Friday, April 14, 2017

Humble Pie

“The file is gone forever.”

My wife is a reflective person … as such, she wished to capture her experience caring for our dear friend Loretta; during her stay at Loretta’s, their stay at Hospice and Loretta’s funeral and burial. Beyond pencil and paper, which she was loathe to use, the only tool she had available was her smartphone. She found an Android application, appropriately named ‘Memories,’ which she perceived as nearly if not actually perfect for the task.

This was like a diary, or at least enough like one to suit Ellie’s needs and wants. She begins her reflections after Loretta is admitted to Hospice; there are numerous entries, each with its own title, so Ellie can go back to specific times/events/feelings when reviewing it later.

Two or so months following Loretta’s death, and about that long after the last entry in the diary, both Ellie and I got new smartphones.

Before that happened, “How can I take this with me?” Ellie wanted to know, about the memories. I am the geek in the family and she entrusted this very serious matter to me. I took it.

“Well … hmmm … let’s see.” As a techie, I relished this sort of real-world problem-solving. At the time, either the application lacked backup capability or neither of us knew how to use it.

I copied the entire set of notes, pasted them into an email, and sent them to myself and to Ellie. When looking at the notes this way, Ellie’s reflections were not arranged quite as neatly as in the original application, but there were no extraneous smiley characters, Sanskrit boxes or other foolishness in the document; only the same text that was in the original. To further insure we didn’t ever lose this material, I also copied the email into a special folder, which I created and called ‘Special Saves’ or some such name. “Even if everything else goes to heck in a handbasket, we’ll always have this folder,” I said to Ellie. Her memories were safe; we were set.

Neither of us thought much about Memories in the last while, probably since before we got those phones. We didn’t “get” those phones, though, we just rented them; at eighteen months we had to decide if we wanted to keep them ( i.e., pay the rest of the retail cost ) or swap them for something else. The eighteen months was up just recently. We went into the store to discuss our options, so I thought, and came home with new phones.

A few days later, “Hon, you know my memories from being with Loretta? Can you retrieve them for me?”

“Well … “ I supposed so; hoped so. I had thought about them, very loosely, in the last while, but thinking about the topic is as far as I had gone.

It was while trying to retrieve them that I realized how little I actually remembered about safeguarding them eighteen months previous. I searched all the current and backed up email files I have and found nothing. Beyond emailing, I’ve thought about the possible ways available to us to share files between her phone and one of our desktops: Evernote, Google Drive, Sky Drive, DropBox. Nothing. Until I found a file called Memories.SPD in my Evernote notes; “Whew.”

The SPD extension suggests it’s a Samsung S-Note file. I had no idea how it might have migrated from being a ‘Memories’ file to an S-Note file, but the filename is ‘Memories,’ and the Section Titles I can see are those Ellie would have created.

“Not sure, Bub, what application you’ve got loaded here that might open that file,” Windows politely said to me ( not in exactly those words ) when I tried to open it from inside Evernote.

I saved the file to my computer’s drive. Nothing on my computer would open it; even Word, using its ‘Recover text from any file’ capability, would show me only header information and the same Section Titles I had seen for this file while still in Evernote. Somewhat panicky, I did more research. I discovered an application called S-Note for Windows. “Dodged another bullet,” I exhaled. 

The only problem is that when opening the file using S-Note for Windows it showed only the same Section Titles I had seen in Evernote; the same Titles I saw when opening the file in Word. “Oooh, ewww,” seeped through me.

I had another SPD file in Evernote that I know I had created with S-Note. As an experiment, I opened it with S-Note for Windows. It displayed the file’s contents faithfully. The only thing left to conclude is that the file memories.SPD contains only Section Titles. I had failed miserably in safeguarding Ellie’s reflections about her final days with Loretta. My stomach contracted.

I had to admit to her, “Your memories are exactly that; I’ve failed to protect the data. The file is gone forever.”

Humble pie, indeed.
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