Back when the earth was cooling in the early 1980s, computers became “desktop,” and I learned my trade as a market consultant for an accounting firm. I learned DOS (disc operating system). It had a handy dandy little directory tree that served me well over the years both as a market consultant and as a word processor when the building boom went bust and demand existed only in the administrative support world. If you could run a MAG card, IBM Selectric, and a DOS based computer, it didn’t matter if you had three undergrad degrees and two masters. You could still earn a living. Yes, times were tough in the 1980s, but life was fun.
Enter the 1990s. Suddenly a little company named Microsoft decided it was time to take flight. They gave birth to Windows®. By now I was writing, selling, and working as a legal secretary/paralegal. I remember one of my best friends, a legal secretary of a certain age turning in her notice. When I asked her why she responded, “Honey,” (this was the south) “I don’t do Windows®.” Sage advice, even if I didn’t recognize it for 30 years. Windows®, is the curtain behind which DOS still hides but is rarely seen. Poor DOS. Not gone but forgotten.
Why this eulogy to DOS? Events of this past month saw me mourning that simple little directory tree. Suddenly, it seems, we no longer control anything. Not our apps (despite plunking down our hard-earned cash) not our data (despite spending hours polishing those sentences) not even where our stories reside. Instead it’s a Windows® kind of world without the transparency of glass.
Last month on my blog day, I disappeared. I managed to get one comment reply session and then faded from view. My computer had frozen during a Windows® update and everything disappeared. Toolbar, taskbar, tiles, start button, everything. I finally managed to catch a Chrome® icon that flashed on the screen and thus scored a single reply session. After that, all I had was the photo of the login screen and nothing more. The details are unimportant but they involved two new laptops, four trips to Best Buy for set up and data transfers, wi-fi issues and finally, the discovery that all of my existing data had been put into something called “My PC” by the Geek Squad.
Undeterred, I very carefully moved all of the “My PC” data back to my “C” drive where my data has lived since DOS days unmolested. You see, I’ve always been careful to NOT have data on the “Cloud” (or any of the multiple feel good names it is known by). Mission accomplished, data moved, happy as a clam I am, I opened Word and it can’t find a danged thing. Helpfully, I pointed it to my C drive where it opened the file as read only. No worries, I clicked save as. Up popped the box: You do not have authorization – I teach the laptop new words – it doesn’t care – I teach it new words in French – it still doesn’t care, so I move on to new words in Italian – it still doesn’t care, so I move on to new words in Spanish. Guess what – it’s multilingual. I called Best Buy – They don’t do software data issues, but the Geek took pity on me. It’s My PC in Windowsland or nothing.
My PC. Cloud access permitted. Microsoft, or Santa Claus or whomever now has access to…my computer life. It’s either that, or no computer. Ladies and gentlemen. Really?!? 
I’m angry. Identity theft is rampant and yet, there is no option but to put my personal accounting program in the “cloud”? Every author I speak with, myself included, has books filling pirate site shelves, and I am expected to have my drafts and finished products in the “cloud”? Some data causes no concern, but other data puts sensitive information at risk.
The choice I made is to store some data only on my external drive. Other data, data that if it is compromised will be an irritation but not a disaster is on My PC. All of this took me nearly a month of essentially no computer usage to figure out how to implement. It cost me a month of writing time, communication time. Social time.
I wish I had followed my friend 30 years ago and said, “I don’t do Windows® either!”
How do you feel about living life in the Cloud? Do you think it’s a boon or a bust?
 Update – Jim Jackson, a fellow blogger on Writers Who Kill, has instructed me how to turn off the One Drive setting. Thank you, Jim, I have followed your instructions and with fingers crossed am waiting for the next update to see if it stays off—I have noticed that Windows updates will often turn unwanted settings back on, but for now, I’m breathing easier.