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The First Lesson : Disaster Recovery

I do not remember my first program; but I remember the first program I typed into a computer.

My father had a subscription to BYTE magazine and we had a Radio Shack TRS-80.  I wanted to see what this article was talking about so I typed in the 100 lines of BASIC code... before I ran("RUN") it I wanted to save my work. Since I was new to the whole process and I wanted to get it right; I asked my dad to save it for me. Thankfully he executed a ("load") instead of a ("save") and he blew out my program from main memory. My four hours of hunt-n-peck typing were lost.

It was that moment that I learned the most intrinsic lesson of my career that, while intuitive, over the years has resurfaced as a programmer's life lesson.

  1. Know your tools and know your tool's dependencies. (at least one generation)

  2. Have a disaster recover plan for everything. (I use my rule of 2's and sometimes 3's).

  3. Be prepared so that if things go really wrong that you can move to a backup system, temporarily, while the primary is rebuild.

I cannot say that this has worked every time. On one occasion I had ripped my collection of audio CDs. It took weeks to accomplish only to have to re-rip everything because 1) software flaked out and the quality was awful; 2) I managed to destroy a drive on one machine in the cluster and I had no idea what music it had ripped and needed to be re-ripped; 3) and the great ogg/mp3 war.

Good luck.


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