“What’s a nice girl like you doing writing about backups?”
I’ve had more than one person ask me that question, and it’s not because the tech industry is still dominated by men. Sure, I’ve been a fan of computers since I first encountered the TRS-80 when I was twelve, but I didn’t start out any more qualified to write about this subject than most computer-literate people. I was a geek, but I was a humanities geek. I have 2.9 degrees (BA, MA, and ABD, which stands for “all but the dissertation”) in Greek and Latin language and literature. People who spend their professional lives in antiquity are not obvious picks as technophiles.
But I’ve been online for a long time—I started out on BITNET when I was an undergrad at Brown, burning my retinas with the old CRT monitors attached to the mainframe while chatting with people at other universities. I started publishing an electronic journal (via FTP and Gopher) in 1993, before I’d ever heard of the World Wide Web, though I’d switched from mainframe to Macintosh by then. (The journal, Didaskalia, still exists, though I’m no longer managing editor.)
When I left the University of Michigan (without my PhD, but that’s another story) to teach at the University of Warwick in England, I found myself 1) learning HTML so I could publish Didaskalia on the Web, and 2) spending a lot of time teaching my colleagues and even my students how to use computers. About halfway through that four-year span, I got converted to Windows, mostly because that’s what everyone in the department was using.
As was the Ur-Guru, to whom I became engaged in April of 1995. He’s a 3D animation software engineer, which is about as hard-core as you can get in software development. Some of his knowledge began to rub off on me.
I moved to California late in 1998 and retired from teaching. I went through a period of trying to figure out what to do with my life, which meant taking on a wide range of different kinds of work, one of which was providing tech support to independent professionals. It wasn’t all that long before I discovered that tech support is about the most thankless job on the planet, and gave it up in favor of things that suited me better, but during that time, I started writing the Backup Reminder as an e-zine.
When I started writing the Backup Reminder, I knew a bit about backups, and I had been backing up my data for years, first on floppy diskettes, then on ZIP disks. But I wasn’t what you’d call an expert, so I started doing research. After all those years in academia, I was good at research, and Google kept finding ways to make it easier.
So here I am, the accidental backup maven. My real job is helping consultants and corporations communicate more effectively, either in writing or through digital media. But as far as I know, I’m the only person who writes a blog dedicated exclusively to backups for the small and home office computer user.