Generally whenever I start a series of numbered posts and then it sort of trails off one of two things has happened
- The blog software has not saved my progress and I have given up in frustration after having to start over numerous times
- Some small minor point is irking me/I obsess about it till I give up in frustration.
2 Happens more than 1. As a result the ol blog software has a bajillion drafted posts in some various stage of completion. In Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics the lord of dreams has a “dream library” where all the books people had ideas for but never finished are held. I have often joked that debaters have a dream library of cards- things they never underlined/processed all the way, 500 tabs open they were going to cut before the NDT but didn’t ever get to etc. So in order to try and clean out my dream library I am going to finish up some posts that previously evaporated into the ether.
So let’s talk about fixing your tech. Before we jump into specifics, a quick anecdote. Before the NDT something went wrong with my computer and it started bluescreening frequently. For those of you who have macs when a PC bluescreens it basically just shuts down and you lose all your work/there is nothing you can do about it. This is obviously a problem so knowing the NDT is important and that my computer would be used I made time in a day I would of much prefered to be cutting cards/packing to go and get it looked at. Now, this didn’t end up fixing it 😦 but the important thing is- I tried. I didn’t just say “oh hey I have a fatal flaw in my computer that I will need at this debate tournament… eh why don’t we ignore it!” which is what most debaters seem to do. Countless times this year I have heard a debater say something liek “oh yea my word hasn’t worked for months”. MONTHS! Get that fixed. If you don’t have money- learn. It’s really not that hard to google your problem and troubleshoot some solutions.
So that happened. Then on the way to the airport my backpack got soaked in the bus overhead bin and my computer wouldn’t turn on. Again, this is a problem. Some of the people traveling with me were wondering why I wasn’t freaking out more. The reasons for that are
-to prepare for such an eventuality years ago I began saving all my work in dropbox. Even if my computer melts down that way I can still access it from any other computer. So even though I had work for the NDT I had not turned out yet, I could still access it
-Having had to troubleshoot dozens of students computers I knew that either a relatively simple fix (dry pack) would be all I needed or my computer would be irretrievably damaged. Knowing that, there isn’t really much freaking out to do. Now obviously this sort of rational thought process breaks down when people freak out, so saying that stopped me from freaking out is a bit like saying “calm down” to someone in an argument. What I mean is more that I had planned for/knew of this possibility and therefore the impact was mitigated.
In the end things worked out fine but it could have been a pretty stressful few days. So to sum up some things I’ve said before/in this post
- Save everything in dropbox/onedrive etc- all word documents. You can just move your documents folder there. That way you can never really “lose” anything. Do this with your school work as well
- Save frequently/update your auto save– when my computer was bluescreening I was compulsively clicking save after every card. Set your auto save to the lowest amount of time your program allows. This way you at most are losing a few minutes of work if anything goes wrong
- Finish/send things out early- don’t delay a whole file days for 1 card. Esp approaching end of year tournaments send things out in waves as you finish.
- Finish it- don’t take on too much or move on to a new assignment until you finish one thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect but you need to finish.
Now let’s move on and just discuss some random tech pet peeves
- Have a simple email- I get that when you were in 6th grade you loved X, but now your Xfan2001OMG@Xfanatics.org email address is annoying. Try and make your email chain email different from your regular email (more on that later) and make it simple so that you can say it and someone else can easily type it without having to pass computers around. I like it when teams have an email just for their team like “StuyvesantXY” or “EmoryDebateBL” – they are clear and you only need to type one thing.
- Since you have an email just for chains FOR THE LOVE OF GOOD TURN OFF THE &$&$&%(#(@&@*$))$(@&@&$ GOOGLE DELAY. Given that each speech has a doc through the 1AR usually (6) assuming each speech only sends the doc once (which in 2019 lol) this is taking 3mn of your life for every round. Let’s say you never clear but you debate for 4 years and attend 8 tournaments a year. That’s approx 10 hours of your life you just lost to google holding the email chain.
- Learn how to forward an email chain. That one is more directed at coaches than children…
- Stop pasting cards into the email- we get that it saved you 5 seconds but it inconvenienced everyone else. I assume the reason people are doing this is they are reading very few cards and they have those cards in a doc with a lot of their clever analytics they don’t want the other side seeing because though they are high quality arguments they can only survive in secret… Yea so if you are just pasting the card into the email that prob is a sign your speech is already going wrong.
- Plug your computer in to charge at night so its fully charged a the start of the day- ditto your phone
- Plug your computer in all the time during debates whenever possible. The number of otherwise intelligent people I see in debate completely mystified by the concept of battery life is really surprising. Computers going dead mid speech, people not being able to prep in the hall because there isn’t an outlet etc- these are all silly/easy to avoid problems
- Make sure your word and verbatim works. If for some reason you can’t get your word fixed prior to a tournament download open office as a backup
- Close your tabs/documents before round 1. Start the tournament with a clean slate.
- Format your files into useable size- if you’ve been reading 1 aff all year and now have a 10,000 page 2AC file you should break that into smaller chunks to reduce word crashes. Don’t needlessly inflate your file size by pasting in tons of old/useless crap for no reason.
- Get anti virus and malware programs and use them
- bring a flash drive in case you can’t connect to the school internet. If you frequently have trouble connecting, get that fixed