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When all else fails, pack computer, ship to home office

I've just found a new way to transmit files from my desk to our home office in Mississippi.

Y'all might want to grab a pencil and paper to write this down. It's really quite amazing. It's essential to follow the steps in order.

Step No.1: Write a whole issue worth of stories and make sure to save them to the hard drive on the computer. I've found it helpful to program my computer to save everything every few minutes so nothing gets lost if a power surge or rolling blackout shuts the system down for a few minutes. I once lost a whole story about a tractor dealer because I inadvertently hit the wrong button and sent the text into cyber Purgatory.

As they say, once burned….

Step No. 2: Put all the pertinent stories, photo scans, etc., in the pertinent folder on the computer so it will be easy to find when it's time to transmit the data to the home office.

Step No. 3: Pat yourself on the back for your remarkable foresight and work ethic that allowed you to get most of the copy completed a good two days before the absolute last minute it needs to be in Mississippi.

Step No. 4: Insert in your computer an innocent looking compact disk containing charts and photo scans to be used to illustrate one of the already written articles meticulously saved to the hard drive.

Step No. 5: Click on all the icons included in the innocent looking compact disk until the cursor on the computer screen begins to pulsate just before it freezes.

Step No. 6: Reassure yourself that a simple reboot will restore order to the machine and all your work will be there waiting as soon as the restart function cycles through.

Step No. 7: When the “force quit” command does not restart the machine, hit the kill switch on the surge protector (another device installed to make certain valuable files are never lost) to turn the power off.

Step No. 8: Turn power back on by reversing step No. 7.

Step No. 9: Restart the computer in the usual way.

Step No. 10: Choke back the feeling of panic that begins creeping into the pit of your stomach when a message, accompanied by the image of a bomb, fuse lit, appears on the screen to inform you that a “system error number 41 (spool launcher) has occurred. Restart.”

Step No. 11: Restart.

Step No. 12: Try to control your language when the same error message flashes on the screen again, and again, and again.

Step No. 13: Remember the good sleep you had last evening. It will be the last you get for a while.

Step No. 14: Call Sandy. She's our go-to gal for computer problems.

Step No. 15: Call Ed. He's our go-to guy for computer problems that Sandy can't fix.

Step No. 16: Call the Help Desk, the computer user's equivalent of 911.

Step No. 17: Inform the courteous folks at the Help Desk in as calm a voice as possible that the information locked in your computer absolutely must be available day after tomorrow to meet the deadline your foresight and work ethic allowed you to get ready a whole two days before it absolutely had to be in Mississippi.

Step No. 18: I told you this was amazing.

Step No. 19: Try to keep your voice from hitting a high pitched wail when you learn from the computer user's equivalent of 911 that you're facing a grim situation that probably can't be cured with a few toggles of a switch or even a series of complicated digital gyrations that would make Van Cliburn proud. Push down the command key while holding down Alt, Del, Esc, and either the C or Shift key and pop the “on” button with any opposable thumb not otherwise occupied.

Step No. 20: Remember, this too, will pass.

Step No. 21: Call the absolute, last chance, most sophisticated, computer savvy computer expert in the country and learn that, yes indeed, you have a problem.

Step No. 22: Pack the computer into a box, take it to one of those overnight shipping places and send it to the home office, where, with any luck at all (and we're due a bit of that by now) someone will open the innards, wriggle a few wires or insert another disk that will not only resuscitate this DOA electronic contraption but will do so with all its memory intact, and immediately available for insertion in the next issue, which, as you may recall, goes to the printer about right now.

Step No. 23: For future reference, occasionally (about every five minutes) insert one of those floppy drive thingamabobs and copy everything onto it. This process is way too complicated to remember every week

email: ron_smith .

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