Friends of the Bullitt County History Museum
December 26, 2011 (Volume 7, Number 13)
>>New Year's Day Holiday Closings. The Bullitt County History Museum will be closed Friday December 30 and Monday January 2 for the New Year's holiday.
>>Late January marks the 75th anniversary of the Great Flood of 1937. I plan to devote much of the January and maybe February newsletters to that dramatic event. Meanwhile, there is much that can be found by searching on our museum web site.
>>I have been asked to write a weekly column in the Courier-Journal newspaper, Wednesday Neighborhoods section, and the columns started running in December. The column is titled "Bullitt County Memories", and is about, well, Bullitt County. Some will be my own memories and thoughts, but most will be about stories and history of the county that I have picked up along the way. Links to them are here.
>>St. Aloysius students visit museum. Thanks to Jennifer Greenwell at St. A for setting this up, we had about twenty students take a tour of our museum displays and the Old Stone Jail. It was a pretty day, so we all walked over to the nearby history marker at the location of the dramatic Train Wreck of 1917. We also walked over to the old Pioneer Cemetery next to the city park, and that cemetery continues to be a surprisingly positive place for student groups to visit. Everyone enjoys the outdoors, and I really love how it becomes such a teaching opportunity as the students notice names and symbols and dates on the tombstones and all of that becomes points of discussion about respect for cemeteries and about history in general.
>>Simcoe genealogy book donated. A good-sized genealogical book about the Simcoe family was recently donated to our museum collection.
>>1926 Edith Blissett book. Edith Blissett has completed yet another year of transcribing our old local newspapers. This one is The Pioneer News for the year of 1926. She has now done from 1909 (or maybe before) all the way through 1926. A truly awesome amount of work and a great research tool for everyone. Edith gave a copy to our museum.
>>Families of Pine Tavern. Rosemary Cundiff and Deborah Campisano recently gave the museum a copy of their genealogical work on the families of the Pine Tavern area. This genealogical collection of 2238 names is available for access on our main museum computer using our Family Tree Maker program.
>>New state added to visitor list. The museum had a couple of nice visitors from the state of Maine this month. That was our first recorded visit from Maine (Henry Heitlauf, Jr. lives in Maine but family was originally from the Bullitt/Nelson County area). The museum has now hosted visitors from nearly every state (and a few nations), except some of the states in the northwest.
>>Web Site Additions.
Additions to our web site have grown since last time. To see what is new, visit our Latest Additions page.
For Your Information...
>>Preserving Buildings, etc. Interested in preserving/protecting our historic buildings? Here's a couple of fine Kentucky resources. Check out "Preservation Kentucky" and "The Kentucky Trust for Historic Preservation."
"Back it Up! Back it Up! WAAAY Up!"
No, this story is not about traffic congestion on Highway 44. Nor is it a plumbing joke.
This is actually about two recent near-tragic events that strongly re-enforce the importance of backing up you computer files.
I have withheld names to protect the victims from embarrassment because we are all probably guilty of this fault to some extent.
Story One: One of our museum Volunteers had spent a very large part of the past two years of his life doing in-depth research about Bullitt Countians in the Civil War. He had done tremendous work, following leads everywhere, reading microfilm and dozens of books, interviewing historians and genealogists, gleaning unique information and details about our Bullitt County ancestors that fought in the war.
And he was nearly done with this great work, in preparation for our 2012 anniversary work on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
It was nearly all done, some fifty-five pages of hard-earned information.
And all saved neatly...on one computer file on one thumb drive.
Well, last Monday, he was at the museum putting some last touches on the work, when...you guessed it...the document suddenly went blank. Not a single letter remained. Just one blank page of nothing. There was no back up; not even any hand written notes.
It looked like the entire project would have to be started again from scratch, trying to retrace all the people and places he had been.
I do believe this strong, experienced, military man nearly cried.
Story Two: Another Volunteer at our museum has been working for some years writing a genealogy collection on her computer that included some 144,000 names. That's 144 THOUSAND. She was rightly very proud of her work.
Well, one day recently she went to call up that computer file...and there was nothing.
Nothing. NO...THING. The genealogy program wouldn't even recognize that such a file existed.
Again, no back up of the file existed, so it looked like every bit of that long work was suddenly, irrevocably, gone.
It was nearly enough to make even the strongest researcher give up, start watching soap operas, and never read again.
Lessons from Disaster: First of all there is good news on both of these stories. Miraculously, computer experts were able to retrieve both of these lost files and lives were saved.
But here are some things I hope you will take away from these experiences:
Lesson One: BACK UP YOUR FILES!! When the Civil War researcher's file was saved from destruction, he called me, positively giddy (I swear I could hear him over the phone, dancing). He told me that he would be back at the museum later in the day, but only after he made five or six copies (backups) of the file. Of course, that might be way more than necessary, but he had learned his lesson that it is indeed critical to back up your files. Any computer file can get corrupted, accidentally deleted, or otherwise lost. Make at least one copy of your important files, and keep the copy in a separate location. Rename the copy from, say "sample.doc" to "sampleBAK.doc" so you can keep track of which is your working copy (to which you are adding new data) and which is your backup copy. The different file name also helps protect against accidental or malicious deletion of one file name. The purpose of having a backup file in a different location is that, as was the case in one of these stories, the thumb drive or storage disc can go bad. Also, if some physical disaster such as a house fire destroys one copy, at least the work is saved because a copy is somewhere else. Be sure to make a new, updated backup regularly in order to keep up with any new data.
Lesson Two: Back away from the keyboard! Whenever you are typing on a computer and something happens that is wrong (like a sudden deletion of text), stop what you are doing and think before doing anything else. I sometimes even tell people in such situations, only half jokingly, to "raise your hands and step away from the keyboard." One of my favorite commands on most all modern computer programs is the "Undo" command. It is a fantastic command but often only if you use it as the very next command (some newer versions are better at this). Very often, people will, for example, accidentally highlight a portion, or even all, of the text; if the next action is to type a "space" key or "delete" key, then suddenly everything looks like it is gone. Many people at that point will panic, "save" the file as is, and exit the program. That can be very bad news, permanently saving that document with the error.
My wife is what I call a "machine gun clicker" on a computer. If a problem comes up for her on a computer, she will "click" a button with her mouse; if that didn't solve the problem, she will click again, then "click, click, click" many times in rapid succession. At that point it is anyone's guess what happened wrong and what will happen next when all those clicks finally register.
But if you stop first and think, often the solution to the problem is simply to just click the undo button and everything will be OK again.
But if you had saved and exited instead, you can be in real trouble.
Lesson Three: If you still can't get your file back, don't do anything else to that disk until your get it to an expert. In both these stories, we tried several things to bring back the file. Usually, some of these things work and all is well again.
But if not, as was the case here, don't do anything that would write something new to the disk until you get it to an expert.
Most people don't know that even if you purposely delete a file, there is still a hidden copy of the original on the disk. That is one reason that many computer security experts recommend destroying disks and hard drives before surplusing a computer. But the hidden file is only a very tenuous one that might well get overwritten by the very next file you save.
That is why it is important to not save anything new on the disk until an expert can try to retrieve the "lost" file. These two cases were only solved after hours of work by an expert with special programs.
Lesson Four: Either back up your file or expect that you WILL get hit by disaster sooner or later. The people in our two stories were very fortunate. Usually, at the stage their files were at, the file is gone...destroyed...lost forever.
Do not wait and hope that disaster will not strike you.
It will. Nearly everyone that has used computers for long can tell you a story of loss.
"Save early and save often" is an important motto when using computers.
Happy New Year Everyone!
Thank you for being a Friend of the Bullitt County History Museum.
Bullitt County History Museum
Museum Phone: 502-921-0161
E-Mail address: David.Strange@BullittCountyHistory.org