This weekend, I wondered if there was something akin to an electronic siphon. Literally, I stared at my old Mac Powerbook 1400cs (anyone remember those?), wondering if there was a way to get information just by sucking it out.
You see, I've kept the old laptop only because virtually every file I have from undergrad and grad school is on there. All my papers, any creative writing, everything. The problem: the CD-ROM drive never was able to write anything, the disk drive is pretty much broken and won't accept disks, and I can't seem to find the connection to make my zip drive work. In other words: no way to get the information out. A couple months ago, I discovered that my internet PC card still worked and that I could just dial in to AU and download the files from an ancient version of Netscape; this meant, however, that I could only do this three files at a time with a v e r y s l o w connection. I looked for other ways to do this, to no avail.
This week, I really needed to access an article I had written during graduate school which I had promised to my students. Written in 1998 mere weeks before they won the Oscar, the paper is a star study on Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, chronicling their coverage as screenwriters being an important factor to their construction as stars. Not only had I decided to share this with my class, but in the last week, a publishing possibility came to light, so I wanted to revisit it. I went to try accessing the file on Friday.
This was when I discovered that I had mistakenly taken out the PC card from the computer, and now don't know where it is.
I sat there for about an hour, looking from one computer to the other, envisioning the electronic siphon. I imagined myself sucking on a big tube stuck into the hard drive, making sure not to get any 0/1 combinations into my mouth as if it were gas.
In the end, I did what is unthinkable these days: I retyped the entire paper. Although it took the better part of a day (23 pages total, including an appendix -- and the day included many interruptions by cute baby), it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was.
In the process, I found this, which may be a solution to my problems so that I won't have to retype EVERY SINGLE FILE. Will update at another point (hopefully) on the ongoing saga.