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Psychologist Consoles Data Loss Victims 368

(ok.whatever) writes "A former suicide prevention counselor is employed full-time by a data recovery firm to console its callers. The San Francisco Chronicle reports: 'When the company receives a call from someone who's clearly lost it -- which can happen several times an hour -- Chessin comes on the line to help the caller rediscover their happy place.' Good grief!"
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Psychologist Consoles Data Loss Victims

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  • Book ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by IanBevan ( 213109 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:17AM (#5377141) Homepage

    I can just see a whole new line of new age books in the self-help section of the local bookstore...

    From RAID to Radiant - How a broken striped array needn't end your life"

    LMAO
  • by mlh1996 ( 446618 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:19AM (#5377148)
    somebody like this, cause obviously my advice to "suck it up" ain't workin'
    • by $$$$$exyGal ( 638164 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:42AM (#5377239) Homepage Journal
      Back in the dot-com days, companies were filled with free massages, free dry cleaning, ping pong tables, and even free beer, but never suicide counseling. Who would need it? Things were going so great, nobody needed it.

      As soon as the dot-com implosion started, everyone needed some suicide counseling, and yet noone could afford it, because of the free massages. Ironic?

      --sex [slashdot.org]

  • by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:19AM (#5377149)
    Time to replace "I'm Okay, You're Okay" with "Backup often and we'll all be Okay."
    • This line appeared in the acknowledgements of my PhD thesis, as advice to my 'comrades' (other grad students in my advisor's research group):
      The road to revolution is paved with hard disk failures -- always make a back-up copy
      • by christopherfinke ( 608750 ) <chris@efinke.com> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @12:32PM (#5379879) Homepage Journal
        Jesus and Satan were having an ongoing argument about who was better at using the computer. They had been really going at the bickering.

        Finally, God said, "Cool it!! I am going to set up a test which will take two hours and it will judge who does the better job."

        So Satan and Jesus sat down at the keyboards and typed away.

        They moused.

        They did spreadsheets.

        They wrote reports.

        They sent faxes.

        They sent e-mail.

        They sent out e-mail with attachments.

        They downloaded.

        They made cards.

        They did every known job.

        Suddenly... without warning...ten minutes before the time was up, lightning flashed across the sky, thunder rolled, the rain poured, and of course, the electricity went off.

        Satan stared at his blank screen and screamed every curse word known in the underworld.
        Jesus just sighed. The electricity finally flickered back on, and each of them restarted their computers.

        Satan started searching frantically screaming, "It's gone! It's all gone! I lost everything when the power went out!"

        Meanwhile, Jesus quietly started printing out all his files from the past two hours.

        Satan observed this and became even more irate. "Wait! This isn't fair, Jesus cheated! How did he do it??!!"

        God shrugged and said, "Jesus Saves."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:20AM (#5377151)
    is a "phsychologist console" ?
  • by tankdilla ( 652987 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:20AM (#5377152) Homepage Journal
    "No I can't backup from this ledge. I'm going to JMP!"
  • by moronga ( 323123 )
    ...people whose servers get slashdotted? Does she counsel those people too?

    Also, I keep trying to read the headline as "Psychologist CONsoles..." instead of "Psychologist conSOLES..." Like she turns them into Gamecubes or something.

    I'll shut up now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:21AM (#5377156)
    My porn! I lost all my porn!
    • And if you call the right data recovery firm, their anit-suicide conselor will give you a few URLs to TGPs just to show you your happy-place.
  • Definition? (Score:5, Funny)

    by spieters ( 312206 ) <spieters.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:21AM (#5377158)
    How do they define "someone who's clearly lost it"?

    Hey, some freak's on the phone saying he's just switched from (insert favorite open source os) to Win2k server!! Here you take him!
    • At one student job, we used to do some data recovery on the side. I used to encourage people to keep at least one back up even for small things. Many protested against the need for a backup, often countering with, "no need, I've used this disk [in my front pocket|loose in my backpack|in my sandwich bag] nearly every day for three years and it has never lost a file"

      We used to get lots of people who lost papers, short assignments and occasionally a term paper or article. We even recovered a few theses. However, we never encountered someone that lost a dissertation. I always figured that those that did, just jumped of a roof or something.

      • by jburroug ( 45317 ) <slashdot AT acerbic DOT org> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @09:58AM (#5378554) Homepage Journal
        I used to get cases like that all the time when I was working in the labs at my Uni many moons ago. Most of the time it was just undergrads losing some generic paper but one time I had a guy who lost a month's worth of work on his Masters thesis that was stored on the floppy he'd had since he was an undergrad... He handled it surprisingly well. When he first came into my office (the lab in the library actually had an office for the support dweeb, cool huh? That's the only time I've ever had an office at any job...) he was all pale looking and panicy when he explained what happened and what was on the disk. I calmly took the disk and told him to sit down and I'd see what I could do. The disk was toast of course all his data was gone. He sorta got this blank shell-shocked look on his face and just wandered out of the lab.

        I also had one girl come in who broke down and started sobbing uncontrollably when I told her her disk was a goner. She just started balling and didn't stop for five or ten minutes I had to shut the office door and try to comfort her (I was all of 18 at the time and had virtually no experience dealing with girls at all, much less crying ones) I had to stand there while she held on to me and cried for a bit. Sadly at this point I was still too much of an awkward geek-boy to take advantage of this opportunity, I probably could've gotten at least a date that weekend if I'd asked.

        The absolute worst data-loss reaction in the labs I ever saw was also one I exacerbated by not reacting well. This older guy (40's) was having problems saving his paper to his disk and came into the office and asked for my help. I grabbed a new floppy from my desk and went out to help him get it saved to the new disk. At the time our lab had a mix of macs and pc's. I don't remember the model but one particular series of powermac at the time ('96) had it's power button right where the floppy eject button is on a PC. When we got to the machine this dude was working on I asked him to eject his disk and before I could stop him he hit the power button and of course lost everything he'd done that day! I made the mistake of laughing when he did this. I caught myself quickly but it was too late he'd heard and was PISSED. He started screaming and ranting about computers, the Uni in general, me, Macs etc... Then demmanded that I get his disk out of the fucking computer for him, which I did, and as soon as I gave it to him he crushed it in hand and threw it against the wall and stormed out.

        On the whole I liked the crying girl the best :)
  • by devphil ( 51341 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:22AM (#5377159) Homepage


    From the article (which is pretty good, btw):

    With computer crises, though, this usually takes 10 or 15 minutes. With potential suicides, calls usually lasted twice as long.

    Only twice as long? For some reason I find that remarkable (obviously; I'm remarking on it). I would have thought that potential suicides would need much more help than that in the short-/immediate-term.

    • by $$$$$exyGal ( 638164 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:39AM (#5377223) Homepage Journal
      From your signature:

      You cannot apply a technological solution to a sociological problem. (Edwards' Law)

      In this particular case, the signature should say:

      You can apply a sociological solution (suicide counseling) to a technical problem (hard drive crash). ;-)

      --sex [slashdot.org]

      • by octalgirl ( 580949 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @07:18AM (#5377875) Journal
        You can apply a sociological solution (suicide counseling) to a technical problem (hard drive crash).

        Well actually, yes! I'm sure a lot of here have noticed, that when we get people over their fear of technology, their fear of being stupid or breaking it, it is much easier to train/teach them. I have always said, for all I do in tech, that what I do best is hold hands. Let's think about it - if you are in any type of help/admin/trouble/design - when someone calls you they are already in distress. They may have spent who knows how long, so afraid of looking stupid, trying to fix it themselves, making things worse. I have watched grown men pull their hair out, and have had women hug me and cry on my shoulder (real tears!), because they had worked hard all week and lost it all. Before I can do anything for them, I need to calm them down. Sometimes I make them take a break, not to worry, I'll do the best I can - I sound like a doctor half the time. When I train others, I always pass this on - which to me is a most important step. I make a lot friends too, and good word always makes it to the top.

        I know others who take a different, very condensending approach, and they really piss me off. But they become hated by those that dared ask for help. And as arrogant as they are, as they look down at the 'fools who broke something' they don't even realize that they make themselves look bad, like they are the ones who really don't know what they are doing.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      There is a fair amount of writing on this subject on the net, which you can find if you google about a bit. Suicidal intent is a crisis, and crises pass quickly (one way or another). As someone who once stood on the wrong side of the safety railing I can say anecdotally that half an hour is just enough time to change your mind (and in my case, keep it that way).

      The study of suicide really marks the beginning of empirical sociology and even psychology (Durkheim). Check it out, it's pretty cool.
    • From the article.

      Another key difference: People who call a suicide hot line usually don't call back.

      How would she know if she was successfull in saving a life other than the fact that people who call suicide hot-lines tend to be looking for someone to talk them out of it?
    • Efficiency (Score:5, Funny)

      by metamatic ( 202216 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @08:51AM (#5378205) Homepage Journal
      It suddenly occurs to me that suicide hotlines are the example I will use when I next have to explain to someone the sheer asinine stupidity of judging tech support staff based on call length metrics.

      "Hello, Dogbert's suicide hotline."

      "I don't think I can go on... I want to end--"

      "Shut up and kill yourself already."

      *click*

      No callback, 20 second call time... I'm gonna be getting a bonus!
  • by strider44 ( 650833 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:23AM (#5377166)
    Abuse can be dished out to lines like that very easily, and it's definitely a good idea to have a councellor there in case. It can be important data as well, maybe losing their job for it can make them fall into depression

    Also people who have "lost it" generally look to someone to talk to, and maybe a tech support guy can help?

    On the whole I can't see any bad coming from it!
  • It does hurt! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nazmun ( 590998 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:24AM (#5377169) Homepage
    Just a year ago, i transferred all of my important data to a new IBM HD. I was pressed for space at the time so i deleted my old copies in the older. Within 2 months that hard drive died and took all of my precious data with it.

    5 years of my life, all GONE! It was quite depressing really. Since then i have vowed to never buy a IBM hd or any IBM products ever again (not because they'll fail again, but just because they killed my data!!!)
    • Re:It does hurt! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by HowlinMad ( 220943 )
      Dude,

      I'm not saying I told you so, but backup your important stuff man. I'll be the first to admit I don't backup stuff like I should, and maybe I've been lucky. I'd have to say, if I lost everything, I wouldn't be happy, but I know its replaceable. Stuff I know I need to keep is burned on a CD. Sure, that could be scratched, broken, etc, but not likely, cause it jsut ists there.

      I feel for you tho, I really do. Its a hard way to learn a lesson, but I bet you learned it.

      Later.
      • Re:It does hurt! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by chrome ( 3506 )
        You are a wise man.

        The easiest way to not get upset at losing data is not to care about it that much.

        Back up what is important to you, sure, and if your disk melts, shrug, thank the gods you still have your good health, re-install and keep going.

        Agonizing over lost data is pointless ...

        But then, I never was one to cry over spilt milk.
      • Re:It does hurt! (Score:4, Informative)

        by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:51AM (#5377276) Homepage Journal
        Absolutely right. Backups are easy. Just do it. :)

        Damn dude removable hdd drawers are like $7. A 120Gb hdd is about $100. With shipping and tax that is all of $120. Back shit up. Most people have like a shitty 40Gb drive and maybe a fraction of it is actually important. You can make a shit load of backups on a 120Gb drive. It doesn't hurt to back stuff up to third party servers over the Net either. A cron job will keep all your files save that way. :)

        If you're like me it's a little more work as you have lots of fairly unique data. This is where mirroring your systems works wonders. Keep an identical system in a secure (and different) location and just mirror all your data to it. A combination of the above mentioned method that won't kill you in ISP fees if you have 100's of gigs of data. :)
        • Mirroring is not really backup. Mirroring will also mirror errors/bad data - user/software/malware. If someone or something deletes/corrupts stuff and you mirror or back up to your one and only back up medium you're screwed.

          You probably know that, but other readers may not.

          It is a good idea to regularly backup your unique stuff to CD-Rs/tapes. Then you mirror/copy everything onto HDDs to minimize downtime.

          Can barely wait for the cheap and sanely standardized DVD-R stuff.
    • Oh they'll fail too.

      I've had a total of 6-7 IBM HD failures over the course of my owning them (mostly the RMA'd drive I get back failing again). My old IBM 8 and 14GB drives are still going strong, but every other IBM drive I've owned has died (I don't put anything I want to keep on those drives, which kinda defeats the purpose of hard drives in the first place, no?)

      Only 1 of my 8 Maxtors I've owned has ever died, so I like them now ;).

      -A
    • by Enonu ( 129798 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @03:27AM (#5377348)
      I just completed my undergraduate degree with 10 megs zipped representing my academic coursework.

      I made a 700mb CD image full of the that same file repeated 70 times.

      I burned that image 10 times @ 2X on 48X Taiyo Yuden CDR media with verification on.

      I've given two CDs to four different friends for safe keeping.

      The probability of me losing that data is probably lower than time reversing itself to the point where I decided to back it up, and then reversing that decision.

      It's not entirely IBMs fault you lost your data. Backup often.
    • In my beginning unix days: cp /vmlinuz /dev/hdb1 /dev/hdb1 was a fat partition. Nuff said.
    • I don't want to sound hard, but 5 years of your life of important data and you deleted the old copy?

      Ok, I guess we've all done stupid things like that, but if you're interested in getting it back (ie, the data is WORTH something), then there are many companies that specialize in retrieving lost data. This is probably a piece of cake for them, because they do it for customers who've had fires in the server-room etc. A dead HDD should prove easy, but they cost money! (I hope you didn't trash your HDD in anger)

      5 years of my life, all GONE! It was quite depressing really. Since then i have vowed to never buy a IBM hd or any IBM products ever again (not because they'll fail again, but just because they killed my data!!!)

      IBM didn't kill your data. All HDDs are prone to failure. If the data was worth something to you, you would have backed it up periodically, so that you have MANY copies. It's the only way to properly save data you want to keep.

      You killed your data. Blaming others are pointless, and only furthers your pain. Besides, data will always vanish upon a point of time. Everything in the universe is always changing, so maybe the best course of action is to drop the importance of the data and enjoy the freedom being without it.
    • That's exactly why I rsync all my important data between two HDs in a nightly cron job. I
    • -number of plates
      -density
      -rotation speed
      ...
      -average bits lost after 10E90 read/writes
      -average jobs lost after 10E90 read/writes
      -average lifes lost per 10E90 read/writes
  • At least (Score:5, Funny)

    by CounterZer0 ( 199086 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:26AM (#5377181) Homepage
    She's hot :)
  • *shrug* (Score:3, Interesting)

    by strider44 ( 650833 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:26AM (#5377184)
    When they see the bill for being on the line of tech support getting councilled for an hour after "clearly losing it", they'd definitely crack!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:30AM (#5377196)
    Ok, so say someone rm's your box or something, and you lose all your files. Unless they were *wiped*, you better get yourself over to http://dreamscape.org/toolkit/ and figure out how to use stat_inodes, parse_directory_inode, and finally the recovery tool 'e2extract' once you have compiled a map.

    I lost 8 years of work and brought it back from the abyss.

    Relax, everything is going to be OK.
  • by Pettifogger ( 651170 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:33AM (#5377204)
    Hello Windows Rage!
  • by gatesh8r ( 182908 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:35AM (#5377211)
    Along with technical support...


    "Just relax... breathe; it's OK... now, please calmly state your problem. Are you telling me I'm a fucking moron because of the relationship with your mother?"

  • by lingqi ( 577227 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:35AM (#5377213) Journal
    so - how is this different from those 900 numbers? you pay for somebody's attention, and I'd say that with the 900 numbers you are getting a better deal - and in the end you'd be more "calm," depending on your hand dexterity, anyhow.

    AAAAnyway. I know what the lady does is legitemate and worthwhile - like I said, really in a vicious mood. maybe it's the overdose of coffee.
  • Your happy thought can make the harddrive heads fly again
  • Somehow (Score:3, Funny)

    by stinky wizzleteats ( 552063 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:36AM (#5377218) Homepage Journal

    When I think about this, I see it as a Sam Kenison routine.

    You see this tape, yeah, you see the tape. That's right... that's for your fucking data! Oh Oh Ooooh!

  • New Counselor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by minesweeper ( 580162 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:39AM (#5377224) Homepage
    I guess this counselor is new, because DriveSavers had another one working back in 2000:

    Data crisis counselors help avoid computer catastrophes [cnn.com]

    Here's another story [pcworld.com] from PC World in 2000.

    This company isn't cheap, but they seem to get the job done, even under the most improbable of circumstances. I saw a profile of them on TV once and their recovery center has all kinds of clean rooms and precise, delicate equipment.

  • by Bueller_007 ( 535588 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:39AM (#5377225)
    Pfff...They could have just used Eliza and saved themselves some dough:
    http://manifestation.com.h.sabren.com/neur otoys/el iza.php3

    > Hello, I am Eliza.
    * hi. i lost all of my data
    > How are you today.. What would you like to discuss?
    * i lost all of my data
    > That is quite interesting.
    * no shit
    > Why not?
    * you make little sense
    > You're not really talking about me, are you?
    * I would imagine. Your company screwed me over. I lost all of my pr0n
    > Why are you concerned about my company screwed you over. you lost all of your pr0n?
    * yes. it is all gone. i might as well jump into a sewer
    > I see.
    * you are no help at all
    > Does it please you to believe I am no help at all?
    * i am going to sue you
    > Do you enjoy being going to sue me?
    * yes. goodbye.
    • * i am going to sue you
      > Do you enjoy being going to sue me?
      * Being going to sue you? Where do you get your ideas?
      > Everything I need to know I learned from Dr. Richard S Wallace
      * Interesting. But all things you need to know are not learned from Dr. Richard S Wallace
      > Hm. But all things are not...

  • Another key difference: People who call a suicide hot line usually don't call back. That would be for one reason or another, of course.

    It's a shame the same can't be said for tech support.

  • I told you, I deal with the goddamned customers! I have people skills, damnit. I'm good with people. What the hell is WRONG with you people?

    -theGreater Mike.
  • Acceptance (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:44AM (#5377248)

    Good grief!

    Yes, your grief is good. You've made an important step here, a key realisation to taking that grief and harnessing it on the road to recovery.

    I'd like to step up our sessions and tackle that guilt over dupe postings you mentioned last week.

    I can see that we're making real progress here.

    Liza E. Pooter

  • A Big Impact (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pgrote ( 68235 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:45AM (#5377252) Homepage
    Everyone knows the old rule of backup, but sometimes you lose that data. Through too many hard drive switches, unexpected upgrades or whatever.

    A friend of mine was storing a PBX generated WAV file his mother's voice. It was one of the last times she called his office before she died. During an upgrade the file was lost. The guy just fell to pieces. That WAV file was an emotional security blanket for him ... a way to remember his mother.

    There are jokes about losing porn or MP3s files on this topic, but think about it. How much of your life is in the bits and bytes on your server(s). Maybe it's the pics of your graduation. Maybe it's the thesis you struggled to complete. Maybe it's the love note from your future spouse after you first met.

    You're keeping the data for an emotional reason. It makes sense that when you lose that data you're going to be affected.
    • I don't have a .wav of my mother's voice. I have a .wav that's my mother.

      You see, one day she picked the phone up from the acoustic coupler when it was online, and when she held it to her ear. . .

      Oh, wait. I just remembered. That wasn't my mother. That was Lori Singer. My mom's fine.

      Nevermind.

      KFG
    • Everyone knows the old rule of backup, but sometimes you lose that data...You're keeping the data for an emotional reason. It makes sense that when you lose that data you're going to be affected.

      True. My camcorder was stolen in Prague the other week - the camera's gone, but it can be replaced. However, two miniDV tapes of data have gone as well, and those can't be replaced. Since they're tapes of my daughter's first birthday, I'm pretty angry about that.

      Now, personally I don't feel the need to resort to a psychiatrist. However, I fully support the main point of this article - that loss of data can affect you emotionally.

      Cheers,
      Ian

    • I'm obsessive-compulsive about backups, precisely because data can be important (records, financial stuff, pics of the wife and kids, etc) and data is so ephemeral... just a dusting of magnetic molecules.

      Plus, how often do you rebuild your machines? Linux boxen are no problem, but I am constantly retooling some box or other, and if it's a windows box, you'd better just start with a format and clean install. Taking an existing windows installation and swapping motherboards and peripherals around is like playing football with your wife's Waterford crystal... nothing good can come of it.

      I also keep redundant backups... ever had your first backup fail? Or have you ever found that your CD-RW drive was making coasters instead of backups? I've had both... multiple redundant backups are the path to inner peace... you'd hate to lose those things that really mean something.

      Losing the pics of your child? I can see a little crisis counseling being useful for that.
    • Re:A Big Impact (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Arsewiper ( 535175 )
      I remember someone describing the worst thing about a house fire is losing all your family photos - everything else is just stuff you can replace. As digital photography becomes more and more prevalent it subtly makes our photographic records less durable.

      Support for people suffering any kind of loss is important, and if it reduces stress in the workplace then it's worth it.

    • Re:A Big Impact (Score:3, Insightful)

      What I don't understand is why is it that suddenly, any "bad" thing and out come the "grief counselors". What happened to us as a society that we suddenly cannot cope with bad things happening without having a counselor to talk with? Back in my younger years, we dealt with it!
      • Re:A Big Impact (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tomster ( 5075 )
        In the old days, "just deal with it" meant burying it -- whether it was grief, rage, whatever. You just buried the feelings and got on with your life.

        Now, we've swung the pendulum the other direction. We're so super-sensitive to "trauma" we exaggerate tragedies way out of proportion. And we try to prevent our kids from experiencing any, which only makes them unable to deal with it as adults.

        Counselors offer a way for people to work through a loss or other trauma. So do friends, family, ministers, etc.

        Suffering is a part of life. It should neither be swept under the rug nor exaggerated.

        -Thomas
  • I know I've cried a few tears after restoring and finding the backup was incomplete. The stress of the situatuion can be quite unbearable.

    I remember reading a story of an Australian guy who spent the night doing his company accounts and then somehow deleting them. He threw the computer out of the window and it fatally struck a passer by. I wish I could find a reference to it right now, it could well be an urban myth.

  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @02:53AM (#5377280)
    BOFH Episode 6

    It's friday, so I get into work early, before lunch even. The phone rings. Shit!
    I turn the page on the excuse sheet. "SOLAR FLARES" stares out at me. I'd better read up on that. Two minutes later I'm ready to answer the phone.
    "Hello?" I say.
    "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN, I'VE BEEN TRYING TO GET YOU ALL MORNING?!"
    I hate it when they shout at me early in the morning. It always puts me in a bad mood. You know what I mean.
    "Ah, yes. Well, there's been some solar activity this morning, it always disrupts electronics..." I say, sweet as a sugar pie.
    "Huh? But I could get through to my friends?!"
    "Yes, that's entirely possible, solar activity is very unpredictable in it's effects. Why last week, we had some files just dissappear from a guys account while he was working on it!"
    "Really?"
    "Straight Up! Hey, do you want me to check your account?"
    "Yes please, I've got some important stuff in there!"
    "Ok, what's your username..."
    He tells me. Honestly, it's like shooting a fish in a barrel. Twice. With an Elephant Gun. At point blank range. In the head.
    (Do I really need to tell you the clicky clicky bit?.. I think not)
    "How many files are in your account?" I ask
    "Um, well there should be about 20 in my thesis writeup, 10 or so with the data for it, and another 20 or so in a book that I'm writing"
    "Hmmm. Well, I think we caught it just in time. You've still got 2 files left... .cshrc and .login"
    "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaggggggggghhhh !"
    He sobs into the receiver a bit - it really turns my stomach.
    "What can I do?" he sniffs
    "Ok, do you have any of your stuff backed up on floppy?"
    "Some, but it's weeks old!"
    I fire up the bulk eraser.
    "Ok" I say "How about I come out and load all that data onto your account pronto so you can get some work done?"
    "That'd be great, but it's all at home" he wimpers. "I spose I'll just load it all in myself tonight"
    "Sure. But remember what I said, solar flares are bad for disks and machines. Protect your disks from solar activity to prevent them losing their data"
    "How do I do that? Wrap them in tin-foil?"
    "NO! TIN FOIL'S THE WORST THING! YOU KNOW WHAT TIN FOIL DOES IN A MICROWAVE DON'T YOU?!"
    "Yes.."
    "Then don't use it. There's only one thing that protects disks from solar activity.."
    "What's that?"
    "MAGNETS! Wrap your disks up in a pillow case with lots of magnets - Solar Flares hate that"
    "Wow! Thanks"
    "No worries at all..."
    Shit I'm good!

  • by Lythic ( 649830 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @03:10AM (#5377309)
    As more and more information becomes purely digital, data loss is going to be increasingly disastrous in people's lives. A computer crash could erase several years of scientific research data, the letters you treasure from late family members, all of your personal phone and e-mail contacts, top this off by the stress and frustration, and you can have a major disaster. Sure, you can blame them for not backing up, but there's very few of us who haven't suffered a similar accident.

    If you've ever seen someone lose a term paper, multiply that intensity by several times and you can understand how suddenly a tech support person needs to switch to being a counselor, and since many can't do both jobs, it's really good to have someone else on hand. A suicide counselor may be a bit of overkill, but having someone trained at handling very upset and stressed individuals is a really good idea. This is the wave of the future.....

  • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @03:22AM (#5377340)
    My favorite tech support call was a woman who had gone overseas for a year and a half to research her novel. Prior to this she had backed up the part she had already written (she claimed it was several hundred pages created over the past year) to floppy disks. When she came home it was discovered that the data on the floppies was corrupted. But what about the original on the hard drive? She deleted it on purpose because after all, it was backed up! Argh!!!
  • by BlueUnderwear ( 73957 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @03:34AM (#5377369)
    ... the hard drive just magically comes back to life.

    Last year, bought a Seagate drive (yes I know....), copied all my stuff to the new drive, and reclaimed the old one for other stuff. And indeed, 3 month after having it, my brand new Seagate died on me. Of course I had no backup (yes I know...). I was shattered.

    Tried contacting data recovery services. However, not only were they rather expensive, but also they did not guarantee confidentiality (in their customer agreement, they reserved themselves the right to make "good" use of the data if they stumbled across sth interesing...). Well, there were some pretty personal data on the disk (in 12 years, you do accumulate stuff), so this did make me somewhat uneasy.

    Finally, a friend of mine told me that just letting the drive rest for a couple of week may bring it back. So, I just put it away, waited 4 weeks, reconnected it, and presto! everything was back! Sometimes lady luck is your friend! Of course, first thing I did was copy everything over to my new brand new raid array of Maxtors: You never know when it will fail again.

  • help (Score:2, Funny)

    by lposeidon ( 455264 )
    when do they start handing out anti-depression pills with the purchase of a pre built computer?? instead of emailing the manufacturer's tech support, just forward the request to a local pharmacy for a refill.
  • pgp (Score:2, Interesting)

    by qute ( 78334 )
    I recently lost(forgot) my pgp key. I had a lot of stuff encrypted of personal value. No it wasn't childporn.

    I finally got gpg hacked so I could brute my password. If anybody want in just mail me :-)

    I just need to make some kind of phone-home ability. So each instance will tell "mother" which segment of the key-space it has searched.

    That's one way of dealing with it...

    Ironically I had backup's of both the data and my secret key. But not my password.
  • No! Don't do it! don't "kill -9 $PID"

    Seriously, I think people new to computers look at the computer as an entity that can think and is laughing at them when something goes wrong. In general making life hard for them. Probably because they believe most things in life are against them.
  • [Customer] Hello, I lost all my data, what should I do?
    [Helpline] Well, let's see if your data really is lost...
    [Customer] How would I know?
    [Helpline]Use another PC! Go to our website and download ReKovver.exe. You need to run this from a diskette on your PC.
    [Customer] Would you guide me through?
    [Helpline] Sure.
    (Half an hour later...)
    [Customer] It just says "No Results". Are my data lost then?
    [Helpline] I am affraid that is the fact, Ma'am.
    [Customer] So what do I do now to get on?
    [Helpline] Do you have any close friends or relatives who would support you from here?
    [Customer] I am not sure...
    [Helpline] Then I must insist that you don't hang up before we agree that it is fine to do so!
    [Customer] Please help me...
    [Helpline] You must first think of something really wonderful that is non-cyber.
    [Customer] Pardon?
    [Helpline] You lost some valuables in the computer, so to get over the devastating expirience you must think of valuables you can't loose in this manner.
    [Customer] My wristwatch?
    [Helpline] I don't know how valuable your wristwatch is, but I would go for something along the line of your kids, your parents or going barbercue in the mountains.
    (Half an hour later...)
    [Customer] I think that I can manage now...
    [Helpline] If you get desparate, then please call back. My name is Joe Counsel, and it has been a pleasure to help
  • She's kinda cute [sfgate.com] and she kinda understands computers... and she's got a job that kinda makes sense.

    Kinda. I mean if you need that data off the laptop at the bottom of the Amazon river enough to fish it out, send it to SF and have these guys try and get the data... you just might be kinda nuts.

    Kinda nuts for not having backups of data that would be that valuable... and kinda nuts for then having toted it around the Amazon. I can imagine reasons for this nuttiness... kinda... but nothing too realistic.
  • by blastedtokyo ( 540215 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @04:19AM (#5377467)
    People lose data all the time. It's not fashionable to get hammered afterwards like it is when you lose a relationship.

    But it's definately healthier to suck it up [nytimes.com] according to this New York Times piece.

    So if you're pouting about losing data, you're probably going to be worse off soon :)

  • by mseeger ( 40923 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @04:35AM (#5377499)
    Hi,

    nobody is interested in backups. What everyone wants are restores. There is a fine but crucial distinction between both terms. If you don't see it, continue backing up your data on the same DAT tape you've been using for years ;-). I think the counselor can tell a lot about people who did frequent backups and now had to do their first restore.

    Yours, Martin

  • my happy place (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alizard ( 107678 ) <alizard@NosPam.ecis.com> on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @04:35AM (#5377500) Homepage
    - Chessin comes on the line to help the caller rediscover their happy place.' Good grief!"

    Personally, I prefer to find my happy place after a drive crash in a backup mirror drive in a mobile rack which doesn't get plugged in until I find that the rest of the computer is OK. Though the counselor actually is hot.

  • If you get the cheap version, for only half the price you can get a former humorist [miami.com] to counsel you. Hi. I lost my data. > Hee hee No. You don't understand. My life is ruined. > Haah hah .. . hoo ... this is really good. I think I'm going to call the other counselor > "Over to you, Stange!"
  • "a laptop crushed beneath the wheel of a MacWorld shuttle bus or a PowerBook that spent two days at the bottom of the Amazon River"

    Perhaps its that Mac users are just more sensitive.
    • PowerBook that spent two days at the bottom of the Amazon

      Too bad it wasn't a ToughBook [panasonic.com]...I have a friend that works for a major university...the same thing happened to a ToughBook (fell into the Amazon), but the PHD that was using the notebook had his intern jump in and get it :)

      The ToughBook came right back on...didn't lose any data at all...actually, the only difference between the military version of the ToughBook and the civilian model is the color...the military model comes in matte colors (black and various camouflage)...
      • Agreed! Toughbooks rock! I've deployed toughbooks in two extremem weather situations that no other computer had been able to survive for any length to speak of. They were both drilling sites, one was in the middle of a large area of sandhills. The sand takes out computers pretty good, after about a month of eeven limited exposure. The other situation was at an off-shore drilling site where the salty sea air rusts computers to literally peices in a matter of weeks or months.

        Last I heard, all deployed toughbooks were still in circulation at these sites.
  • Its tough... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by powerlinekid ( 442532 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @05:00AM (#5377546)
    What do you say to someone who kept all of the 25 slide powerpoint presentation, that they've been working on for a month and is due to tommow, on a floppy disk that goes bad? It sucks. You want to say:
    "You're an idiot. Why the hell didn't you back it up?
    But what really comes out:
    "I'm very sorry, floppys are so horrible. If you look at them funny they stop woring. Make sure to email files to yourself. Again, I'm sorry".

    I work tech support at a state school [newpaltz.edu] and I can't even count the number of students who have started crying. Its gone down in recent years because our admins finally decided to backup/autosave all Microsoft Word (which is one ofthe problems to begin with) documents on every public computer at the school (which is quite a lot) on a file server. That way if the student is in a lab for a few hours and gets a "Word has experienced a problem, your file will be lost" message they can come to the help desk and we can recover whatever was saved. Its really a life saver sometimes (students tend to do stupid stuff when they lose their big paper).
  • by xchino ( 591175 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @06:04AM (#5377692)
    I think this is a very good thing for tech support in general. I remember working tech-support for dell when I was 16. My second day I had a lady call in who's HDD had crashed and she lost basically her life's work. It should have been a simple diagnosis, her system was still warrantied, she'd get a new HDD the next day.

    She was freaking out though, crying so loud between words I couldn't hardly make out anything she said. She was having spasmatic asthma attacks from crying so hard. She was crying out to God to please help her and not let this happen. This was truly a woman at the depths of despair.

    And I a novice 16 year old geek on the other end, completely unprepared to handle anything like this. I was trying so hard to console her I couldn't even do a proper diagnosis. I ran to get my boss, who talked to her for a minute before he went to get a lady who used to be a school counselor.

    She talked her down enough to get some sensible information from her, and we were able to diagnose her problem instantly.

    She had left a non-bootable disk in the floppy drive.
  • by darnok ( 650458 )
    I read "Good Grief!" and instantly added "...Charlie Brown". From there it was a small mental leap to Lucy and "The Doctor is IN"; now I'm wondering whether a call to this service will put me onto a delusional dog who's fighting the Red Baron, a bird who can't fly, a manic depressive kid with a big head and a striped shirt, a child prodigy pianist or a kid who's too scared to let go of his blanket.

    Yep, that's the guys I'll want to talk to when my system's dead.

    What the hell's IN this beer anyway...?
  • "Consoles Data Loss Victims"

    See, mod chips to make backup CDs are necessary for fair use. Sony and Microsoft claim the disks last forever, but here we have a story that says otherwise.

  • Tech person to boss: Hey, you don't know what happened today. It's so nice.

    Boss: What ?

    Tech person: We lost all our company 4 years of data. It would be a sad event, however I am so consolate, I'm so happy, life is so beautiful.

    Boss: And you're fired.
  • by walkern ( 235600 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @07:28AM (#5377901)
    Tell me about your Motherboard...
  • Data loss stress (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gary Franczyk ( 7387 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @07:54AM (#5377963)
    I don't think the majority of posters here realize how stressful a major data loss can be, especially if the person calling is responsible in some way for the data.

    Lets say that you admin a set of servers for a site of 1000 people and you have a major data catastrophe. If you are calling a data storage/recovery firm like Iron Mountain/Arcus to get a copy of your latest off-site duplicate backups.

    If the failure has gotten to this point, it means that your on-site backups have failed or have been destroyed and that you may have several Terabytes of data to recover, since you can afford the services of a company like this.

    Think about this:
    - You are the one being paid to keep the systems up and available and this isn't happening.
    - There are around 1000 people that will not be able to work until the data is restored and brought on-line. This can be days or even weeks depending on the size of the failure.

    So now, not only are you possibly going to lose your job, but there is a possibility of many more people losing thier only source of income. Its frightening. The failure may have been something you could have prevented. It may have even precipitated from some your actions. (oops, I didn't mean 'rm -rf /'... or oops, I forgot that I left my coffee on top of the EMC)

    Gary
  • by Scratch-O-Matic ( 245992 ) on Tuesday February 25, 2003 @08:59AM (#5378248)
    this guy. [suck.com]

    Listen to the whole thing...it goes critical at 20.3 seconds.

Once it hits the fan, the only rational choice is to sweep it up, package it, and sell it as fertilizer.

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