The Computer Gnu: I Want My Floppy

Amstrad 1512
Amstrad 1512

Once upon a time, the PC didn’t have a hard drive. My own first PC, an Amstrad, had twin floppies. One was used to install and run the operating system and the other was for storing data. Hard drives were something we simply dreamed about, in fact I don’t think I even knew what a hard drive was in those days. This was in the dim and faded past of the 1980s when even we nerds, gurus and gnus hadn’t been invented either. In those days you saved your data to floppy disc, 5¼-inch on the Amstrad later to be replaced by the streamlined and ultra-cool 3½-inch floppy – which didn’t actually flop unless you took it out of it’s hard protective plastic case. In this hi-tech age we have done away with floppies and we have the hard drive, data sticks, DVD-RWs or the Cloud. Everything has changed since I tapped a command onto my first keyboard, a big orange one attached to an ICL-9000 mainframe. But has it changed for the better?

I have three PCs each happily working away. But my personal PC is now bringing me daily updates on what the BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) looks like, sometimes several times a day. In order to sort out my PC I have had to resort to installing a fresh version of Windows 10 as I’m sure the free upgrade from Windows 8.1 has caused a lot of this Blue Screen Of sodding Death misery I’m experiencing. So, being the super-smart been-there-done-it-all & cool-dude that I am, I backed everything up to the Cloud. Microsoft OneDrive to be precise.

I’ve always been a fan of Microsoft. From the very first use of MSDOS (MicroSoft Disc Operating System) to the day I bought a copy of their R-Base database software (lovely smell when you opened the box) and right up to present day, I have loved Microsoft. Even when I had formatted and installed the new Windows 10 operating system and I got an error trying to activate it. Even then, when the helpful Nikita at Microsoft took control of my PC and sorted me out, I have loved Microsoft.

Right up until the point I discovered that not all of my data had been backed up to the cloud. It was at the point I discovered that the first draft of my latest novel, The Brittle Sea, has not been backed up, that was when my love affair with Microsoft came to an end. Ten thousand words down the drain and nothing to show for weeks of blood, sweat and tears. That most certainly was the point when my affair with Microsoft soured somewhat.

Bring back the floppy Microsoft, or heads will roll.

Tom Kane © 2017
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Tom Kane

I was born in the corner of the living room, behind the TV. So said my father many times, and the family agreed whole heartedly. That seems to have set the tone for the rest of my life. In the corner or behind the TV, what is officially known about my birth is that it took place in England to working class parents. My mother inspired me to write, Doctor Who and Isaac Asimov inspired my love of science fiction, Monty Python inspired me to be silly and I blame Billy Connelly for my infrequent bursts of bad language. After an uninspiring bout of education at Grammar School, I failed my GCSEs miserably. I blamed it on too much revision and not enough coffee - yes I was addicted at an early age. After a number of years working in an office and gaining the giddy heights of special director at the age of twenty-two I did what only a child of indeterminate birthplace could do, I resigned. Personal computers had just been developed, and I wanted to buy one to become a writer. So I got a job in a warehouse shifting boxes. It paid better than office work and I could use my brain to write stories in between tea-breaks. That was forty years ago. Now, after forty years as a computer programmer, I have finally come full circle and have started a career in writing. I may pop my clogs tomorrow, but I have managed one thing on my list of things to do before I die, writing and publishing a book. I currently reside in the Republic of Cyprus with my wife and two mad English Springer Spaniels.