Way back in the days before IBM and Microsoft took over computing, Tandy Radio Shack Model 16 computers running Xenix were quite popular with small business users. Laughably underpowered by todays standards, and costing a pretty fair penny too, they were still very cheap and quite powerful enough to handle a small office.
One such "office" was The Medical Missionaries of Mary. I don't recall how I got the job, but I did OS support and some Filepro programming for them. When I initially visited their offices, I was introduced to the Sister who would be in charge of the computers. One of the first things I explained to her was the necessity of doing regular backups. I though perhaps that she might insist that a higher power would prevent need for such, but she was actually quite pragmatic and listened carefully as I explained how to insert the first of several eight inch floppy diskettes that would be used for backup. I told her that I hoped that she would be very conscientious, because although I might never need to restore data, the day might come where I would need to ask her for the previous day's backup. She assured me that she would indeed be very conscientious.
Well, time went by, and I worked on their programs (just a little database to help them with contributions and solicitations). It was at least several years later when they called me with terrible news. The Tandy 16 had crashed and died, a service man had installed a new hard drive, but all their precious data was lost. I came out as soon as I could and, upon meeting the Sister in the hall, explained to her that this was the day when I would need yesterdays backup. "I have that for you", she said, leading me to a large walk-in closet. This was a room probably ten feet long, six wide, with floor to ceiling shelves. The content of the shelves struck me as odd: row after row of Tandy Eight Inch Diskette boxes - there must have been several hundred boxes. "I have them all", she said, "every single one".
And indeed she did. Apparently I neglected to explain that diskettes were reusable: she had a backup set carefully labeled for every single day since the very first set I had shown her how to make. Day after day, week after week, month after month: she had "every single one".
At that moment I didn't have the heart to explain the misconception. I just accepted yesterday's set, restored the data, and left them happily pecking away. I did write a nice letter later that day explaining that while it was good to have "deep" backup, several years worth was really too much.
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More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2009-11-07 Tony Lawrence
Unlike info, pinfo does not display anything if it has nothing. I've been forever irritated by info coming up with its default page when it has nothing to tell me. (Tony Lawrence)