Waiting for the Replacements

Well, we’re slowly recovering from the theft of our computer bag. Our household insurance will cover the cost of replacing the computers and the other contents of the bag, minus a deductable, and we’ve ordered the replacements. With luck, they should arrive later today.

Incidentally, we’re now pretty sure that the computer bag was stolen, because it’s not the only item which disappeared. The last time I saw the computer bag was when we were loading up the minivan to leave around noon on Sunday. I picked up the bag from between the middle two seats, looked in the rear pocket and announced to Rosemarie, “here are the passports. Your passport is here too.” Then I put it back; I’m sure of it.

I suppose I could have accidentally left the bag on the curb, but a portable DVD player that was stashed in the back seat of the minivan, which was not moved, has also disappeared. We figure that, in a two minute window when we left the van open, to head two parking spots down the street to say goodbye to Michael, somebody came along, leaned into the van, and snatched whatever looked electronic. The really scary thing was that Nora was asleep in the van at the time. It’s hard to describe the sense of violation this makes us feel.

Anyway,.insurance has us covered to purchase computers of a comparable value. Erin had a white iBook from 2005 which I purchased for $1099. She’ll get a reconditioned Macbook Air. While it is underpowered and has a small hard drive, it will suit her needs and be very light as she travels, which will be an important consideration when she travels for her Plain Kate release. I had a black Macbook from 2006, which I purchased for $1649, and I will be getting a reconditioned unibody Macbook which I’ll be upgrading the hard drive and memory to. This will have the space and the power for the applications I need, including Photoshop, which I end up using more than one might expect a writer would.

Now we’re looking at backups. This incident highlights the merits of backing up often. Erin has lost about twenty days of work, and I’ve lost about forty. Yes, OsX has Time Machine, but you have to plug in your external hard drive for the backup to take place, and the hard drives were out of commission while we were moving furniture in the bedroom. I can see the appeal of Apple’s Time Capsule, which attaches a hard drive to your Airport and allows backups wirelessly every time you hook yourself up to the Net. Unfortunately, we can’t afford a Time Capsule. Our Airport does support backing up to an external hard drive, but the connection can be flaky and, for some reason, the Airport just stopped accepting backups to that drive. Maybe when the new hard drive comes into play, this will be different. It would be nice if we could have a backup that we could set and forget.

I’m considering a service called Mozy, which backs up your data online through your Internet connection. After a large initial backup, subsequent backups happen incrementally. They offer unlimited backups for $4.95 per month, and have a free service with 2 Gb of space. We might go for that to cover our most important files — like our writing documents and financial information, and use Time Machine for the larger system backups. The program and service works for both Macs and PCs and, incidentally, I get an additional 256 Mb of space for everybody I refer to the new service who tries it out. If you’re interested, sign up through this link.

Finally, the replacement of the passports is proceeding apace. We’re getting photographs done and arranging for a guarantor to sign the right papers. Replacing Rosemarie’s American passport has proven to be an interesting experience. The Canadian system seems a lot clearer and easier to understand, although you have to jump through more hoops with the guarantors and references and such. The American instructions were harder to glean but once discovered, we have a clear path to replacing Rosemarie’s passport. It involves making an appointment to go down to Toronto and visit the U.S. Consulate, but as long as she brings the proper ID and shows up in person, there’s no need for guarantors.

Anyway, once the computers arrive, we’ll be spending some time making sure that they’re just the way we like them, and then it’s working to replace the work we lost. Hopefully, that won’t take too long.

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