How I Blog

This has to be a question on many of my readers’ lips. Well, to answer that, most of my long-form posts have been written on my iPhone.

This is not so crazy as you might imagine, London author Fiona Mozley, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2017, secretly wrote her debut novel on her phone while commuting on the Tube, that in addition to studying for a PhD at York University about late-medieval towns and ecopolitics.

So coming back to the less academic CabbieBlog and my long-form posts written using Apple’s Notes app on my old iPhone 5S.

Apple in their wisdom updated their operating system which excluded my trusty old phone, this resulted in some of my apps not working correctly, and in addition, my phone had only 16Gb of Rom so it was feeling pretty well stuffed.

In a heady fit of profligate spending, largely predicated upon the fee received from a piece I wrote for This England Annual (more of which later), in May I bought a shiny new iPhone SE with a heady 128Gb of storage from that icon of middle class retailing – John Lewis.

Safe in the knowledge that I was backing up everything to Apple’s excellent iCloud what could possibly go wrong? Well as Bill Gates memorably argued, there are two types of computers: those which have crashed, and those that will crash.

Compared to nearly 7 years of faultless service from my old phone, my all-singing all-dancing new phone barely lasted 7 weeks before it took into its head to scramble the image on the screen.

The helpful customer service person at John Lewis reassuringly told me that I was the second person that day with the same fault on their iPhone SE and briskly re-directed me to Apple’s technical support.

A word of warning here, it’s easier to get an audience with the Pope, than talking to an actual living human being at Apple.

Once eventually being connected, the highly competent service assistant could have been instructing me in ancient Sumerian.

One of the solutions tried was to re-install the operating system, but before starting I had to reassure them that I had backed up my device. No problem iCloud has everything. Wrong!

Some apps back up, others don’t, including my Day One journal that I’ve maintained for a decade.

Ultimately all the experiments proved was the device needed the intervention of an engineer.

The procedures necessary to send a phone to Apple are many and varied: turn off find my phone app; disconnect the phone from Apple device ID list; remove SIM card; fully charge phone; turn off device; enclose in a special bag and tape shut; place in the reinforced cardboard box provided; write addressee’s name on an outer bag, seal and take to the post office; oh yes, back up!

You cannot fault Apple’s service. I dropped my phone off at my local post office (at least they call a desk at the back of a value for money general store the Post Office), on late Friday afternoon. Monday morning I had confirmation of delivery and at 8.32 in the evening was informed it had been repaired and dispatched. Before lunch next day, my repaired phone arrived and was up and running by the evening.

Our mobile phones have become the most important gadget in our lives, the window through which we see and interact with the world; camera, newspaper, retail outlet, record player, diary, and for my typewriter. They allow us to share everything we’re up to, and to receive instant feedback from people we’ve never, or are unlikely to meet. They nudge us relentlessly to that magic rectangle which grabs our attention throughout our waking hours – increasingly the master rather than the servant.

That is when they work.

8 thoughts on “How I Blog”

  1. Technology is wonderful when it works. I have a tablet computer with a keypad that I sometimes take with me when I am out on a research trip I had this synched with my main laptop.
    One day I lost the entire novel that I was on the point of publishing, Google had decided to delete it, my wife found it for me so we were able to restore it. It was immediately copied onto several different memory sticks and hard drives.
    I had a temporary job recently where I had to use spreadsheets on a smartphone. It wasn’t easy.
    While I admire the technology I really just prefer to use a phone for making and receiving calls, Luddite that I am.

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    1. The ‘old’ way of writing your manuscript had its problems: My favourite literary trivia is that the only manuscript for Orwells’ Animal Farm was retrieved from bomb damage rubble.

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  2. I think we just have to embrace the chaos. If we’ve not lost everything in the ether, we are merely still awaiting that growing experience.

    I religiously backup my blog too, but I occasionally wonder if I’d do anything about it if everything did disappear from WordPress (assuming that my backup really was backed up of course).

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    1. When I self-hosted CabbieBlog I’d backup everything using a proprietary service. Sometimes when I had issues with the blog I would revert to the back which uploaded perfectly. Now I gone back to WordPress hosting hopefully they run a secure service.

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    2. I’m just “backing up” by copying to a Pages file that sits on my desk top and is periodically backed up to the cloud. I comfort myself by the reflection that this word-processing file would make it easier to make a selection of pieces — though I doubt if that’s really something I’ll end up doing.

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    3. All my posts eventually end up as Word files which are on my laptop, backed up to two remote hard drives (one of which only backs up every 10 days in case of a virus infects the laptop), then my complete laptop is back up to the cloud. Just it’s a pity that I wasn’t so careful with my iPhone data!

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  3. The only things I back up are photos, on a portable removal hard drive, not any ‘Cloud’. I don’t even know how to find ‘The Cloud’. My blog is too vast to even think about backing it up. If it disappears one day, ‘C’est la vie’.
    As for phones, I can just about text and make calls. I still use a PC with a big monitor for anything blog-related. My phone is an Android device too, as I have never used or owned anything made by Apple.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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