If you tried to have a look at this website yesterday or previously, you may have found nothing you were expecting.
This website is hosted by WordPress. They sell space which I buy yearly. You can see everything I have written here for the last twelve years by clicking around and, in theory, as long as I keep buying the space it will always be here. However, as the last days show, in a bit of pre-pantomime, oh no it isn’t.
I am not very computer literate, when it got started in a way normal people could join in, in the 1908s, the OH sold his Japanese sword and bought a keyboard that was joined with a wire to the back of the television. He then watched BBC ‘how to compute’ programmes every Saturday, babysitting the S&H, while I was teaching crammer classes at college.
So they both treated the computer as boys toys and I let them get on with it. The S&H, having learned to compute before he could walk, became very clever at it, frequently confounding his teachers at school, and eventually went on to do a five year degree in it, though most of the interesting stuff he found out on his own,
So the following information is all from him. When you are on a website, or writing one, sometimes the server goes down. What is a server? It’s another computer somewhere else. You can store your information in the cloud. What is the cloud? It’s another computer somewhere else.
While the S&H was starting a business while sofa surfing, he made a virtual computer for a firm because the employees kept logging on and doing computery things wrong. So he built a virtual model of the computer, sandboxed (separated) from the real computer so that, no matter what the employees did, the original computer programme was still there undamaged. I don’t think he ever got paid much for this clever idea, which was the forerunner of the cloud.
The actual machines, the S&H assures me, are located in very neutral countries, in huge buildings in specialised storage facilities guarded night and day.
If they go down it’s usually something wrong with the programme or programmers.
When you pay for computers, including smartphones, some of the cost is the secured facility, some is the cost of mining rare metals used in component manufacture, some of which are located in some of the most war-torn parts of the world. The extraction is not necessarily planet friendly.
The uncomputery bit.
You are a reader, that’s why you’re here, I am another. In times of trouble I revert to reading the stuff I love because it soothes and cheers me. I had got through the entire cannon of Terry Pratchett by the third month of lockdown. If it had gone on much longer, I’d have had to get the Beano annuals out of the loft. As it is, I have saved the third volume of The Far Side cartoons, unread, in case. In their case, unread.
I first became aware that some readers put me in the emergency reading category while I was doing fairs and writing my column for Dolls House World, twenty years ago. Strangers used to loom out of the throng, mutter: I save your stuff, you know, and lurch off. After a few years there were letters to magazines explaining how in times of trouble readers burrowed through the pile in the spare bedroom and read all of my columns until they were laughing again. And quite a lot of letters said the same thing. One lady wrote in to say her husband was cross with her because she had read my column in bed and laughed so much she wet the bed and they had to get out and change it. And she really wrote a paper letter to say so and the editor really published it.
The computery bit.
If you are an emergency reader of any category; if you enjoy the Parrot has landed, or you need the dementia diaries in the dark of the night, I hope you can see from the explanation in the first computery bit, that the writing may not always be available. Aliens from another planet could land and take out the Internet and we would all be so stuffed. Global electricity shortages or a meteor strike could take out the servers. Now you know the servers and the cloud and whatever else is currently being invented, depends on real metal machines in a building somewhere, I hope you will back up your emergency reading. You could, of course stick it all on a memory stick, but that’s worked by electricity too.
When I began this site at first I printed everything out and was quickly drowning in paper. However, if you were to print out your favourite bits, that might not be a bad idea.
It’s art of a sort, this website. Art with words. The nature of it is transitory, the words fly in through your eyes, flit around your brain and flit off. A bazillion other writers did it better than I which is why I always know where to put my hand on my Shakespeare or my Pratchett.
If you are au fait with copyright issues, I confirm that you may not pass the contents of this site on as your own work or sell it. I will always (servers permitting) give it to you for free and you are always free to download it, save it, print it off for yourself and your use and point anyone you think would enjoy it in this direction.
I am honoured to be your emergency reading, or just your free five minutes with a cup of tea (which is what I was asked for when I began to do this).
It’s just lovely that I can write something (because I like writing) and wherever you are on the planet you can read it (because you like reading).
Long may it continue!