The hard drive on my work laptop is suffering a slow and painful (for me) death, so I visited our most competent and helpful IT guy a few days ago for advice and resources.* After a long discussion of replacement drives, backup strategies and potential disasters, we somehow ended up talking about online services.
The two twenty-somethings in the room were quite surprised to find out that there was a life online before everyone had access to the internet. They knew that there had been a thing called "dialup" but were unaware that AOL was essentially a huge online bulletin board. Then I had to explain about online bulletin boards. Neither had ever heard of CompuServe or Prodigy. One started googling immediately, and probably spent the rest of the day researching the ancient days of the early 1990's.
It was an entire day later that I remembered that millions of people in this country, mostly in rural areas, still don't have access to broadband. Millions of others don't have the money, the motivation, or the perceived need. I assume their lives are lived much differently from mine, since I spend a great deal of time sitting in my living room logged into another machine somewhere, streaming video, or looking up random things I see on television. It's what the punditry likes to call the "digital divide," and those on the other side are increasingly excluded from society. Many businesses, publications, and other activities are now primarily or completely online.
But I digress. Yesterday was about fresh backups and modest but low-risk repairs that I was pretty sure were not going to work. Today I bite the bullet, erase the drive, confirm that it is bad, and replace it. Back up your data kids. Remember, there are two kinds of hard drives -- those that have failed and those that will.
* We have a help desk, but their helpfulness is somewhat ... irregular. I haven't read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, but I assume one of them is "find an IT person that will help you."