Tuesday, November 04, 2014

sinking in quicken sands

I have been performing the secular equivalent of 50 Our Fathers and 200 Hail Marys for my technological and financial sins.

But my penance may be done.

For the past three decades, Quicken has been my financial tracker.  When I started, I used the computer software as an easy bank and credit card account system.  But, it soon turned into a method to track all of my finances.  Partly, as the software improved.  Partly, as my information needs changed.

It has been a great companion.  My taxes are simple to complete.  And I always know just where my hard-earned money is going.

Of course, one place it went recently is into the hands of a Manzanillo thief when my backpack was lifted along with my computer, Kindle, binoculars, and camera.  And with the computer went all of my Quicken data.

Long ago, I learned to back up my data.  I have a hard drive in the house that wirelessly backs up all of my computer information in real time.  As I create it, it backs up.

I am wily enough though to know that Quicken protects its information from intrusion and will not allow that type of back up.  Quicken users need to back up their data in a separate operation.

And I have done that for years.  I have (or had) a thumb drive specifically dedicated to Quicken backups. But I probably do not need to tell you where it was on the day of The Great Theft.  Yup.  In the backpack.

I had left everytthing electronic in the backpack after returning from Europe.  After all, I was moving within days.  What was the point of splitting everything up -- only to turn around and re-pack it?  (I guess we all know "the point" now.  I certainly do.)

But not to worry.  For the past year, Quicken has informed me it is transferring my information to its cloud every time I close the program.  I was positive there would be a full back up somewhere on the Quicken site.

Wrong.  When I went looking, the web site helpfully offered this warning.  "The Quicken Cloud is not a backup, cannot be used to recover 'lost' data, and cannot be used to start a new file."  It is designed solely to let my telephone synch with my other Quicken data.

So, I accepted the fact that I was about to pay the wages of my technological sins.  I would buy the latest version of Quicken and start all over.

Then, my sainted brother came to the rescue.  He noticed on my wireless back up, there was a ghost copy of a Quicken data file from early August.  And it turned out to be just what I needed.

Of course, there was a big data gap between early August and early November, with quite a bit of European spending and house-purchasing mixed in the lot.  But it was better than nothing.

I will spare you the travails of getting new software to work and the repeated deletion and revision of accounts and entries.  But after several days of monastic clerkship, I now have the semblance of a working financial record. 

It is not as accurate or detailed as the lost record.  However, I am pleased to have what I have -- and I know I have a far better idea of my finances than does the federal government knows about its own.

Because this essay started with a religious tone, it needs a moral conclusion.  And this is it.

Like most morals, we already know them -- and that they are true.  Learn from the failings of a fellow sinner.

The first is -- Thou shalt back up data daily.  In this case, I need to get another thumb drive immediately.

The second is not unlike the first -- Thou shalt not store your back up device in the same spot as the source information.  My momentary lapse of that precept has cost me enough to re-teach me the lesson.

The third is -- Thou shalt not get so obsessive about data.  After all, they are just numbers.  If I could not have restored the Quicken information, my life would have gone on as before.

That is one major project out of the way.  Now, I can sort through my filing box and store it away.  That is most likely my job for the afternoon.

Then I can start documenting this new house for you.  I do keep promising.

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