Don’t Lose Your Precious and Irreplaceable Dingbat Bolts Like I did


Don’t Lose Your Precious and Irreplaceable Dingbat Bolts Like I did

I thought they were safe, but they were not!


Image by author

These are my ding-bat bolts, or at least one style. These bolts were slightly curved and deliberately made to cross-thread instantly. I offered them for sale in a story I wrote many years ago.

As you might expect, sales were dismal, but as most readers assumed that my fledgling internet business was a humor piece, I did make some money from the effort.

The story and all of its images but one are lost. Vanished, seemingly without a trace. None of it is in my backups, none of it is in the Internet Archives, I have no hard copies, no PDFs, nada.

Deep Backup

This is deeply frustrating because I do make and keep deep backups. Deep, deep, and deeper! I have access to Internet stories I wrote as early as 1994. Many are from writing sites long since defunct, but I have my stories! I have them, dammit!

But I do not have my Dingbat Bolts or its drawings. I have only the single image you see above. I recall that I also drew an image of a specialized bolt shaped like part of an Escher cube; I could recreate it, but I’m aggravated because I should have it.

My backup method for many years has been to do multiple Time Machine backups of my computer. I also use BackBlaze to make another computer backup. I backup my iPhone and iPad to iCloud and to iMazing. I copy things like my stories and pictures to iCloud and Google Drive.

When I use the tools that a site like this provides for writing, I save PDFs and avail myself of whatever export functions the site provides. Weirdly, this site requires two exports: one for the list of email followers you have and another for everything else. I guess it’s the left hand saying “I don’t want that right hand touching my stuff.”

Using “Settings->Export email subscribers” gets your subscriber list and “Settings->Download” will email a zip file with all of your posts plus a number of other files.

Be sure to unzip those files! I say that because zip files can sometimes be corrupted or missing files. What should be in there is the following directories:

  • /blocks One or more files named blocked-users-0001.html, blocked-users-0002.html and so on. Each file contains 80 lines of blocked users
  • /bookmarks Same idea, one or more html files for posts you have bookmarked. I found hundreds of posts I had forgotten entirely!
  • /claps Posts you’ve clapped for. I have claps-0001.html through claps.0110.html presently, with 60–70 posts listed in each file
  • /highlights Posts you’ve highlighted. I have a lot of those also.
  • /interests Topics you’re interested in
  • /ips IP addresses you’ve logged in from. Could help you find someone hacking you. I have many files because iCloud Private Relay keeps giving me new ip’s.
  • /lists. Your lists. I have many :)
  • /partner-program These are the most interesting files. They have the earning of each post. If get the zip file today, it shows individual post earnings through yesterday. If you get it again tomorrow, you can compare to see which posts earned money and which didn’t. I wrote a Perl script that does that for me, so I keep every one of these daily.
  • /posts Your posts, your drafts, your comments, all together in a less than ideal mess.
  • /profile Your profile, your membership info, the publications where you are a writer or editor, and the money you have paid for membership.
  • /pubs-following I don’t follow pubs, only writers. That avoids a LOT of stuff I don’t want to read.
  • /sessions Your active and inactive sessions. Another place to find suspicious activity. Even with Private Relay, all my sessions should be from the Eastern U.S. seaboard. If one showed up from somewhere else, I’d be hacked.
  • /topics-following Topics you follow, duh.
  • /twitter Your Twitter friends who are also on Medium. I don’t necessarily care, but maybe sometimes.
  • /users-following An easy way to see the folks you follow and the html is linked to their profiles. I wish they had the same list for people following us, don’t you?

I keep two sets of all these: yesterday and the day before. I keep every one of the partner-program files by date so that I can compare and graph daily earnings by post.

PDFs vs. HTML vs. Text

With most browsers and systems, you can either export a web page to PDF or print to PDF. You can also save html files. You can print out hard copies — I do not now, but I used to.

If you want to go full stop, select-all and copy the text. That can be a little messy, but it’s better than nothing at all. If you use a tool like Grammarly to write, let it save your text — just another place you can look if you lose something.


Spreading stuff around multiple places never hurts. You can do that by copying files from your GUI on any operating system;I use rsync on the Terminal command line (comes with Mac/Linux, you can get it for Windows). It’s easier than the GUI, but of course command lines are scary!

I use this script to copy from iCloud Drive to my external drive:

DEST="/Volumes/clone M1"
SRC="/Users/$USER/Library/Mobile Documents/com~apple~CloudDocs/"
rsync --verbose --recursive --times --exclude=".DS_Store" --exclude=".Trash/" "$SRC" "$DEST"

Rsync only copies what it needs to copy, so it’s ultra-quick.

That’s not so scary, is it? Time Machine and BackBlaze will back all that up again, so I’m that much deeper.

That rusty old chain

Whatever you do, do more than one thing. Anything and everything can screw up. As the loss of my dingbat bolt story shows, even multiple saving methods may not protect you. In that case, I must have forgotten to save it locally to begin with, so all my other plans were useless. Keep that old adage about the chain and its weakest link in mind!

Did I miss your favorite backup method? Let me know in the comments. And, as always, if you need help. just ask. I’ll always help Medium paying members free of charge (because that’s where the money comes from).

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