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Thursday, 12 January 2012


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Oh, been there. Too any times...

You said..."Wow. That doesn't happen very often."

Then it must not be a SNAFU, the first two words of the acronym meaning "situation normal," i.e., an expected occurrence. The term has, however, come to mean something different over the years.

Glad it's not a real SNAFU in the original sense.

Unlike the guy in the link below, I think you are handling this mishap rather well !


Just check that your writing application does not do auto backups. Do you write online or on using a stand alone writing application?
all may not be lost.

It will not help for today's post, but for the future: Dropbox and auto-save. With Dropbox file history, even if you manage to delete all the files, backups, etc. in your machine, there will be (for a month in the free version) an old version of the file on the Dropbox server. That saved my ass a few times!

Yes, a bummer!

Having had that happen *many* years ago while typing a post to a forum, I began composing in a text editor with frequent saves to disk, then importing to the web format.


Having written it once, your thoughts on the subject should now be greatly clarified. Therefore you should be able to write it much better the second time. This, at least, has always been my experience.

Save often!

Demand better blogging software? Wordpress now has autosave natively. I'm sure there's an extension to Typepad that does that by now?

Yes, I'm sure the blog ate your post.

Actually when that has happened to me, I rarely like the second attempt.

Sounds depressing — hope you get it all back. Take a peek at MarsEdit.

In my early days in newspapers, the early '90s, I wrote on a Mac Classic. Often, the system crashed, and there was no OS warning when I closed a story window without hitting "save." Bummer--- but every story I rewrote was better the second time, more concise and focused because I knew better where I was going.

Son it's probably all for the best, but watch out-- we'll all be watching for this lost story with raised expectations.

Photographically speaking, your case is the equivalent of shooting a whole roll of film only to eventually realise the roll had not been inserted properly...

I guess you must have been inputting text online since otherwise either autosave or Time Machine would have saved your bacon.

You could use Google Docs for full autosave, but let me personally recommend SpiderOak backup service combined with ctrl/cmd+s regularly. As soon as SpiderOak detects a change to the file (it will spot it within a few seconds) it backs it up to the cloud...

No more lost data either way.

"Then it must not be a SNAFU, the first two words of the acronym meaning "situation normal," i.e., an expected occurrence. "

Hey Jeff - You're reading that wrong. The point of a SNAFU is that it's NOT a normal situation. It's a normal situation that has been all "fouled" up.

SNAFU's are definitely not normal. In this case, the normal situation is a saved post. The SNAFU is a saved post that is somehow lost.

Don't worry Mike, there is a solution. You just need to switch, like Ellen Feiss:


You weren't using a PC by any chance? Oh... it was a Mac, wasn't it? :)


If you're using Word it automatically saves a copy.

I used to write software for a living, now I copy-edit all day long on a computer. I hit CTRL-S very 5 or 6 keystrokes. When I take a sip of tea, I save. If I stretch, I save. If I read for a bite to eat, I save. If I'm idle for 4-5 seconds, I save. That cheap piece of plastic and silicone on your desk is the most unreliable thing in your life. Nearly. :)

I feel your pain.

Just remember that you described me as "a towering intellect, an artist of astonishing vision, and the most handsome man east of the Mississippi." That was the best part of the article.

A lways
R egularly
S ave
E verything

Dang! I just lost my (non)comment on your (non)post, maybe hit the wrong key or something. And it was possibly the best one I've ever written. Oh well, I suppose I'll install one of those programs that stores my keystrokes and mouse clicks. I don't know if it will store mouse movements though.

Tip: Get a text writer that auto saves (I like Rough Draft) and type you posts there, then copy/paste them into the blog program.

I have made it a habit to hit ctrl-a followed by ctrl-c before I click on "post" on any forum. That way you select all and copy it to clipboard, so if I or the forum software messes up I can just paste it again after reloading the page.

@ David Bostedo...

Au contraire, from Wiki..."SNAFU is an acronym that stands for situation normal: all fucked up. It is sometimes bowdlerized to all fouled up or similar.[1] In simple terms, it means that the normal situation is in a bad state, as it always is, therefore nothing unexpected."

Been there- several times over. There is a solution, and it's not easy. You write it again, but... you do it better. The one thing photography will not allow you.

The post that can be published is not the true post...

What do you write in, Mike? Can I recommend Evernote? It is available on multiple platforms, synchronises with an online store at regular intervals, and allows for great organisation of ideas. Unlike a desktop word processor, you have automatic backup to 'the cloud'. Unlike website-based data entry, you are not at the mercy of your internet connection or uptime of the remote server.

I had the same thing happen to me recently - or so I thought. My problem is, I have too many blogs. I posted two (brilliant, of course) articles, went back in to read them, but went to the wrong blog. I thought they had been dumped by Blogger, so I rewrote them both - almost verbatim - and then discovered they had not been lost, after all: they were in my other blog.

Every now and then I resolve to first write in Notepad and paste into Blogger, but I never do it.

Hey Jeff -

That's interesting... I've never heard it used that way then, even in WWII movies. From a little further in on Wikipedia :

"Snafu also sometimes refers to a bad situation, mistake, or cause of trouble. It is more commonly used in modern vernacular to describe running into an error or problem that is large and unexpected. "

I'm pretty sure that's the only way I've heard it used. Of course, if large and unexpected problems are the norm, then it would fall under the original usage; But that seems like a very rare case.

I guess it's something like modern usage of "begs the question" or "naseous", where the new usage is becoming the primary usage.

I never have this particular problem since I write everything out long hand on a big chief tablet with a chubby #2 pencil. Then, when I'm happy with what I've written I type it on my old Hermes typewriter on onion skin paper. Then I run it through an optical character reader and put it on my computer and check for spelling errors and other erratic errata before printing it out again. Finally, when happy with what I've written (and it is all "Gold.") I sit down in a nest of five or six laptops, all running Dragon and dictate it in a very precise "Hal" voice. Which gives me six back ups for the original. I burn CD's and also make Zerox copies of the original words. Only then am I sure I won't be burned by system failures. My condolences.

My blog is in its 12th year, and I experienced this a couple of times long ago. Since then I make a habit of writing my first draft in a plain text editor. Then I copy & paste into the blog. That way, if the blog eats the post I still have the first draft to fall back on.

It's far less of an issue for me now that Wordpress is boiling over with auto-saves and such, but having been burned before I'm sticking with it.

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