[436/441] Save me!

Don’t worry about the title–I am not particularly in need of saving (with whatever . Instead, the title of the post is based on the following image, which is actually quite outdated, if you think about it:

Front and back of a floppy disc

Courtesy Victor Korniyenko via Wikipedia.

Given that some new computers don’t have compact-disc drives anymore, it stands to reason that floppy discs are even more outdated! Yet, it is still the canonical icon for the “Save” button!  This post makes em want to talk about Auto-Save.

One of the key pieces of advice when working on a computer is: Save often.  Although word-processing applications have Auto-Saves (or Emergency Saves), they are not reliable. I have had many times where I have failed to save and have lost a lot of data if the program crashed.

One specific time came to mind where I lost a lot of data and time on a crash. During the infancy of Dragon Naturally Speaking, Dad invited me to use it to dictate a paper that I had to write for my sixth grade class.  There was a forty-minute session that I had to use in order to train it to my voice.  And about halfway through the dictation, the program crashed and I hadn’t saved anything.

In a panic, I then opened Microsoft Word and managed to type the paper in a relatively short amount of time.  How much better voice recognition has gotten in the last fifteen years!

Three applications that I frequently use will occasionally crash.  Ever since I got my new computer, on which my Microsoft Office 2003 installation is no longer compatible, I have been using OpenOffice for spreadsheets and as a .doc/.docx reader.  Why not a writer? I have LyX for that, particularly since most of my writing is done involving mathematics!  (This is obviously not a sponsored post for either of these open source projects.)

However, I have found that the OpenOffice spreadsheets are unreliable.  They seem to have a high crash rate, and even though there is an autosave, I have never seen any of my progress since the last save recovered when I try to re-open and it recovers the document.  I reset my user profile, which has lessened the frequency of the crashes, but I still have to save after virtually every change as a security measure.  That is really annoying.

I have found LyX to be a very stable system.  However, I will occasionally get segmentation faults if I use CTRL+Y (Redo).  I often Undo/Redo if I am double-checking a formula or if I get distracted or pulled away while writing.  The good news: the emergency save has always been pretty much down to the point of crash, so that I don’t lose any data and can immediately save after reloading the document.

The emergency save took place yesterday on the blog, as well!  Sometimes, I leave a draft open for a long time, and then finish it. I then went to tag and categorize the post, and hit Publish. Lo and behold, I get an error message! When I hit Back, I had lost all of my progress!  But, there was a message at the top of the editor: “There is an autosave which is newer than this version.”

I clicked on the text, and hooray! My post recovered, except for the tags!

Well, clearly the rule “Save often” still holds. Be wary if you are using an application without a reliable autosave!

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Today is the four-hundred and thirty-sixth day of Mission 441. Five days remain.

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