I’d like to think that I know my stuff when it comes to computers. I have become proficient at replacing hard drives, power supplies, RAM, monitors, and all of the other tech stuff. Routers, Ad-hoc networks, creating my own Cat-5e cables, and running my own servers was a hobby in middle school. I also have a strong love for programming, whether that is the early stuff with C++ and BASIC, to the more complex, micro level binary switches when I made my own microprocessor, HTML, PHP, ASP.NET, MySQL and CSS online, or the high end Python, C#, and Java. I can speak it all.
So, again, I’d like to at least think of myself competent. But the power of stupid is a strong thing!
Before we get too far, I want to tell you how to do it right and then you can laugh at my pain. Backup. Backup often. And if it is important, backup multiple places.
How Many Times Can I Mess Up?
Couple the photo gallery project with a sweet new design that I had heavily modified from an open source web design and that worked on all two browsers (Firefox and IE, no one cared about Safari yet and Chrome didn’t exist) and we were living large. One night I went to upload through FTP the images from a recent winter sledding event with middle schoolers. While doing that, I decided to make changes to the live code straight in FTP. Bad idea #1.
As I was writing the code, I decided to also make changes to CSS files for a new idea of uploading the video that we were putting together of a slideshow of the photos set to simple music. Again, live code. Bad idea #2.
Within all of this editing at 3AM (Bad idea #3) and before a full day of studying for a big exam (Bad idea #4), I decided to back up the code from the FTP server because I am super cautious. The problem is I did not realize I was not making a new version of it and instead over wrote the code. Bad idea #5.
In a caffine-fueled, fearful moment, I realized what I had done and not thinking rationally, tried to re-upload the whole folder from my computer to the server and in doing so, wiped out six months of photos that were not backed up anywhere else. When I went to check the website, I panicked… and then gave up assuming that all the damage I could have done had been done.
A Happy Ending?
A couple of weeks later, I had formalized an automatic PHP redundancy web app that backed up the database and files onto a second home server at a different location every night. It was an amazing experience and the first of many lessons that I would learn about working better with technology and avoiding the issue of stupidity. This time’s lesson was in proper version backup, but it would not be the last.
How has the power of stupid impacted your ministry with technology?