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April 2002
1How to write with CAUTION!
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How to write with CAUTION!
April 1, 2002

Imagine this horror story. You open your journal to write and the words come pouring out into the browser's textbox. They are the complete expression of all that needs expressing today. They perfectly describe your feelings, communicating all your passion and experience. It is a one time occurrence and you know you would never be able to express this so well again.

Finally, after an hour or so of writing, you lean back in your chair and proofread the work one last time with profound satisfaction. You then release the final energy with a long sigh and hit the Save-This-Entry button.

The browser window goes blank and then... nothing! You wait. Still nothing. Panic starts to hit. You wiggle the mouse. You start clicking on buttons...Back, Back, Help, anything. The browser just sits there mocking you with expansive whiteness.

After agonizing minutes, you finally admit defeat and hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete and kill the browser window, wondering if you can possibly imagine starting all over.

That has to be one of the most devastating experiences in on-line journaling. Unfortunately, it has happened to a few people in recent days. Why does it happen? There could be many reasons. There could be a server failure at our web hosting facility (as there was last night for about 10 minutes). Or your ISP could drop your connection to the Internet while you are writing. Or there could be, gasp, a BUG here at the website that somehow thinks you are logged out after waiting so long for you to hit the Save button. (Yes, that really was a bug in the past. I took another long look at the fix to that problem last night. It seems to be working just fine... but I could be wrong.) In fact there are probably about a dozen other reasons it could happen.

The bottom line here is that browsers are not safe environments to use as text editors. They are a thousand times more prone to losing their contents than, say, your simple Notepad (Windows) or similar text editor or even a word processor. For that reason, I recommend the following approach to writing in your journal:

Compose the entry off-line in your text editor (Notepad in Windows) or possibly a word processor (Word or Word Perfect in Windows). Then copy and paste the entry into your browser when you are done. You don't even have to save the entry on your harddrive, if you are concerned about privacy on a shared computer at home. Just having the text in the editor window is safer than trusting it to the browser's disappearing window that may eat it and never come back.

Okay, I know that sometimes it is just more immediate and satisfying to open the browser, type something in, and save it. The directness has its advantages, right?

In that case there is still something you can do to protect yourself from this horrible experience. Occasionally, as you are writing, and then one last time right before you hit the Save button, highlight everything and copy it to the clipboard so you can get it back if the browser fails you at that key moment when you submit it. To highlight everything and copy, the easiest way in Microsoft Windows is to hit Ctrl-A and then Ctrl-C. The Ctrl-A should highlight everything and the Ctrl-C will copy the highlighted text to the clipboard. Just remembering these two keystrokes can save you so much agony.

Why do I suggest you do it several times while you are writing directly in your browser? Because if you wait to do it right at the end, you may forget and then lose everything anyway. If you do forget and you have done it at several points during the writing process, at least you'll be able to recover everything up to the last time you did it.

I trust you all know that if you have copied everything to the clipboard, you can still get it back by opening an editor and selecting "Paste" or by hitting Ctrl-v.

Happy Journaling,

- Frank
Journal Master

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