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"Gleep" is a word from my distant past, from my college days in the chess club at Northwestern University. It's what you say when you suddenly realize that you have have just made a very bad move, your opponent has just made a very good move, and/or your position is hopelessly lost. Started as the favorite expression of one guy, but the whole club soon picked it up and started using it, and GLEEP actually became the name of our NU chess club newsletter.

I hadn't uttered a "gleep" in decades, but one escaped my lips this morning, when I sat down and logged on to AOL and suffered some sort of strange computer hiccup... after which, suddenly, my Personal Filing Cabinet and Favorite Places were both completely empty.

More than three thousand emails and a couple of hundred bookmarks wiped out in the blink of an eye.


This sort of thing used to happen every six months or so with the early versions of AOL, but the more recent versions seemed to have fixed the problem, and I haven't had my bookmarks or filing cabinet vanish on me since 1998. I thought the system was finally stable, and got a bit complacent, I guess.

Of course, there are now automatic backups built in to the system, and of course I have been trying to use them all morning, to see if I can get anything back. So far, no good. In the immediate aftermath of the catastrophe, as I was still trying to figure out what had happened, four new emails arrived in about a minute. I deleted them and went back to troubleshooting. Unfortunately now, when I try the restore function, it just seems to restore the four post-gleep emails, and not the thousands of older ones that were sitting in my filing cabinet last night.

I haven't given up yet, but I am starting to feel glum.

Some days I truly hate computers.

Lest anyone have a heart attack, let me hasten to add that this has NOT affected A DANCE WITH DRAGONS or any of my other work-in-progress. I do my writing on a completely different computer than the one I use for email and the internet, in part to guard against viruses, worms, and nightmares like this. My work machine does not even use Windows (which I loathe). I write with WordStar 4.0 on a pure DOS-based machine. Mock if you must... but WordStar and DOS are both stable as rocks, and never give me the sort of headaches I get from Windows. (I won't even talk about Microsoft Word, about which I have nothing printable to say).

So my novel is safe. It's just my emails that are lost.

I suppose, if I can't fix this, I could try to look at it as a sort of liberation. Last night I had more than three thousand emails awaiting answers. This morning I have none.


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Jan. 5th, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC)
Call AOL, see if they have any better way of restoring it?

Not that calling them would be a less painful experience than losing stuff in the first place...
Jan. 9th, 2007 03:51 pm (UTC)
I hate having to defend Microsoft, but I actually think Windows XP has been a rock solid OS. I've used it since release, and had maybe three crashes tops ... all of which were related to some massive video editing I was doing, and a faulty driver in a legacy capture card.

Word is a much different experience than Worstar, no doubt, but the most recent releases have been absolutely solid and ridiculously flexible. I work on literally thousands of pages of legal documents a year, and once I actually trained up on how Word handles things like codes, tables of contents and footnotes, I've found it very reliable and easy to use. If anything, the problem with Word is that it simply does too much. They need a "simplicity" mode that is just a basic WSIWYG text editor.
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC)

Well I hope you manage to get them back, Hopefully there werent a lot of important buisness related emails. I actually welcome a purge of my bookmarks once in awhile, as I rarely ever tidy up my old ones.

good luck
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC)
Great googly moogly, I loved WordStar....
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, the awful Microsoft Program proves to be really unstable. And that cases cause much unprintable comments indeed.
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:25 pm (UTC)
How come those kind of things can still happen in this day and age?
I'm shocked. Well, I shouldn't be surprised, since it's AOL. I must say, I'm really glad with my Firefox.

Oh, and I think Windows XP is stable. Actually, I only have problems while playing some games, because of my graphic card. Elsewise, I never seem to have any problem (and certainly not with Words, even though I can have something like 6 pages opened at the same time -_-'). And I didn't have any virus or worms in *years*. It's just a question of how you handle the net, I guess.

Anyway, I know those kind of things are frustrating, and maybe you'll see them back, one day... or not. Good to hear it didn't affect your work though. I guess that this would have been really really bad.

Good luck with your mails and bookmarks. And with your work too (this cannot harm, right? XD).

Jan. 5th, 2007 08:31 pm (UTC)
Lots of lost mail.
Gleep indeed!
I hope you get to retrieve them somehow. I'd give you some tips if I had any, but I'm a complete loser when it comes to computers and co.
Luck to you, sir!
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)

2007-01-05 08:31 pm UTC (link)
Comment Posted Successfully
I've been fighting with Word for the last two weeks; it's apparently trying to eat all my work, because it keeps giving me massive error messages and closing down on me. Needless to say, I've been backing up like a mad person ...

In other words, I sympathize.

Jan. 6th, 2007 02:32 pm (UTC)
Install OpenOffice. It's free, it can read Word files, and it's *not* Word. Maybe it'll work when Word doesn't. If it doesn't work, either, something else in your system is hosed. Make a backup in a format that doesn't require Microsoft software, reinstall you OS or install Linux (I use Debian Linux Stable). If that doesn't work, it's probably hardware.

Jan. 5th, 2007 08:32 pm (UTC)
I think your computer has a virus. It's called AOL...

I am sorry to hear about that, though. You might try a few google queries? See if there are any thoughtful suggestions on the net?
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:33 pm (UTC)
backing up bookmarks
You might want to try building up your bookmarks on a site like Yahoo http://bookmarks.yahoo.com They have an import function in case you saved any bookmarks in a file on your hard drive.

Or maybe someone has a niftier, yet not cumbersome idea. :)

Jan. 5th, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC)
Not that I'm a mac-vangelist, but have you ever considered trying an apple machine for writing? Programs like Ulysses have become pretty well respected in the last few years... though I can definitely understand the attraction to a clean and simple interface that uses DOS as that's one of the major things proj. management software packages like Ulysses attempt to simulate.
Jan. 5th, 2007 09:45 pm (UTC)
You really want to inflict Ulysses on him? What are you, some kind of sadist?

(Clue: I, too, write novels for a living. And I use a Mac. Okay, Macs plural. But I wouldn't recommend Ulysses ...)
(no subject) - radial_jives - Jan. 6th, 2007 12:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)
Wow, so my favorite courtly intrigue fantasy writer (and one of my favorite writers of any genre) is alumni of my alma mater? Well that brightens up an otherwise dreary friday afternoon.

I know you get tons of the opposite so I'm gonna say that although I adore the Song of Fire and Ice saga and am eagerly awaiting DofD, there is no need for explanations as to why it is unfinished still. I'll read it as soon as its printed, but its worth the wait.
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:38 pm (UTC)
I would personally break the world's record for most sudden and intense heart failure if I learned that Dance with Dragons was stored on an AOL server somewhere.

Jan. 5th, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
Not if someone else beat you to it. Ouch.
(no subject) - trklement - Jan. 9th, 2007 08:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC)
I have no good advice to add, as I dropped out of technical school because I decided I loathed it. I'm sure the other commenters have better advice than I could ever dream of offering.

But I'm curious... does gleep stand for something? When I was in high school, my friends liked to use the word fubar (fucked up beyond all recognition). I just found that interesting.

I used to use aol, actually, many years ago. I just got dsl through our phone company after we bought our house a few months ago, and dropped it. I pretty much just use gmail. I love it to pieces. And I have 98 invites, if you'd like one. :)
Jan. 9th, 2007 04:18 pm (UTC)
Ah, Gleep. I used to read a lot of Archie comics digests as a kid, and picked up "gleep" from there. I occasionally use this word myself, though no one else I know does. I think it was a slang word used in the 1950s...maybe 60s?
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
Be careful or your adoring fans will take this as an excuse to send you three thousand more pieces of email... *G*
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:47 pm (UTC)
Bada bing~

This is a pay software:


This is freeware. It looks ancient, but I found recent references that it works on AOL 9.

Jan. 5th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC)
Sticking to technology you know
I write with WordStar 4.0 on a pure DOS-based machine. Mock if you must... but WordStar and DOS are both stable as rocks

Your comment reminded me of attending a public lecture by Professor Roger Penrose (of Emperor's New Clothes fame) at the 2004, General Relativity and Gravitation Conference in Dublin.


This world renowned scientist, considered one of the leading thinkers of today, and mentor to Stephen Hawkins (who attended), was making his presentation with the aid of and overhead projector, trasparent accetates, coloured accetate markers, and pages of paper to block out the areas he didn't wany the audience to see just yet.

Boy did that take me back. Today's PowerPoint kids just don't understand presentation skills.
Jan. 5th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Sticking to technology you know
In those kids' defense, not everybody can draw like Penrose.
Re: Sticking to technology you know - pgmcc - Jan. 6th, 2007 01:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:49 pm (UTC)
My condolences on losing all the mail and bookmarks. I've done it. It's not fun rebuilding and re-notifying everyone. On the bright side, everyone understands things just disappearing; they nod, glare menacingly at their own computers, and then resend you important e-mails. The worst thing to rebuild is the address book. I hope that's saved, somewhere....

From the Black Humor Dept., one of my all-time favorite taglines is:

"Bother," said Pooh, and deleted his message base.

Hope you can get things rebuilt, or found again, with a minimum of wailing, gnashing of teeth, and dark sacrifices to eldritch gods.
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:51 pm (UTC)
Gleep is a most excellent word, I might have to adopt that one.

As for your dos machine, have you tried using OS X? I personally can't stand windows but love OS X. I mean, some people just need to use what they use, my uncle still has an old terminal that he uses to telnet into Waterloo University (he lives in Canada, obviously) and refuses to upgrade to an actual PC because he's never had a problem with his terminal. Pretty amusing, but it works for him so there ya go
Jan. 5th, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
Last night I had more than three thousand emails awaiting answers. This morning I have none.

The Universe sometimes answers in ways more painful than is required. My (tentative) condolence to the emails devoured by the electronic ether.

Any chance of using this excuse to migrate to a new email system? Gmail from Google is free and handy.
Jan. 5th, 2007 09:24 pm (UTC)
I second the gmail nomination.
(no subject) - anam_cara_ - Jan. 5th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dancing_moon - Jan. 6th, 2007 12:38 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 5th, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
So that sucks, and we could all mock you for relying on AOL and not backing stuff up, but that really gets you nowhere.

I would start by tracking down all the other locations your email exist, for there are always many. The people who sent them, for instance, likely have them still in sent mail folders. Your bookmarks, I don't know. I would suggest using a web-based/universally accessible bookmark page, there are a variety now and I should do that soon, I am frustrated by bookmarking at home and not having things at work. Google Notebook is a temporary solution for project oriented bookmarking so far but not for 'random silly viral site I found'. You can also backup your bookmark links in a text file and save that to some webspace--that way you can share it, too.

Finally, since you've had that happen before, I'd either seriously invest time in creating a backup system for such things and/or dump AOL. You likely use a backup system for things considered Too Important To Lose, right? Such as novels. It's hard to realize what is Too Sad To Realize Is Now Lost before it does happen, and email/bookmarks does fall into that. I learned the hard way about changing browser versions back in the day and losing bookmarks, then I learned how to back them up easily, and now Firefox does it for me.
Jan. 5th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
Woah, flashback.

I lost that stuff time and time again when I used AOL back in the day when they were the best.

My sympathies.
Jan. 5th, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
i am totally incorporating "gleep" into my vocabulary!
Jan. 5th, 2007 09:20 pm (UTC)
If you do go after the file recovery utility one of your other users mentioned, you may have to hunt down your original PFC file first. I haven't had to troubleshoot AOL clients in a looong time, but with many windows apps, if a file is corrupted, the app may have a temp version of it from before the corruption, and once it went "poof!" it will have started a new version (and thus empty version) of that file.

and/or if you really feel like going to the trouble and want those emails back, I bet if you stopped using the computer temporarily, you could turn it over to a good forensic recovery service and have them restore the data, but that's pricey.

I hope you back up your DOS box, too ;-) If you actually do want PC advice, feel free to contact me (though I'm sure you have hordes of other people to consult if you really want).
Jan. 5th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
DOS-based word processing is so much kinder than Windoze-based. No whistles and bells - just a blank slate and your imagination...
Jan. 5th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
You have to count your blessings when they happen and I would say that this is one of those rare blessings in disguise!

As far as guilt over unread and answered emails -- you have done your duty to inform of the unfortunate circumstance... and if any of those emails were of true dire importance, emails can always be resent since most everyone has a sent file (so it's not even like they would have to retype it)

So enjoy your bliss of an empty inbox for the few moments until it starts to fill up again! :)
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