When it comes to technology, I can be stubborn and/or lazy. I don’t want to jump through hoops to get the latest and greatest in games, programs, or computers. I shouldn’t have to. For some people it might be important for work or play, but I make bread for a living and write as a hobby. And when all I want to do is put words on a piece of paper, I’ll go for a program that’s readily available and somewhat easy to play with.
Word was that program back in the day, and had enough complex features to make me curious as I was learning how to use a computer. The program became a standard for me. It didn’t hurt that a starter version came with this laptop and the .doc and .docx files are everywhere.
Unfortunately, Word is now a sprawling mess. The programmers seem obsessed with providing infinite layers of formatting, while at the same time insisting that their house style is correct. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent fixing the odd indentation or line spacing inconsistency (sometimes giving up) because of all the hidden data within the document that insists THIS IS HOW IT MUST BE.
But that’s not why I’m posting this tonight. I was inspired to write this by Word’s faulty, unreliable Document Recovery feature.
Rarely do I open Word and am not greeted by a sidepanel of every document I opened the previous day. They’re important documents (Jasper manuscript, Swamp Gas short story,) and I’m glad that Word took the time to preserve them. But they’re also documents that save compulsively. “Oh, I fixed that comma. Ctrl+S!”
Here’s the problem: My laptop is a few years old. If I were talking about a child, she would be walking and making a mess all over my apartment with day-old spaghetti and blue crayons. If I were talking about a dog, she would make similar messes with dog hair and half-chewed toys. But I’m talking about a piece of technology, which means that this laptop is getting OLD. And it is prone to a mechanical form of narcolepsy in which it will shut down unexpectedly if left plugged in and unattended for long periods of time. (Not talking about hibernation, sleep, or any battery saving function. This is an instant blank screen followed by an “oops, you didn’t shut down properly” message upon starting up again.) But this is an unrelated issue. What is relevant is that the last time this happened, I had two other (unsaved) documents of scenes I cut out of Jasper. I’d hoped to take some material from them when rewriting scenes, but no such luck.
Document recovery was no help here. I followed these steps. The recovered files just don’t exist. I guess my laptop’s latest narcoleptic spell was actually a blackout drunk spell, and it never recorded the “memories” it was supposed to form.
I’m not worried about these lost files. I suppose this means I was meant to rewrite that scene from scratch. I’m just struck by the irony of a function apparently designed to protect the user from unexpected file loss and yet only functions to protect files the user already saved.