it is like a tranquilizer to me, Audra, which is probably one of the many reasons I love you SOOO much!

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  58. Jeff, I laughed out loud at your comment. Poor guy. All that madness and then you didn't do well.

    Ah that good old Golden Heart.

    I have to say you wrote that brilliantly. So that's a comfort. Almost as comforting as 'motherboard'.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Debby,
    I use SugarSync. It's actually quietly running in the background of my computer all the time and when I save my file it automatically backs it up. Every time. (Do you hear the little hallelujah chorus in the background?)

    You have the ability to back up more than one computer in your household for that price, but I think you would quickly run out of storage space and have to upgrade. But still, even 10 dollars a month for that kind of peace of mind is worth it to me.

    ReplyDelete
  60. So sorry for your computer woes, Audra!

    But . . . best words of wisdom I personally ever received . . .

    GET A MAC!!!

    It took me a couple of years to finally take the plunge, but I have had ZERO REGRETS!!! Despite what Cheryl's experience was, I found the transition amazingly intuitive. Sure, there are a few things that you have to adjust to doing differently, but the rewards are SO worth the effort!

    And my MacBook Pro just celebrated its third birthday and is still going strong. I converted my hubby to a Mac desktop about a year ago, and even as horribly tech-challenged as that "engineer" is, he's crazy about his Mac! When his company recently gave him a PC laptop to use for business purposes, he just HATED having to go back to a Windows machine!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Oh, backups.

    On my MacBook I back up important document files nightly to my MobileMe account ($99/year). I also use the Mac Time Machine to back up hourly to an external hard drive. If we leave town, it gets locked in the safe.

    On my husband's Mac, I got him an iDrive account (online backup service). Mozy seemed to have too many glitches and wasn't backing up when we thought it was. Haven't noticed any similar problems with iDrive.

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  62. Oh, Audra, that would be my worst nightmare! I've only had two computers--until I bought a laptop a couple of months ago. My first computer died, but we had someone come out and he was able to save everything except my emails and my contacts. But it was a pretty traumatic experience anyway. The computer we replaced it with is still going strong (thank you Lord!) but it's over 3 years old. I hope it continues to have a long and happy life, because I do all my writing on it and I am TERRIBLE about backing up my work. I don't even know how to save something to a flash drive. The few times I've used a flash drive I had to get my husband or my daughter to save the stuff to it. But I've been emailing my WIP and my other book I'm revising back and forth between my laptop and my desktop, and that's my very low-tech form of back up!

    I am so not used to my laptop yet and I much prefer my desktop. But if the laptop was all I had, I'm sure I'd learn to love it. :-)

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  63. So I guess my advice is to only have one computer at a time and that way they can't all die at the same time! Okay, that is extremely poor logic, but ... okay, I got nothing. I'm a historicals writer, after all.

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  64. This is Such a good reminder. Thanks. I also have a habit of emailing my most current work to my sister and mother for safe keeping every week. I figure all of our computers won't crash at the same time.

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  65. I use carbonite myself. And after all of these disasters. It's a wonder you weren't voted off the island!

    Congrats on your debut!

    Lyn Cote
    http://strongwomenbravestories.blogspot.com

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  66. I back up to Mozy too, and have one of those trigabyte hard drives.

    My dh gave it to me for Christmas 2 years ago. It's what I asked for, and I actually ordered it myself from Wally World.

    Love it!

    The IT guy at work put my email into my documents folder (don't ask me how he did it), and when I want to back up my laptop, I just got to My Computer, right click, and send EVERYTHING, including my entire Outlook Express "stuff" to my wonderful ext. hard drive. Takes maybe 10 minutes.

    And...I don't delete the older backups, just rename them: My Documents 11.04.10, etc. Eventually, I'll delete the older versions, but don't see the need to right now.

    Hmmm, this year I really need to ask for an AlphaSmart instead of a Kindle or an iPad.

    Where's the best place to get an AlphaSmart?

    ReplyDelete
  67. Hmmm, so on the AlphaSmart, ya'll are serious when you say you can't stop and edit?

    For instance, I'm typing qehakdh and oops, my fingers got on the wrong keys just now.

    With the Alphy, I literally can't go back up there and fix that qehakdh...well, until I download it to my computer, of course?

    That would definitely take some getting used to, but I keep hearing how much everybody gets done on one.

    Anybody NOT like the AlphaSmart?

    ReplyDelete
  68. Speaking of backups, etc. I just listened to a workshop by Robin Lee Hatcher, and not only does she backup each day, but prints her work for the day.

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  69. Vickie, really? Just delete temp files? If that works, there will be chocolates in the mail to you, pronto!!

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  70. Sorry I'm MIA today. Silly day job. Who needs that???

    Wait.

    2 kids in college.

    Hmm.

    I DO!!

    I'll stop in as often as I can!!

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  71. Patty, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have a least week between frying computers, LOL!

    Hang tough!

    ReplyDelete
  72. TV with a terabyte drive full of [legally] downloaded movies and TV shows, etc

    Now THAT is a GREAT idea!

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  73. I dump temp files and generally clean up my computer using THIS:


    Five Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

    One warning...part of the process is erasing cookies. This has the effect of canceling ALL your saved passwords.
    So, for example, when I go to ACFW.com and log into the members only section, which I do occasionally but not LOTS, that's got a password, and it's old and I have a lot of websites like that and I don't necessarily remember all the passwords. So you might trip yourself up erasing all your cookies. But the amount of saved CRAP on your computer is out of control.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Mary said: I also have a file on my email account where I've saved all my completed manuscripts.

    I also have an email account like this. It's my "safe" email address. The key to this is that this email account doesn't download to your computer/inbox. You have to log in and check it via webmail, which you can do from any computer.

    Well, as long as you remember your username and password!

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  75. We used to have computer issues like that--viruses mucking up the works every 6 months (and we did have anti virus), until we got an iMac almost 3 years ago. No problems since!

    Macs generally don't get viruses because the hacker people don't bother writing them because the majority of the population has a PC. Also, even if they do get one (we haven't in 3 years), you just drag the web browser icon to the trash and start fresh. There is also MS Word and all those programs available for the Mac.

    Holly
    oceandreamerfla(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  76. Oh yeah, Janet, I forgot about emailing the mss to myself! Sometimes it's a nightmare trying to remember version when you have them all over, but hey, better safe than sorry.

    Right Cheryl? I think I'd cry if something as innocent as a magnetic field cleared off my drive.

    Yes, ma'am. I'd be crying buckets with no hope of rewriting an entire book in a weekend!! You go, girl!

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  77. Joanne and Emily! I so hate circumstances beyond my control!!

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  78. Erica! Talk about swoony covers!! Have you taken a look at YOUR newest cover??

    Check it out folks. Maggie and the Maverick, Heartsong Presents. Hunky is so the word!

    ReplyDelete
  79. Mary glad to hear about all your saving. My problem is the Internet right now. Slllooooowwwwwwww doesn't even begin to describe it.

    But, I have to remember to email stuff to myself. I'll never lose it that way.

    Your whole theory on cheap computers is right up there with mine. I think if I shelled out the bucks for the top of the line computer then have it fritz out on in 3 years??

    Oh yes, baby. I think I'd go back to typewriters...

    ReplyDelete
  80. I've learned two things reading this post and all the comments:

    1) Don't loan Audra my laptop, no matter how sweetly she asks.

    2) Get an AlphaSmart (I don't know what one is, but everyone here seems to love them).

    Sorry, make that three things...

    3) I'd love to win Audra's book (if she keeps me in the running after that crack I just made about her. Think then speak, think then speak. When will I learn?)

    I do have a soft spot for hunky cowboys.

    Speaking of mean comments...

    Mary, have you forgiven me for my crack about your "reputation" yesterday?

    andeemarie95@gmail.com

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  81. @Jeff - oh my!

    @Andrea [and someone else whose comment I can't seem to find]: You only have a few lines on the alphasmart at a time. You can backspace and stuff but it's not the place for actual editing and stuff.

    This is what I have. I think the best place to get them these days is ebay or somewhere like that. There's usually a run on them [from what I've heard] right before NaNo but that may be over now. I know I paid about half what a friend did for a similar one since I got mine for Mother's Day and she got hers in late October.

    On the neo website, they're $350 [ouch! My new laptop - the one after the milk spill - was only 250 during pre-Thanksgiving sales]. Ebay has them used for 20-55 depending on what it comes with [and a couple for 150ish]. The Neo is much cheaper - don't ask me the differences though!

    @Pam - I doubt I'll ever watch everything on that drive! My sister made me an authorized user on her account and she DL's a TON. I have something like 1200 hours of TV and 100+ movies on it. I may need to ask for another terabyte for Christmas for backups...

    And now off to clean and/or write. I'm not going to the funeral after all but gotta make arrangements for the kiddos while I'm at work and DH is gone...

    Are there any more pancakes? Or chocolate? I could use both :).

    ReplyDelete
  82. Jeff.

    Wow.

    I assume you are still writing and give you GREAT kudos for that, my friend.

    I'm not too excited about the deadline disasters either. You handled that well and with grace.

    Now.

    GH deadline is looming again. Dare you try one more time?? I'm behind you!!!

    ReplyDelete
  83. Cynthia, losing all your files just before school. Now that's a disaster!

    Would that be you learning or teaching? Either way, I'd be devastated!

    ReplyDelete
  84. Patricia, I applaud your efforts. I hate viruses. Why do people develope them???

    Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  85. I am fine, Andrea. Calm and chipper.

    All is well.

    A stare at Audra's cowboy cover now to find happiness.

    ReplyDelete
  86. Julie, I can really, really, really see you crying after writing a moving scene! I'll bet the tears flow all the time!!

    If I'd written something that good and discovered it gone the next day, you're right, Gary would bear the brunt of my tears. He's such a trooper. He'd grin and bear it and then get out of Dodge at the first hint of happy.

    I feel for you babe! Keep churning out those tears!!

    ReplyDelete
  87. Myra, what do you mean Mozy doesn't back everything up??

    I can feel that tic coming back and my stomach knotting up. How can I tell if ALL my stuff is out in cyber space??

    ReplyDelete
  88. About the Mac. I hate to say it, but really, plunking down that much money at one time for one pretty little computer??

    Oh man.

    I've got the shakes just thinking about it.

    BUT I have heard it's well worth it...

    ReplyDelete
  89. Melanie, when I bought my Seagate external drive, it came with an automatic backup program. As long as my computer is on, everything gets backed up.

    Don't lose any of your good stuff!!

    ReplyDelete
  90. I want a poster of that book cover!
    Susanna
    quilt938 at clear dot net

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  91. Lyn, it was a toss up between Mozy and Carbonite. Since I had already backed up my novels and photos on the free 2 GB with Mozy, I just decided to use them for everything.

    Anyone know what happens to your files if you change Cyber storage?

    Always wondered about that.

    Thanks for the congrats!!

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  92. Debbie I dont know the issue its just I use CA which I have no problem with but Bigpond my Isp gave me a free trial (twice now) and each time it has basically shut the computer down. it wont let me get into the internet and even of line it causes trouble. I dont think its so much the size but more the way it doesn't interact with my computer. also the cost they say is cheap is actually almost double what I pay for the whole security suite I have. So I am keeping what I have. I had similar issues with the free agv (I think thats what its called) CA (use to be called vet) hasn't caused any issues except taking forever to scan the computer. it gives me 3 licenses which is good for me with 2 computers. The desktop does lack memory but CA is fine on it. I tend to use the lap top more now days.

    ReplyDelete
  93. Audra, that's just unbelievable. I think Mary is right. You have some unusual magnetic field around you. I'm so glad you didn't have to borrow my netbook while we were rooming together at ACFW! :)

    My almost 4-year old Gateway laptop started doing weird things. Wouldn't hibernate when I closed it so would nearly overheat. Got the blue screen of death twice--however rebooting fixed it. Slowed down. etc. Too risky before a deadline. So I decided to buy a new one. I asked around and ended up buying a Mac. I'm loving the speed and ease of use. But I'm still learning the software. I ended up buying Office for Mac and am learning the little differences. The main thing I miss is the way files are named and arranged. Finder is taking a while to learn. But I"m learning shortcuts that are helping.

    I use Mozy on my old laptop, but just recently went to back do a backup, and it's calling it an initial back up and is taking days. Very strange since I've had it over a year!

    Thanks everyone for your back up recommendations!

    ReplyDelete
  94. My screen kept "going off" recently! I freak out when have problems cause I am so computer retarded!!! Would love to win your book!
    jackie.smithATdishmailDOTnet

    ReplyDelete
  95. Oh wow.
    That's a lot of computer problems.

    My computer is big and old, but is still working. My husband's laptop is just over 2 years old and is on it's last legs.

    My kids make fun of my slow, big computer, but it much cheapter than buying a new one and will probably last as long.

    You have an awesome cover. I would love a chance to win your book.

    Connie

    bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

    ReplyDelete
  96. Mary Connealy ---
    Thanks for your kind remarks!
    Nice to have my renditions appreciated.

    Audra ---
    No, no more G.H. for me. In three years, I got lower scores each time. My second novel ms. went to '07 GH, the same story (substantially revised) went to '08 GH, and my fourth novel went to '09 GH.
    It would be more gratifying to slam my head against a tree.
    Yep ... still writing. In fact I've completed my fifth novel since that episode and am working on my sixth ms. as we speak.
    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  97. Wow, I can't top that story at all. I'm starting the search for a new laptop, though...

    umdmaurer at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  98. Pam, Mary, good ideas.

    Pam I think you said once you only have a couple main folders on your computer and load information accordingly. I wish you'd come out here and set up my system, LOL!

    Mary, I've done the cookie cleaning thing. Yes, it's an inconvenience, but I think I remember my computer running faster. I'll try it. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  99. Andrea, I'd have to slap you if you even thought of loaning me your laptop, LOL! Sweet thing, you're still in the running!

    On the bright side, reading all the comments about clean ups and processors and stuff, I might see a silver lining in my computer woes.

    I knew if I asked all you guys to help, I find an answer...Check out WE to see if any of them helped!!

    ReplyDelete
  100. Missy.

    Are you certain I didn't use your netbook???? It looks just like mine, heh heh heh...

    ReplyDelete
  101. Susanna, I'd like a poster of Gabe, too. I just printed off pictures of my cover and I stare...

    Mary honey, I'd stare at your beautiful covers, too, but they always feature headless women. That could be a little weird.

    ReplyDelete
  102. I can certainly sympathize with your computer woes; I went through that awhile back. I like the cover of "Rocky Mountain Hero." That's enough to make me want to read the book! I'd love a chance to win.
    Thanks.
    pmk56[at]sbcglobal[dot]net

    ReplyDelete
  103. Jackie, that whole black screen thing doesn't freak me out as much as the blue screen thing. I know my computer is still computing when it goes black...but when it goes blue, you get that awful warning that blares across the top of your screen.

    Talk about a Rolaids moment!!

    Connie, stick with old reliable until you can't wake it up anymore, but remember to back up your work!!!!

    MaDonna, shopping for a laptop! How fun!! Now you've heard the pros and cons of PC vs Mac. Go out and make good choices, LOL!

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  104. Jeff, I can't blame you at all. BUT I can congratulate you on finishing 5 books and moving on to 6! Now THAT'S how you get published!

    ReplyDelete
  105. Holly, that's funny about why Macs don't get viruses. I've heard it before but really? Is it true? There's a iSomething for whatever ails you anymore.

    Pam, thanks for liking my cover. Susanna and I are super-sizing it, LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  106. Monitors I have had issues with. I have had two blow up! One went bang and the other did too but it tripped the safety switch before any damage but the smell was awful. One of them was a new monitor also.
    At tafe (which is like community college) I have had the monitor changed on the computer I use as it was giving double images. yes I know I need glasses but for long distance not close up! it got to the point I couldn't do the computing work on that computer. Its now been changed. It had been causing all sorts of problems for weeks before it went blurry.
    hoping the new (second hand) one last till the end of the year!

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  107. I am blessed with a wonderful husband who helps me solve all the crazy computer issues I create. I've lost chapters, and he's helped me find them.

    Audra, I love your cover and title! Can't wait to read that book.
    Blessings,
    Carrie
    carrie (at) turansky (dot) com

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  108. Stephanie, thanks for the tip on Sugar Sync! And Lyn, thanks for mentioning carbonite.

    Mary, I like your tip on sending the end of the day work to an email account.

    Glynna, I must remember your comment about not closing a pop up! I've heard that before...but keep hitting the little X instead of CTR-ALT-DEL. I need a sticky on my monitor to remind me!

    Great info today! Thanks, Audra! Something good came from all your computer problems!

    ReplyDelete
  109. Update: I guess I'm going to have to back-up all of my files soon (probably over Christmas break) and reset Windows because my laptop isn't updating. Oh, well. My computer's going to live, and as my dad said, it's most likely a blessing in disguise. :)

    And the IT people at my school are awesome, as I said before! :D

    ~Amber

    P.S. Thank you to those who gave me advice! :)

    ReplyDelete
  110. A long day of editing and trying to get my nonfiction manuscript ready for a full request has ended with the Cam Newton scandal. It's been a wild day.

    I have my iown computer stories. Usually, there was a static charge on my computer that caused it not to come up. I discharged the battery and things went back to normal.

    I love my Alphasmart.

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  111. Love those computers. I was taking my old home office computer to the business office. Uploaded Quickbooks, used it twice and it started looping on me. Reinstalled the system program, took it to the shop and the power but took a hike. Took it apart sorta fixed the button and was on my way again

    it worked for a whole blooming week and now it doesn't want to load my startup programs unless I reboot.

    you're So right, Audra, it is good to back up work and I am

    sounds like you have fun times with computers.

    Blessings

    Tina P

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  112. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraNovember 5, 2010 at 8:25 AM

    I am so sorry!! I hate when computers break for no reason. I hope things start going better for you.


    fantum2004 AT sbcglobal DOT net

    ReplyDelete
  113. I have more then my share of computer mishaps. The worst was at my workplace and I had spent an entire day working on a spreadsheet report and when I saved it something happened and I lost the entire report. Needless to say, I save quite frequently in whatever computer work I do now.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.
    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  114. I've had my share of computer problems, but my husband fixes all of them. I'm fortunate.
    Love to win a book.
    Trinity Rose
    wandaelaine at gmail dot com

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  115. Sounds crazy. Thank goodness you have such a good attitude about it. Would love to win.

    Lourdes11743@gmail.com

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